The story of the Coffee Table

I can’t remember who first asked me what I wanted to achieve with Ironfire coffee tables. Sometimes I just get an idea and the logic comes after- and this was the case here.

So, totally untruthfully I can say that I set out to create a design classic that feels organic and timeless and which the customer can personalise to reflect their taste! Rather than just rely on hindsight, it occurs that this might be a good time to explore one of the most important and iconic pieces of furniture we live with – and explain myself a bit more truthfully.

This in turn started me musing about the history of the drink and how it stimulates and facilitates our social interactions.

Someone once said “Humanity runs on coffee” and as petrol fuels our cars, certainly coffee drives much of our lives.

Coffee was brought to Europe when it reached Malta in 1562 with Turkish slaves captured by the Knights of Saint John. The first of a multitude of London coffee houses didn’t however open until in 1632. They became known as Penny universities because the cost to enter was a penny which included a coffee and the conversation was legendary.

So, even then Coffee was a conduit for the exchange of ideas and even originally seen as having health benefits! A contemporary 1661 tract about the properties of coffee says “Tis extolled for drying up the Crudities of the Stomack, and for expelling Fumes out of the Head. Excellent Berry! which can cleanse the English-man’s Stomak of Flegm, and expel Giddinesse out of his Head.” Quotes taken from History Of Coffee

Maybe Donald Trump would have been better looking to coffee as a panacea than gargling bleach?

Strangely, back then, the tables that coffee house clients congregated around were high and known as tea tables. Over time though and as coffee became more and more popular, the furniture became known as a coffee table. The idea of a large, low coffee table placed in front of a sofa apparently only however took off in the mid 1930’s. Since then it has become a staple of family life and a quote from Georgia Toffolo sums that up

“I think a coffee table is one of the most important things. It’s where everything happens”.

That’s so true as most of us see the coffee table as the hub of the living room, somewhere where you put your feet up and this has become so engrained in our culture. The web is full of references to coffee tables that reference how they are a deeply embedded icon of our lives. In no particular order (well apart from the first one which I really like) they create small droplets of insight into the writer’s life.

So without apology lets spend a couple of minutes sharing peoples small asides about a cherished part of their lives.

In10 examples of the good, the fantastic and the downright ugly!

“A girl in a bikini is like having a loaded pistol on your coffee table – There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s hard to stop thinking about it”. – Garrison Keillor

“I decided one day to put on my tutu and jump on the coffee table and sing Aretha Franklin songs for the painters that were painting the house.” –Phillipa Soo

“I see the same coffee table everywhere. It’s mass marketing” – Douglas Wilson

“I decided one day to put on my tutu“I write almost entirely in bed or on a couch with my feet up on the coffee table. I feel most creative when I’m looking out the window, and my bed and couch have nice views of the New York skyline”. – Gary Shteyngart

“I love detail, like drawing what’s on top of someone’s coffee table. Maybe there’s a little bowl of butterscotch candies on it, next to the four TV remotes”- Roz Chast

“We didn’t have a backyard, so as I child, I would turn the coffee table into a stageand put on shows”.- Julia Stiles

“My living room has an oak-wood floor, Persian carpets, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, a large ficus and large fern, a fireplace with a group of photographs and drawings over it, a glass-top coffee table with a bowl of dried pomegranates on it, and sofas and chairs covered in off-white linen”.- Janet Malcolm

“Sergei Brin has said to me, like, 10 times now, “why do you bother doing books? Why don’t you just put all this stuff up on the internet?” It’s because 10 years from now, my book will still be sitting on someone’s coffee table!” –Rick Smolen

“I like living sparsely. In the main room, there’s no furniture – no tables, no chairs, – not even a decaffeinated coffee table”.- Sebastian Horsley

“The coffee table had once been brightly coloured doors, from a neighbourhood where fuchsia and sky-blue were common.”

“Ted set his mug down, its red glaze echoing the colour of the coffee table beneath. It was as if thousands of sunrises had seeped in and would forever be radiated into the room.”

“The timber for the coffee table had been torn out of the old factory. Posts that once held a high tin roof, now held coffee cups and Saturday morning custard creams. Year in, year out, it sat in the same spot, reassuringly heavy and robust.”

“Looked like it was from the set of a futuristic science fiction movie, sleek metal frames, blackest leather seats, smooth lines, nothing excessive, minimalistic, chairs suspended from steel wires, streamlined, designed to fit into compact spaces”.

Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/coffee-table-quotes

So, you get the idea? A coffee table is an integral part of our lives, a sort of inanimate but loyal pet! Just like animals, they too come in many shapes and sizes – stolid or whacky, delicate or lumpy, wooden or metal, glass top or not, They range through lots of different shapes and sizes as well; from an extra large coffee table or a small side table. They can be paired with Console tables as narrow table placed against a wall or as Occasional tables as handy tables at the end of sofas or they can sit all alone as the focus of the room. Then there’s all about what goes on your coffee table! Copies of Vogue and an Orchid or pizza boxes and an empty four pack and that’s not counting the people that use their coffee table as a seat! (no risk of breakage if you use an Ironfire coffee table as a chair).

Whether you are a student or a fashionista or one of the myriads of different people between them, that table standing steadfast in front of your sofa says more about you than you realise! Of course, during the lockdown your living room furniture has become even more part of life than before, as we gloomily sit glued to the latest Covid updates! 

It’s been a long intro to talking about the Ironfire take on the great British coffee table www.iron-fire.co.uk/coffee-table but I got interested in the history and relevance of this characterful piece of furniture!

Whilst we all like the unusual and sometimes think that we want something stylish and disruptive in our living room; do we really want the rusted tail of a DC10 elbowing into a space meant for chilling in? So, don’t forget that you are going to have to live with whatever you choose – for a long time.

So, whilst you want to express your personality you also want something that is going to be a bit like a good marriage – still bearable once the first flush of passion passes!

Here’s a couple that fit into that “Why would you” category for me

Glass top on a white pottery base small coffee table

I know it says that it’s a trekkie homage but to me it looks like a dead dog on its back!

https://www.cnet.com/pictures/coffee-tables-star-wars-star-trek-inception/

Bright blue square large illuminated fish tank coffee table
Brass snake supporting a piece of glass to make a coffee table
Ridiculous jokey small coffee table made of legs

http://crazy-images.blogspot.com/2009/08/footstool-coffee-table-and-joggers.html

What a leg-end! Enough, enough I hear you say!

The point I am making is – a coffee table needs to fit into your room design but without dominating it. I love quirky as much as the next guy but I don’t want to feel as though I’m sitting behind a piece of furniture that looks like Grayson Perry on his way to a party, while I’m watching the football. To me that means that I want a classic design that has proven itself but with the ability to adapt it to my own taste.

Image of Grayson Perry in lurid clothes

And that is exactly what Ironfire set out to do, design a strong and long lasting classic that customers can personalise in lots of sizes and finishes. We have a house style that is solid with a hint of industrial and this works well in nearly every room design from stark modern through city flat to country chintz! We think that there are too many internet sites that offer ranges of generic furniture produced in low cost economies and then shipped around the world. We believe that this is environmentally unsustainable and that there are lots of British artisans that are worthy of support.

Our commitment to sustainability also means that it can be kept in repaired and kept in good condition and upgraded to reflect a change in your taste whenever you like.

Selling only on the internet enables that to be easily accomplished and keeping retailers out of the loop means that you can have a unique piece to your specification at a really affordable price and get to talk to the people that actually make it from sustainable materials.

Here’s a couple of our coffee tables but there’s many more on our website so please do go and have a dig around and we are always pleased to hear what you think about Ironfire.

The first table is our No 2 finish – Douglas Fir Burnt and cleaned before being finished with a rich water and heatproof protective surface

Ironfire shou Sugi ban coffee table

 

The second example is a Glass topped rectangular coffee table with Douglas finished in Our Popular colour No 5. To create a light feel the top shelf is glass supported on an edge of  white wood. You can select a similar shelf below or a solid wood one.

 

 

Glass Top Large Coffee Table in a living room

Our Third example is that old favourite the square or rectangular coffee table – large or small. Ours is English natural Oak and we look for rustic material that has plenty of interesting patina but a traditional Oak presentation. Again we finish this so you can put hot cups on it and spill water without marking the wood. That is of course limited to reasonable use so don’t expect there not to be a mark if you use a naked flame on it. Having said that, all is not lost if you do mark an ironfire table. To allow for natural movement in wood we connect all of the boards together so that they can expand and contract. That also makes it really easy to replace a single board and if over time gaps open up to move them back together again!

Rectangular Oak Coffee Table in a field

We might be biased but even we know that Ironfire is not the only firm trying to improve the choices of quality coffee tables and to prove the point here are some examples of our favourites

rectangular solid wood coffee table with glass insert

https://www.ab-furniture.co.uk/shop/yew-coffee-table

We look forward to talking about how we can make you a small or large coffee table that’s rectangular or square and show you how it can be matched to other Ironfire beauties to make bespoke comfortable rooms. We hope that (using the Marriage analogy to death) you will love and cherish your Ironfire ‘til death do you part!

Global Warming – an idiot’s guide

Beautiful Nature - mountains behind lake at sunset

At Ironfire we aim to make our industrial sustainable furniture ecologically friendly. It’s a challenge and I often struggle to know how to calculate our carbon footprint and our climate change impact. In fact now that I come to think about it, do I fully comprehend what are the definitions of global warming and the real climate change facts? Why it is such a looming disaster? Of course, like most people, I know the headline reasons. I also believe that so many eminent scientists can’t be wrong.

Most climate change explanations though head off into complex jargon that goes right over my head. So I thought that I would try and understand a bit more. At the same time, I would try and uncover documented facts and make them more accessible. I’m hoping for better understanding to help set the priorities at Ironfire.

I’ve found finding clearly expressed science time consuming but more straightforward than expected. Thinking, “there must be others like me” I am going to try and lay out my findings in a simple format. I’m not looking to patronise anyone and if you mutter ” we all know that” – Don’t waste your time – move on quickly!

I have put as many verifiable links as possible into the statements I discovered. I’ve numbered paragraphs for ease of reading and paraphrased to make it easier to read. My commentary is not bullet proof, just conclusions that I’ve arrived at trying to simplify wordy reports!

Greenhouse gas emissions & climate change – the size of the problem.

Giorgio Trovato Unsplash 690x788 1
Giorgio Trovato @ Unsplash

If you are partial to scary statistics try these facts about global warming. Man-made greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 equalled 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. 72% was CO2 from coal burning and industry. 19% was Methane ( from livestock in most part), 6% was nitrous oxide, and 3% was fluorine gases. A further 4 billion tonnes of carbon emissions come from natural sources. The average contribution each human on the planet makes is 4.8 tonnes per year. The “Net zero” target (it’s hoped) will limit global warming to a manageable 1.5°C increase. To achieve that we need to reduce these Carbon emissions by half in the next decade. Moreover, we then need to hit those Net Zero emissions by 2050. This link provides a clear overview of what we need to achieve. https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/09/what-does-net-zero-emissions-mean-6-common-questions-answered

The main causes of industrial greenhouse gas emissions are as follows. Electricity & heat (25%), agriculture & forestry (24%), industry (21%), and transportation (14%).

Deforestation – climate change facts.

