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Science Fiction Home Furnishings

Earlier this week I was working on a list of science fiction-inspired furniture when I became distracted by a number of creative science fiction quilts. When I returned to the matter at hand, I found quite a few ways to take your home "out of this world."

1. TARDIS Murphy Bed

An unnamed craftsman in New Zealand built a very special bed for his son. By day, it’s a life-size TARDIS (the time machine from Doctor Who) disguised as a police box. By night, it’s a fold-down bed! It has a working police light, pulsing LEDs, and a talking telephone. It made news when it went up for sale at Trade Me, but for one reason or another it didn't sell.

2. Y-wing Elevated Bed

Another home-crafted project that has been lost to time is this elevated Y-wing Bed, like those of the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars. It was spotted in a real estate listing a couple of years ago that has since been deleted, so we may never know who actually built it.

3. Millennium Falcon Bed

Kayla Kromer, who gained fame for the Hamburger Bed, also designed and built the Millennium Falcon Bed. It is a one-of-a-kind. Image by Heather Leah Kennedy.

4. and 5. AT-AT Beds

Instructables member BykManDan says he is not a carpenter, yet his constructed this AT-AT Imperial Walker loft bed for his son and captured the imagination and envy of Star Wars fans worldwide.

Jonathon used the same idea for his son's bunk bed, but made his AT-AT (seen in the film The Empire Strikes Back) a three-level bunk bed! You can see more details at YouTube. The child presumably has no trouble getting friends to sleep over.

6. Shuttle Bed

Custom space beds are wonderful, but if you don't have the skills or time, you can buy a Space Shuttle Bunk Bed. It has the NASA decals, but more closely resembles a shuttlecraft from the original Star Trek series.

7. Captain Kirk's Chair

The one piece of furniture that will most make you feel like part of another world is Captain Kirk's Chair (NYT link). And even better, you'll be in total control of that world! There were once several outlets that sold replicas of the original captain's chair, including Hammacher Schlemmer, but all seem to have discontinued the item. However, if you take a good look, you'll see that the various captain's chairs used in the different Star Trek series and movies often resemble high quality but readily available office chairs modified to sit on a stable base, such as this one used by Captain Picard in several movies. Image by Susan Seubert for The New York Times.

8. The Galactic Throne

The Galactic Throne from Tom Spina Designs puts you in control, whether you're the Emperor, Darth Vader, or some other evil overlord in a spaceship. Or just a person watching them in your home theater.

9. H. R. Giger Furniture

If you are looking for furniture that evokes the creepiness of the movie Alien, you are in luck, because the Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger,who designed the alien queen, also does furniture. However, you will have to contact the his agent for prices, so don't expect a bargain.

10. Alien Table

There was a company that made tables and chairs incorporating the Alien queen a few years back, but the manufacturer seem to have disappeared.

11. Predator Table

However, you can find a glass top table held up by the alien from the Predator movies. Pro Mech Racing has them in several styles.

12. Han Solo Table

R-9 Studios brings us the Han Solo in Carbonite Coffee Table as well as the Millennium Falcon Coffee Table. Your guests probably already know your favorite films, but they'll still be impressed one way or another.

See also: Gifts for the Geek Home and 10 Ways to Game Up Your Home.

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5 Simple Seating Tricks That Will Transform Your Living Room
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Seating arrangements can make or break a social event. Whether it's a cocktail party, a book club get-together, or a Game of Thrones binge night, you want a setup that makes socializing easy and enjoyable. The right combo of comfortable chairs, tables, and other furniture is the key to making your abode more inviting and homey. We’ve got five ways to hack your living room seating for social occasions or everyday life.

1. MAKE THE TV THE FOCAL POINT OF THE ROOM.

When people are over to watch the season finale of your favorite show, the TV becomes the obvious focal point of the gathering. You can easily calculate the optimal viewing distance for your seating based on the size of your TV. For 1080p screen, double your TV's diagonal measurement to get the proper distance in inches, which you can then convert to feet.

Let's say you have a 43-inch TV—multiply that by two and you get 86 inches, or about 7 feet, as your best viewing distance. A 48-inch screen, which is one of the most popular sizes for living rooms, will allow you 8 feet of viewing space. If you have a higher-def 4K TV screen, you can sit a little closer: Experts recommend a distance of one to 1.5 times the screen size.

Now that you have the right distance in mind, arrange your couch in front and place other chairs at varied heights at the sides and behind it. Have plenty of comfy floor cushions for those who don’t snag a sofa seat so that everyone has a good sightline to the TV.

