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Home and Building, Volume 37 Number 6 (1975)


page 37

It should be noted however that wall-fixed shelving systems are a legal anomaly; most people regard them as private property but many legal agreements to sell, stipulate that 'fixtures' remain part of the property to be disposed of. So it is as well specifically to exclude those from that category if you are thinking of selling your home.

Over the last decade there has been a visible move away from once common items of furniture like the china cabinet. Formerly used to display the home owners 'best pieces', china cabinets now glut the second hand shops and elsewhere are giving place to wall units.

Wall units are taller, more capacious and they enjoy a much more active role in the modern home. While they are still used to display the odd piece it is more customary to see them carrying glasses and bottles with the occasional piece of pottery, tucked in between the sort of books usually kept for colour and kudos, sometimes rather than for content.

Designed to embrace an arrangement of shelves, cupboards and, not infrequently drawers, the wall unit adapts well to shifting interests and changing lifestyles. Some units have pull-down cabinet fronts which serve as either desk top or drink dispenser, depending upon its owner's sense of priorities.

They usually have boxy alcoves designed specifically to accommodate a television set or stereo system and all the attendent bits and pieces. Placed next to each other, wall units introduce an element of cohesion into rooms which would otherwise seem stark or appear jumbled. This illusion is specifically heightened where a corner unit is used. More than any other item of modern furniture the wall unit is versatile and self evident success.

A variety of book cases, welsh dressers and cabinets in styles ranging from the ultra modern to the decidedly period are also put out by the New Zealand manufacturers. Some of these have proved widely popular on overseas markets. The approach of local manufacturers is such that, while traditional china cabinets may be a thing of the past, many units of free standing storage, as opposed to wall fixtures are available. These units — combining cupboards, drawers, and shelves have shared very strongly in the current wave of enthusiasm for increased storage facilities.

Items of bedroom furniture, in which clothing and personal effects have traditionally been stored away, remain largely unchanged. However, while dressers and chests of drawers are essentially unaltered, they are now available in a variety of styles. A single design theme may now be carried right through a home — allowing the owner of, for example a Spanish style house, to chose furniture of that type.

For the less pernickety, the manufacturers of kitset furniture offer an almost bewildering array of dressers, bed-head units, chests of drawers and cupboards. Supplied ready for painting or a coat of varnish, these units have clean functional lines, and they have a reputation for sturdy reliability. Modestly priced, they help to bring good basic storage furniture within the reach of everyone. Often they get a second lease of life when the family which purchased them decides to buy a bach.

But while many New Zealanders have resisted using steel shelving in their homes, they have accepted items made of plastic. "That is to say the younger generation, and one or two other bolder spirits have accepted it", said one marketing manager. "They use it as a means of introducing colour into their homes and to supplement conventional furniture."

Colour preferences have changed markedly; in the past, orange white and gold, in that order, were preferred. Today with a move to whitewall living, white is the 60% favourite and gold and orange trail behind at 20% each.

Today, two ranges of plastic shelves and cabinets are firmly established, another is becoming available now. However, plastic in the home is seen as having a limited application in the heavy storage role: weights must be watched. But its free-standing nature, easy maintenance and clean colours are very attractive.

Steel, on the other hand, is very much the 'in' material overseas.

It is cheaper than wood and once coated and suitably textured, is thought to be perfectly acceptable. "When wood gets to be too expensive we see the same thing happening here" said the manufacturer of one line of steel shelves.

For the present, however, plastic has the initiative and is not wasting it. Apart from kit-set storage units, at least one utility shelving system is marketed for home owners and businessmen alike. The system, while not glamorous, is functional, adjustable and utilises both wood and steel. It would not look out of place in a
A versatile range of ABS free standing modular shelving — illustration Sherman Shelving, distributed by J. Yock & Co.

A versatile range of ABS free standing modular shelving — illustration Sherman Shelving, distributed by J. Yock & Co.

Wall shelving — adjustable and versatile — illustration by Selflok Systems.

Wall shelving — adjustable and versatile — illustration by Selflok Systems.

A modern shelving system used as room divider suitable for both domestic and commercial situations — illustration Lustra Shelving by Rex Consolidated.

A modern shelving system used as room divider suitable for both domestic and commercial situations — illustration Lustra Shelving by Rex Consolidated.

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pantry, a garage or the living areas for modern houses.

Those of a practical turn of mind will be happy to learn that installation of most systems is simple and only a minimum of tools required, if any. Most uprights and shelves are available either prefinished or with a minimum of finish required in a few cases.

One important reason for adequate shelving and storage in addition to the obvious functional and aesthetic factors is on the grounds of safety — clutter and disorganisation is dangerous as well as unsightly.

Much attention has been paid to wall storage systems but many of the suppliers offer a magnificent variation — free standing units which do not require fixing to the walls. This approach protects the walls, enables the use of the units as room dividers and ideal storage units, and allows access from two sides.

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