Image showing deforestation across pine trees
Roya Anne Miller @ Unsplash

It’s also estimated that deforestation causes 10% of global warming. The main reasons for deforestation are increasing use of land for beef and palm oil (27%). Wood and lumber products (26%). Short term agricultural cultivation (24%), and wildfires (23%).

To complete the picture, here are the figures for consumer emissions in 2010. Food (30%), washing/heating/lighting (26%), personal transport & freight (20%) and buildings (15%).

What greenhouse gases are

Ella Ivanescu Unsplash 690 Wide

1) The earth absorbs energy from the sun into our atmosphere. In turn it radiates infrared radiation back to outer space. These two effects balance out in nature to maintain our climate. This natural greenhouse effect means the earth’s temperature is about 30 degrees C.

The link here is about the best graphical explanation I’ve come across.

2) Natural greenhouse gas emissions enable life on earth to exist. They keep warmth necessary to sustain life in the atmosphere. Global warming is caused by extra, excess carbon chemicals remaining in the atmosphere. These carbon molecules absorb infrared rays. Excess heat can’t then radiate to outer space and so further warms up the earth’s atmosphere.

3) So global warming results if anything disturbs earth’s natural equilibrium. Some people call the balanced greenhouse effect Gaia – the spirit of earth!

4) Trace gas pollutants from carbon emissions can last for years and even centuries in the atmosphere. They trap heat and as discussed, cause the planet, by absorption, to get hotter, causing cliate change. That’s why it’s known as the greenhouse gas effect.

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101 https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/reports/cat07/0710011214_ED48749_VOC_Incineration_-_CC_Report_v3.pdf

5) The trace gases that contribute most to climate change are water vapour and carbon dioxide. https://ukair.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/reports/cat07/0710011214_ED48749_VOC_Incineration_-_CC_Report_v3.pdf

6) Water vapour makes up 60% of global warming. That’s far more than the carbon emissions we are putting into the atmosphere. That’s because water vapour in the air exists in direct relation to the temperature. So, the more you increase a temperature, the more water evaporates. This becomes vapour, and vice versa. So when something causes a temperature increase, such as CO2, more water evaporates. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas so extra vapor makes the temperature rise even further. https://www.skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm

7) To decrease global warming we need to reduce man made pollutants. Some of these gases are potent greenhouse contributors to climate change. They have been adding to the greenhouse effect from the time we started burning vast amounts of coal. This, as discussed, is increasing the amount of water vapour held in the atmosphere. For a simple demo of the acceleration of global warming, read this.

8) Hundreds of different trace gases have been measured in the atmosphere. It is believed that thousands more have yet to be measured. Many of these are volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Volatile means a compound may exist in the liquid or solid phase but easily evaporates. Organic means that the compound contains carbon.

What are VOCs -Volatile Organic compounds? Should we be concerned about them?

Voc Infographic 1

9) VOCs as trace gases often exist in tiny parts per million in the atmosphere. Yet they are important as many are long-lived in the atmosphere. Other important greenhouse gases are Carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide, Methane and Water vapour. https://www.e-education.psu.edu/meteo300/node/607

10) There are varying definitions of VOCs around the world. The GWP (global warming potential) index is pretty easy to understand. It ranks VOCs as follows. “the GWP of a VOC measures its climate change impact compared to CO2. It also includes how long the trace gas remains in the atmosphere once emitted”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_potential

11) Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that have a low boiling point. If you’re interested in the science here we go. This low boil temperature is because they have a high vapour pressure. That causes a lot of molecules to evaporate from the liquid (or solid form of the compound) into the air around them. This effect is known as volatility. Formaldehyde for example evaporates from paints and coatings because it has a boiling point of only –19 °C.

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/technical-overview-volatile-organic-compounds

12) VOCs are released from burning fuel such as gasoline, wood, coal, or natural gas. They are also released from many consumer products. Cigarettes, solvents, paints & thinners, adhesives, dry cleaning fluids and glue & wood preservatives.  Cleaners & disinfectants, air fresheners, building materials & furnishings, copiers & printers and pesticides are also examples. https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/volatile-organic-compounds-vocs

Steel, the extraction of iron ore and getting it to the furnace are resource heavy. Most VOCs emitted are however burnt off by high temperature in this process. Lots of VOCs therefore get emitted in the initial process of recycling scrap steel though. This is due to the processes involved in removing coatings and impurities. I suppose it all goes to emphasise that there isn’t such a thing as a free lunch. https://www.ubs.com/microsites/nobel-perspectives/en/latest-economic-questions/2020/solution-to-climate-change.html?campID=SEM-BRAND&s_kwcid=AL!602!3!445675510732!b!!g!!%2Bways%20%2Bto%20%2Bstop%20%2Bglobal%20%2Bwarming&ef_id=Cj0KCQjw6575BRCQARIsAMp-ksNNcquXbZFqqsVUQtIzMS1c1oi5OElYYCa8AMicyPBp77kOrAb0ojcaAmNiEALw_wcB:G:s&s_kwcid=AL!602!3!445675510732!b!!g!!%2Bways%20%2Bto%20%2Bstop%20%2Bglobal%20%2Bwarming!10436011345!1038

13) The earth emits about 1150 Teragrams of carbon VOCs every year.  These occur naturally.  By comparison, humans release 142 Teragrams as CO2 every year by breathing! When VOC’s combine with Nitrous Oxides in the air, they form Smog. This makes sense as urban areas have higher levels of VOC than open country.

14) VOCs include both human-made and natural chemical compounds. Most scents or odours are of VOCs. These compounds help communication between plants and form messages from plants to animals. Many natural VOCs are pretty benign, and humans have evolved to coexist with them. Vegetation is a major emitter of a VOC called Isoprene. Each year, 600 million metric tons of Isoprene enter the air. More than half of this comes from broad leaf trees. Small shrubs and bushes release much of the rest.

Without many of these VOCs, the world would be very different. Limonene, produces the citrusy odour of orange and lemon peels. A large percentage of essential oils are from these plants. Styrene, used to produce polystyrene, occurs in everything from coffee beans to peanuts. https://foobot.io/guides/natural-sources-of-volatile-organic-compounds.php

15) Some VOCs are dangerous to humans and cause environmental damage. Manmade VOCs are called Anthropogenic and are regulated by law, specially for indoors, where concentrations are highest. Harmful VOCs are not high in toxins but can cause long term health problems. Because individual amounts are low symptoms can develop over a longer period. This makes research into VOCs and their effects difficult. People who suffer from respiratory complaints can be susceptible to VOCs indoors.

Short-term exposure – effects from VOCs may cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Also, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders and memory problems are sometimes experienced.

Long-term exposure – VOC damage may cause nausea, fatigue, dizziness and impair co-ordination. There’s also the risk of Cancer and damage to one’s liver, kidney and central nervous system.

https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/volatile-organic-compounds-vocs

When you paint rooms, lay new carpet or install furniture try to ensure lots of ventilation.

So that’s my quick short trip around global warming facts. What are my conclusions?

Picture of the world in our hands
Photo: Bill Oxford @ Unsplash

It’s interesting to see the amount of Carbon emissions sent into the atmosphere by us, is tiny! Particularly when compared with those occurring naturally. That gave me insight into why this is a slow, cumulative effect. It also gives me confidence that the greenhouse effect can be overcome.

We humans seem to be very slow to respond to a problem and then only in an incremental fashion. The current corona pandemic shows early action is the most successful. But most governments avoid offending powerful special interest groups. That leads to fudge and indecision. The same principle applies to global warming. Why would all of us oil guzzling, carnivorous, foreign holiday addicts line up for change? Even with all of the climate change facts at our fingertips we first worlders are just too comfortable.

We do seem to be lumbering towards turning the oil tanker around though! Usually the best solution to a problem is to make something financially attractive. We are seeing the decay of fossil fuel use in favour of electricity. This is increasingly made using “clean” technology. There are backwards steps of course on the journey. For example, I would much rather see the cost of our H2 rail project spent on renewable energy schemes. Imagine what £100 Billion could achieve to support the transition to renewable energy!

So – how much Carbon do we need to reduce by to achieve net zero?

girl holding globe in woods demonstrating net zero
Photo by thomas scott on Unsplash

We need to put 38 billion tonnes less CO2 per year into the atmosphere to wipe out all global warming. The world average is 4.8 tonnes per person worldwide, but first world residents create up to 16 tonnes each. That compares to 0.1 tonnes for residents in Mali and Niger.

So, the world is trying to limit temperature growth to 1.5C. Carbon output is still growing however, so that’s unlikely and we already are slipping towards 2C.

It’s difficult to predict how much more pollutant we can add to the atmosphere and keep to 1.5°C. A good estimate to keep a good chance of meeting that is – 400 to 500 Billion tonnes. This is known as our Carbon budget. It says that to hit Net Zero by 2050 we need to reduce our carbon footprint by a further 60%. The longer we take to do this the more we will have to give up!

https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/02/SR15_Chapter2_Low_Res.pdf

What can we contribute to reducing global warming?

a crowd of yellow bicycles
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Simple things that we are starting to do are as follows and do make a difference of tons of personal CO2 production.

Changing light bulbs to a low energy bulb. Saving – 150 lbs per bulb.

Drive less. Saving – 1lb of CO2 for every mile you don’t drive!

Recycle more. saving – 2,400 lbs of CO2 per year by recycling just half of your household waste.

Check your tyres. Every gallon of fuel saved keeps 20 lbs of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Use less hot water. It takes a lot of energy to heat water. Take shorter, cooler showers. Wash clothes at a lower temperature and ensure a full load. Saving – More than 500 lbs of CO2 annually.

Avoid packaging. Saving – 1,200 lbs of CO2 if you reduce your rubbish by 10%.

Adjust your thermostat. Saving – 1,000 lbs from 1 degree reduction in winter, more in summer

Plant a tree. Saving – A single tree will absorb one tonne of CO2 over its lifetime.

Turn off electronic devices when you’re not using them. Saving – thousands of lbs of CO2 a year.

Eat a more plant based diet.To get the same protein from beef as peas, emissions are nearly 90 times higher.

You can find out more about this issue here.

There are 2204 lbs to a UK Tonne. So, have a quick review to calculate what savings you might be able to make?

If you do want to calculate your own carbon footprint, here is the link to a popular and free site. If you want to see lots of statistics about global warming go to –  https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions#future-emission-scenarios

Slow progress? Some reasons to be cheerful.

Poster saying "There is no Planet B"
Image: Marcus Spiske@Unsplash

Don’t beat yourself up too much. UK greenhouse gas emmissions peaked in The UK’s CO2 emissions peaked in the year 1973 and have declined by around 38% since 1990, faster than any other major developed country. lot of savings are going to have to come from big reductions in shipping items around the world. Also moving away from fossil fuels and aviation will need to play a part. Redesign in industrial processes and power generation will also need to be introduced swiftly. There is also hope that carbon capture technology will advance to fill shortfalls.

More good news is the tropical deforestation fact that cutting can be halted. In many places it already is being reduced. A variety of approaches have shown promising results. These include corporate deforestation-free commitments to the REDD+ initiative and the Soy Moratorium. Progress requires a sustained commitment by governments, businesses, consumers, and non-governmental organizations. Their goal – the ending—and as possible, reversal—of tropical deforestation. 

