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Category: Furnishings and Decor

Writing samples on the subject of furnishings and décor.

Light Your Fire – Fire Pits vs. Outdoor Heaters – 437 Words

Outdoor living has come a long way in recent years and increasingly the indoor lifestyle is migrating to the patio for relaxing, dining, and entertaining. People are more interested than ever in investing in their outdoor spaces for year-round use. So, wouldn’t it be delightful to be able to continue spending evenings on your patio when temperatures begin to drop?

The question of providing heat on your patio boils down to fire pits vs. outdoor heaters. Each choice has advantages and disadvantages which you should carefully weigh before deciding which option is best for you.

Fire Pits

Fire pits come in all shapes and sizes and materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, bronze, copper, and granite. A fire pit table consists of a fire pit situated in the middle of a large table. Everyone sits around the table and gets the benefit of the heat given off by the fire. Gas fire pits conveniently provide instant heat and flame and are ideal for those who are too impatient to wait for a fire to reach its full intensity.

Pros and Cons of Fire Pits

One of the downsides to fire pits is that you need the pit to be large enough to accommodate an average-sized log. Another disadvantage is the chore of regularly emptying the fire pit of ash. However, if you want to bring your outdoor space to life with a beautiful piece of art for family and friends to gather around, a fire pit is the perfect accessory to your patio furniture. And, some fire pits are very portable in case you decide to rearrange your layout.

Patio Heaters

Patio heaters are designed for ease of use, safety and portability and can either be powered by gas or electricity. Gas heaters tend to be free standing and can either be connected to the home’s main gas supply or to propane gas cylinders. Electrical heaters can either be free standing or affixed to patio walls. All heaters that are not wall mounted should be equipped with a safety feature that switches the heater off if it gets toppled.

It’s not necessary to be right on top of a patio heater to stay warm as heaters are capable of heating areas of approximately two-hundred square feet.


If you are still undecided on the question of fire pits vs. outdoor heaters, ……………………………………… offers a broad range of choices. The first step you should take is to download our buying guide which will provide you with an overview of all of our stylish furniture and accessories. We can then help you find the perfect way to heat your patio.


Shades of Summer – Shade Structures vs. Patio Umbrellas – 558 Words

Most people are not fortunate enough to have a magnificent old shade tree over their patio to provide some respite from the hot summer sun. Neither is it practical to wait until the trees they have planted grow big enough to start providing some shade. So some type of artificial shade structure is necessary to make patio living enjoyable at all times of the day. Whether a patio umbrella will keep you cool or whether you need more patio cover with a shade structure will depend on your shade requirements.

The Sun is Warm but Dangerous

Whichever type of shade provider you choose, bear in mind that it’s crucial to shield your skin from the sun’s rays to prevent skin cancer. An alarming statistic – during the past thirty years, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than with all other cancers combined.

Patio Umbrellas

Grouped with your stylish furniture, a freestanding umbrella provides shade and can add a splash of color and zest to an outdoor space. An umbrella can be coordinated with outdoor pillows, cushions, and rugs to create the look of a stylish outdoor resort. Plus, a mobile umbrella provides you with shade wherever it’s needed as the sun moves across the sky.

Freestanding umbrellas come in two types. Either attached to a straight pole rising from a base or offset or cantilevered. If the umbrella is offset, the umbrella arm can easily be raised, lowered, and angled to get shade exactly where you need it.

When an Umbrella is Not Enough

When deciding between shade structures vs. patio umbrellas, sometimes an umbrella will not provide enough shade. A shade structure will shade a wider area than an umbrella and can enhance any outdoor space. It can create a focal point, offer a sense of height and provide massive relief from the sun. When considering any type of shade structure, it’s important to consider existing elements like trees and your house, which may already be providing quite a bit of shade at certain times of the day.

Retractable Awnings

Motorized retractable awnings are a practical addition to any patio, allowing you to make the most of your space and turning your patio into the perfect place to eat breakfast or hold an evening soiree.

An awning can be customized and tailored to fit your exact space. An extended awning can not only provide welcome shade on your patio but also prevent sun damage to furniture, drapes and flooring inside your home. And, by lowering temperatures inside your home, it can save you money on energy bills.

Power Screens

For a sleek look, consider power screens. They can provide a semi or complete enclosure, privacy, sun protection, and a barrier against pesky insects.


