Blog

Bed bugs (posted by Lisa Alberico, August, 2018)

A bed bug infestation is my worst nightmare. My first thoughts would include burning down my house......read more

Designing a room - DIY or hire a designer (posted by Lisa Alberico, July, 2018)

Magazines and home reno shows make it look easy but when you try to design a room on your own, the fear......read more

Eco-friendly furniture (posted by Lisa Alberico, June, 2018)

Many families are interested in reducing their negative impact on the environment. Making environmentally-friendly choices......read more

How to buy high quality furniture on a budget (posted by Lisa Alberico, May, 2018)

I know how tempting it is to buy cheap furniture. Big box retailers have mastered the art......read more

How to set up a dream bedroom (posted by Lisa Alberico, April, 2018)

Bedrooms are the ultimate place of refuge from the stresses of the day; therefore bedroom design......read more

How to turn your bunk bed into a loft bed (posted by Lisa Alberico, March, 2018)

You’re no longer sharing a room. Or maybe you never were; you were just lucky enough to have bunk beds......read more

Keeping your kids' room tidy (posted by Lisa Alberico, February, 2018)

The combination of receiving tons of new toys, games, books and clothes and the natural urge to get organized......read more

Buying a cottage (posted by Lisa Alberico, October, 2018)

Have you ever dreamed of owning a cottage? If you’d asked me a few years ago I would have said no thank you!......read more

Buying a cottage, part 2 (posted by Lisa Alberico, November, 2018)

Congratulations! They accepted your offer and you are a proud cottage owner. You will want to get organized......read more


Bed bugs

A bed bug infestation is my worst nightmare. My first thoughts would include burning down my house so I can appreciate the urge to take extreme measures.
Bed bugs will completely overrun your group home, camp or facility if left untreated. So does throwing away beds, mattresses and other furniture solve your bed bug problem? Nope. Unfortunately, bed bugs can hide anywhere, within mattresses, sofa seams, cracks in the bed frame (metal or wood), under chairs, couches, beds and dust covers, under rugs, edges of carpets, drawers, baseboards and window casings, behind light switches, electrical outlet plates, cracks in plaster, televisions, radio clocks and phones, backpacks, sleeping bags, clothes, behind wallpaper, picture frames, and other dark areas. So do not throw away your furniture. Your furniture will be gone but the bed bugs will still be there, ready to infect your new furniture. This ends up costing you thousands more than effectively treating the home and furniture. Beds and other furniture can be treated for bed bugs.
I’ve had customers ask me about “bed bug proof” furniture and heard rumours that bed bugs can’t live on metal furniture. Unfortunately there is no such thing as “bed bug proof” furniture and the experts, including Orkin and Terminix both agree that bed bugs have no preference to wood vs. metal. Bed bugs seek out dark and tight spaces, no matter the material.

To prevent bed bugs from entering your home:
Do not bring furniture, mattresses, box springs, or bed frames found on the street into your home. Check all used or rented furniture for bed bugs. Only get used or rented furniture from a place with a bed bug prevention policy.
Do not place backpacks, purses or bags on beds, couches, or other areas where you rest or sleep.
When traveling check for bed bugs in your hotel room. Check the bedding, furniture and luggage valet. Keep your suitcases off the bed and check them for bed bugs when departing
For apartments, seal cracks and crevices around plumbing and wiring, this will help prevent bed bugs traveling from next door apartments. If you think you have come into contact with bed bugs, immediately wash and dry your clothing on the hottest setting the fabric can withstand, or store them in a sealed plastic bag until you are able to do so. Shoes, bags and other objects can be put in the dryer for 30 min; at medium-high temperature or the highest temperature the material can tolerate, to kill bed bugs.

