What is hookah

The hookah or shisha, which is part and parcel of Eastern culture, has been used for pleasure throughout the ages. A hose called a “marpuc” is used to inhale the smoke of the tobacco, on which there is a small fire, and the smoke is filtered through a reservoir of water. It is believed that the sight and sound produced as water bubbles up is rehabilitating. This is the easiest way for people who like metaphysics to embark on a trip to the stars. The journey of the spirit away from the body and the eventual union of spirit and body is only one of the pleasures of the hookah.

Though it originated in the Middle East 400 years ago, the hookah is a tobacco pipe with a long tube that cools smoke by drawing it through water. First, the tobacco is put on a small, ventilated plate on the narghile, then burning pieces of charcoal are placed on top. Sucking on the shisha pipe then draws smoke down into the water-filled bowl and out again into the mouth.

Connoisseurs describe it as a “sweet” smoking sensation because the nicotine is taken out by the water. Traditionally, flavored tobacco – consisting of dried fruit pulp mixed with tobacco leaves – is used.

With the shisha, you can choose from an oriental orchard of flavors. Shisha smokers can choose from a variety of flavors, including apple, apricot, strawberry, mixed fruit and mint. There is, it has to be stressed, no outlawed substance inside the hookah tobacco. Shisha adepts consider the elaborate preparation and total attention required part of its relaxing effect. Shisha, they say, is for contemplation, not stimulation. Decor notes for your hookah smoking area: go with big pillows, oriental rugs and lots of couches to create that Night at the Casbah motif.

Air filtration and air filters

Until recently, air filtration wasn’t a product category of much interest to consumers or retailers.

For consumers, remembering to change their furnace or central air conditioner filter was just one more mundane household maintenance chore that was honored more in the breach than the observance.

For retailers, air filtration meant giving up precious space on the sales floor to an unproductive commodity item they had to carry as a service to customers, but on which they were lucky to count their profit, if any, in pennies.

Now, all that has changed along with the nation’s changing focus on environmental and health issues. As the nation has taken steps to clean up its air and water, there’s been a growing awareness that our indoor environments-the air inside our homes and offices – are polluted, too, and that we can do something about it.

Sure, the inexpensive, disposable furnace filter is still around, and will be for years. And it still accounts for the great percentage of unit sales in the category. But today, consumers have a variety of products to choose from among high-efficiency filters that offer far greater performance than anything on the retail market a decade ago. These new filters create substantially greater sales and profit opportunities for retailers than traditional disposable filters. And consumers are actively seeking them.

With so many air filter choices, and limited floor space, choosing what to carry and from whom can be difficult. Lennox Air Filters are essential for indoor air quality.

Office plants

Pot plants in the workplace can keep stress in check and boost productivity.

While indoor pot plants are generally introduced into an office to soften a sterile environment, there is plenty of evidence to suggest the improvements they bring are more than just aesthetic.

No longer regarded as mere decorations, office plants can improve physical and mental well-being among workers. High levels of stress in the office lead to decreased productivity, absenteeism and high staff turnover factors that will affect a business’s bottom line.

According to a study by a number of American universities, however, having plants in a working environment results in lower levels of stress and higher productivity.

In one study, Dr Roger Ulrich of Texas University found that college students exhibited less stress, fear and anger when sitting an exam in a room with plants in full view.

In another study, Ulrich observed a number of patients recovering from gall-bladder surgery and found that those who recovered in a room that overlooked the hospital’s garden recovered faster and required less medication than those whose bed did not have a view of the garden. So spending money on office plants and Office Plant Maintenance can actually help reduce costs and improve productivity.

