Matress facts worth knowing

1. An ideal mattress is one that supports all parts of the body evenly. “Look for a feeling of buoyancy, a cradling sensation,” says the book How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep.

2. You can’t go wrong with any of the brand-name mattresses by makers such as Sealy, Serta and Simmons.

3. People who sleep on their sides should avoid a hard mattress. A mattress without any give causes a side sleeper’s shoulders to scrunch up and cuts off blood supply between the arms and torso. (Infants need mattresses that fit snugly against their cribs’ side rails or walls. Their little heads could get stuck and they could suffocate if there’s a gap.)

4. Older people tend to be lighter sleepers and more easily awakened when rolling over on a too-hard mattress, Health magazine reports. Thus, they might want to opt for a medium or soft mattress.

5. Most sleepers move 40 to 60 times a night, including a dozen full body turns. If one bed partner continually wakes the other up when moving or rolling, the couple may want to consider separate beds. Studies show couples sleep far better if they each have their own bed. Alternatively, couples could buy two twin-size mattresses and put them side by side on a king-size bed frame. This way, when one partner moves around, the other partner’s mattress isn’t jostled.

6. Generally, the higher the number of coils in a mattress, the firmer it is. Shoppers can expect a double-size bed to have at least 300, with upscale models in the 500 to 700 range. But don’t get too caught up in a salesman’s hype about coil numbers. Any brand-name mattress that costs $600 or more will have good, quality springs, says Health magazine.

7. Don’t be sucked in either by claims that a bed is “orthopedic.” All beds are orthopedic.

8. It often takes a week to a month to get used to a new bed, says the book Your Guide to Coping with Back Pain.

For information about mattresses businesses and Luxepedic complaints please visit Better Business Bureau website.

“There is no perfect mattress,” says Dr. Hamilton Hall, a Toronto orthopedic surgeon and founder of the Canadian Back Institute. “The same mattress doesn’t work for everybody.”

Sofa beds are so good

No-one, not even the salesperson at your local sofa-bed shop, will recommend these as a permanent source of bedding. This is not a replacement for your deluxe bed-and-base ensemble. This is an emergency measure: a casual doss down for the friend from interstate, the place for the in-laws to nod over. And let’s face it, a spare bedroom is something of a luxury these days.

Luckily, while the need for sofa beds has risen, so too has their quality. Sofa beds first appeared, according to John Gloag’s Short Dictionary of Furniture, around the late 18th century, and although more elaborate than contemporary versions, they had a similar pull-out mechanism. In the late 19th century they were known as bed-settees, but Anne Watson, the furniture curator at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, says the concept of a dual-purpose bed really only came into its own in the 1920s when houses began to shrink. A popular style at the time, she says, was a fabric-covered, wooden, box-frame bench with a kapok mattress inside (now, thereUs a way of getting rid of unwanted guests).

In the 1950s a Queensland company started a line called the Nite’n’Day, as recorded for posterity in Norman Gunston’s talk shows in the 1970s, and which became part of the vernacular, like Esky or Hoover. The trademark is still in existence and is held by the Moran of Melbourne group.

“The original Nite’n’Day came in three pieces and you lifted it up, rather than unfolded it, but they were pretty much the same thing (as the modern sofa bed),” says Watson. “The `sofa bed’ is considered a more sophisticated term, which is probably meant to make it sound nicer.”

Peter Journeaux of Sofas by Design in Melbourne makes all sorts of couches, including sofa beds, but heUs sufficiently sceptical about them to give the lowdown on their shortcomings. Here are his tips: Get a good `action’ (the mechanical part that makes the mattress spring out of the sofa). Journeaux recommends the action made by the Australian manufacturer Wynns, which he says supplies most sofa bed manufacturers. A good action costs $200 wholesale, so you get what you pay for. “There are sofa beds advertised for $690 with a matching regular sofa, and I can guarantee that the action isn’t the best you can buy.”

Don’t pay any less than $650, and consider paying up to $3,000.

Splash out for a 10 cm innerspring mattress if you are going to use it regularly. “The foam one is all right if you’re just going to dive in for one night, but not for a whole week,” Journeaux advises.