How do we apply all of this into Ironfire Industrial furniture?

collage of Ironfire industrial style furniture
See the whole range of indoors/outdoors furniture
www.iron-fire.co.uk

Hopefully the material above makes it easier to grasp the effect our products have on global warming? The world seems to be full of people saying that they are doing a great job. Often that sounds more an advertising strategy than trying to make something in a better way. So, does Ironfire stand up to examination as sustainable furniture?

It was key, to me, to learn that reprocessing old steel creates more VOCs than new. I am pretty sure of course that fact doesn’t hold if you include ore extraction. But it does suggest that there aren’t any straightforward solutions, more, a lot of grey areas.

First off, in a globalised consumer market, no business can survive making utilitarian products. Neither can they use materials irrespective of cost. Making things that you have to be rich to afford is not, in my view, much of a contribution to a sustainable future. The same goes for hand making craft items. Great, but again is not a path to make a difference to global warming. Second, should we be balancing sustainability against ecological materials? By this I mean, is it better to make something once and well, than make it disposable. The question that quickly follows that is…  Is it preferable to use a material that emits twice as many VOCs but lasts four times longer? The answer is, of course, to do neither but the point is that there is often a trade off. That means we have to be practical and choose the lesser of two evils?

Gin Table @ Lisas
Basic ironfire gin station – available with wheels, storage & branding.

So, Ironfire’s challenge is to make industrial furniture with (as close as possible) to a net zero global warming effect. At the same time, it needs to be affordable, practical and attractive. We are very keen to show that our aims are not an affectation but the normal way that business should be.

Our belief is that we should concentrate on making Ironfire last as long as possible. That means making it strong and robust but also simple to repair, to refresh and to renew. It also means protecting it against the elements too. You can see a description of the 7 different ways we do things to achieve these aims here.

Simply – if we can make a thing last twice as long then we’ve already halved our environmental impact.

White Coffee table in front of fire
Ironfire Coffee table 1400 x 1400mm

Making things is not just about what materials you use, it’s about the whole business. Here’s our specific ideas.

We design and make everything we sell. We don’t ship in cheap, trendy furniture from Asia. The CO2 impact of shipping miles is huge. We try to ensure that our steel is UK produced. It’s always galvanised, which is a VOC free process, ensuring long life. We then powder coat, another VOC free process. Some things we sub contract from reputable partners we have worked with for years. Everything, however is produced in the South West of England.

Wood is generally seen as carbon neutral. We use only quick growing UK pine. This is renewable Douglas Fir from a timber mill within 30 miles. We then air dry it and coat it with long lasting, VOC free waxes.

We use British glass and metal fixings treated with rust protection. There are only three things we can’t UK source. One of these is unique waterproof material from 500 miles away in Holland. The second, small Hydrophobic valves made to our design and posted from China. Third our wood treatment we produce from Belgian bases travelling 275 miles to us.

We try to deliver everything we make and plan effective delivery routes. We only supply direct to our customer. Cutting out the retailer saves our customers money. It also allows wider customer choice and a personal service. It also means that we can avoid disposable packaging which is a big fact of global warming.

Ironfire doesn’t want to be politically correct for the sake of it. We want to make practical ecological choices about complicated issues. Well sustainable furniture anyway! For example, we currently powder coat metal and can pass on that industry’s claim that the process is VOC free. The truth is the process involves a lot of heat during process and harsh chemicals in the cleaning. At the same time is powder coating the best finish for us?  We are looking at alternatives which are longer lasting and more pleasing to the customer. A strong coating means using two pack finishes and we can’t find anything that is water based…yet. That means a level of VOCs but believe the benefit of improved product to end user justifies that. We must offset the heat involved in powder coating against a low level of VOCs emitted in a cold spray process.

About the author: Andrew Knight lives near Frome in Somerset. He has been running his business Ri Manufacturing for 25 years. Ironfire is a new challenge. Read about us here. He’s spent his career solving problems and turning them into products. There’s been enough success and failure to ensure he retains his enthusiasm and a sense of humour!  Many thanks to Kiran P and to Shannon B for their patient editing of this article.

All comments welcome, please send to: andrew@iron-fire.co.uk

Other Ironfire blogs that relate to this subject:

https://www.iron-fire.co.uk/blog/sustainable-furniture-designhttps://www.iron-fire.co.uk/blog/repair-renew-re-use

https://www.iron-fire.co.uk/blog/teak-garden-furniture

Finally, further reference material (for those I haven’t quite bored to death!)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_monoxide https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide#In_Earth’s_atmosphere

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limonene

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/technical-overview-volatile-organic-compounds#2

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1352231099004653

Sustainable Furniture Design – Victorian Style

industrial style console table

Sustainable furniture inspired by the Victorians.

 In Victoria’s reign the Industrial Revolution came of age and sustainable furniture design is one of it’s many legacies. Many significant innovations saw the light of day during this time. Trains, Cars, Telephones, Lightbulbs, X-Rays are among the many things we now see as ordinary. This gives an idea as to how important this period was. Here’s a timeline showing the most important Victorian inventions.
 
In fact, before X-Rays, the only way people knew if they had broken bones, was by letting a doctor take a wild guess. Some patients were even cut open to confirm if they had a severe bone injury. A simple fracture often snowballed into a fatal infection back in those pain filled days. And there were no laws to stop medics from working drunk either!
 
The years leading up to the 1900’s were a literal explosion of Industrial innovation. Many incredible changes took place. In transport alone engineers invented the first bicycle in 1839. Rubber tires and Tarmac to make roads smoother followed quickly in 1845. They even introduced the world’s first flushing toilet in London back in 1852. Oh and don’t forget Sewing machines came in 1850 and Cars in 1895.
 
In fact, all these advances predated our crucial invention of chocolate Easter eggs. Flushing toilets were obviously a bigger step forward. Like many early breakthroughs they are still, in principle, unchanged today. We’ve improved them though – by letting them into the house!
 

Why don’t modern products last like Victorian ones?

One thing has changed since those days though. Engineers back then, as a matter of course, made quality products which would last a very long time. Unlike say, a mobile phone today, they made products to be kept. The motto was to build something once and with replaceable and renewable parts. This was better than our modern way of discontinuing old products and issuing new models. A good example is the Kodak box camera of 1888 which was continually modified. Over time this improved capturing memories and people treasured them as prized possessions. This ongoing developmental process has over time led to Smartphones. amongst other goodies we treasure these days.
 
Does this mean there’s is conflict inherent in the way that we make and use products today? Are our lives improved by letting us take more photos of ourselves (during trips to our indoors flushing toilets?). Neil Armstrong only felt the need to take five photos during the entire moon landing!
 

Isambard Kingdom Brunel knew how to build things to last!

A famous engineer of the Victorian period who played a key role in Britain’s industrial revolution was Brunel. He designed and constructed railway lines, tunnels, ships and bridges. When only 20 years old and working for his father’s company, he created the Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe.
 
This was one of the first to run underwater isambard kingdom brunel and later became part of the London Tube network. So, we wouldn’t be riding the tube today if it wasn’t for his long-lasting design principles.
It’s even more impressive when you think he wasn’t
even old enough to rent a car or have a beer in America today!
In 1829, Brunel won a competition to design a Suspension Bridge in
Bristol (not too far from Ironfire HQ). He went on to mastermind around 1200 miles of railway. That included the main line between London and Bristol including many bridges, tunnels and viaducts. Imagine if those weren’t long-lasting and made from durable construction materials. We would never risk driving over a bridge ever again.
 

In search of sustainable products image of bridge collapsing

The Victorians were non stop innovators. They showed us how to create sustainable design in the best sense. That means it lasts a very long time because it is solid and repairable. There are many of their ideas that, even today, we all still use. We have of course made changes to improve those products and make them more efficient. The essential spirit though remains the same.

In 1872, British engineer James Starley invented the penny-farthing bicycle. Starley’s bicycle had a front wheel that was six feet tall with a tiny back wheel. It looked more like a suicidal unicycle when people rode it around. The bike is a good example of great sustainable design that’s became more practical over time. We use them more and more today and electric bikes are a great modern advance. We have these days changed both wheels to be the same size! Much more efficient, even if we look less entertaining. Penny Farthing picture

We live in a disposable society where we throw away anything that we don’t need anymore. We even have terms like “planned obsolescence” to excuse wasteful manufacturing.
 

Reclaiming sustainable Victorian design.

We should recognise that modern mass production makes things available to many people.

We would just like to see manufacturers grasp the challenge of the Rs. Repair, Recycle, Restore and Re-imagine are some!

 That’s why Eco friendly companies like Ironfire take inspiration from Victorian long-lived design. It’s also why we reference their beautiful, heavyweight, industrial forms in our tough furniture.
 
Like the Victorians, we build our things to last and be easily renewed and repaired. In fact we hope your Ironfire becomes part of your family story. That’s the essence of sustainable design and it’s in the Ironfire DNA. We only use Zinc coated steel and sustainable UK timber so our furniture lasts and lasts. Ironfire is contemporary but sustainable furniture with Brunel’s made for life design ideas in mind. They’re much smaller of course and so much more affordable!
 

Sustainable furniture today needs more than Victorian design.

he Victorians might have built things for the long-term but they didn’t need to think about the environment. Modern, ethical design has to think about where the materials come from too! That’s why Ironfire invests in strong, robust, and durable materials from the UK. We also avoid harmful V.O.Cs.  Aside from being durable and eco-friendly, we also put a lot of effort into getting our furniture and service right. Putting it simply, we want your home to feel and look good in every single way.
 
Our sustainability ambition?
To have members of your family arguing over ownership of our pieces – Long after you’ve gone?

Lifestyle Concepts: 10 From Around The World You Should Know About!

Dining Tables For Your Home

10 Lifestyle Concepts From Around The World You Should Know About!

 Ironfire believes that your home and style reflect who you are and what you stand for. There are loads of interesting and popular lifestyle concepts around. Our thinking about how we should design, make and deliver our furniture echoes many of these ideas. So, we thought it would be fun to contrast them with Ironfire. We didn’t set out to follow anyone’s trends and prefer to think that we’re only doing the obvious. But you never know, we might even end up on the cool side of the fence for the first time in our lives!

1 – HYGGE from Denmark:

Berkley coffee table - lifestyle concepts blog
Even though Game of Thrones has finally finished, winter is always on the way.
That means it’s time to add a little more sustainable Hygge into your life.
What’s Hygge you ask?
It’s a Danish idea describing the cosy contentment and well-being you get from life’s simple things.
It’s pronounced “Hoo-Gah,” and it’s that warm feeling you get whilst drinking hot chocolate on a snowy day.
In fact, you’ve probably already experienced Hygge without even knowing it!
It’s a national obsession with all things cosy and why Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world.
This level of happiness is what Ironfire always aims to bring to all our customers. Other countries have versions of Hygge lifestyle concepts. But you don’t have to travel – Ironfire delivers Hygge right to your living room!
We design Ironfire Industrial themed furniture for strength and long life,
but it’s just as much about creating relaxing environments!
You should always feel supported when eating but able to then lean back and relax in comfort.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in your living room, office or your garden.
You should choose furniture that makes you happy to put your feet up and dream a bit.
Don’t you deserve that snug, ultra-comfortable home environment we all dream of?