The Curtis house – textured cube

A TIGHT SITE AND SEMI-INDUSTRIAL environment contained many clues and some constraints for this new house and studio, which received an Award of Merit in this year’s Victorian Chapter RAIA Awards. Wood / Marsh looked to the large blank faces of Richmond’s warehouses when considering the street presence. Yet, although the facade is decidedly urban, decidedly non-domestic, the aspect the house/studio presents to the street is an enriched one. The blank wall is faced with split-face blockwork in three shades: off-white, pewter and bluestone. Each material occupies a particular plane, rendering the pattern as a thick, three-dimensional surface. The apparently random texture is punctuated by steel window frames, slicing through this dense surface and projecting beyond.

The complexity of this decorated surface might allude to the elaborate ironwork of small Victorian cottages (the building’s other neighbours), or to Melbourne’s polychrome brick history, but it is also reminiscent of Wood / Marsh’s rather more monumental concrete work on the Eastern Freeway. Like those walls, the textured front of the Curtis house involves perceptual tricks. Where the patterning of the freeway harriers appears to shift and change as one drives past at speed, this smaller wall in a dense urban setting plays vertical games. The block and opening patterns increase in scale as they move up the building, confounding the sense of height and perspective from the narrow street. The patterning, however, was generated from a rather more domestic source — the chunky knit of a Missoni swearer.

The confined site led to a strongly internalised cubic volume encased by apparently massive walls. The internal effect of solidity and depth is enhanced by interior blockwork and deep window reveals. The steel window frames jut into the interior, presenting the overtly framed views as additional pieces of realist art.

The “textured cube” is also pierced vertically, bringing light deep into the enclosed volume. Dappled light from the green perforated stair permeates the centre, while an internal courtyard pulls air and light into the rear, creating a second visual link through the depth of the building.

The stair acts as a major ordering element within the simple and direct plan organisation. Darker, lower level spaces are occupied by garaging, storage and a photographic darkroom, studio and office. Bedrooms are located in the middle, while the upper, lighter floor accommodates the kitchen and living spaces. The kitchen opens out to a wide timber deck with rooftop views, providing a release from the otherwise insistent interiority.

These straightforward, robust spaces and surfaces are enlivened by a wonderful collection of visual art and furniture from the 60s and 70s. These aesthetics have subtly affected the architecture. Indeed, the furnishing of tough architectural surfaces with rich interior objects is itself a characteristic of 60s domestic Brutalism. Other references appear in quotation marks. For example, level changes in the living area create a version of the 70s conversation pit — but the white shagpile is confined to a carefully centred rug.

Between Richmond’s industrial environment and the clients’ collection of Twentieth Century visual culture, Wood / Marsh have inserted a rugged cube. The skillful interpretation of these very particular circumstances has resulted in an inventive urban house.

The inter-war bungalow style

BUILDING AN ADDITION OFTEN INVOLVES considerable alteration to at least part of the existing structure. In the case of this Artarmon house, Melocco and Moore Architects chose to construct the addition as unobtrusively as possible by making it a separate pavilion connected to the existing house by a narrow hallway.

The original house is a single-storey dwelling in the inter-war bungalow style, with a single-hipped terracotta roof and brick walls. To the north is a rear yard containing several mature trees, including a large tallowood tree that’s at least 150 years old and possibly a remnant of the area’s original forest. The architects’ design concept was to build the addition into the rear yard while maintaining the envelope of the original house and working around the old tree.

A gentle slope in the site allowed the pavilion to be built on two levels, which are markedly different in their construction. The eastern upper level has a solid slab base and brickwork walls. The lower western level, where the building comes close to the tallowood tree, is made of lightweight timber with minimal footings to lessen the impact of the structure on the tree’s root system. The study, the closest room to the tree, has been set back and cantilevered. The whole pavilion is covered by a simple single-pitched roof, which contrasts with the traditional double-pitch of the original roof.

The new addition contains the kitchen, dining and living areas, arranged in an open plan style, while the bedrooms and main bathroom are contained in the original budding. The old and new sections of the house are connected by a linking element consisting of a hallway, second bathroom and laundry. This part of the addition has been kept low so that it fits in under the eaves of the old house without disturbing the roof. It is also narrow enough to allow sun to reach the northern side of the original building.