Make sure the frame is made of hard-wearing wood to withstand the opening and closing of the action.

Look for spring-cell cushions (a sandwich of foam and pocket springs).

The action makes a pretty hard base for your cushions to sit on, so the usual feather and foam cushions are not springy enough.

Don’t put your sofa bed on castors. “We believe it’s dangerous, especially on polished floors, as any movement and the bed might start to close.”

Although Sofas by Design does have a sofa with a loose cover, most don’t, so look for a good, hard-wearing fabric that won’t show the dirt, or else your sofa will have to be recovered each time it becomes soiled.

Look for a solid-back loveseat sleeper sofa, rather than one with cushions. If you are using it regularly, taking the cushions off each night means it ends up looking a mess.

Casters are insignificant only when they work

Maintaining margins on casters is a process that is directly related to how educated the customer is, how aware he is of where his dollar is going. Someone making a carpet dolly is going to look upon a caster as a commodity item. For more sophisticated products, like x-ray machines or other medical equipment, chances are that buyers might be more receptive to quality, he continues.

Some of the better paid people in the factory work in maintenance, and these people most likely understand that true economy in an MRO environment is a true quality caster that is the right one for the job. It gets back to who you’re selling to. Some buyers shop in the basement, others are looking for a quality product. We have customers who put more caster than is necessary into their products and they know it; but they haven’t had a caster problem, and they don’t want one.

Overcoming objections, of course, requires that your salespeople fully understand what those objections truly entail. If a customer has done a thorough cost analysis of what he’s making or maintaining, and his informed conclusion is that a caster comprises an insignificant part of the total cost of the product or process involved, he’ll probably focus primarily on price and delivery issues.

Conversely, when a customer has historically maintained a low regard for a caster – or any other component – because, after all, it’s just a caster, then your salespeople have an opportunity to upgrade that customer’s awareness by developing a cost analysis that shows where the money goes. Whether it’s OEM or MRO, the need is there because, you can hardly go into a plant without seeing casters.

Beyond selling smartly, one way to enhance the probability of your making money on stainless steel casters is to buy smartly, as well. Partner with manufacturers who are willing to develop reasonable stocking requirements, for example. Some suppliers may be willing to maintain stock on their own shelves, and have it available to ship in one to three days. Others might drop ship at no charge to you. Given the competitive nature of the business, there are a number of innovative ways to work together for mutual profit.

Casters are pervasive – they get used just about everywhere. And it’s also equally true that they get abused just about everywhere that they get used. From shopping carts in grocery store parking lots to materials handling carts and dollies in mass merchant mega-stores and poultry slaughtering plants, casters are necessary but overlooked, especially when they do what they’re designed to do.

Caster failure can result in anything from mild irritation to production interruptions to safety hazards. The challenge for distributor salespeople is to ensure that buyers have all the information they need to make an intelligent choice. After all, casters are insignificant only when they work.

Modern sofa beds: tips for buyer

Sofa beds are comfortable, come in a range of appealing styles and sizes, and are still very affordable.

Engineering improvements have now made the sofa bed about 90 percent as good as sleeping on a traditional innerspring bed. And the sofa bed offers most buyers a lot more flexibility.

In the last eight or 10 years, the sofa bed has improved dramatically. The biggest change was probably moving from a steel-linkage deck supporting the mattress to a trampoline-style deck.

This means you no longer feel the bar underneath your back. What’s more, the trampoline design innovation has reduced the overall weight of the sofa bed and has also improved the way the sofa sits.

No matter what brand of modern sofa bed you’re looking at, chances are the mechanisms are provided by one of the big manufacturers.

Notable improvements have also been made in sleep sofa mattresses.

The mattresses now feature heavy-gauge coil construction and more generous padding. And they actually longer – today a 6-foot-tall man can sleep comfortably without his feet hanging off the end.

Though sofa bed mattresses are still shorter and thinner than traditional bedding, deluxe models feature a 75-inch length, 5- to 7-inch-thick innerspring construction, and come with a five-year or seven-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Because the mattress has to fold, the sofa bed mattresses are constructed differently. ‘When you are shopping for a quality mattress, you can’t just count the number of coils, or use other traditional methods of evaluating standard bedding.

