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Bedding and Bed Linen

Does a reverse sham channel quilted throw-over sound like a complicated gymnastic move?. Well its not, it’s a bed cover, but you may need all the skill and agility of a gymnast to install it in the confines of a boat!

In this article I aim to navigate you through the mysteries of bedding and linen.

We all know how a mattress can make or break a good sleep. The well known bed manufacturer Sleepyhead has been around for 70 years and continues to lead the field with innovated designs introducing found comfort. Sleepyhead offers a custom made service for boats. The most unique feature of Sleepyhead’s boat mattresses is that the advanced construction techniques combined with the materials used, allows the whole mattress to breathe. The materials used in the sleeping surface do not retain moisture so the mattress remains drier preventing the growth of mould. Sleepyhead’s engineers have developed a unique support system that can be tailored to virtually any shape and as the springs are not connected in any way, roll together is eliminated which dramatically reduces partner disturbance, the common cause of interrupted sleep.. other than snoring that is !!

If an inner sprung mattress in not an option, a foam mattress is the alternative. Elephant foam is used often as it’s is the only foam with a 10 year guarantee. It is advisable for the foam to be at lest 150 mm thick, any thinner and the foam required is denser and harder to avoid the occupants “bottoming out”.

If a soft bed is a must, a fitted wool underlay should be considered. This will be warm in winter and cool in summer and being wool the underlay has natural flame retardant and antistatic qualities. A mattress protector is the next layer. This protects the mattress from wear and tear and it helps your skin to breath, these are usually made from a quilted cotton fabric and are fully washable. On a boat this can be custom shaped to an exact fit of the bunk. Pillow protectors act in the same way and are hygienic and easier to wash than a pillow.

Egyptian cotton sheeting has long been revered as the ultimate in luxury. Cotton is harvested from the narrow fertile strip either side of the Nile. Egyptian cotton has a long staple cotton yarn famous for its luster, silky softness and absorbency. The Egyptians have been making and wearing cotton clothing as far back as 3000 years BC. Every shipment of sheeting out of Egypt is certified by the government to say that it is 100% Egyptian cotton. This is a recent development that has happened due to many people claiming authenticity when in actual fact their cotton is grown elsewhere.

The quality of a sheet is measured using the term percale which refers to the threads counted per square centimeter. A good sheet starts with a thread count of at lest 225 threads per square cm. Although 100 % Cotton sheeting has to be the ultimate as it breathes and is cool, it does require slightly more ironing but this is a trade off many people are happy to live with. The alternative is Polycotton sheeting which is easier to maintain due to the polyester yarn and doesn’t require as much ironing.

Fitted bottom sheets fit smoothly and snugly around the mattress due to a wide elasticized skirt. This has to be the easiest component of bed making. Sheets Ahoy an Australian based company specialising in customised cabin linen and soft furnishings has come up with a clever way of maximizing foot and leg space on board by custom making a fitted top sheet, the bottom end of the sheet has an envelop that hooks under the mattress at the base of the bed. This feature prevents the sheet from slipping off the narrow base of the bed and provides for maximum comfort and ample leg room.

In my experience in marine interior design, fitted woolen blankets are uncommon. Most of my clients find the quilting in the bedcover ample warmth in a cabin and opt to add a throw on occasional blanket when nights are particularly cool. The great thing about this is these blankets can be easily stored when not in use. Bedcovers are the icing on the cake. This is where you can express your personality and a colour scheme comes together. The choice of fabrics is mind boggling and every ones taste can be catered for.

On a boat where space is often an issue a reverse sham bedcover is handy. This has an extended piece of fabric which flips over the top of the cover to hide the sleeping pillows. This is useful when space is limited, as at the end of the day there are no extra pillows to trip over in the middle of the night. Where space isn’t an issue shams can be used. Shams are independent covers that fit over the sleeping pillows and act as a decorative cover during the day. They are often made of the same fabric as the bedcover.

On a boat I prefer a tailored look where the bedcover is tucked down the side of the bedrail. The mattress is made slightly smaller than the bunk to allow for the bedcover and linen to be tucked in, I usually allow about 10 to 20 mm on either side and foot of the bed. The alternative is a loose skirt where the bedcover hangs over the bunk rail, but this can tend to make the bed look like its taking over the cabin

Sleeping pillows are a matter of personal preference. I have clients who will only sleep on feather and goose down pillows, while others get a good nights sleep on a mixture of polyester and cotton or wool pillows. Sometimes I even have the pillows custom made to fit the width of the bunk. Duvet covers on boats can be cumbersome due to the volume of the duvet, but this can be solved by using and nifty system of making the duvet cover with an envelop at the foot and when the bed is not in use the duvet folds in half and rolls up into the envelop and zips up to form a large oblong scatter cushion called a bolster.

Scatter cushions are known to be a mans pet hate and are sometimes viewed as unnecessary objects which have to been removed every night, only to be replace in the morning. But in the eyes of a woman they are an essential accessory in completing the perfect colour scheme and by the way, according to her there IS a certain way they need to be arranged. !!