2 – SISU from Finland:

Pronounced “See-Sue,” this is all about stamina, guts, and perseverance.
It means getting through hardship and making it to the end. Sisu focuses on the present rather than long term goals. It’s meant to inspire you to have the guts to do anything, but you need to be ethical about it at the same time.
For example, say you want to run a high stakes Poker den?
Ironfire can provide the comfy benches to keep you playing for hours and some great ambient lighting.
But don’t ever cheat during the game! Otherwise, you won’t fulfil the integrity of Sisu.
It’s all about sticking to what’s right, especially when it’s difficult.

3 – LAGOM from Sweden:

Dining Table Base in Bluebells - Lifestyle blog
It’s pronounced as “Lah-GOM” and translates to “Not too much and not too little.”
Lagom is about moderation and living a contented life with the right amount of possessions.
It’s better to live a sustainable life and clear-out unnecessary items to create more space at home.
Celine Dion has 10,000 pairs of shoes stored in a Las Vegas warehouse instead of clogging up her house.
So, unless you want your home to look like Celine’s shoe warehouse, it’s wise to live Lagom, simple and sustainable. Embrace the Swedish culture of a healthy work/life balance and purge what you don’t need.
Ironfire furniture’s clean lines and solid design help free yourself and declutter!
That means you only use minimal and necessary furniture items, to design your perfect home.

4 – WABI SABI from Japan:

It’s pronounced as “Wah-Bee-Sah-Bee.”
It’s one of the most ancient Japanese lifestyle concepts seeking beauty in the imperfect, and incomplete.
It cherishes imperfections, and so a ceramic bowl with a crack won’t get tossed away.
Wabi Sabi teaches you to find contentment with what you already have and not hold out for more.
So, if you ever feel like sending a product back for a refund, think Wabi Sabi before you head off to the post office!
 Ironfire shares a Wabi Sabi passion for celebrating the perfect imperfection of natural materials !

5 – LYKKE from Denmark:

Red Dining Table -Lykke
You pronounce Lykke – “Loo-Kah” and it means happiness.
As the Danes are so happy everyone wants to adopt their lifestyle concepts.
To feel the happiness of Lykke, you need space to be able to think clearly.
The Danes believe that a cluttered room is also a cluttered mind.
So, always remember to put those clothes back into a drawer instead of leaving them out on the floor.
Color psychology is also very important in achieving Lykke.
Pink generates warmth, blue means freedom, and green will make your home look natural.
Be careful with red though. It can either remind you of love, or that terrifying elevator scene from The Shining!

6 – IKIGAI from Japan:

It’s pronounced as “Eee-Key-Guy” which means “Reason for being.”
This Japanese tradition is about finding your purpose in life.
It’s quite the opposite of the sedentary cosiness which you get from Hygge.
You need to think about what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs and what you can get paid for. So, if you like our industrial style designs us please spend all your spare cash on Ironfire furniture.
As we get older most of us stop being curious and fall into a boring routine.
Stay young by designing a home that truly represents everything that inspires and challenges you! 
Discovering your own Ikigai will contribute to a long, happy life and motivate you to leap out of bed every morning.

7 – GEZELLIG from The Netherlands:

Ironfire oak dining table -gezellig
“Hey-Sell-ick” is the unexpected way to pronounce this.
This is  all about friendship and companionship.
Like Hygge, this concept aims for warmth and contentment, but more via a fulfilled and active social life.
You’re always sharing that cosiness with people you love (or at least can tolerate), to spend plenty of time with. Trying to entertain friends who complain about your music is not Gezellig!
So make sure you save the best seats for those who really share your Spotify guilty pleasures.

8 – FRILUFTSLIV from Norway:

Yes, this one was a real mouthful for us too. It’s pronounced as “Free-Loofts-Liv” or “Open air living.”
It’s all about the pure joy of being outdoors and embracing nature and beautiful scenery, with friends or alone.
You can experience this by walking, cycling, swimming or camping.
You could though just put a Bench in your garden and spend some relaxing time with a friend.
Or, why not sit alone on that Bench, channel your inner Jane Austen and compose a literary masterpiece.
 It’s important to break away from staring at digital screens and get some natural sunlight and fresh air.
It’s even more enjoyable with the mesmerizing flames from an Ironfire outdoor firepit.

9 – PANTSDRUNK from Finland:

pantsdrunk graphic - lifestyle concepts blog

This hilarious title obscures a truth – find quality time just for yourself.
To Finns, it means getting drunk alone at home, stripped down to your briefs and having no intention of going out. Unless you’re McCauley Culkin and home alone every night, it’s empowering to drink and spend time alone.
Instead of using alcohol as a social tool, you’re relaxing in a different way.
That means you’re getting down to the real you because nobody else is there to judge.
Russell Howard and Greg Davies had a hilarious evening bonding trying the practice out. Watch a clip here
It’s a unique kind of Zen. Some say there’s nothing better than chilling out and sipping hooch in peace and quiet.
 It might surprise you how much you learn about yourself by letting go when you’re alone.
At home, your guard isn’t up and you can allow yourself to be a free spirit
Luckily too, Ironfire chairs have plump cushions to keep your bum warm – since you’re only wearing pants!
Drink like it’s nobody’s business, dance like no one’s watching, but… don’t forget to close the curtains.

 

10 – IRONFIRE from good old Wiltshire?

Is it so cheeky to include ourselves in such august company? Of course it is!
We’re really chuffed though to see how many positive aspects of these lifestyle concepts are reflected in Ironfire.
 Adaptable, sleek furniture that’s not disposable and made from renewable materials. That’s what Ironfire’s all about. Added to that we are honest and hate hype. Read all about us here
Our independent outlook and determination to provide a better service chimes with many of the values above too.
Oh! And we are well used to drinking in our pants – of course!
sheep on plain wood coffee table - lifestyle concepts blog

Sustainable Wood: Why Its the Eco Friendly Choice for Furniture

blue dining table from above

 

Sustainable Wood: Why It’s The Best Eco Friendly Resource For Furniture.

We live in a world where most people want to do the right thing and to protect our environment. It’s the only way to ensure our world for future generations. Future proofing is a vital part of the quest for more sustainable modern life styles. This article is about how using sustainable wood can help.

Beautiful and sustainable - Ironfire burnt wood industrial coffee table

It’s not enough to recycle bottles, cans and paper at home and avoid plastic bags when shopping. There’s a pressing need for a whole new 360 degree way of thinking! We must also extend sustainability into how we design products for the home and workplace. If we’re serious about saving the planet that must become prevalent in consumers minds. That’s not just ‘Millennials’ but also older generations who need to wake up and safeguard their grandchildren’s future.

We need to focus on how we choose what we buy. From the cars we drive, the packaging we allow, right through to the furniture we decide to purchase. Everything has an impact and adds to the ripple out effect.

The future of furniture is in an interesting case in point. We tend to forget that a lot of household furniture harms the environment and contributes to global warming. People buy plastic chairs and tables because they’re cheaper than other materials. We can afford to buy dozens of them – especially for large gatherings. But plastic is a soft material that isn’t durable and becomes brittle. This results in much of it ending up in landfill sites, or worse tossed on a bonfire! That is unless you’re creative and make them last longer like the one below. Broken white plastic chair

There are so many better ways to furnish your home and garden!

Ironfire industrial wood grey dining table or garden table with matching bench and chairs Look for quality furniture which doesn’t harm the environment. Invest in strong, robust and lifelong furniture items made from durable materials like metal and sustainable UK wood. Look for companies like Ironfire that use as few Volatile Organic Compounds as possible (if any at all). Not sure about what VOCs are and why you need to know about them? There’s lots of info here.

Ironfire is a firm in Wiltshire embracing design and production of sustainable, responsible all British furniture.

Beautiful but affordable furniture, built to last and with easy exchange of parts and maintenance being their philosophy!

Ironfire furniture uses galvanised steel that can last a lifetime, and sustainable UK sourced timber. Their ambition is to make you furniture your family will be fighting over long after you’ve gone! https://www.iron-fire.co.uk/

Wood is the most natural renewable material!

According to the British Woodworking Group, more than 90% of wood used in the UK is grown in Europe. That’s much better than many other materials (Just to be smug, Ironfire only uses UK grown wood).

Large industrial style coffee table with white on black wood top Making sure that you source materials as close to the point of production as possible is an important factor. The shorter the journey the lower the carbon impact. Many retailers still scour the world for cheap imports, creating enormous carbon footprints as they ship them round the globe!

People believe that chopping down wood is doing a lot of harm. Actually, it’s probably the most eco-friendly furniture material. Growing, trees absorb harmful CO2 and create oxygen, meaning wood is carbon neutral.

As older trees get felled new ones are then planted. Thankfully, trees don’t take culling as personally as we would!

Wooden furniture lasts for a very long timeLong lasting dark wood bench with back

Wood is a tough material. Its cell structure gives it huge strength and versatility. With proper maintenance wood can last a lifetime and requires little looking after. That’s one reason young couples carve their initials onto trees and memorial benches. It lasts and lets future generations know you were there!

So why shouldn’t your furniture do the same thing?

Due to the long life of wood, products made with it are much better for our planet. Of course, the older a wooden table gets, the more patina, character and rustic charm it develops.

red - white - green Japanes burnt wood style samples

Wood is ideal for recycling

Wood is also readily re-cycleable and re-useable. So, fewer trees need to be felled as re-purposing means demand for fresh wood is lower. This allows new planted trees plenty of time to grow. Woods carbon footprint is neutral and further reduced due to repurposing wood as well. In fact, less wood ends up in landfills than other materials.

Ironfire has re-purposing in its DNA as we rework our wooden tops for you, whenever your taste changes. So, you keep all the robust, durable galvanized metal components as well as the original wood, but in a new format.

Wood waste is completely biodegradable

The use of wood in furniture gives very little waste. Sawdust and off cuts are a useful for Chipboard or heating a workshop. Any waste wood that does get discarded after a while completely decomposes. Ironfire long lasting, strong, black metal industrial style firepit

(Ironfire also offer Firepits to help you get the most out of disposing of your offcuts and foraged wood!)

Wood and other organic materials also sustain you!

Many of us spend much of our time indoors, either working hard or binge-watching Netflix. Wooden furniture helps provide a natural antidote to being so out of sync with the natural world

Research in Norway, Japan, Canada, Finland and Austria has however proven that using natural wood has a positive effect on one’s well-being.

“Wooden surfaces make a room feel warmer and cosier and they also have a calming effect. Wood beats all other normal surface materials.” See more about this research here

The link here explains how wood works as a super-material in the reduction of stress and anxiety!

Click here to see the Austrian research which demonstrates the educational benefits of including wood in classrooms .

4 Natural sustainable wood samples

We can’t all maximise the natural calming of living in a log house! But the following link here again shows what a big effect living with sustainable wood has!

Wood you believe it?

This might all sound a bit out there, but my father had a belief that makes a strange sort of sense to me! Commenting about why many  dream of keeping chickens, he said its because through history we were mostly all small holders. Over time this somehow became bound up in our collective conscious. So that means it feels natural and happy to have chooks pecking around your home!

That’s another possible reason why it is so important to us all to be in tune with the natural world. Sustainable wood furniture that brings out the organic grain, patterns and fibres of wood can really help you relax.

My Dad’s ideas have also affected the way we make Ironfire! In fact, we fit as much sustainable design into our pieces as possible. Whilst the use of natural, renewable UK materials is key to us.  it’s just one of the 7 better way we do things.