Source: University Of Minnesota

Designing a room - DIY or hire a designer

Magazines and home reno shows make it look easy but when you try to design a room on your own, the fear of making a mistake is scary. Shades for windows, pillows, throws, drapes, lights and lamps, artwork, accents. Coordinating furniture, rugs, and paint add layers of design challenges. It can be overwhelming. All of this, especially furniture, is expensive so mistakes are costly. The fear leads to design paralysis. You put it off. You buy nothing. You give up.
Hiring a designer is one way to remove the pressure. An interior designer can make your life easier, save you from making costly mistakes, and make your house look great. They can create smart floor plans and make sure textures, colours and furniture works together. There is a designer for every client, budget and style. Well, maybe not every budget. You don’t often find designers looking to work for free unless it's a close friend or relative. And that may come with it’s own set of risks. They may have great taste and wonderful decorating skills but designing for someone else is a collaborative process. Just because they can assemble a beautiful home does not mean they have the skill it takes to interpret someone else's vision. They may try to steer you towards what they like. And you want your home to reflect you.
If hiring a designer is just not your style, you can do it yourself and minimize the risks of making mistakes. Start with an inspiration board where you put pictures from magazines and catalogues, paint chips, fabric swatches, business cards of stores and tradespeople.
Get free professional advice. If there’s a furniture store you really like, see if it offers free interior decorating services. Bring your room dimensions into Crate Designs and we will work with you on your project without charge, although, we will expect you to purchase some furniture from our store! But if you like our furniture, it’s a great way to go!
And here’s two final pieces of advice:
1. Do the project in stages, as funds allow.
2. If it's expensive, it's got to be neutral. You will greatly reduce your financial risk by choosing expensive design elements, like furniture, in classic designs and neutral colours. Scared you’ll end up with a generic look? You can add creativity and interest with relatively inexpensive items like paint, pillows and decor.

Eco-friendly furniture

Many families are interested in reducing their negative impact on the environment. Making environmentally-friendly choices when purchasing furniture for their homes can make a big difference for the planet. And if you think you can’t afford to buy earth-friendly furniture, it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are cost effective ways to be eco-conscious.
The easiest way to be eco-friendly is by leaving the car in the garage and starting the shopping process online. Crate Designs’ comprehensive website has each pieces’ dimensions, specifications and prices. You can create a wishlist and narrow down your options to reduce the environmental impact of driving to and from a number of different furniture stores. Even better is if you take the time to measure your room before you start shopping. This will save you time and trip!
Next, remember that the world needs trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, they cool the surface of the planet, their roots hold soil together and prevent erosion and landslides, and trees create ecosystems and habitats for animals, birds, insects and other plants. There are many ways to harvest wood that do not lead to deforestation. Crate Designs only used wood from sustainably harvested wood farms.
Solid wood furniture is not only beautiful it is also durable. One of the most important factors to consider when looking to purchase environmentally-friendly furniture is durability. When furniture is built to last a lifetime and be passed down to the next generation, there is less of a chance that it will end up in a landfill. And it will probably also save you money in the long run. Look for furniture that is durable and fixable. That will ensure that if your needs or your tastes change, your furniture will likely be appealing to someone else.
Customers are often pleased to learn that replacement upholstery and other parts are always available at Crate Designs. We make it easy to refresh your upholstered pieces with hundreds of fabrics to choose from.
And finally, when possible, buy local! Buying local supports the local economy, skilled woodworkers and decreases the environmental impact of shipping.

How to buy high quality furniture on a budget

I know how tempting it is to buy cheap furniture. Big box retailers have mastered the art of offering low-quality but reasonably cool looking items. And those items can be hard to resist!
But think about this for a moment: How much quality can you really get with a $99 desk? How long is that $79 bookshelf really going to last you?
I can tell you from experience that the answer is “not long.” And, I’m sure you’ve probably experienced the same thing yourself.
My point here is that cheap furniture isn’t really that cheap at all. You might be getting a bargain at first, but it’s not going to last over the long haul.
Why Buy Quality Furniture?
High-quality furniture is made with care, which means it’s going to last. I strongly believe that you save money by spending a bit more on furniture for several reasons:
1. You don’t buy on impulse.
When you focus on buying quality, you’re unlikely to buy something on impulse. When you buy on impulse you are buying because it’s a deal and it looks cool and because you’re going to cross your fingers and hope it does the trick.
When you buy quality, you choose with thought and consideration. You buy with confidence.
2. Quality furniture lasts longer.
Unlike thin plywood, particleboard, pressboard, or fiberboard furniture that usually has the durability of wet cardboard after some normal household use, high-quality furniture can stand up to some serious wear. Ask yourself whether the piece of furniture you’re considering is likely to last two years or twenty. Will you have to pay someone to haul it to the dump or will someone pay you top dollar on Kijiji when you are done with it?
A bargain isn’t really a bargain if you have to replace it every two to five years.
How to transition from disposable to high-quality?
Unlike electronics and other household goods, a lot of quality furniture is still sold through independent, family-run businesses. The owners and employees of these businesses are passionate about what they do and about the furniture they sell. Visit a high-quality retailer and learn how to recognize quality.
If the sticker price scares you, don’t worry. You have some options.
Look at the floor models, usually there’s nothing too wrong with them. If there’s a nick or dent, maybe it’s in a spot you can live with.
Ask for a discount…nicely. Compliment the item. Be serious about making the purchase and ask about the possibility of the item ever going on sale. The worst they can say is no.
Don’t underestimate the value of buying pre-loved furniture. As far as quality, if it were going to break easily, it probably would have by now.
Purchase classic pieces with simple lines that won’t go out of style!