Choosing the right towels are as personal as choosing sheets. A poor quality towel will leave your face covered in fluff on the first use and lint throughout your bathroom for the next six months!! As with sheeting Egyptian cotton towels are pure luxury. The long loops of the towel capture water to take it way from the skin making them exceptionally absorbent and due to the strength of the yarn the towel will last longer.

Custom made bedding is the ultimate in individuality and for when budget isn’t an issue. Contact specialists such as Sheets Ahoy or Parkhurst Design for the ultimate in customised bed linen. I liken making up beds on a boat on a warm summer’s day similar to gift wrapping a beach ball in a sauna – hot and bothering! No two bunks are the same shape and this is where custom made bedding makes life much simpler especially if everything is labeled, sheets included and returned to each cabin after laundering…ah – pure luxury !!

Why is it, that timber and timber veneers are used so extensively in boat interiors

Why is it, that timber and timber veneers are used so extensively in boat interiors?. Is it a time old tradition of a proven and safe product or is it hard to convince those in the marine world to move on and try other mediums?. A timber interior is considered the norm in a boat, but to use timber as intensively in a home would be to suggest the home is owned by a chipmunk.

Teak and cherry timber and veneer still remain popular. They have a traditional look about them. Stable and durable, with low maintenance, these varieties are consistently high grade with minimal knots and good straight grain. The uniformity of grain and workability appeals to boat builders. The colour of teak and cherry are a safe bet when it comes to co-coordinating interior colour schemes. These two varieties are often seen together as they compliment each other effortlessly.

As with fashion, what was yesterdays red is today’s pink!! Wenge timber and veneer with its ebony look and distinctive grain took centre place in recent times, we saw it in abundance in furniture and commercial settings. Out with the old and in with the new, timber is being mixed successfully with stainless steel and composite surfaces transforming the traditional into upbeat chic. Using unusual timber as an interior feature is now an emerging look. The options are there to tantalise even the saltiest seadog, how about Golden Sassafras. This timber originates from eastern USA, is sassy by name and golden by nature. Zebrono from West Africa, with its Zebra like pattern, may appeal to the boatie who enjoys the odd safari.

While some New Zealand timbers are produced into veneers, the majority of what is available to us is sent from Europe, Australia and the Americas.

The use of timber in veneer form allows us the privilege of using rare and valuable timbers, which would otherwise not be an option. With veneers we can also enjoy using a wide range of decorative timbers while at the same time, extending the resource to the utmost.

Reconstituted veneer is a commonly heard word these days. These are man-made veneers created by artificially reconstituting and dying natural veneers. Reconstituted veneer is appealing to those who want to take the “natural” out of nature. As with natural veneer, it is important to avoid extended periods of exposure to direct sunlight and bright light. Reconstituted veneer is susceptible to change as is anything which is coloured such as fabric and paint. Timbers and veneer generally look dull and lifeless until lacquer is applied. This coating protects and gives the timber life. The coating takes the brunt of wear and tear, any spills can be wiped up and small bruises to the lacquer can be sanded back and recoated, without effecting what’s beneath.

A good lacquer makes a piece of furniture or cabinetry beautiful to touch. It should be transparent and have a silky feel. A “glass like” finish which is often referred to as high gloss means multitudes of coats have been applied, sometimes up to thirteen coats. The amount of coats that build up can cause huge surface tension on the coating which may result in cracking. Some lacquers are more flexible than others; in a boat environment a good amount of flexibility is useful, as this decreases the chances of the lacquer shattering.

Many boats end up plying the seas and maintenance takes place in foreign ports. With lacquers and coatings it may be important for you to know that the products you have, are available where ever you go, such as the world class range of Becker Aroma lacquers which are available in 38 countries.

Laminates such as formica, which seems to have become the generic name for laminates in recent times have been a tried and trusted friend. Lightweight and available in fashion colours, it has been used extensively in the marine industry. The only downside to the product is it cannot be molded and needs to be clashed with timber to form a fiddle or grab rail.

Granite and marble shout opulence and quality that only money can buy. There is always something beautiful about seeing a slab of this product honed to perfection. Dense in nature, granite and marble can be used to your hearts content if weight is not an issue. Granite weighs in at a hefty 90 kilo’s per square metre, as opposed to a standard sheet of laminate weighing in at a mere 6 kilo’s. Ever heard the saying “she sails like a brick”, well it may not be the best option for your trailer sailor.

As technology advances at a great rate of knots, the amount of products available to me as an interior designer is endless. What did we do before composite material? These days materials like corian for instance make my life a lot simpler. Corian has long been a favourite in the marine industry as it can be curved and coved and carries a 10 year DuPont warrantee. The amount of use is only limited by lack of imagination and budget.

Maintenance wise composite materials like Corian are easy to look after and are generally non porous which means if the surface looks clean, it really is clean, which is why corian is used commonly in areas where hygiene is an issue. Sheets can be glued together to form an inconspicuous seamless finish. Any scratches or marks can be buffed off using ordinary household abrasive cleansers and a scouring pad.