Inside the pavilion, simple shapes and understated furnishings in solid blocks of colour create an atmosphere of cool elegance, while natural wood finishes add a welcoming note. Elements are repeated to provide a strong sense of cohesiveness, such as the narrow horizontal windows which are mirrored in the shape of the bookcases. A bold central element in the form of a low granolithic wall divides the two levels, houses the fireplace and provides a focal point for the space.

On the northern side of the pavilion, the outside splendour of the garden is drawn in through large windows and glass doors. These doors fold back to open up the northern face of both levels, creating a smooth transition from the living areas to the terrace and deck.

By designing the addition as a separate element, instead of an adjunct to the existing building, Melocco and Moore have shown that contrast can be just as appealing as consistency. The old and new sections of the house fit together well, both fine examples of their respective eras.

The interior as a simple, pristine container

A simple white container is perhaps the best way to describe the interior of this narrow victorian terrace. With a mere five metre width to play with, architects AIGP adopted a minimalist approach to create the illusion of generous volumes.

THE EXISTING SINGLE STOREY VICTORIAN terrace required a major overhaul to suit the needs of the current owner. The facade was largely off-limits to alterations — the building being in a conservation zone — and the original front room was sound, with a fine fireplace, and well worth keeping. But the remaining 30-year-old extension was quite dispensable, its timely removal creating space enough for an extensive revamp to the rear of the building.

The client briefed architects AIGP to design a two-storey addition incorporating two bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining/living area, bathroom, en suite and outdoor courtyard. To comply with local heritage conservation requirements, the addition had to be invisible from the street, and had to respect the scale of the surrounding terraces. On an allotment measuring 27 metres by five metres, the challenge was to fit everything in without compromising space and quality of light.

The architects describe the interior as a “simple, pristine container”. Interior elements such as the stair and much of the kitchen have been concealed or recessed to increase the sense of space and reduce visual clutter. In the living area the white walls are deliberately spartan, creating a reflective expanse broken only by vertical supports spaced at wide intervals along the north wall, and a series of full height panels along the south wall. These large pivoting screens conceal the stair when closed, and open to reveal extensive understair storage. Essentially, the doors function as a wall, a balustrade and cupboards.

Against a background of simple white painted and laminated surfaces, some carefully chosen pieces of furniture provide bursts of colour and visual focus. A bold red chaise placed in front of the glass doors in the upstairs bedroom makes a particularly striking statement. Crisp, elegant contemporary pieces of furniture demarcate the dining and living areas and innovative feature lamps add sculptural interest here and at the top of the stairs.

In this minimalist setting, lighting plays a crucial role in bringing warmth and personality to the interior scheme. Concealed in-floor and overhead lighting is placed asymmetrically through the kitchen and living area, illuminating the space in an unusual and captivating way at night. Soft shafts of light from the floor illuminate the walls and ceiling, while the down lights cast a glow on the polished floorboards.

Flooring textures are the other main element in the interior scheme. The dark-toned timber floor in the living area is free of rugs and other visual impediments, while upstairs a neutral carpet is a softer, more restful solution for the main sleeping quarters. The folded aluminium plate stair acts as a contrasting link between the two flooring styles.

This pared down interior relies on intangible, ever-evolving elements such as the intensity of natural light and the changing colour of the sky to create moments of visual drama. The success of the interior is based on the less-is-more adage: in an environment such as this, one special piece of furniture or a well-chosen lamp can have maximum impact where it would be lost in a more complicated setting.

Strait-talking style

Looking bass strait squarely in the eye, this holiday house bears tibrent of salt spray, sun, rain, and southwesterlies. Designed by dawson tanner architects, it has been given a robust street facade and look get to weather the elements gracefully.

FOR THIS HOUSE, tucked in behind the scrub-covered sand dunes along Victoria’s rugged Bellarine Peninsula, easy maintenance and durability were always going to be a priority for the owners. The front of the property is skewed towards the southwesterlies blowing in from Bass Strait, and the rear faces the northern sun. You only have to look around at the wind-deformed trees to gauge the ferocity of the conditions!