The best way to shop for a comfortable bed is to actually try it out. Absolutely. Just fold it out and try it.

Bed manufacturers are using new kinds of bearings and bushings, making the operation of opening and closing a modern sofa bed quite easy.

The bed has come out of the spare bedroom and den, and is finding its way into the great room and living room. About one out of 10 sofas we sell are beds.

Sofa beds now come in all shapes and sizes. Buyers can now shop for sofa beds with matching love seats, coordinating club chairs, or even as part of a sectional unit, which may also feature a built-in recliner.

You used to spot a hide-a-bed from across the floor. Now our customers can’t tell at all without looking underneath the cushions.

The fabric choices are better, too.

Ten years ago it had to be Herculon. But today’s dressy fabric selections include damask, tapestries, chintzes, nylon blends and casual cottons. And some sleep sofas include the same custom treatments available to conventional sofas. Among them: down-filled and spring-coil cushions; throw pillows in coordinating fabrics; assorted skirts and pleating styles; skirtless styles with bun feet; and contrasting welt trims.

People are looking at furniture more as an investment. Manufacturers can often fulfill custom orders in only six to eight weeks. And our customers can get exactly what they want. It doesn’t cost any more to special order.

If your guest’s immediate arrival won’t permit ordering, never fear. All stores surveyed had a healthy selection of readily available sofa beds.

Furniture for Your New Home

When you deal with affordable housing, it is important to complement the architectural features of a home with a variety of color, texture and fabric.

Not much matches in this home because people who are buying their first home generally do not have a series of matched pieces of furniture. The mixture of items introduces character and personality to each room, and gives people confidence that what they currently own will work.

Every chair around the dining table does not have to match. What is important is to surround yourself with furnishings that are comfortable.

Two square natural wicker trunks positioned end-to-end create an extensive textured cocktail table surface within easy reach of every seating piece.

Touches of color are brought in with jewel colored floral accent pillows. They match the seat cushion of a wicker arm chair and artwork displayed on the wall behind one of the sofas.

More natural wicker is used in the adjacent dining area where a haystack-shaped wicker base with country overtones supports a circle of glass. The traditional wood chairs with woven rush seats that circle the dining table are in a different finish than the pine hutch. Yet the eclectic grouping blend nicely.

Simple panels of fabric mounted on stained rods frame the sides of the windows in both areas. They’re good looking and affordable treatments that could easily be duplicated by someone who sews.

Medium blue and white ceramic tile, in a checkerboard pattern, covers the backsplash area in the kitchen – a relatively inexpensive treatment with an updated country look.

A stained country table in the breakfast area is a reproduction. Long rustic twig benches along two sides are topped with navy, gold and deep berry contemporary paisley cushions that match the shirred window valance.

The same paisley is repeated in the adjacent family room, where it is used for four overscale accent pillows on the lofty high-skirted sofa, a seat cushion for a wicker arm chair and a shirred valance.

Upstairs, the queen-size bed in the master suite is lushly dressed to look rich, warm and inviting. Pillow shams and a matching bedskirt in a large-scale jewel tone floral contrast the medium blue, navy and ivory striped bed covering.

A two-drawer natural wicker chest and a three-drawer wicker dresser flank the bed and function as nightstands.

The adjacent sitting area is furnished with a blue denim sofa, with a rustic wood trunk in front of it. A small armoire stores a TV set.

Two remaining secondary bedrooms are designed for younger family members.

A boy’s soccer-theme room has a double bed covered with a navy and white ticking striped channel quilted comforter. It matches an accordian style pull-up fabric window shade. The wicker Parsons style desk is teamed with a director’s chair with navy blue cloth seat and back.

A series of royal blue and yellow tennis balls stenciled at chair-rail height around a girl’s tennis-theme bedroom indicates you don’t have to be an artist to achieve the same look.

It is a treatment that personalizes the room in a simple and inexpensive way. A real tennis racket and a wood Wimbledon plaque displayed on the headboard wall reinforce the sports theme.

