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Dressers: Must-Know Facts
6 Things to Know Before You Buy
A dresser is a functional piece of bedroom furniture that can take on many roles. Besides acting as a storage area for your clothing, jewelry, and other personal items, it can display knick knacks and photos. Add your make-up to the top and a mirror and it becomes a vanity. Dressers are masters of all trades.
Before you go on a quest for the perfect chest of drawers, do your homework. Knowing what to look for can help you choose the best model for your lifestyle.Shop Dressers & Chests
Fact #1: There are Four Basic Dresser Styles
Dressers come in different styles and sizes. Here’s a rundown of the four most common to keep in mind as you’re dresser shopping.
Vertical: A vertical dresser typically stands tall with narrow drawers. This style also works well if you have a dual purpose that demands eye level, such as displaying a TV or as a vanity to which you can attach a mirror. Vertical dressers can provide ample storage space too.
Horizontal: This dresser style is wider and lower to the ground than a vertical dresser. In addition to storing clothes, this style works well for using your dresser as a changing table or as a vanity for displaying knickknacks, among other uses. The spacious drawers are ideal for housing bulkier items, such as sweaters. You can separate items by adding your own dividers, if you choose to.
Gentleman’s chest/armoire: This is a combination dresser with drawers and an armoire, which is a side cabinet for storage or hanging clothes. Consider it part dresser, part closet.
Lingerie chest/semainier: This traditionally tall, slim dresser features multiple smaller drawers for lingerie. Adding this piece to your bedroom can free up dresser space and help you organize your intimates. It allows you to designate some drawers for bras and some for nightgowns, for example.
Think about how you’ll use your dresser to determine the best style for your needs.
Fact #2: Size Matters
Before shopping, measure the area where you’ll be placing the dresser with a tape measure, including the width of the area where the dresser will be placed and the depth of the floor space in front of the wall; hold a tape measure against the wall’s floorboard and extend it parallel to the wall. Add at least one inch allowance to the depth measurement if there’s an electrical outlet that will be used in the wall behind the dresser. Jot these measurements down so you can use them to compare models and sizes as you’re shopping.
Fact #3: Construction and Finish
Dressers are often made from hardwood, such as ash, cherry, mahogany, or oak, and/or soft wood, such as cedar, pine, or cypress. Many dressers are a combination of hard and soft woods for the inner compartment. Dressers/chests may also be made from composite woods and constructed with a laminate or veneer finish, in colors such as brown, white, red, beige, black, blue, and metallic. Know that hardwoods can be heavy.
Fact #4: Some Dressers are Made to Match
If you want your bedroom furniture to match, consider buying a dresser that is part of a set. Some sets even offer a vertical and a horizontal version so you can choose the one that best suits your needs and space.
If you like to mix it up a bit or you are buying a dresser for another room think about the overall look you’d like to achieve. Do you want the dresser to be the showpiece in that room or more understated to blend in with the style and color of the other furniture.
Fact #5: Construction and Finish
Dressers/chests made from any type of wood are generally easy to maintain but you’ll want to take steps to protect your dresser/chest. Use coasters under any drinking glasses you place on top of your dresser. Use doilies or felt pads under objects that may scratch surface. Follow manufacturer’s directions when applying wood cleaners or polishes.
Fact #6: Assembly is Getting Easier
Know that some dressers come in several pieces and require assembly. You’ll need to have the right tools for the job, such as a screwdriver, and read the manufacturer’s assembly instructions. Otherwise stick to solid construction and opt for delivery. It may cost more, but is often worth the investment.
Coffee Tables: Must-Know Facts
4 Things to Know Before You Buy
There’s little doubt that a good coffee table can be one of the highlights of a room, but with all of the available options and designs, choosing the perfect coffee table can be a bit of a challenge! So grab some coffee and let’s explore the world of coffee tables.Shop Coffee & Console Tables
Fact #1: Size is Important
Unlike other types of tables, coffee tables are intended to be roughly the same height as the cushions of your sofa and other similar pieces of furniture in the room. So in choosing the height of your coffee table, you should first measure the height of your cushions and choose a coffee table with a similar elevation.
The length of your coffee table is also very important. A table that is too large can be difficult for people to maneuver around, while a table that is too small can be challenging to use. In general, your coffee table should be about two-thirds as long of your sofa, although the exact dimensions will depend on your personal style and preference. A good rule of thumb is to position your coffee table about 1 .5 feet away from the edges of your furniture, so keep this in mind when considering the appropriate size to buy.
If you have a particularly large space to fill, consider using two smaller tables rather than one large one. This can give you more room to maneuver and eliminate the possibility of having a single coffee table that overwhelms the room.