2. CREATE A CONVERSATIONAL CIRCLE.

When the social event doesn't require everyone to face the same direction, arrange the seating in a circle around a central point. This setup works best for book club meetings and gatherings where casual conversation is the main draw. Opt for a round table at the center for setting drinks and snacks. “At a round table you can see everyone at once, whereas at a rectangular table, there’s a chance you’re not seeing the faces of people on your side two or more seats down, making it difficult to chat with them,” Whitney McGregor of Whitney McGregor Designs in Greenville, South Carolina, tells Mental Floss.

A 2007 study suggested that people are drawn to circles and softer organic shapes because the rounded edges are perceived as less dangerous than sharp edges. Create a similar feel of safety, comfort, and inclusiveness in your living room with a set of chairs around a circular coffee table or a large tufted ottoman.

3. LEAVE SOME SPACE—BUT NOT TOO MUCH— BETWEEN SEATS AND TABLES.

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To keep conversation flowing, leave at least 3 feet of space between each seat (not including couches, where people are expected to chat more intimately). For example, place arm chairs about 3 feet away from the ends of the sofa or 5 to 6 feet across from the sofa. The coffee table, whether round, square, or rectangular, should sit about 14 to 18 inches from the front of the couch—far enough to provide comfortable legroom, but close enough to set a drink down without getting up.

These cushions of space prevent guests from feeling like they're sitting on top of one another, according to Apartment Therapy. But a stretch of 10 feet or more is too much to converse easily, so pull out the tape measure as needed.

4. FRESHEN A STUFFY ARRANGEMENT WITH ASYMMETRY.

It's possible to switch up the whole feeling of your room—without purchasing new furniture—by changing the existing seating and accent tables from a symmetrical to an asymmetrical arrangement, and vice versa. “Asymmetry versus symmetry can be a fickle thing,” Christy Davis of Christy Davis Interiors in Columbia, South Carolina, tells Mental Floss. “Symmetry gives a sense of wholeness and completeness, whereas asymmetry makes you think a little more because it’s not as common as symmetry.”

Do you crave that whole and complete feeling? Put two matching chairs on either side of a table to make the room seem more visually balanced and formal. For a casual look with more energy, take those same two chairs and put them in a random order: One to the left of the couch as a discrete conversational seating area, and the other on the opposite wall and farther down in the room, along with a side table and lamp, as its own smaller conversation nook.

5. ADD SURFACES FOR DRINKS AND MORE.

With every good seat comes the need for a place to set a drink, your phone, or the remote control. While you want your coffee table at least 14 inches in front of the couch, the rules for accent table placement are a little looser. Try sitting in each location in your room and checking if there’s a place to set your glass within each reaching distance. If not, add a side table or garden stool, then dress it up with plants and photos. According to The Spruce, the side table should be about the same height as the arm of the seat it's next to.

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Your Dresser Is a Serious Tipping Hazard. Here's How to Fix It
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When it comes to household safety, we’re used to potentially hazardous items being clearly labeled. Hair dryers come with warnings not to use them in the shower; volatile cleaning products implore us not to drink them. But some of the most significant items carrying actual mortality rates are largely ignored: common living room or bedroom furniture.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 30,000 people were treated in emergency rooms from 2014 to 2016 as a result of furniture tipping over on them. Children are at particular risk of being injured or worse when they attempt to climb a dresser or TV stand. As Consumer Reports points out, these items do not have to conform to any universal manufacturing standard and can easily become unstable regardless of their weight, cost, the child’s weight, or other variables. Injuries are also seen when children tug on the furniture or attempt to climb inside the drawers. Since dressers are often in a child's bedroom where they can play unsupervised, the potential for an accident is high.

In testing performed by Consumer Reports, no one brand or style stood out as being inherently safer than the others. So what can consumers do?

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One easy solution is to avoid putting televisions on top of these dressers, since they pose a high risk of falling on top of a child when the dresser is moved. More importantly, child safety advocacy groups advise that adults use anchoring systems for furniture in danger of tipping over. These kits are available via mail order or in retail stores and come with straps that are connected between the furniture and two wall brackets. If weight is applied to the front of the dresser, the straps will keep it from falling over.

Some furniture comes with these kits, or with L-shaped angle brackets. Both are effective, but included straps can often be plastic that degrades over time—they should be nylon or steel. If not, you should opt for a third-party kit.

Advocacy groups have found that a lot of consumers are either unaware these kits exist or find them difficult to install. But it's a relatively easy procedure so long as you secure the anchor into a wall stud and not into drywall, where it will be too loose to stand up to a weight-bearing load. For brick or masonry walls, it’s best to hire a professional. If you’re renting and have been told not to drill into the wall, consult your landlord—it’s likely they’ll agree to waive any restrictions to make for a safer living space.

[h/t NPR]

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