Fabrics for umbrellas and awnings need to offer UV protection and be durable. They also need to resist fading, mold, mildew and water and be easy to clean. Sunbrella fabrics provide unparalleled performance and are available in a variety of styles and colors.


………………………………………………. can help you make your patio livable during the hot days of summer with either an umbrella or a shade structure. Please download our buying guide which will answer many of your questions about patio furniture and then talk to us about shade structures vs. patio umbrellas so that we can provide you with your perfect shade solution.

Architects and Interior Designers Get Creative with Corian – 496 Words

Corian is a man-made, solid-surface material with a wide variety of uses, including countertops, sinks, modular walls, furniture, and lighting. It is strong, stain-resistant and easy to care for. Should any accidental damage occur, it does not need to be replaced or discarded but instead can be restored to its full beauty. It has been certified as a “green” material that has no adverse impact on indoor air quality. It has several advantages over other countertop materials such as granite, namely:

  • Less expensive
  • More durable
  • Easier to install
  • Comes in many colors and textures
  • Lends itself to creative versatility
  • Requires no sealants

Architects and interior decorators worldwide are increasingly recognizing the versatility of Corian and including it in their designs. Here are some examples.

Modern Comfort with a Victorian Look

The London-based architect MWAI used modern materials to transform a Victorian apartment into a modern home. Corian surfaces that resemble richly-textured marble are contrasted with bright copper that looks like antique brass.

Thistle “Tattoo” Decorates Hi Tech Surface

The Scottish firm Keppie Design created a stunning Corian masterpiece for the lobby of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency offices in Aberdeen. Requiring precision craftsmanship and installation, the solid Corian surface of the reception desk has been permanently ‘tattooed’ with a thistle pattern that blooms upward, under an alcove and over to the top of the desk.

Design with Corian Reflects Corporate Identity

Richard Keating, architect, and MASHstudios designed a sophisticated, big-in scope, workspace for Jacobs, to reflect that company’s reputation as a high-tech engineering firm. It features a challenging white-on-white palette with seamless construction – no joints, screws or splits in the material. Each component is one solid piece of Corian, formed, shaped and finished to a high gloss.

Project Win’s Australia’s Corian Residential Wild Card Award

project by Bijl Architecture, in collaboration with AR-MA, in a suburb of Sydney, demonstrates a boldly innovative use of Corian. Corian wall panels are juxtaposed alongside a custom cantilevered stairway, creating a compelling centerpiece for the residence. The wall installation needed to be sturdy as well as beautiful and meet the demands of the design. Corian provided these specifications and also the needed aesthetic qualities. The fine lines which form the design were cut with a specially developed tool to produce particular angles and effects. The large skylights bring light onto the wall which changes during the day and illuminates the unique, endlessly fascinating surface.

Pink Fashion Store is in the Pink

Pink, the Klagenfurt, Austria, store, presents international fashion labels on two vast floors and focuses on quality. The sophisticated shop design, developed by Inform, features sales counters made with translucent Corian in the Strawberry Ice color. The design is integrated with the shop’s name and, thanks to the translucency of Corian, the backlit interiors gain a special atmosphere during the evening hours.

Corian for Your Design Project

Solid Surface has a wide variety of Corian sheets and vanity tops to suit your needs. Contact us for more information.

The Design-Build Kitchen – What’s New From the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show? – 601 Words

The annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), held this year in Las Vegas from January 19-21, is the “pulse” of the design-build kitchen and bath industry and like a trip to Disneyland for designers from all over the world. The following are some of the latest innovations and trends from the leading kitchen brands that were on display. For a look at Architectural Digest‘s best picks please click here.

More Color in the Kitchen

The overarching trend in kitchen design appears to be a definite move away from the traditional or classical and a universal embrace of the contemporary. On display was a greater use of color and mixing of materials and metals, including some beautiful sinks in hammered nickel, copper, and bronze. The white kitchen was not much in evidence, although the interior color trendsetter Benjamin Moore selected Simply White as its 2016 color of the year.

The Latest from La Cornue

Luxury brands have been teaming up with internationally-recognized designers to add “designer panache” to their brands. For example, La Cornue showed its Couleur Collection, incorporating an eye-catching pastel-colored palette from the award-winning interior designer Suzanne Kasler.