The clients asked Dawson Tanner Architects to design a four-bedroom holiday house that would be easy to live in, easy to keep clean — and just as easy to lock up and leave for periods at a time. The house serves as a relaxing base for extended holidays: in the distant future it may become the family’s permanent residence.

The clients required a guest wing for when other family members come to stay, an open dining/living area (with separate study/playroom) and an extensive outdoor entertainment area. To meet these requirements, the architect arranged the rooms so that the family bedrooms are on a separate floor to the living areas, and the guest quarters are separated from the communal living spaces. To achieve this, the front entrance and a short hallway leading from it do double duty as a visual and acoustic buffer.

While the street elevation is severe, the V-shaped dwelling is open to the north, with the deck and adjacent family room designed for year round comfort. This north facing aspect is dominated by rows of windows on both levels.

In winter, heating is provided by the sun, which streams through the entire living area, and is aided by the heated concrete slab floor and an internal blockwork wall which acts as a thermal storage wall. In summer, the ground floor windows are shaded and protected by the upper floor, which cantilevers over the living area. The cantilevered curved roof, in turn, shades the upper storey bedroom windows.

The wall of glazing in the main living area opens to axial and curved landscape elements leading out to the boundaries of the property. A long path made from railway sleepers visually continues the horizontal lines of the rough-sawn weathered feature walls. In contrast, the timber deck finishes in a graceful curve creating an enclosure partially embedded in the lawn by way of a shallow retaining wall — a cosy spot for outdoor living.

Facing the street, the house appears to have thrown up an impenetrable shield against the winds coming off the Strait. Here, there are few openings in the severe fortress-like facade of rugged, radially-sawn, stringybark cladding and rendered cement sheeting. Windows are generally high-positioned narrow slots, and the landscaping has been pared down to a restrained arrangement of straight paths, ground cover and gravel. The house has been sited as close as possible to the street to ensure maximum space in the more sheltered rear yard.

With its back and shoulders firmly set against the elements, this dwelling has been shaped to form a cosy enclave for the clients and their young children. Its rugged, no-nonsense exterior will weather with dignity, while the protected north-facing zone will provide a sheltered spot for relaxation and play in all seasons.