We only supply direct this ensures lots of customers choice, lower delivery miles, great service and direct pricing.

I always knew that wood was versatile. Writing this blog has made me realise though just what an astonishing and forgiving material it really is. Follow the links scattered around the article for more information and do come and visit us at https://www.iron-fire.co.uk/.

Oak top dining table 2000 x 1000 in bluebell woods

Outdoor Furniture Ideas for Entertaining Guests 2019

Outdoor Furniture Ideas for Entertaining Guests
A bright sunny day is the perfect excuse to throw an outdoor party and invite all your friends. Entertaining inside can be claustrophobic on a hot day, so why not let everybody enjoy the great outdoors? In this Blog, we have some great outdoor furniture ideas for your next garden party. You don’t need a big budget to furnish your garden stylishly and it’s very similar to buying indoor furniture.

4 Outdoor Furniture Ideas for Entertaining Guests

When you’re outside however, you don’t have to worry about a chair not matching your curtains! The main things that you do need to focus on are looks, comfort and weather resistance. Here’s some ideas to help you achieve that:

A Comfortable Wooden Bench Can Make Your Garden Look Magical

A comfortable wooden bench can make your garden look magical Benches are number one on our list of perfect outdoor furniture ideas. Sited anywhere in your garden they don’t take up much space but have a big impact. Put a bench in the corner on its own or with an garden dining table so that everyone can eat together as one big family. Your guests can then choose how close or far apart they want to sit with each other! A bench doesn’t have to look quaint and traditional as if you’re sitting feeding ducks in the park. You can order a customised, bespoke Ironfire Industrial bench with unique and modern colours. These sturdy benches are real statement pieces! They even seem to entice people to pose on them for social media snaps. Ironfire also lets you choose if you want a back to your bench. A dining bench with an angled backrest is more comfortable and a bit safer. Very useful if someone has a few too many drinks and needs to lean back to emphasize the punchline in a joke. A bench without a back is easier for access though, which is why Ironfire gives you both choices to suit your needs. Unlike plastic chairs, benches can be securely bolted down to stop them flying away, like Mary Poppins in a storm. Our benches are constructed from long-lasting, sustainable British materials. They can have optional covers for extra rain and snow protection.

Create a Hypnotic Flame Effect With an Outdoor Fire Pit

Create a hypnotic flame effect with an outdoor Fire Pit A fire pit is a fantastic addition to your garden or patio. It creates a focal point for guests to sit around and keep warm. Nothing beats the warming blaze of a real fire, it’s a true crowd pleaser and creates a romantic ambience. Our portable, solid, steel fire pits can stand on their own, or sit in a sleek and elegant planter at table height. This way, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up ash afterwards or burning any grass. A fire pit acts as a heater to make chilly guests feel warm and cosy. They’re a huge hit with any crowd and help to extend an evening as it gets cooler. People love to sit around fire pits roasting marshmallows in summer but also in a huddle while stargazing in winter. A fire pit is pretty much a must have for throwing a memorable party.

Ironfire Dining Tables are Fit for a Feast

Ironfire dining tables are fit for a feast A solid wood table is both durable and stylish for hosting garden dinner parties. It has a long-lasting chunky build to withstand all the harsh elements that the UK’s weather will throw at it. Rain, wind or UV rays are all protected against. There are even a range of weatherproof covers available to keep them clean. Ironfire dining tables are affordable, contemporary garden furniture designs with an industrial theme. They are environmentally sustainable and built for long life. With loads of shapes and sizes to choose from, you can easily find the right sized table for you. Now you really can have Dark Grey garden Furniture (as shown in the picture above). You can also have Pink, Blue, Red, Green or any other paint colour  You can then accommodate all your guests for a mouth-watering barbie. The all British hand-made design is elegant and beautiful. Ironfire tables also let you customise and make your own unique piece. You don’t need to use a table cloth as you won’t want to hide the painted, burnt or distressed finishes. The toughness of the finishing keeps everything looking good too. Pick the colour of the table to match the chairs, benches, or even your favourite party dress. The choice is yours.

Create Comfortable Feature Settings Around the Garden

Outdoor Furniture Ideas 4: Create comfortable feature settings around the garden As well as benches, you can use Ironfire chairs to create many different seating areas around your garden. Cheap plastic chairs get damaged easily or blow away with a strong wind. They’re also not very sustainable or planet friendly. Most of the Rattan chairs that are fashionable right now are plastic coated too. Few of them are comfortable enough for both dining and relaxing in. Chairs should have snug cushions for you to sit on all day long. Nobody wants to carry cushions in and out of storage every time you snatch some sunshine either. Ironfire make covers for most of their outside range to help keep them clean and dry! Ironfire take a very different approach. Our cushions are truly waterproof and can live outside. They need to stay clean and dry though. So we make covers for these super comfy, chunky heavy weight Ironfire chairs too! We also use UV resistant cushion cover materials to withstand the strongest rays of the sun. These stylish multipurpose chairs work perfectly indoors as well. For more ideas and information, check out our full product catalogue.

All About Tables For Your Home From IronFire

Tables for Home
 

The Best Tables for Your Home: From IronFire.

No matter which room of your home you are currently in, I can pretty much guarantee that it will contain a table. A dining table in your kitchen or dining room. A coffee table or side table in your living room. A console table in your bedroom as a dressing table or in your hallway for storage or display. And in your bathroom? Well, maybe that’s pushing my “tables for your home, for every room of your house” theory a little bit too far! Red industrial style home dining table If you’re looking to update, replace, or simply need a table for any use or any room of your home then Ironfire can help. We design, build and deliver custom made tables from our Wiltshire workshop directly to your home. There’s a huge selection of colours and sizes in our range. We also keep our prices affordable and only sell directly  from our online furniture store. Dining room tables, Coffee tables, Console tables, Bistro tables and Garden tables. We can happily fill any room of your home with our furniture! The flexibility of our tabletops means that we are a truly unique furniture company. All wood used to make our tabletops comes from British sustainable forests. That, along with the strong steel frames means that they will last for years without further impacting the environment. We’re on-hand to answer any design or delivery questions that you may have. We take a real pride in our furniture and we enjoy engaging with our customers. We carefully manufacture Ironfire and hope you will enjoy what we do.

Bistro Table ?

Bistro tables and pedestal tables may not be the first type of table that you think of when online furniture shopping for a garden table or dining table. They are however one of our best-kept secrets. If your kitchen, dining room or patio is just that bit too small for one of our dining tables, a bistro table could be the ideal solution. Bistro pedestal Table for inside Ironfire industrial bistro tables are custom made to order in any of the finishes that we have available in our online furniture shop. A rust finish for a real industrial effect; a rustic oak which looks great against the black steel frame or one of our 24 standard colours which can all be viewed on our product pages. If none of our standard finishes are to your liking, just visit our RAL colour chart which features over 200 additional colours which we can make your Ironfire tabletop in. We’re sure that there will be at least one that matches what you are looking for, and apologies in advance if we have made the decision difficult for you! Our square bistro tables are available in 3 sizes – 75cm x 75cm; 75cm x 100cm and 100cm x100cm. Let us know at time of purchase if you are going to be using your bistro table inside or outside, and we can ensure that we apply the correct lacquer to it. And for that extra peace of mind, our inside tables have the option of a glass top while our outside tables can have a made to measure cover. Little touches, but ones that matter.

Coffee Tables for your home ?

The centre-piece of living room furniture. The partner to your sofa. The topping for your rug. A coffee table is essential for bringing focus to your living room; bringing all of the living room furniture together. Not just for aesthetic purposes, a coffee table also gives you somewhere to rest your feet, your mug and to hide your half-made jigsaw puzzle and half-read book under. Ironfire industrial style coffee tables are custom made to order. Rectangular coffee tables and square coffee tables that are available in 21 sizes to suit small living rooms or larger living rooms – the general rule of thumb when sizing one up is to make sure that you can walk all around it. Ironfire wooden coffee tables are made using locally sourced wood from renewable forests. The Douglas fir we use with durable and UV stable coatings ensures that our coffee tables will last for years. Because we sell direct only, our coffee tables makes your money go that extra mile. So we are better for both your pocket and the environment. Large White Coffee Table living room

Console tables for your home ?

The Ironfire console table: a narrow table available in lots of lengths and with endless uses both inside and outside. And why shouldn’t practical not also be pretty? Small enough to live at the bottom of the stairs as a hallway table. Slim enough to line the wall as part of your living room furniture collection. Our modern console tables make a gorgeous dressing table and garden storage and display of plants. The smallest of our console tables can be used as a side table or bedside table. With a top and bottom shelf there is plenty of room for your bedside lamp and other essentials. If that’s too small a size for you, we have 21 sizes of our industrial style console table for you to choose from. Big room, little room – there will be one for your needs. If that isn’t choice enough for you, we offer a rust or oak finish for the tops of your console table. If you want a more rustic look, we have sustainable wooden tops in 24 standard colours. Still not enough choice? We have a RAL colour page with 200 other colours ways to suit all tastes and interiors. Which one will you choose? industrial console side hall table

Dining Tables for your home?

Made with a strong steel frame and attractive wooden table top. Ironfire contemporary industrial dining tables could be the missing piece in your dining room. Multiple sizes are available whether you’re looking for a 4 or a 12 seater table. Hot cup proof and sturdy enough to last for years, our dining room tables are a long lasting and worthy investment. Partner them with our dining chairs or benches for a complete dining room furniture solution. The beauty of Ironfire dining tables is in the adaptability of the table tops themselves. We offer a rust finish which is stunning in its originality. An oak finish for a more classic look. A variety of 24 standard finishes with a burnt wood and coloured effect to stand out. If that’s not enough, choose from many other colours. Years down the line if you want to update your table, just let us know. We’ll  create another new top for you while maintaining the original steel frame. A table top choice that is absolutely second to none.

Garden Tables  ?

Are you bored of standard teak garden tables, or painted garden furniture that needs painting every Spring when you pull it out of storage? Ironfire garden furniture can change all of that! Garden table for your home All of the tables on our online furniture store can be used both inside and outside. Bistro tables for a small patio table or maybe Console tables for storage or display of plants. Dining tables for larger patio areas and bigger groups of people. Even our coffee tables are ideal for an outside veranda or seating area. All tables can be finished with a lacquer ensuring longevity outside, meaning you don’t have to worry about storage of them. Our made to measure covers can be selected as an option when you order your table. They make sure that your garden tables are even more protected against any weather blown at them. Select a tabletop finish for a colour pop in your garden to give a colourful contrast to your patio plants. You can then pair with our garden chairs (which have waterproof cushions) or benches. Then maybe add planters and firepits to create a real Ironfire feel for your garden.

Final Verdict

So, however you are looking to add to your current furniture collection look no further than Ironfire furniture. Affordable, attractive and long-lasting, we make sure that our tables will not only stand the test of time but also complement your interior. It’s the Ironfire way.

5 Types of Tables For Your Home Available at IronFire

Types of Tables For Home
Types of Tables For Home It’s not easy to find high quality but affordable tables for your home. Whether for a living area or a dining room; there are so many types available. So, what is going to be the perfect choice for your home? A dining table, coffee table, side table, bistro or console table? We have a huge range of beautiful Industrial inspired home furniture here at IronFire. Read on and we’ll tell you all about you the five types of tables in our range!