How to set up a dream bedroom

Bedrooms are the ultimate place of refuge from the stresses of the day; therefore bedroom design is all about creating a comfortable space that helps you feel energised and totally at ease. Sometimes, the most difficult room to design is the bedroom. Where to place furniture in the bedroom can be a tricky dilemma, especially if a room is long and narrow, has an abundance of windows or is a tight fit.
The way you arrange furniture can make a big difference if done properly. You can design a perfect space with just a little bit of thought and a lot of experimentation. Crate Designs has a wide variety of bedroom furniture that will fit any specific needs you have. When it comes to arranging furniture it’s sometimes necessary to get a little creative. Here are some tips you can use for making the most of your space.
Before you start deciding where to put what, grab a piece of paper and make a simple sketch of the room. You don’t have to be an artist but you can easily eliminate some of the options that won’t work and potentially save time. You should take note of windows, doors, closets. Even before measuring the room you will be able to get a sense of the room’s potential flow and make a couple of guesses as to what will work. You will eventually have to measure though!
Once you have the basics of the room down on paper, begin with the bed. Because every bedroom absolutely has to have a bed in it! Traditionally, beds are placed on the wall opposite the door or the largest one with no windows. In a small bedroom, you may have to break these guidelines, though. Find a spot for the bed that makes the most sense, just make sure you can open and close your bedroom and closet doors.
Aside from the bed, think about the furniture and try to use only the pieces that are necessary for the room to function. This is especially important in small bedrooms when there isn’t a lot of extra space – using fewer pieces will make the room look and feel a lot more spacious. If the room is extra tiny, use taller dressers, a 7026 for example, and shelves to get more storage while taking up less room.
If the bedroom is barely big enough to fit a bed, there are a few tricks that will help you manage the space. While no one loves the idea of pushing a bed against the wall, you can try leaving as little room as possible on one side—this will leave more space on the other for a larger bedside chest. A small shelf on the opposite side works well if there is not enough room for two tables. At Crate Designs there is always the option to use under bed storage (4019 etc) instead of a dresser and remember mirrors will also help the room appear bigger.
On the other hand, if your room is a generous size, we recommend a long bench at the end of the bed. A bench is not only aesthetically pleasing but also convenient. Alternatively, an upholstered cube or petite bench near the closet will make sure nothing is left on the floor.
And finally, take your time. Great designs can take a while, but it’s worth taking the extra time to make sure you are thrilled with the end results.

How to turn your bunk bed into a loft bed

You’re no longer sharing a room. Or maybe you never were; you were just lucky enough to have bunk beds for the occasional sleepover. For whatever reason, if you’ve decided you’d like to turn your existing bunk beds into a loft bed, your effort will be rewarded with lots of extra floor space for a desk or a dresser or a bean bag chair or a ….
Most of this project consists of removing parts that are already on the bunk bed.
If your bunk has slats and posture boards (purchased prior to 2016)
Step One: Remove the mattresses from both beds.
Step Two: Remove the posture boards from both bunks.
Step Three: Remove the slats from the lower bed only.
Step Four: Install the slats from the lower bed on the upper bunk.
Step Five: Place both posture boards on the upper bunk, one on top of the other.
Step Six: Replace the mattress on the upper bunk.
Step Seven: Remove the front rail of the lower bunk. (This is the only part you will need to store.) The back rail remains in place.
If your bunk bed is an all-slat design you simply remove the slats and front rail of the lower bunk and store these parts!

Keeping your kids' room tidy

The combination of receiving tons of new toys, games, books and clothes and the natural urge to get organized for the New Year means that a lot of parents are going to be nagging their kids to clean their rooms this week.
It's a problem! Children's rooms are usually small, sometimes shared, and can lack proper storage. We cram all their outgrown and out-of-season clothes, toys, crafts, books and even our own childhood mementos in their rooms. Kids can’t get organized if their drawers are stuffed and their closet is crammed and their shelves are full.
So start by getting down to their level and look around. Look at their space, their storage and their furniture from their point of view. Everything has to have a place to go! Are there enough shelves? Are there enough drawers? Do the drawers work properly? Large, heavy drawers that are hard to open and close discourage kids from putting away their clothes.
If your child has enough drawers but at the moment some are too tall and out of reach, consider adding some under-the-bed drawers. If you need to add storage to accommodate your child’s growing wardrobe, look for dresser drawers that roll easily on steel and nylon runners.
At Crate Designs we love helping children make their spaces functional and beautiful.
Our advice comes from our experiences working with many different people in many different circumstances, and also from the tried and true successes (and plenty of failures) from our own lives.

