Re: Common House Design Workshop
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2012 07:18:07 -0700 (PDT)
On 10 Jun 2012, at 3:17 AM, Grace Kim wrote:

> Ikea chair looks great but will need to be replaced in a year or two.

I'm in support of Grace's wonderful email, but would like to add a few points. 
Another strategy is to set the big bucks aside to buy good long lasting 
furniture later, and test a few quickly disposable chair styles to see what you 
really want. We were fortunate to be able to test a whole range of chairs 
before we bought them, and found an excellent one that cost $100+ and after 12 
years looks good as new, stacks easily, and is incredibly comfortable. But we 
were able to test it, unlike our tables.

But we bought expensive tables that we thought were perfect only to find that 
12 years later they are a yoke around our necks. They weigh 100+ pounds and 
require two people to move and fold them. They are absolutely sturdy and 
attractive and unfortunately will be with us forever. Our fear of flimsy set us 
up with too solid.

The key to testing first, however, is to set aside the money. Don't think you 
will come up with it later. It's very important to budget for the CH 
furnishings so your members can include those funds in their mortgages.

> Provide pendants over each table to provide flexible lighting - install 
> dimmer switch to increase light levels for table setting and cleanup as well 
> as a softer light level for dining. 

I'm not sure about pendants since we rearrange our tables often for many 
different kinds of events — but we are in the process of refurbishing our CH 
and the thing we most want to change is the lighting. And it is very expensive 
to do, so pay attention to this up front.

I'm not sure why but at the time we built, the most energy efficient fixture 
and bulb combinations were not dimmable. With dimmers, you can bake your cake, 
eat it, and clean up afterwards using the same fixtures.

We also want to install more wall sconces to highlight areas. Lamps don't work 
in our dining room because there are too many children, everywhere. On and 
behind furniture and crawling on the floor. One child sets off the other. And 
the adults are all talking to each other, praying not to be interrupted. 
Sconces are subtle, attractive, and stable.

I won't be at the conference this year but if I were, I would attend this 

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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