Stainless Steel Made More Interesting

Plain stainless steel fixtures and appliances are being replaced by stainless steel with a carbon-look finish. Also, brass fixtures are making a comeback – not the traditional polished brass but brass with a brushed and satin finish.

Marble Look-Alikes

Manufacturers continue to make giant leaps forward in the development of durable, man-made products engineered to look like natural stone, such as granite and marble. These surfaces need much less maintenance than their natural inspirations.

Cabinets Become Warmer

With respect to cabinets, there is renewed interest in warm woods and mixing paint and wood. White oak, in particular, is making a comeback with enhancement of the grain by glazes or cerused finishes.

Steam Ovens

Double ovens utilizing steam and convection, with steam being the main feature, made a big impression. These stoves provide a way to prepare food for more nutritional value and better taste. And, a steam oven can be installed under a countertop.

Hi-Tech Products

Tying in to the “Internet of Things” were many “smarter-tech” products that can be controlled remotely from a mobile device. For instance coffee makers can be switched on to brew, ovens preheated, and refrigerators programmed to “tell” householders when they need to buy more milk.

Innovative Storage

Under-cabinet refrigeration is definitely a thing of the future, and not just in the kitchen. Now you can reach for a cold drink in the master bedroom without having to trek all the way downstairs. Another “under” innovation is the under-counter microwave drawer which frees up space on kitchen countertops.

Of interest were some small wine holders, the size of a microwave for just one case of vino, or skinny so that six bottles can be tucked away anywhere.

Not So Lazy Susan from Glide Ware attracted a lot of attention. This storage device is operated by a top wheel and designed so that pots and pans hang down from it without clanking into each other.  

Transform Your Walls

Wall tile designs featured textured looks and dimensional tiles with a sculptured appearance in porcelain or concrete were consistent across manufacturers. Also, there was a proliferation of black and white tiles in dazzling geometric patterns.


The modern kitchen is destined to be more innovative, attractive, comfortable, and time-saving than ever before and kitchen-build designers are already anticipating what will be on display at the 2017 KBIS in Orlando, Florida. 

…………………… will work with you to design and build your dream kitchen. Please contact us for a consultation.


Why is Patio Furniture So Expensive? – 462 Words

Summer and outdoor living are almost here, and anyone who is shopping for patio furniture will know about sticker price shock. You might ask why is patio furniture so expensive, but that is the wrong question. The right question is why is quality patio furniture so expensive? The answer is that items in the outdoor furniture family have to withstand one thing that their indoor cousins do not – the weather.

Cheap Patio Furniture

In 2013 outdoor furniture sales amounted to approximately 4.05 billion dollars, and in 2015 more than 80% of households planned to purchase one or more items of outdoor furniture or accessories. So, it’s certainly true that you can go to various stores and see attractive-looking patio furniture sets for only a few hundred dollars. But are they a good deal? The answer is only if you are prepared to regard them as disposable consumer items, as they will only last for a season or two. Inexpensive furniture is generally made of components that are arc welded together and given a spray coating that mimics hammered metal or verdigris bronze. They come with plastic webbing and “water resistant” cushions or mesh fabrics stretched between frames.

Cheap Usually Doesn’t Also Mean Good

Quality and longevity are the factors usually absent in cheap patio furniture. The problem is that after one or two seasons, this type of furniture starts to look ratty. The sun fades the finish, the aluminum oxidizes and bubbles up the paint, the cushions rot and mildew, straps hang down, and stretched fabric becomes bowed. Worse, the warranty period runs out and repair is not a cost-effective option.

Durable Furniture

The reason why patio furniture is so expensive is because top brands use high-quality, durable materials. The materials, finishes, and fabrics will hold up longer to mother nature than those used in more inexpensive products. The other element included in the price is the cost of the warranty associated with each piece of furniture. Most long-lasting products come with furniture warranties ranging from three to twenty years depending on the materials used. Your quality furniture display on your patio can also be enhanced by a fire pit and decorative accents.


The questions you need to ask when looking for patio furniture are: what is your budget, what configuration do you need, what region/climate do you live in? Here at …………………… we can work within your budget and still provide you with quality, long-lasting patio furniture. To get started, please download our buying guide which will answer many of your questions. Our guide includes: descriptions of all categories of patio furniture, reviews of all brands we carry, ten common questions with answers, and how to find your best buying strategy. You don’t have to sacrifice quality to get the patio furniture you can afford.