Fact #2: Different Situations Require Different Shapes
Coffee tables come in many different shapes, and choosing the most suitable fit will depend in part on the size of your other furniture pieces. If you have a long sofa, a rectangular coffee table that is accessible from every seat is likely the best choice. On the other hand, round or square coffee tables can be a good choice for smaller spaces — or to encourage guests to be seated on all sides of the table — while oval tables can combine the best aspects of rectangular and round tables. If space is limited, consider a trio of nesting tables, identical in every respect except for size. When not in use, the smaller tables can tuck underneath the larger one where they will be right at hand whenever additional table area is needed.
Fact #3: Extra Features are Abundant
Having chosen the most appropriate size and shape for your coffee table, it’s now time for the fun part — choosing what extra features you desire! If you want convenient storage space, a coffee table with shelves, bins, or drawers can provide plenty of room for books, board games, or miscellaneous items. For larger items, a trunk-shaped coffee table with a lifting top can offer ample storage space within the table, although it may not be convenient to access if you plan on keeping large books or decorative items on top. If spilled drinks are a concern, a tray top coffee table will help prevent liquids from spilling off the table and onto the floor below.
Fact #4: Room Style Dictates Table Style
Just as coffee tables come in many different shapes, they come in many different materials as well! The style of your room will obviously have a major impact on your choice of a material. Just as an intricately-carved wooden table would look out of place in a no-frills room, a glass-topped metal table might not be as appropriate in a woodsy hunting lodge with elk horns on the wall. Intended use can also affect your choice of material — for example, spilled drinks could stain a wooden table, but not a glass or metal table.
Buying Guide to TV Stands & Media Centers
6 Things to Know Before You Buy
Display your flat screen TV on a stand, console or entertainment center and suddenly, you’ve got a home theater. Designed for style and functionality, this impressive multi-tasker can add life to your living room and den or family room. It can showcase your TV and help you stay organized by serving as storage space for your books, DVDs, video games, and other media equipment. TV stands/media centers come in a variety of styles, sizes, and looks. Tuning into the following facts can help you pick the best model for your situation.Shop TV Stands & Entertainment Centers
Fact #1: Know the Size of Your TV
Before shopping, measure your TV the old-fashioned way if you’re not sure of its size. TVs are sold using the diagonal measurement. A 42-inch TV, for example, is 42 inches across the screen from corner to corner. Check out the manufacturer’s size recommendations of the TV stands/consoles as you’re shopping to make sure they’re made for your TV’s size. Know how much your TV and other equipment weigh too, and how much weight contender TV stands/consoles are made to support. If you’re interested in buying an entertainment center, make sure to measure the depth of your media equipment to assure that it will fit on the shelf and any doors will close.
Fact #2: Room Size
Before shopping, map out where you’ll eventually put your new TV stand/entertainment center. Measure the space in front of the wall where you plan to put the furniture in terms of width, depth, and height. Compare those measurements with contender stand/entertainment center models. If you’re tight on space, consider models, which fit in a corner.
Fact #3: Storage Needs
Many TV stands/entertainment centers have open shelving or shelves with doors for storing a gaming system, surround-sound stereo, and other items, such as books and your cable box. Be sure to select one with shelving that’s adequate for your needs. Some consoles feature adjustable shelving so you can tailor your storage space. Measure the pieces you’ll be storing in your TV stand/media center, such as your TV, DVD player, gaming system, and speakers so you can size up where they’ll go and whether there’s room for them. Also, consider how much of your stuff you’ll want hidden from view. Doors in the cabinet area serve as concealers and — bonus — they help keep out dust bunnies.
Fact #4: Construction and Design
Many TV stands are made from solid hardwood construction with a hardwood veneer. Compared to soft woods, such as cedar, cypress, fir, pine, and redwood, hardwoods provide the most strength and durability. Popular hardwoods include: ash, cherry, mahogany, maple, oak, pecan, rosewood, teak, and walnut. Other consoles are made from metal. Designs run the gamut, from contemporary to traditional with a range of colors from black, brown, and red to white and grey. When choosing, keep on the hunt until you find one that makes the right color and style statement for your tastes and decor.
Fact #5: Are You Up for Assembly?
Most TV stands/consoles come with several components and require assembly, which may take an hour or more. If you’re not up for the job, recruit a handy friend or relative.
Fact #6: TV Stand vs. Entertainment Center
These terms are bandied about as if they’re one in the same, but it’s helpful to know the difference. An entertainment center is a large piece of furniture that encases a TV. It typically has open or closed shelving or a mix of both on the sides of the TV as well as underneath, in the console. TV consoles/stands serve as a surface from which to display your TV, with shelving underneath.
A big factor in deciding between the two is living room real-estate. Entertainment centers typically take up more space. The camouflage option is something else to consider. Many entertainment centers have doors that give you the ability to hide your TV when you’re not using it, such as when you’re entertaining. Many entertainment centers are large enough to accommodate all your media equipment and often make a beautiful and substantial furniture addition to your living or family room.
Buying Guide to Carry-on Luggage
6 Things to Know Before You Buy
In the past few years, air travel has become more of a dreaded headache than a much-anticipated adventure. The savvy traveller avoids extra fees and the epic wait at the baggage claim by eschewing a standard-sized suitcase for a few small carry-on bags. Before you follow in their footsteps, keep these must know facts in mind.
