When author and designer Barbara Flanagan moved from a huge Victorian to a small Cape Cod residence, she needed to drastically downsize — fast.
“I noticed the things I had were not very useful,” she said. “I thought, ‘What if I had the time and energy to choose a small collection of very durable, long-lasting useful things ... What would that be?” Flanagan turned this question into a book project, and “Flanagan’s Smart Home” was born.
“Flanagan’s Smart Home: The 98 Essentials for Starting Out, Starting Over, Scaling Back” (Workman, $12.95) provides readers with ideal products for starting fresh in a new home, regardless of its size. Flanagan considered products desirable for her home, as well as those for her children, who recently graduated college and moved into their own apartments. The book has options for the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room and living room, and offers ideas for cleaning products to use throughout.
“It is a question I have as a home owner and also as product designer: What do people actually need? We are always thinking about the combination of efficiency and beauty,” Flanagan said.
With the troublesome economy, Flanagan understands consumers are looking for valuable products that will last. She compiled her list of the 98 “essentials” by experimenting with products and researching ones that caught her attention. She wants consumers to buy smart, considering a product’s long-term value before making impulsive purchases.
“I wanted to really stand behind each product and have a reason to recommend it,” Flanagan said.
One of Flanagan’s favorite aspects of the book is the recommendation to use water and microfiber cleaning products, such as mops and cloths — an eco-friendly way of cleaning faster, easier and cheaper. Unlike traditional cleaning chemicals, microfiber products do not pollute the environment since they are reusable and washable.
“Chemicals may sanitize our interior world, but once flushed away, they pollute the one outside our doors,” Flanagan writes in her book.
Flanagan first discovered microfiber products while in Spain. When she returned to the United States, she researched the new phenomenon more thoroughly and concluded it was either a hoax or an amazing boon. After experimenting with the products herself, and encouraging her friends and family to do the same, she found the products effective.