Compact bathroom design

The bathroom is undergoing a rejuvenation process in tune with design trends world wide. Inspirations come from both the natural environment and the industrial arena: timber veneers, sandstone tiles and granite surfaces resonate with brushed aluminium, stainless steel, glass and chrome. Colours are neutral but not insipid. The palette embraces warm browns, cool greys, clay tones and quiet greens and blues. Chrome tapware and glass surfaces are used to sculptural effect, creating dynamic forms and lustrous highlights.
Utilising the under-stair alcove in an inner city renovation, architect Katie Molnar designed a compact bathroom for the restricted space. The bath is inserted directly under the stair, and the vanity is positioned behind. A Graphic Glass opaque wall allows light to flow through from the stair, while retaining privacy. As the building was too close to the boundary for windows, a skylight with timber battens filters light instead. The Carrara marble vanity features Vola taps and a Caroma Laser handbasin.
* WATER WORLD
Light blue and aqua marine Pazotti mosaic floor tiles give off a watery glow in this bathroom by architects Sam Crawford and Emill Fox. The effect is enhanced by natural light filtering onto the glossy white wall tiles and being reflected in the large mirror. The vanity features a 44 mm rotary cut hoop pine marine plywood veneer, with taps from Brodware’s Eko range. The glossy 200 mm x 280 mm ‘Rose White’ wall tiles are from Tilecraft.
* ESSENTIALLY JAPANESE
A mid Meiji era (circa 1890) kitchen storage chest in cypress and elm has been converted into a vanity in this Melbourne bathroom. On top of the antique a slumped glass basin design by Joseph Licciardi, available through Vetrosystems, is teamed with Fantini ‘Stilo’ tapware from Rogers Seller & Myhill and Taps Design. On the floor, walls, and lining the deep Japanese-style bath are limestone ‘Isernia’ tiles from Domus Ceramics. The bath spout is a Hobspa, from Classic Ceramics, and the pair of shower fittings are Grohe Relaxa Plus, from Rogers Seller & Myhill. The bathroom was designed by David Reade, of Id Entity, and Peter and Danielle Longmore, of Issho.
* HEALTH BENEFITS
The System Pool range of hydromassage baths and showers focus on the importance of well being and relaxation. The spa bath shown here features jets which create a therapeutic whirlpool effect, easing muscle tension and improving blood circulation. With its simple rectangular casing and rounded pond-like form, the unit is styled to suit most bathroom settings. Available from Earp Bros Tiles & Bathrooms.
* ROOM WITH A VIEW
Full length glazing captures the surrounding natural beauty in this bathroom, designed by Perth architect Stephen Hoffman. The Lestro round bench-mounted basin and Neo Hob swivel gooseneck outlet, with Neo single lever tapware, are from Rogers Seller & Myhill, available through Attitude Design Collective.
Extra big tiles are gaining a strong foothold in the world of bathroom design. The tiles shown here are a generous 666 mm x 363 mm. With few visible grouting lines, the effect is to make the room appear larger. To prevent the appearance of screen dots on the tile, special rotative printing technology has been used to increase the definition of the design. A layer of high gloss crystaline glaze has been added to the normal glaze to create a mirror finish. Inquires to Earp Bros Tiles & Bathrooms.

Bedroom design

Using pinking shears, cut the sheet to 48×52 inches. Center the board on the fabric’s wrong side. Wrap the fabric to the back of the board. (For smaller projects, be sure to allow several inches of fabric to wrap back.) Starting at the center of one side and working out, staple the fabric every inch. Next, wrap and staple the opposite side, pulling fabric taut. Finish remaining sides. Fold corners smooth, trimming excess fabric.

Cut two 38-inch pieces of 1/2-inch-wide grosgrain ribbon and two 42inch pieces for the border. Wrap short ribbons around short ends and staple to back. Add long ribbons. Dot fabric glue between ribbon and sheet.

Matters of taste. Pillowcases, scraps left from other projects, or flawed sheets from the bargain bin offer up enough yardage for fabric-covered mat boards. Small prints work best for this project.

Purchase a precut mat board or have one custom-cut to fit your photos and frames. Cut the fabric pieces 1 inch larger than the mat board. Using a foam brush, apply a light coat of white crafts glue on the front side of the mat. Center the fabric over the mat and smooth it in place. For the photo window, cut the opening I inch smaller on each side than the actual mat opening. Cut diagonally into each corner. Pull the center fabric to the back and glue it in place. Place the mat under a heavy book or other weight and let it dry.

Because of its tight weave, sheet fabric frays very little. Even so, it’s a good ideo to add a tiny dot of glue to the inside corners (below) to prevent any stray threads from popping out.

After the mat dries, attach your photograph to the mat back with tape. Add a solid piece of mat board the same size as the first for backing and place both in the frame.

If you choose not to use glass, be aware that your photograph is unprotected. Consider framing a copy of the original instead. With original heirloom photographs, use only archival-quality tapes and glues.

Dressy drawers. Help an unfinished or worse-for-wear dresser get with the decorating program by covering the drawers in fabric that matches the bedding. A twin-size sheet will cover a three-drawer dresser. When cutting out the fabric, check pattern matches and repeats so the overall design is pleasing.

Cut fabric 72 inch wider on all sides than the drawer fronts. Mix equal parts of water and white crafts glue, and paint one drawer front with the solution. Working quickly, center the fabric on the drawer front and gently press it into place with a small rolling pin or credit card. Work from the center out, pushing air bubbles out the edges. Wrap the 2-inch fabric flaps to the drawer sides or back, and glue into place with full-strength glue. Add a row of hidden staples for holding power. Finish the rest of the drawers, then slide them into a dresser that’s been painted with two coats of matching paint.