Fact #1: There Is a Maximum Size for Carry-on Luggage
Thinking about sneaking that over-sized carry-on past airline employees? Desk agents have an eagle-eye (and a measuring bin) to catch travelers with bags that exceed airline requirements. Most airlines allow carry-on luggage that according to the FAA must not be larger than 45 linear inches (length + width + height). Make sure your carry-on bag doesn't exceed this size at full capacity, otherwise you'll be forced to check your bag and pay a fee. It is always advisable to check with your airline for their latest guidelines.
Fact #2: Exterior Pockets Make Accessing Your Carry-on Easier
At some point during your cross-country flight you're probably going to need to get into your carry-on. Pick a carry-on with multiple exterior pockets so you can easily access your toiletries, nab your tablet, or grab your glasses without opening the whole bag. You really will find having exterior compartments a huge convenience while traveling.
Fact #3: Not All Carry-ons Have the Same Number of Handles
The ideal carry-on bag has two durable handles -- one at the top and one on the side. These dual handles make it much easier to lift your bag into the overhead compartment or into the trunk of your car.
For easier traveling, look for a bag with 2 or 4 smooth rolling wheels with 360 degree mobility. It's also preferable to have a retractable handle that allows you to pull the bag. Look for one that extends easily and locks into place (both when it's extended and when it's hidden). Some carry-on bags feature handles that extend with the touch of a button or to a variety of lengths.
Fact #4: Some Carry-ons Allow Flexible Packing, Some Do Not
If this is going to be your go-to bag for a variety of trips, you may want to look for one that allows for flexible packing. What does this mean exactly? Well, it means that the bag has the ability to expand to allow for more clothes.
Duffle carry-ons typically provide for packing flexibility, but that doesn't mean you should count out suitcase style luggage. Many classic carry-ons have a zipper that allows for their body to expand a few inches wider so you can stuff in that extra pair of shoes or one more sweater.
Fact #5: Waterproof Is the Way to Go
Rain storms happen. So do spills, unexpected puddles and the occasional bout of slush. Get waterproof luggage. Because the last thing you want is an entire suitcase full of wet clothing.
Fact #6: Some Carry-ons Weigh More Than Others
Not flexing a major pair of biceps? Then you may want to look for a carry-on that touts itself as being lightweight.Shop Carry-on Luggage
Buying Guide to Microwave Ovens
6 Things to Know Before You Buy
Think all microwave ovens are the same? Think again. This must-have kitchen tool comes with enough variety to suit just about anyone's needs. You can opt for a model that's simple and straight forward (perfect for college students just looking to zap a cup of noodles). Or invest in a unit with enough bells and whistles to create a three course meal (hello, moms looking to make a quick, filling dinner for the family).
Not sure which unit is your perfect fit? Peruse these must-know facts before you make your purchase.
Fact #1: Microwaves don't have to sit on your counter.
Countertop ovens may be the most popular model, but that doesn't mean they are the only option. Consider an over-the-range or built in microwave. The former is installed over your oven range, while the latter is built in flush with the cabinetry. The pro to these alternatives is that they free up much-needed counter space. The con? Both can be expensive to install and over-the-range units don't tend to vent as well as countertop microwaves.
Fact #2: Size matters.
Looking to invest in a countertop unit? Then you'll want to measure the available space before you head to the store. Those homeowners with kitchens that suffer from a lack of counter space should keep in mind that midsized and larger models can take up to 3 square feet.
Fact #3: The bigger the microwave, the more watts it has.
And usually, the more watts a unit has, the more heat it's capable of producing. That said, don't waste time debating between two units that have a 100 watt difference -- they produce about the same amount of heat.
Fact #4: The list of microwave features available is long and varied.
Before you even begin your search it's smart to have a solid idea of what you want to use your microwave for. If you're just looking to reheat leftovers, then you probably don't need a unit with an epic amount of extras. However, those looking to accomplish more creative cuisine (in a short amount of time) may want to consider any number of these features:
-Those prone to over cooking food? Look for a unit with sensor cooking. This feature measures the steam emitted from your food so it can determine when it's done cooking.
- Looking for one-step cooking? Pick a microwave with shortcut keys tailored to cooking items like veggies, popcorn, oatmeal and even pizza.
- Love to be in control? Try a model with multiple power levels and 1-minute or 30-second keys so you can tack on extra time if need be.
-Have small children? There are microwaves available with child lockout features that prevent little ones from accidentally turning the unit on.
Fact #5: Nonporous stainless steel interiors don't absorb odor, moisture or food particles.
This is a bonus for those who use their microwaves as the main tool for cooking food.
Fact #6: Microwaves have a life span of about 10 years.
Look for one that has an extended warranty so you're covered for as long as possible.Shop Microwaves ... more
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