Five Types of Tables For Your Home Available at IronFire

IronFire makes tables that you can specify in a huge range of colours. Our tables are extremely versatile pieces of furniture. They are long lasting and can be used inside and outdoors. We make everything here in the UK, using only sustainable materials. Then we deliver to you directly from us. To give you an idea of which tables you should consider getting, here are the five main types of tables from IronFire:

Bistro Tables For The Home 

Bistro Tables For The Home
See All of Our Bistro Tables Here
A Bistro table has one central leg and is sometimes called a pedestal table. It allows more people to sit around it so it’s an idea solution for the smaller area. Ironfire Bistro, pedestal tables are very stable. You’ll find them in restaurants and bars and saving space in smaller homes! Our Bistro tables come in a lot of designs and have an individual, contemporary crossed with industrial theme. These beautiful bistro tables will add a touch of elegance and rustic appeal to your home. Rectangular or square bistro tables come in three sizes, with multiple options of finishes and colours. There are over 200 colours, so you’re sure to discover what style suits your home’s interior style. Ironfire also offers excellent quality bistro tables suitable for any Outdoor area with long lived UV stable finishes.  Whether it be for the patio or outside small dining areas these will fit into your garden perfectly. Don’t to forget to look at our Chairs, planters and firepits too!

Coffee Tables For Your Home 

Coffee tables are just a generic name that has stuck for years. Our tables aren’t solely for coffee but are side tables and low tables that make any living room more homely and practical. you can, of course, place your coffee and other plants, decorations or trinkets on their top and they have a shelf for books and magazines etc. These tables are 435mm tall and you can choose from many square or rectangular sizes, though other manufacturers make round coffee tables too! Once you have chosen your Coffee table then why not also chose matching or complimentary side tables to go next to your settee or to put your TV and devices on? You can also choose higher 800mm tables from our Console range as required. What makes IronFire’s range of coffee tables an amazing buy is its mix of strength and beauty. These industrial-style coffee tables last forever complement many types of seating and make a fantastic statement piece to make warm and natural living areas. There are so many different size and decorative finishes you can choose from with an IronFire coffee table. We give you the freedom to get exactly what you want so let us make you a truly unique piece that we promise you will think is totally amazing.

Console Tables For Your Home 

Console Tables For Your Home
See All of Our Console Tables Here
Console tables are beautiful tables that can be used as a hall table or a side table for your dining table or perhaps even a table for your favorite Gins. We have made them for a huge range of uses both indoors and out and they are a perfect place for decor items and accessories. They work particularly well under one of our mirrors too. Console tables traditionally are narrow tables that stand against a wall but IronFire makes them so much more. That means you can order them from 350mm to 2400mm square and lots of sizes in between. It just depends how you want your room to look. Once you know your size then choose your colours and decorative effect and then if you want a toughened glass top, or not? The choice is all yours! Console tables from IronFire are made with quality materials, and we believe that a piece of IronFire should last forever, so we keep all easy replace parts in stock and if you ever want to change your table top colours – no problem. Just let us know. Furthermore, they have less expensive prices so you can save up for other furniture while still getting a good console table to use and admire at the house.

Dining Tables For Your Home 

Dining Tables For Your Home
See All of Our Dining Tables Here
Traditionally people choose a table for their dining room and then put a lot of upright chairs around it. It’s not comfortable and it’s hardly ever used. IronFire changes all of that. Our industrial and contemporary twist tables come in lots of sizes and endless colours and finishes. We make it simple to choose something that blends in with your dining room décor and to create a room you’ll want to enjoy and eat in. Paired with our comfortable chairs that are designed for both dining and then chilling out with friends and family we are all about memorable meals! IronFire makes unique wooden table tops with various finishes. Each table top has the individual patterns of whirls and knots so one table is never the same from another. Oak finishes offer a gorgeous traditional finish, whilst burnt Douglas Fir colour options and effects make your dining table look bold and truly the centre of attention! Made of sustainably sourced British products your guests will love your unique statement piece Whether it’s outdoors or indoor dining, you know IronFire’s dining tables can last and last whilst maintaining their fresh, natural looks.

Garden Tables For Home 

Garden Tables For Home
See All of Our Garden Tables Here
We know that your garden furniture is just as important as your inside furniture. You want your entire environment to look beautiful. IronFire can be used outside as well and paired with our custom-made quick-change covers will last for a very long time. Now you can take advantage as soon as the sun comes out with attractive, comfortable garden tables and chairs that complement your planting. IronFire is therefore the perfect way to complement your garden. Not only beautiful and elegant but weatherproof and low maintenance.  Pubs and restaurants choose our garden tables for their robustness as well as their style.

Wrapping It Up

Shopping for furniture online doesn’t need to be risky as long as you do the right research. IronFire offer a wide range of products that complement each other o help our customers out in getting what they want for their home at irresistible prices. Do you have any questions or want to share your tips and experiences when purchasing tables and other furniture online? Then do comment below, your thoughts are much appreciated!

Repair Renew Re-use

Repair Re-use and Recycle

Repair, Renew Re-use

Annually, in the UK, we throw away over 1.4 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment. Each household spends on average £800 a year on electrical items for their homes, and it is the older versions of these that break, are thrown out and create the waste issue. So what are you supposed to do when your fridge or washing machine breaks down? It can be costly to get it repaired, as well as not having any guarantee that the repair will solve the problem for an adequate amount of time. White goods just don’t seem to last anymore, unlike the twin-tub that lasted my Nan for about 80 years (if you believe her). The average life of a washing machine is now under 7 years (more than 10% in a London junkyard were reported as being under 5 years old). Irreparable within only a few years before having to buy a new one – no good for our pockets or our environment and certainly not sustainable design!

Here at Ironfire we’ve been championing sustainable made to last furniture products products while maintaining affordability and the easy replacement of parts when and if required. And if we can do it, there’s surely no reason why others can’t Repair Renew Re-use!

Spain, in 2013, brought in a Royal Decree which stated that a certain percentage of electrical and IT products must be recycled and re-used (a term that until recently was indistinguishable from recycled but now means repurposed and repaired rather than broken down and the individual parts recycled). This year, their aim is that 3% of large household appliances and 4% of IT equipment should be re-used, and their research and work into this has found that 25% of equipment that is thrown away is in fact repairable and suitable for re-use. That’s a lot of waste saved, as well as household budgets!

We need better and more sustainable design

Why isn’t more being done about companies and their insistence about unsustainable products?

Their products are cheaper to buy but do not last for long and therefore have to be replaced frequently. A similar problem is planned obsolescence – the practice of producing products that have a limited lifespan until they are no longer in trend, repairable or useless within a certain time period. Mobile phones were a perfect example of this, are getting better but still don’t meet the Repair, renew Re-use brief.

Soon though, it looks like more will be done thanks to the European environment ministers. The BBC are reporting today that finally the EU will be forcing manufacturers into producing goods that will not only last longer but also be easier to repair. Currently the situation with repairing electrical equipment is that parts and instructions are restricted, which limits the repairs to the manufacturers which can be costly and slow – if at all. This will be changed, meaning that local tradesmen will be able to repair equipment – not only saving the consumer money but also investing money in the local economy.

The BBC reports that “because of the CO2 emitted in the manufacturing process, a long-lasting washing machine will generate over two decades, 1.1 tonnes less CO2 than a short-lived model”. So even by purchasing a new machine that claims to be more environmentally efficient, you may be doing a better service by repairing your old machine – as well as saving your money!

Backing all of this up on a ground level, we have the Restart project. A “people-powered project”, they “aim to fix our relationship with electronics”. They run regular Restart Parties where people are taught to repair their broken electronics as well as going into schools and organizations. They say: “The Restart Project was born in 2013 out of our frustration with the throwaway, consumerist model of electronics that we’ve been sold, and the growing mountain of e-waste that it’s leaving behind. By bringing people together to share skills and gain the confidence to open up their stuff, we give people a hands-on way of making a difference, as well as a way to talk about the wider issue and what products we want.”

Now they are being listened to, and their campaign is being taken seriously in the UK and the EU, this can only be a good move for both the consumer and the environment, not to mention the communities that this is bringing together.

Ironfire want to help promote Sustainable design for made to last furniture as their contribution.

So, if you want a piece of furniture that will prove a worthy investment that will last for years, from a company who will provide you with new replacement parts for if it breaks or looks tired further down the line….(It’s worth looking at some of the tweets to Restart from people who have sent in photos of their ovens and toasters that are still going strong after fifty plus years!). Let us know your thoughts on this, as well as any companies you have come across who maintain the repair, re-use ethos, or who just simply make products that last for years! 

 

Interior Bloggers That We Love

Interior Bloggers

We’re always looking for interior Blogger inspiration at IronFire.

both for styling shoots of our own products but also we’re taking an active interest in the interiors of our own homes. I can waste hours away flicking through Pinterest and Instagram for ideas but sometimes you find you need something to read alongside the beautiful images. Discovering the world of interior design bloggers  – was something of an eye-opener for me, possibly because of my age I have missed out on that whole blogger/vlogger thing and find that the culture of influencers has bypassed me too. To have discovered that there is such a large network of interior bloggers who take the time out to write, photograph and post all about their lives and their homes leaves me wondering how they find the time to do anything else apart from putting the interior design blog together whilst ensuring that the area in their home they’re are taking photos of is tidy!

Not only for inspiration and ideas, interior bloggers have also given me another way to waste my evenings – browsing their sites. If you are looking for a good reason to ignore the washing up, boyfriend or football,

Here are our favourite Interior Bloggers from a selection of hundreds.

Let us know if you agree or there are any you think that I have missed that I need to check out!

Swoon Worthy

Kimberly who runs Swoon Worthy describes herself as an ‘unashamed maximalist” and describes her style as “Eclectic Boho Glam”. This makes itself very clear from the content of the blog with luxe golds and animal prints featuring throughout. The flow of the homepage especially is really enchanting and completely different from that of many interior bloggers who stick to the same theme, fonts and colours so this blog really is quite refreshing in that respect. Loads of advice is given, including how to achieve certain looks on smaller budgets. The transparency on this blog is also great – while there are affiliate links provided for shops and products, it is made clear that they are sponsored links and the items shown in these still fit in with the whole theme of the site. Honest, different and interesting – for us, 3 very important things!

HomeGirl London

For this blog, again, the initial attraction lay in the bold homepage layout and blocky fonts which make it stand out with confidence, and by no means squander in the mire of other blogs. Standing out for me are the “Shop Snoop” features in which she actually visits physical stores in London rather than just linking to products online. This makes Homegirl London more of a real person rather than just a face behind a screen in some way – even though there is no proper formal introduction as appears to be standard for bloggers.  The ironic thing here being that there is a distinct lack of selfies or “blogger gazing into the distance” images which again is really refreshing, making the blog more interesting and informative rather than relying on how much she loves her cats. (Disclaimer: I am not insinuating that she does not love her cats; I’m not even aware if she owns any but I’m sure if she does then they are very well looked after).  “Trends” and “Finds” are all included here along with places to shop and eat in London, all giving this blog a real air of authenticity, originality and rawness which we love.

