May 2014 Shore Letter from the Editor

2014-04-06T09:00:00Z May 2014 Shore Letter from the Editor nwitimes.com
April 06, 2014 9:00 am  • 


A frequently quoted maxim of design experts says that the closer something is to your physical space the more important the quality. I’ve been thinking about that idea a lot as we were putting this issue together. I was reading and writing about families retrofitting existing spaces to other uses, while I was going through the same process at home. My turning point revolved around the purchase of a new bed—a king, finally— that had been researched and negotiated for more than a year. There was never any doubt about the size or the style; those questions were off the table 100 hotel rooms ago. We like the contemporary metal frame we already have and are just getting that same design in another color.

But mattress technology has moved rapidly in the past few years and yes, there is a spectrum: basic triple layers of foam for several hundred dollars on up to the $10,000+ hand-sewn quality material custom-built mattress on top of a box spring made up of hundreds of state-of-the-art metallurgical coils. At the middle-of-the road are popular pillow tops that come in a range of soft to extra-firm, the kind of mattress standard in hotels. A queen or king set probably on average costs about $3500. There are endless web sites with information, ratings and years of comments on mattresses.

Over the years, I read and heard my friends talk about memory foam mattresses and we still have a couple of memory foam pillows around that we don’t much like. But I hadn’t actually slept on memory foam and didn’t like the idea of trying it out in a store either. Memory foam has its attractions. Maybe because I’m a sucker for good writing—it always sounds genuine—I went with an off-brand (or newish) memory foam that at least had the sense to hire a marketing executive who was able to make a case in the comments section. Oh, and memory foam mattresses are inexpensive to buy and transport. This is because you unroll your mattress and let it grow like bread dough for 48 hours before you sleep on it. We paid about $700 for the mattress and have slept without incident past the 30-day no fault return deadline. Do I feel like a new person? Well, no, but ask me again when winter is over. There were numerous decisions that came quickly along with the new bed involving redecorating, new light fixtures, updated fans, moving furniture around, getting rid of some things I never liked anyway and ultimately a chalkboard wall.

This issue is a practical guide for a sliding scale rehab. Whether you are buying a house out of foreclosure that is going to need a major investment to become habitable or just reorganizing a closet packed so tightly with outfits you would never wear even if they fit, there is a photo or paragraph that will fire your imagination. And that question about quality? That’s relative. Like absolutely any project of consequence in life, you have to do your homework.

Pat Colander


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