Curtains for this one. WIder is better when it comes to drapery fabric-less piecing is needed. And sheets will fit almost any window size. Select a sheet that is 1 1/2 to 3 times wider than your window. If the sides are already hemmed (most are not), skip to the rod pocket step in the next paragraph. If the sides are selvage edges, turn the edge under 4 inch, then 3/4 inch, and topstitch.

Determine the proper length for the curtain and add 2 inches for the rod pocket. For a balloon bottom like the one shown here, add 6 to 8 inches. (You won’t need extra inches for the hem, since the sheet bottom already is hemmed.) Cut the sheet to the proper length. Turn the top edge under 4 inch, then 1 3/4 inches to form the rod pocket. Topstitch.

Flat-front drawers work best because the fabric is glued to the front, then wrapped around the edges and glued and stapled in place. For beveled drawers, apply the fabric to the flat surface only. Paint the bevel a contrasting color.

When adding rickrack, you don’t hav to sew back and forth along the trim-a straight stitch will hold it in place just fine. Align the rickrack so the bottom of the V meets The edge of the hem, then sew straight through the trim. After laundering, the rickrack may curl slightly. Steam ironing will Haen the trim to its original shape.

(Be sure to prewash the trim before using-it may shrink slightly.)

Lay rickrack along the side hem on the curtain’s wrong side. The lower point of the V shape should align with the edge. Sew through rickrack in a straight line. Tack in place at each end and finish with fray-checking liquid.

Sheet success

Sheets not only make the bed, but make the room as well. Fabulous patterns, wide widths, and high-quality fabrics make sheets a perfect tool for decorating. Fabric glues, fusible tapes, and short-cut sewing techniques make the projects more achievable.

Give it the slip. Update almost any headboard with a slipcover made of sheets. You’ll need one flat sheet that’s the same size as the bed-twin, double, queen, or king.

Make a pattern by taping paper onto your headboard and tracing around it. The pattern should extend to the bed rails. Add 1 inch all the way around (12 inch for seam allowances, 1/2 inch for ease of fitting), then cut out two pieces. Baste piping to the right side of one piece along the seam line. Sew the pieces together, right sides facing.

Clip any curves and layer the seam allowances. Narrowly hem the bottom edge. Slide the slipcover over the headboard.

For rail-type headboards that have expanses of open space, you’ll need fabric with a bit of stiffness. Choose sheets with a high thread count. For extra stiffness, iron fusible interfacing or fusible fleece to the wrong side of the fabric before sewing the pieces together.

Seamless coverup. Tablecloths cut from standard yard goods require a seam or two because of the fabric’s narrow width. Sheets come wide enough to eliminate the seam, letting the cloth lay smooth and flat. Generally, sheets are made in the following standard sizes, so use these measurements as a guideline for choosing the proper sheet for your project: twin, 71xl10 inches; full, 87×110 inches; queen, 95×118 inches; king, 108×120 inches.

Cut the fabric 2 inches longer and 2 inches wider than the desired size. Turn under all edges 4 inch, then 3/4 inch, and hem by machine or with fusible hemming tape. Iron on a border of 1 2-inch-wide grosgrain ribbon, aligning the edge of the ribbon with the edge of the hem. If fusible hemming tape isn’t available in the width of your ribbon, combine two narrow strips or cut strips from yardage of paper-backed fusible webbing. Corners can butt, lap, or miterwhichever works best for your ribbon weight and pattern.

Bulletin.. no boredom. Perk up one of your home’s more mundane necessities-the bulletin board. Sound board (you’ll find it at home improvement centers) covered with sheeting and trimmed with ribbon provides a colorful background. For this 32×36-inch board, use one twin sheet. For smaller types, use a pillowcase or crib sheet.