My WareHouse Home

Industrial style interiors have always been at the forefront of our designs and products, and if this is the style for you then My Warehouse Home could be your perfect partner. Packed full of images of exposed brick walls, loft apartments and styling that will make you want to start stripping the plaster on the walls of your uninspiring semi away, this blog (as well as their website and magazine which we also recommend) is slightly dark but very fabulous. Don’t come here if you are looking for pastel pink walls that are not set off against rough timber or metalwork. This is the film star of the interior blogs if you like – one you gaze at with an open mouth and envious eyes but know you possibly won’t ever get close enough to touch with the envy inducing high ceilings in the amazing homes included. The warehouse home touches that you can give to your home featured in here however, can be the equivalent of that Johnny Depp poster on your wall.  With features such as “Meet the Designer”, “Real Homes” and “Five of the Best”, there’s enough information here to keep you going for days. It’s a no-frills approach which could not fit the brief any better. A clear brand and voice throughout this blog and site makes this, for us, an absolute go-to.

Smart Style Interiors

Primarily an interior designer, in this blog Phoebe shares ideas and encouragement on how to develop your home for the better. The language is refreshing and enthusiastic and from reading one blog alone you are almost out the door with your Farrow and Ball paint chart to tart up your walls with bright colours that you have previously hidden from. Well written and with great images, this blog really feels like you are getting value for your reading time and it’s so nice to read a blog that isn’t full of sponsored links from people trying to convince you of how great their new ironing board is (#ad). This makes it genuine and you end up really liking Phoebe and her advice and ideas from which you get the sense that she just wants to help you brighten your home and not just sell you things that she claims to use in her own…60/30/10 rule anyone??

If these aren’t enough to keep you going throughout the next week or so of football games, you can, of course, always go through our back catalogue…..

 

Summer Interiors for 2018

Spending more time outside in the garden in the summer can often mean that the inside of your home can get neglected at this time of year. Buying sun loungers and deckchairs instead of cushions and throws does seem like a much more worthwhile investment what with the sunshine being so friendly at the moment however I know as much as anyone that we can’t take the sunshine in our country for granted!

Should the weather take a turn for the worse and you have to move those evenings of entertaining friends or simply sitting in your garden relaxing after work inside, make sure that your home interior doesn’t let you down. These style points are red hot for the summer of 2018 and will ensure that if you do have to run inside from the rain, you don’t have to worry about a drab and dingy home.

Gold

Replacing the copper and brass that has been so popular recently, and looking to be the key metallic for the Autumn and the Winter, get into pole position by starting to introduce touches of gold now. Sitting it against natural stone or wood can provide great tactile contrasts, while bold primary colours can complement gold really well whether being used on walls, floors or in textiles.

Wallpaper from Very.co.uk gold wallpaper

Plantpot from H&M Wallpaper from Very.co.uk

Mirror from Tikamoon Blue wall with gold mirror

Citrus

What other shades say summer quite like these? Don’t stop at a wedge of lemon or lime in your gin and tonic – bring these into an interior to say fun, fresh and zesty.

These yellows, greens and oranges will bring warmth and brightness to any interior space, or again just an accent. If this is something that you want to do temporarily, use fresh flowers such as marigolds to achieve this.

Console Table From IronFire small console table

Image courtesy of Architectural Drawing Awesome citrus interiors

Radiator cover from Couture Cases citrus radiator cover

Geometric

Lines, shapes and patterns can create an impression of order in any home, and the inclusion of geometric patterns in your interior can do this while adding an edge to a basic neutral palette.

If you’re brave enough, Farrow and Ball have a guide here on how to paint your floor in a stunning geometric pattern worthy enough to stop people from actually standing on but instead just stand and admire your handiwork. If however you don’t have the time or patience to create this effect yourself, there are plenty of patterned rugs available to achieve the same thing without the effort.

Rug from Zara Home Rug From Zara Home IronFire

And if you want to combine both citrus AND geometric on in one go….

Rug from Rugs Direct citrus geometric rug

Coral

Summer invokes thoughts of holidays and beaches, and decorative coral is a great way of giving that laid-back beach vibe to your home. Decorative and fresh enough to provide bathrooms with an updated touch; modern and funky enough to take place on a hallway console table or living room dresser, these spiky decorations are brilliant (but don’t even try to dust them effectively!).

Image from Digs Digs IronFire Interiors

Coral is, however, protected and the 8000 year old coral reef in English waters is a Marine Conservation Zone. As it is an endangered product, we therefore only recommend the purchase of coral that is made from resin, but looks just as stunning.

Teak Garden Furniture – Why You Shouldn’t buy it!

garden furniture

Teak Garden Furniture is not eco friendly

With the sun making a rare appearance for so long at the moment, many of us will be looking at purchasing garden furniture to take our dinner, drinks and friends outside. When you are looking for a completely new Teak garden furniture set as a  starting point or a complete upgrade, there are thousands of options available both in stores and online. Size of garden, storage and material preference all play a part in which set you go on to purchase.

But when you choose your garden furniture, do you think about where it actually comes from? (No, I don’t mean Argos). Are you aware of the impact that buying garden furniture made of wood can have on the environment? Or the illegal trade involved in the manufacture of your wooden chairs and table? If you’re looking for teak garden furniture especially, it may be worth reading on before you click on that “Buy Now” button…..

King of the Woods

Teak has been used for many years in the manufacture of anything that needs to last and stay attractive. It has long been known as the ‘King of the Woods’ due to it’s ability to weather as well as its natural resistance to insects, fungus and acids. Teak was a natural choice to build boats out of and now is used as a popular choice for garden furniture. It seems to be readily available. When purchasing, it may be easy to overlook the issues that can arise with it in the way that the wood itself was obtained.

Friends of the Earth estimate that the UK imports enough illegal hardwood every year for garden furniture, decking and other uses to destroy tropical rainforests over three times the size of Luxembourg annually. This not only has an effect on the native animals and indigenous people, but also the environment as a whole. Forests contain over half of the planet’s animal and plant species and over 3 billion people. This is being taken from them illegally and immorally.

The Illegal Teak Trade

It is really important that you find out where the teak is coming from if you buy it. Burma is the only country that still exports Teak from natural forests, mostly illegally. Unfortunately, Burmese teak is the best on the market. Laos and Canadian teak is seen to be of lower quality for Teak Garden Furniture.  It also comes from tropical rainforests which environmental agencies are protecting from illegal logging. African teak is young, which hinders its quality. There are many doubts over it’s legality also.

The growth cycle of a Teak tree is between 60 and 100 years before it is ready for commercial felling. New forests do not provide the quality that older ones do and it can obviously ta -ke years to regenerate the forests that are being felled. Buying Teak from Burma destroys the forests for which the people living in rely on for their homes and income. Up to 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihood across the world.

Teak and Human Rights

It’s not just the lack of places to live or find an income though. The bloodshed and fighting over the forests in Burma  is truly shocking. The military in Burma control the forests and local people are being imprisoned or fined huge amounts. This is just for being in parts of the forest that they are told not to visit and extreme violence is often used. Many of these people are reluctant to leave not only because they live there but also because of a spiritual attachment to the place.

Illegal Logging

The money from the wood that is illegally imported through China (for whom the demand for teak is huge) goes to the people who run the council (the SPDC) in Burma. They pass this on to political and economic allies. This is instead of being invested into improving the country and the lives of the people who live there. Many environmental activists have been killed who were trying to stop illegal logging.  Due to the control through violence that is now seen in the cut and run forestry taking part, teak is now known as “blood timber”. An unfortunate and lesser title than the King of the Woods by which it was once known.

Burmese Teak Trade

Destroying natural primary forests, funding groups guilty of human rights abuse. Depriving animals of their natural habitats and threatening the survival of the indigenous people. It seems that it is certainly worthy of it’s new title through no fault of it’s own. The teak in Burma will disappear in decades if the illegal logging continues at the rate that it is going.  For all of these reasons, the FSC refuses to certify Burmese timber. For more information on the situation in Burma, have a look at the Human Rights Report from 2019 . It may shock you with some of the figures and acts against the Burmese people.

How to Buy Safe Garden Furniture

How do you ensure that you are not helping to fund this destructive regime? Look at these woods as alternatives:

  •  Bamboo and Rattan: but ensure that you check the source via www.inbar.int. It is relied on as an income for people as well as a food source for Giant Pandas and the mountain gorillas of Africa. It is, however, part of the UN’s sustainable development policy and has a negative carbon footprint so definitely worth looking at.
  • Pine: do not buy the pine from Latvia or Estonia which is from ancient forests. Any that has an FSC certificate is fine.
  • Douglas fir: All European Douglas fir comes from managed plantations. Avoid any from North America or Canada.
  • Larch: European Larch plantations are FCS certified and safe to use. Avoid Russian and Canadian larch which have put species at risk of extinction.

Saving the Forests

There are loads of other points to consider to help save the forests. There is loads of recycled timber available on the market which you should use if you can. Locally produced FSC products will have low transportation costs as well as assuring you exactly where it has come from. Look for chain of custody numbers and FSC certification on imported timbers. Support the WWF, Greenpeace and The Woodland Trust in their work to save the natural forests from devastation. Have a look at the ethical buying guide before purchasing to ensure that your garden furniture is guilt free.

Ironfire Sustainability

For your peace of mind when purchasing from IronFire, all of our timber is from a local sawmill (keeping our carbon footprint low) who proudly display their FSC certificate on their website.

You may think that one less purchase of an imported teak garden table may not make much of a difference, but if everyone stops buying…..

 

The Garden Chef: Outdoor dining ideas

Garden Chef

If there are many among you Garden chefs who didn’t eat outside or BBQ’d outdoors in the glorious sunshine of the last Bank Holiday, I will eat more than my slightly raw in the middle and burnt on the outside hat. There’s nothing quite like making the most of the rare warmth and sunshine in the UK and using your outdoor garden furniture to the full – it just puts people in a good mood. Outdoor dining allows you to invite more friends than will usually fit around your dining table. Neither do you have to worry what the ketchup is landing on when it drips out of the bottom of a loosely held child’s hotdog and hand held food cuts down on the washing up. Al Fresco BBQ’s are great and food tastes much better when cooked on them – whether it’s the effect of the charcoal taste or just the eating outside at your garden furniture, there’s definitely something a bit special about it!

Taking outdoor table ideas to the next level

A big current trend is to leave your trusty old BBQ where it lives for most of the year – in the shed. While it has given great service over the years, BBQs are now being whipped up into something special by being integrated into a full on kitchen garden. This not only gives you space to BBQ in style, but also prep surfaces, other cooking devices and even sinks. Sound like something your cheffy self could get excited about? Here are some ideas on how to turn your outdoor dining furniture into a garden galley that even Gordon Ramsay would be proud of.  

