Monthly Archives: October 2011

Green Textiles: Oeko-Tex Standard 100

In coordinance with the ever-prominent shift to greener living, there are certain standards set to ensure textiles are the safest they can be. It’s strange to think something as harmless as fabric could be harmful, but it’s true. The Oeko-Tex Standard is a testing and certification system for materials used to produce textiles. From their raw state to the end product, standards are set at all stages of production.

fabricut, green fabrics, eco-friendly fabric, eco-friendly textiles, oeko-tex standard 100
Fabricut's Oeko-Tex Standard 100-certified textiles

“Sustainability is a high interest initiative within the home furnishings industry, both as a response to consumer and regulatory demands and as a key component of corporate strategies that emphasize environmental accountability,” says Bill Perdue, AHFA vice president for environment, health, safety and standards. “Third party certification is a critical tool for manufacturers to ensure their supply chains are delivering products that meet desired quality and ecological standards.”

Companies like Fabricut, a decorative fabrics distributor, are complying with the Oeko-Tex Standard 100. Take their “Connect” Pattern, for example. The textiles are produced using strict environmental guidelines, creating fabric that’s free of carcinogenic dye stuffs creating a skin friendly pH.

If all components of a textile comply with the requirements of the Oeko-Tex criteria, a textile manufacturing company like Fabricut receives certification. They are then entitled to use the Oeko-Tex label to mark their products. The Oeko-Tex certificate is issued for a period of one year and can be extended subject to further successful testing. In order to ensure ongoing compliance with the test criteria, the authorised Oeko-Tex Institutes carry out control tests every year on a minimum of 15% of all certificates issued on Oeko-Tex products available in the shops.

Home Automation Brands: What’s the Difference?

There are so many motorized shade manufacturers available today. It’s great to have so many options, but it can be confusing to know which is right for you or your project.


Lutron, Somfy, BTX and Hunter Douglas- these are four of the top manufaturers in home automation. Some of these companies also specialize in industries outside of window treatments, so it’s important to consider what you want out of home automation before making the investment.


Here are the essential differences between each company:


Lutron – Lutron has long been a leader in the light dimming industry commonly found in homes and commercial buildings. They are also an industry leader in quiet motor technology used to operate electric shades and blinds. Lutron manufactures motorized shades and controls, but does not sell its motors separately. With Lutron, you pay for what you get. The ultra quiet shade and motor combination comes with a more expensive pricetag.

BTX – BTX is another leading provider of both shade systems and motorized drapery tracks. They also have the ability to highly customize projects for specific applications. The electrical components are basic and are easy to integrate with A/V systems such as touch panel displays and projector screens. Their motors are manufactured in Europe and have a reputation for reliability and easy installation, however the motors are not as quiet as Lutron’s.


Somfy – Somfy is the leader in component suppliers to all the automation companies, including those mentioned above. Their technology is cutting edge and has been used in residential and commercial projects for many years. Somfy manufactures only motors and controls, but does not sell shades of any kind. Somfy systems involve purchasing different parts from different sources which allows any type or style of window shade from any fabricator to be motorized. This offers more flexibility but also opens system appearance and matching to more variance. To avoid an unfinished appearance, the dealer must ensure that the best quality, matching components (brackets, fascia, enclosures, screws etc) are used.


Hunter Douglas – Known for their dominance in the window covering industry, Hunter Douglas also manufactures blinds and shades with motors installed. They carry products for both residential and commercial projects. However, because they can only motorize 1 to 4 in a room at a time, Hunter Douglas is better for residential product.  This company has excellent warranties and stands behind them.


If you are thinking about getting home automation installed in your home, and you’re still not sure which of these companies is right for you. Consider speaking with a professional. Electric shades are not typically an easy DIY project because it requires custom fitting and sometimes hard-wiring. Consulting an expert provides a seamless finish in home automation.

Bold and Bright and Brave

What is it about decorating with color that sends home owners into a panic? Bold color decisions can be difficult, but remember, it’s not permanent! Using color at home can be intimidating but there are a few things to consider when using color in interior decorating projects. We asked a couple professionals in architecture, construction and design their opinion on color, and why it can be so scary to some.


Source: Vandamn Interiors

Some believe the intimidation behind color is for personal reasons. Jeffrey Driver, who is a designer and marketer from the UK, says that bold colors can be too dominating if not used correctly. Some may fear being stuck with a bright color they’re unhappy with, or having to repaint. Most are too busy to have to repaint and hiring a professional once is costly enough.

In addition to cost, Driver brings up another great point about seasonal effects on decorating.

“When do people usually redecorate? In my experience it seems to be spring or summer,” Driver explains. “I can imagine that the time of year plays a huge part in this. Depending where you live, at that time of year you want cool, fresh colors. You’re not thinking about warm colors for the winter months.”

Bright colors in the home can be overwhelming when you want to relax. Tom Kearney, President of Chicago-based residential construction company Building Dreams, believes it is not only the physical process of painting, but also selecting color that can be equally intimidating.

Solar shades and striped curtain panels


Kearney says a good compromise could be to paint just one wall of a room an accent color. This way it is a small commitment but also a small job. All the furniture doesn’t have to be moved out.

“Mistakes or misuse of colors are easily adjusted on this smaller scale,” Kearney says. “Most people will be so ‘wowed’ at their results, that they’ll continue with other colors in other rooms.”

Another great option is taking advantage of less permanent decorative accents in your home. Using bold curtains or roller shades with a pattern can feel a lot less of a commitment than paint. You could also switch up throw pillows or accessories for a splash of color.


Custom silk curtains in peach color

Pablo Maida, AIA is an architect in Los Angeles but he also does interiors on all of his projects. Maida believes that while color is one of the most difficult things to do well, trying to pick a nice white is equally challenging.

“There are hundreds of them,” Maida says.

Maida says strong color can really make a space sing, if done well.

“Every time I have suggested a bold move, either a color or a vibrant wall covering or both, it has been a challenge getting the client to trust me,” explains Maida. “In the end they usually are blown away, as are all their guests.”

Do you use color in your home?