Stainless Steel bench tops are known to be hard wearing and can stand the pace, especially in a high performance yacht built for a mission. Now available with surface patterns, this overcomes the look of plain stainless steel showing scratch’s when brand new, but like a good old sofa these bench tops look their best when mellowed by age.

The surfaces selected for an environment are always driven by aesthetics, practically and sometimes budget. Colour, form and trend in products are available to anyone from the conservative to most outlandish boatie…I say it all about style .. your own style. !!. Catch me in the next issue when I go undercover on the topic of bedding.

Granite and Marble

If I was an Interior Designer during the great age of the Roman Empire I probably would have used granite and marble as commonly as custom wood. And if Julius Caesar was my client he probably would have clicked his fingers and said “just do it in marble”. I would not have turned to the yellow pages for a stone mason I would have used one family of stone masons that had passed their skills on generation after generation. Stone has been used for thousands of years. The greatest ancient buildings and monuments have it: The Parthenon, The temple of Apollo, The classical city of Ephesus to name a few. There has possibly never been a building or decorative product so enduring as that of granite and marble. This is the bench mark of quality spoken throughout the ages.In basic geology terms granite is a widely found igneous rock that forms at great depths and pressures under the earths continents. The word granite is derived from the Latin granum, a grain, the coarse -grained structure of such a crystalline rock.

The major granite producing countries are: South Africa, The Americans, Sweden, Finland, Norway and India. Granite is also found in New Zealand, in the Coromandel and at the top of the South Island as well as some parts of Australia and in particular the Northern Territory. Although it is found here it is not feasible to extract it as our market is too small, it is cheaper to import from countries where quarrying is part of the local culture. Granite stands the test of time because it is largely unaffected by erosion and pollution.

Although the surface of granite and marble can be finished in many ways it is not until the surface is polished that the stones true beauty is unveiled.The stone is transported in blocks from the quarry by truck to a primary processing facility where it is sawn into slabs and polished. When it reaches our shores it is ready to be selected for use. The average size of a granite slab is 2.4 metres long by 1.2 metres wide and 20 or 30mm thick and weighs between 40 to 50 kg’s per square metre.

Granite can be used as exterior cladding, paving, flooring, furniture, tiles, window sills vanities, bath surrounds and bench tops. It is a popular choice as a kitchen bench top as it has great heat resistant properties. Under normal circumstances a hot pot can be transferred directly from the cooking element and put down on the granite top without damage occurring.An incredibly tough stone and easily maintained Granite can be cleaned with anything from warm water to window cleaner. Bench tops are generally treated with a silicone based sealer prior to installation to increase stain resistance. Granite can be waxed regularly with a clear furniture wax or polish to build stain resistance. Unlike marble granite is not damaged by lemon juice or other food and beverage acids.

Marble is on the other hand is not as robust as granite; it is porous and less dense and is subject to staining and scratching. As food acids etch into its surface marble is therefore not suitable as a kitchen bench top, it is most commonly used as fireplace surrounds, floor tiles, interior furniture, bathroom vanities and internal cladding. Marble should be cleaned regularly using a soft damp cloth and clean (not soapy) water. To build up a protective patina a good silicone wax can be used and polished off with a soft cloth.

Marble is a metamorphic rock derived from Sandstone and Limestone that has been completely re-crystallized by heat or pressure, the temperature and pressure present to form this stone usually destroy any fossils. The characteristic swirls and veins associated with marble are due to various mineral impurities such as clay, sand, silt and iron oxides that were present in the original Limestone or Sandstone. One well known example of this is Onyx- Marble. Marble is found all over the world but the place best known for its pure white marble is Carrara in Italy. Hence the widely recognized name, Carrara Marble.

White marble has been prized for sculpture since the classical times., it shatters less easily and due to the mineral calcite the stone refracts light which penetrates several millimeters into the stone before disbursing, this results in the sculptures taking on a waxy look. The word marble derives from the Greek marmaros “Shining Stone”.Michelangelo’s famous statue of “David” is a great example of this. David has been gazed upon since 1504 and interestingly enough has only been cleaned once during this time.

If you thought you could replace your Formica bench top with natural stone think again. Make sure you speak to a cabinet maker as the cabinetry required to take the weight of the stone needs to be constructed with the right supports in place. Both marble and granite can be bonded to a substrate such as plywood or MDF to provide an even and stabile surface. Once the cabinetry is in place a template of the purposed bench top cut, this is undertaken on site to ensure accuracy of fit.The edge of a stone bench top can be finished in a variety of ways from a simple square edge to a molded profile. In our automated age a machine called a Diamond Head Profiler is used to cut molded profiles that can be bonded to the edge of the stone.

If you are considering having a super yacht built get your wish list together first!!. “Backwards Planning” is called for. The need for marble bathrooms, granite in the galley and a marble dining table is not what your naval architect needs to hear as they are about to sign off on the final drawings. But there are ways around it. For the marine industry these stones can be sliced as thinly as 5mm and bonded to a metal back plate for strength and lightness when opulence is called for but weight is an issue.

Natural stone is beautiful by any ones standard. Even with impurities and irregularities nature always gets it right by combining just the right patterns with just the right colours. The perfect example of this of course is granite and marble.