The floral bouquet covering on the royal blue skirted daybed, a matching window valance and a scaled-down flip-down desk with a director’s chair introduce feminine touches to the space.

Star-studded wallpaper in the family bath is an informal pattern youngsters of all ages can easily relate to.

When you are dealing with people who are buying affordable housing, it is important to target decorating ideas that give them confidence in buying their home.

Many do not have the confidence to put color and fabrics together unless they see it used. A furnished model can give them confidence that what they see is achievable without spending a great deal of money. It shows that they can use what they have.

By adding a few new pillows and Bench Cushions, a new dust ruffle and simple window treatments, they can give their existing pieces a fresh look in their new home.

Textures and patterns and how you put them together and trim them off is what makes the difference. Staying with basic neutral backgrounds and combining tapestries, brocades and stripes makes for a much more charming and more lived-in home.

Choosing and using outdoor furniture

July is the month for backyard parties like one I’m planning for my family. I decided I would need more chairs, but the price of yard furniture at my local home center was too high for my budget.

Then I thought about making some furniture out of 2-by-4 lumber, which is not all that expensive. So that’s what I did, using Wolmanized Extra, a pressure-treated lumber that resists snow and rain and won’t rot.

I also made chaise lounges, tables and a serving cart. All are as easy to make, and you can buy Replacement Seat Cushions in the Internet. My total cost was about half what I would have spent to buy lawn furniture.

The very best outdoor furniture is welded together, not bolted. Acrylic seat cushions will last longer than cushions of polyester. Wrought iron is ever popular for a traditional look but may require periodic touchups to prevent rust. Wicker looks nice outside, but it doesn’t always weather well. Resin weave is a hard plastic that looks like wicker but lasts longer. Cast aluminum is a long-lasting material if properly coated. Some aluminum furniture is coated with a baked-on polyurethane powder coating; others use a textured finish. Teak is a good choice for fans of wooden furniture and for locations where the wind is strong. It ages well and needs little care. Care is needed with any piece of furniture that faces the elements. Keep your outdoor furniture clean and put it indoors or under wraps during inclement weather. Wash aluminum, steel and wrought iron furniture with mild detergent and water; rinse and dry thoroughly. The Casual Furniture Council recommends coating once a year with automobile wax. To clean wood furniture, wash with soapy water. On resin furniture, make a good lather with dishwashing detergent and warm water to sponge on. Do not use an abrasive sponge. For heavy stains, use a solution of bleach and water.

Box shape – contemporary furniture design

Contemporary furniture design is in great shape. Box shape, to be precise. Square angles, boxy volumes, simple modules, smooth planes – uncomplicated elements for balanced, beautifully orchestrated living rooms. Timber veneers, plain upholstery fabrics, and sleek chrome and stainless steel details combine to create quietly understated classics for the new are.

* SYSTEM FOR WALLS

The Sintesi wall system from Poliform features a combinationof cool contemporary surfaces such as solid colour and timber laminated veneers, and opaque glass, with chrome details. The system is designed for flexibility, and proportioned to suit the dimensions of inner-city apartments and townhouses. Available from Poliform.

* BLUE BENCH MARK

Antwerp-born designed Maarten Van Severen introduced Blue Bench as a prototype at an exhibition in 1998. Since then it has become part of the Edra collection from Italy. Blue Bench consists of two bled-cut polyurethane blocks, coated with a specially formulated paint. The upper block can be moved about the surface of the base, to create a couch of varying proportions. The polyurethane creates a softly cushioned effect. Available from Space Furniture.

* KEY LARGO

The sleek proportions of the Largo sofa make it an ideal addition to a contemporary interior with a minimalist bent. Its simple geometry has great visual appeal. As shown here, the sofa is upholstered in Instyle ‘Feel’, with 50 mm square stainless steel legs. Available from Not Furniture

* ABSOLUTELY AARNIO

In the 1960s the Finnish designer Eero Aarnio earned an international reputation with his range of innovative chairs and tables in fibreglass, foam, acryl and chroma steel. The Screw Table is one memorable item from this classic range, now being manufactured in Finland by Adelta, Available from dedece.