Buying a cottage

Have you ever dreamed of owning a cottage? If you’d asked me a few years ago I would have said no thank you! As much as I enjoyed visiting friends’ cottages on the long weekends, hanging out on the dock, playing euchre and enjoying nature, I never had the desire to own and operate a cottage of my own. They are a lot of money, a lot of work and my husband and I really preferred to spend our vacation time and budget travelling.
And then I had a baby.
Suddenly going anywhere that required boarding an airplane lost its appeal, and packing up the car for a simple overnight took a lot of planning and then I still usually managed to forget something essential. At the same time I realized how amazing it would be to have a special retreat where we would create priceless family memories. So we started shopping for a cottage. And four short years later we bought one.
For some people buying a cottage can be an impulse buy. If you get caught up in the excitement and buy the first property you see on the lake where your friends have a cottage it can work out really well. Good for you! For the rest of us, buying a cottage takes a lot of patience. There are a lot of practical and emotional factors to take into consideration. For example, what you want in terms of privacy, water access, and amenities. What you will be using the cottage for; family vacations, hosting friends, renting to produce income or a future home for retirement.
You should probably visit your bank before calling the real estate agent. Financing a cottage depends on access, whether or not it can be winterized and water quality. Knowing your budget will help you choose a location. In Ontario it might be Muskoka, Georgian Bay, Haliburton, Algonquin, Kawarthas, Bruce Peninsula or Lake Huron. You will choose based on childhood memories, favourite camping experiences, preferred activities and convenience. But mostly based on budget.
You need to find a local real estate agent. Everyone knows a real estate agent but no, you can’t use your friend or the agent that helped you buy your home. You can definitely ask them for a suggestion or a referral but when you are buying recreational property you need someone who know first-hand about water levels, erosion and dealing with conservation authorities. Or even the specific property’s suitability for swimming. Things can vary widely even in neighbouring properties and relying on the internet for this kind of information is risky.
We sent a few emails to agents and got a wonderful reply from Monique (http://realestategoderich.ca/) detailing the pros and cons of various areas we had been considering. We worked with Monique for four years and saw a real variety of properties including one that looked like it had been perfectly preserved for the 50s, one where our van got stuck in the mud and she helped push us out, and the one we finally bought.
You should be

Buying a cottage, part 2

Congratulations! They accepted your offer and you are a proud cottage owner. You will want to get organized so you can start enjoying the cottage the minute you get the keys. Most cottages are sold with significant furnishings included. When we bought our cottage only family heirlooms and a few antiques were excluded from the deal. Everything from tables and chairs, to bunk beds, televisions, bedding and kitchen utensils came with the cottage. There is definitely pros and cons to buying a cottage “with contents”. Although it’s nice to avoid the cost of furnishing a second home from top to bottom, on the other hand, there is the time, hassle and sometimes money involved with disposing of the things you don’t want. If you know in advance that you don’t want a particular item, you don’t have to agree to take it just because it’s free. Cottages and cottage owners accumulate things over the years. Once the cottage is sold the seller usually wants to make a clean break. It can also be time consuming and expensive to remove large, bulky items. As the buyer, you have think carefully about your plans to take unwanted items to a landfill as well as the cost involved with replacing the inherited furniture and appliances with new purchases, especially if there is difficult or tricky access to the cottage. In our case, we lucked out: we bought a cottage that already had Crate Designs furniture! In fact, we were able to verify it was genuine Crate furniture and even it’s vintage, because the cottage had a unique reclining chair that hasn’t been in production in almost 26 years. Despite the age, the sofa and chair frames, as well as the tables, were in perfect condition (they really do last a lifetime!) so all I had to do was choose a new fabric and order replacement cushions and the living room was completely updated. We also purchased a new bed for the master bedroom. Beds are probably the first thing that new cottage owners replace. There is nothing relaxing about sleeping on an uncomfortable, ancient mattress. Remember that most cottages are furnished with hand-me-downs from the primary home. That bed was probably over 10 years old when it arrived at the cottage -- it could easily be 20 years old now! If you are considering upgrading the beds at your cottage, you have to check out the under-the-bed storage drawers and trundle bed options at Crate Designs.

Ⓒ 2018 Crate Designs Ltd. All rights reserved.