  1. Location – where are you going to set up? It’s important to consider things such as route from the inside kitchen to the outside kitchen; if you want the smoke from the BBQ getting too close to your home or creating a fire risk; if you are intending to cook alone and bring the food to the dining area or if you want to integrate the two to stay social while you cook. If you’re planning on installing an outdoor sink, a cheaper option can be to make sure that one wall of your garden kitchen is in line with the external wall of your inside kitchen so that water can be sourced from there rather than running new pipes. If you’re not sure where to put it, why not look at a kitchen island which combines storage, preparation space and a cooking device all in one but which can be moved to the outdoor dining furniture location of your choice as and when you desire.
  2. Budget – quite an important one, and can be the difference between investing in a proper all-singing kitchen area, or one that you create yourself out of reclaimed pallets, bricks or other hardy materials. While it can be easy to simply buy the units, it can be a lot more satisfying to create it yourself, as well as ensuring that it meets your requirements perfectly.
  3. Cook – what are you going to cook? If you’re happy just to grill, then integrate your BBQ into the kitchen on its own – useful if you’re limited on space and can also be a very cost effective way of creating your outdoor cooking space with a pre-made unit.  If you want to really impress, add in a pizza oven or even a side burner for that paella you just knocked up to your outside table ideas list. We even thought “If you have a good supply of kippers, how about your own smoker”?
  4. Storage – if you are going to bring your ingredients and tools in from the kitchen as and when you need them, you don’t need to worry about this part (but please refer to point 1 about being able to easily navigate from the indoor kitchen to the outdoor kitchen!). Hooks in the external walls can make easily reachable utensil storage while cupboard space under worktops, integrated fridges…all can be planned into your space and ensure that none is wasted. Make sure that any fridges are, however, suitable for outdoor dining use.
  5. Shelter – with more cool days than hot in this country, it makes sense to plan for using your garden kitchen on those colder days as well. Shelter can be provided simply with allowing space for a parasol, but also look at awnings or canopies, both of which can be decorated with strings of lights for ambience once the night draws in. Allowing space for a firepit can also make sure that your guests don’t look longingly at your living room when the temperature drops.
  6. Materials – open to the seasons, make sure that all materials used in the construction of your kitchen are up to being battered. Concrete is strong and very on trend, as are dark woods and marble – although these can take the construction into the next price bracket. Try to use sustainable sources where possible as well as ensuring that materials are heat, UV and waterproof so that they last more than one wet summer! Don’t forget to look at our Ironfire Garden furniture for outdoor dining range!
  7. Light – don’t make my mistake of BBQ’ing in the dark and then serving your guests raw chicken at a birthday party (luckily no-one was poorly but then the gin probably killed off any nasties). Make sure that you have plenty of light for both your cooking and so that you can carry on the party into the night. Whether you choose to install electric lights if you don’t plan on having a portable kitchen, or solar lights if you are moving your kitchen around the garden, they will make sure that your chicken is cooked and the kissing is saved for bedtime!

We hope that the above tips help empower the garden chef in you

But if its not enough there are some great ideas on www.landscaping.co.uk who also offer a full planning and installation service. Most of all, make sure that it is somewhere that you can enjoy and relax, and impress your guests by cooking in a way that they will be green with envy at (just not green with food poisoning – if you’re not sure about this, just stick to vegetarian options!).

The Sustainable Market

industrial style dining table close up

Facebook images of rubbish being washed up on beaches, the banning of microbeads in cosmetic products on the news, the disappearance of plastic bags from supermarkets (leading to you taking your shopping to your car in a basket if you’re like me and forget your reusable bags)…the issues that the world has with regards to the rubbish that we create and how we deal with it is something that no-one can claim to be ignorant of.

Locally to us at IronFire, there was a recent meeting at Morrisons of local shoppers who all took back their plastic wrapping to the manager in the trolley load, and the pubs are no longer providing plastic straws, only paper ones. We are all taking notice – seeing rubbish on beaches at the weekends, it can’t be ignored – and the passion that some people and businesses are showing is in turn inspiring others. (Iceland are paving the way as they are aiming to be the first plastic free supermarket by 2023). Looking at your kitchen and bathroom shelves though, we seem inundated with plastic and throwaway materials and it can seem that there is no easy way to get around this. Well, look no further! Here we are with a short guide (we love a list) to some products that we have found online that can help you do your bit in keeping the planet plastic free…

  1. Waitrose have announced that they are going to stop providing paper cups for their free coffee, and many coffee shops will give you money off of your takeaway cappuccino if you take in your own reusable cup. KeepCup say that they are “there for the everyday changemakers” – a mantra which we love, after all if we can all make small changes then they will amount to a lot. Their reusable cups are made from tempered glass and they also manufacture a barista standard cup, all of which are available in multiple colours and sizes. Worth the investment if you frequently indulge in a takeaway coffee or can’t walk around Waitrose without a caffeine hit!
  2. Did you know that many teabags are made of plastic? As a tea-addict, my contribution to the plastic issue just from my habit has shocked me somewhat. The big players – PG Tips and Tetley – both contain plastic, but if you are looking to be more plastic free, then simply change your tea-bags over to Aldi, the Waitrose Duchy brand or Pukka tea (their peppermint and liquorice flavour is amazing). Alternatively, look at making your own teabags or using loose tea. You never know, it could always lead to a sideline in fortune telling!
  3. No one wants to be a bit smelly, even at the expense of the planet, but Salt of the Earth deodorants are on hand (or armpit) to tick both of these boxes. Designed to be not only sustainable in manufacture, packing and distribution, they are paraben free and perfect for people with sensitive skin. They also offer a massive refill bottle so that you don’t have to continually replace the original. What’s not to like!
  4. Lush shampoo bars seem to be a bit of a weird idea at first – who even uses soap apart from your nan?!? – but each of these bars are the equivalent of 3 x 250g bottles of shampoo. Saving you not only money but also keeping your plastic usage down massively, and your hair clean and full of bounce! The reviews are great, with people claiming never to go back to normal shampoo after using this product.
  5. Cling film. Plastic. But without it you end up with pockets and a handbag full of crumbs and bits of lettuce. Not an endearing lunch for even the hungriest of people. So here’s the alternative – beeswax wraps. Made in Stroud from cotton with pine resin and local beeswax to help them ‘cling’, these wraps do seem like a costly investment at first but can be reused for a year simply with by washing with water and soap. And once they have been used to their maximum, they can be thrown on your compost heap as are fully biodegradable.  Fresh food and a crumb free bottom to your handbag, all guilt free!
  6. As it is just thrown down the toilet, loo roll may not be at the forefront of your mind when thinking about living sustainably apart from buying the recycled version in the supermarket. However, they come in plastic packaging, and the roll in the middle needs to be recycled (or made into Jesus and Mary and various others who you are NOT ALLOWED TO THROW AWAY EVER). Who Gives a Crap manufactures toilet paper that is made from recycled paper and books, comes in a recyclable cardboard box and is fully biodegradable as well as being ok for septic tanks (not sceptic tanks – definitely no doubt). Not only this, but they give 50% of all of their profits to help build toilets in third world countries. No bum deal here.
  7. Ecover are launching a clean world revolution, and want us to join! Abandon your Mr Muscle and enter the realms of eco-friendly cleaning right here. An eco-sound factory, all products made from plant-derived materials (no nasty chemicals) which include no phosphates which inevitably end up back in our water, and a war on single use plastic all mean that Ecover are maintaining their lead as one of the most popular and effective cleaning solutions for planet aware cleaners. A recent study showed that inhaling the chemicals from kitchen and bathroom cleaners can be as bad for your lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day, so while it may not be fun to be scrubbing bathroom dirt away, you can at least make it healthier both for yourself and the planet.
  8. The Natural Bed Company make all of their beds from wood that has come from sustainable forests and never from endangered tropical sources. All made in the UK, they share our passion for not using the fast wood that has been used in the construction of cheap furniture from China and the suchlike. Not only beds though, they also offer fully organic bedding for a bedtime experience that is just dreamy!
  9. Last but by no means least, IronFire Industrial Furniture (I’m not going to miss us out now am I!) have a range of industrial style furniture that is only available online. Our products are made by British craftsmen using sustainably sourced products; keeping the forests healthy and our time on the roads shorter. Sustainable and a bit stunning!

True, all of these solutions may not be suitable for everyone but if we all just make little changes to our everyday habits this may make our beaches, air and water cleaner for that bit longer for the generations to come.

Inspired by the Sunshine!

So today my original blog idea has been thrown aside in favour of a more relevant subject, inspired purely by the beautiful sunshine and blue skies that we are seeing here in Wiltshire after what seems like endless months of rain and snow. I’m still on a garden furniture type roll, so this post is designed to help you decide how to buy your furniture for the garden. As with most furniture, it’s very rarely a cheap impulsive buy, and as a consumer you will need to make sure that you are getting the most you can for your money and that it’s suitable for purpose. As a friend of mine likes to chant regularly, “buy cheap, buy twice”, and for a product that is going to be spending its time being battered by the weather it is certainly worth bearing this adage in mind. Therefore, as follows is my guide to investing in garden furniture, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on which you think is the most important and what has helped you…
  1. Functionality. What is the purpose of your garden furniture? Where is it going to go? If you are planning on keeping it all on your patio and surround it with lots of friends for al fresco dinner parties, a large table and plenty of seating is key. It may even be worth looking at benches as a seating option rather than chairs to allow you to squeeze those extra couple of bottoms on when not expected. If your furniture is to go in a smaller nook of your garden and you’re more of a sit out on your own type, then don’t over-table! A bistro table which can sit subtly in a corner or under a pergola is a better option for four or less people. Add as many chairs to this as you need or want – most places will let you purchase chairs individually so if you want to sit alone and read, just buy one. They’ll soon get the message!
  2. Care. It’s bad enough keeping your living room sofa clear of crumbs and stains without having to worry about your garden furniture as well. Most metal garden furniture will be treated so that it lasts for years and will just require a wipe down with hot soapy water as and when it needs it. Wooden furniture can be slightly more labour intensive, but if you’re painting your fence then you may as well tidy up your furniture at the same time! A lot of tabletops will have been treated – just check on this when you buy. If you do go for a wooden option, ensure that the wood is from an FSC forest…
  3. Storage. Many garden furniture sets will need to be brought inside over the winter. Bear this in mind if you’re buying a cheaper set, as it will need to go into a garage or shed to make it last longer than a single summer. Cushions can be affected by the damp, so look for cushions made of materials that are UV resistant so that they maintain their colour and are waterproof – it’s surprising where the water can get in and cause mould.
  4. Colour. Why stick to just brown wood when there are so many other colours out there! Look for painted woods, bright table tops, and match these to your plants, plant pots, shoes….A brightly coloured garden furniture set can be a stunning talking point as well as adding a bright splash to your garden and the opportunities for colours really can be endless.
  5. Invest. I know, it’s not going to be cheap but you really will get what you pay for. Investing that bit more into purchasing a quality set of garden furniture will mean that you won’t have to update it every year when it goes rusty or falls apart. It’s false economy to buy cheap, and think of the good that you are also doing the environment by not using what we call “fast furniture” – products that are cheap and then discarded quickly.
  6. Additional Accessories. If you’re feeling a bit flush and want to carry on with your garden furniture purchases, don’t just stop at the table and chairs! Consider a patio heater or fire-pit if you want your parties to go on that little bit later into the night, and for warm lighting. Matching planters can deck your decking or patio, and can be filled with pretty plants such as olive trees, or even look at filling them with practical vegetables! A bright parasol to match or complement your table is always important for that one really hot day of sun we get if you’re an English rose who shrivels in the sunshine (like me!). And if you’re eating outside, you may as well cook outside as well. If a BBQ is a bit too standard for you, have a look at outdoor pizza ovens – easy to use and will make you roll pizzas out so often you may put Dominos to shame!
Disclaimer: If you now go out and invest a lot of money in stunning garden furniture, invite your friends round and buy all of the burgers and sausages in Tesco only for it to rain tomorrow…it’s not my fault.