* PASTIL PERFECTION

When Eero Aarnio designed the Pastil Chair in 1967 it signalled his breakthrough as an international-acclaimed designed. In the world of furniture design in became an icon and remains so to this day. The Pastil Chair is still in production, and is available from dedece along with other striking pieces from Aarnio’s innovative collection.

* UP THE LADDER

This ladder-backed chair features a spotted gum frame, a local take on the Mackintosh original. The chair is designed by Mark Wong, and is available from Designs Australia.

* YES MINISTER

With its impressive wedge arms, the aptly-named Minister’s Chair combines rich materials with business-like curves and planes. The leather back and seat is complemented by red gum veneer arms and brushed stainless steel legs. Designed by Tony Stuart, the Minister’s Chair is available from Source.

* OFF THE PLANET

The saturn coffee table, designed by Ricardo Goncalves, looks set for take-off. Tubular aluminium details and the fin-shaped central spine give it a glamourous, galactic edge. The veneer is laminated brushbox, with brushed aluminium edging. Inquiries to Ricardo Goncalves.

* THINKING GLOBALLY

Swiss-born Hannes Wettstein began designing for Cassina in 1994, This setting shows some of his more recent designs, including the Globe upholstered lounge, the Items storage unit, and the Lem small table. Available from Space Furniture.

AMAZINGLY MODULAR

The Caterpillar range of seating and tables designed by Ross Didier of Origin Didier to the lost word in modular versality chairs and tables interlock to form any number of combinations. Caterpillar is part of his new Metamorph range. Inquiries to Origin Didier.

* BUILDING BLOCKS

These storage units are designed to function as architectural elements as well as practical pieces of furniture. Designed by Tim Dean who made a career switch from architecture to furniture design a few years ago the units combine Tasmanian oak veneer with satin chrome feet. In the foreground the Box storage system features translucent opal acrylic backing All units can be arranged in modular combinations and all have finished backing so they can be placed in the middle of a room. Available from Jacaranda Industries.

* CLASSICALLY CASUAL

The light honey tones of victorian ash give this dining chair a fresh Scandinavian appeal. The incision detail in the back of the chair breaks up the horizontal grain. The Casual Chair is designed by Edward Alexander and is available from Source.

* IN THE BOX

The timelessly elegant BoxOne is from the Box range of classic contemporary furniture designed by Cornwell Hecker. The lounge base is available in stainless steel or chrome, and powdercoat options are available on request. The Box range also includes armchairs, ottomans, occasional tables and dining tables. Available from Stylecraft Australia and S.T.

* QUIRKILY KOOKI

With its groovy boxy form, the Kooki Chair captures the look of a funky cocktail lounge. Residential applications might include a bar, TV room, studio or home office. As a modular unit, the upholstered seats are joined via satin chrome steel connecting plates. Also available s a single unit. Designed by Dominique Hurley, the Kooki Chair is available from Source.

* PERFECT PERCH

A moulded ply seat, with a satin finish timber veneer, tops this stool by Nico Design. a residential setting the Otto is at home at the bare breakfast bench. The base is in stainless steel. Available from Nico Design.

Wicker wonders

It’s as comtortable as an old shoe and at home with almost any furniture style. That’s why wicker is showing up throughout the house.

Woven from reeds or the thin, flexible branches of willow, wicker adds texture and contrast to soft fabrics and smooth woods. Prized for its strength and ability to retain natural moisture, well-made wicker furture should give you years of use. Here’s how to evaluate it:

Lean heavily on a piece of wicker to test its strength; it may creak a bit but shouldn’t sag or shift.

Check the underside for clues to construction. High-quality wicker will be woven on a frame that’s at least one inch thick and will have corners that are tightly wrapped.

Feel the finish. It should be smooth to the touch, with no snags, rough edges, or hairy fibers.

Check the tightness of the weave. You may pay extra for tightly and evenly woven wicker furniture, but it will repay you with durability.

Also, investigate alternatives to conventional wicker. Water hyacinth has a thicker texture and costs more. Woven resin or latex-coated wicke won’t crack or break when exposed to the elements, but you sacrifice some of wicker’s natural beauty.