The Design History of Espresso Machine

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The espresso machine was a child of passion, love and great demand. In the 19th century, coffee was big business especially in Italy. Not only did people try to improve on the quality and taste of the brews but, they also tried to reduce the brewing time. That was the only way they could keep up with the demand. This led to the birth of the espresso machine. At the beginning, it was nowhere close to what it looks like today. Here is a short walk down memory lane to show you just how far the machine has come.


Before the birth of the espresso machine, it would take about five minutes to brew one cup of coffee. In 1884, Angelo Moriondo was the first to patent an Espresso machine. However, his efforts are not largely recognized because his design was a far cry from what is the current espresso machine.


The first real break-through of the espresso machine was not until 1901 when Luigi Bezzera filed a patent for a machine that contained a boiler and four ‘groups’.  In this machine, each of the groups in the machine could take different sizes of filters that contained the coffee. The machine also had the ability to force boiled water and steam through the coffee into the cup. This is considered to be the cradle of the espresso machine.

Later on, Bezzera’s patent was purchased by Desiderio Pavoni who started building the machines in his garage which has since become a company. They could only put together one machine per day. These were known as the Superelegant ‘Column’ Machine that had an upright boiler and was encased in copper and brass. This was perhaps the first commercially produced espresso coffee maker.


In the machines made by Pavoni, would later on receive a much needed mechanical boost by adding a piston that allowed the total exclusion of steam to only use hot water powered by a 14 bar pressure. The result was a revolutionary drink that was creamier, thicker and with a great aroma. This is now considered to be the mother of the modern espresso. The old espresso machines forced steam through the coffee. This gave the final brew a burnt flavour. But, in 1938, Cremonesi came up with the idea of adding the piston. After the modification, the first espresso machine of its kind was installed at the Achille Gaggia’s Coffee bar.


World War II prevented further enhancements to the machine and Gaggia had to wait until 1946 to be able to start manufacturing the commercial piston machine.

After the war in Italy, during the country’s social and economic recovery, the most important invention to the espresso machine was made by Ernesto Valente in 1950. This new machine had a thermosiphon circuit that had heat exchangers in the boilers. The new addition allowed water to be pumped at a higher pressure. This is the same technology that features in espresso machines to date.

There is no doubt that the espresso machine has had a long path to the success that it enjoys today. Currently, there are tens of different types of espresso machines that use different technologies to make the perfect cup of coffee. However, the basics are still the same as those that were laid when the coffee machine was improved in 1950.

More the espresso machine’s illustrious history can be found on Sieblands website

Working Your Vintage Pieces into Modern Interiors

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That modern home design and that flashy sofa surely look good. But, there is nothing that looks better than a rustic piece of vintage furniture with some history to tell sticking out at the center of the living room. If only it were possible to merge the two worlds and make them one. Wait that is possible. You just have to know what you’re doing and how to pair those old rustic pieces with your new modern ones. If done right, this could give your interior design a lot of depth and contrast. Here are some ideas that could be of help.

The magical traditional desk and modern chair combo

If you’re looking to add the dynamic duo be it in your living room or your study, you can never go wrong by pairing your vintage desk with state of the art modern chair, and it is even better if you can have the two in contrasting colors. It gives the space the sense of depth and dimension. The best way to get this set up noticed is to place it down the hall or in a corridor. It will capture the attention of anyone passing by.

This arrangement also works perfectly with most ethnic tables. If you have chairs or even sofas of a contrasting color, they blend perfectly with the traditional table. The best part is, they offer a juxtapose of the two worlds. That will be a conversation starter for many of your guests especially when you have the arrangement in the living room.

Blend it all in

The thing about vintage pieces is that they can stick out like a sore thumb if they are not paired well. It gets even worse when they are paired with the modern pieces inappropriately. To help avoid this, you can help blend your rustic pieces with the other pieces by painting them the same color as the walls or the same color but a different shade. Another ingenious tip that you can use to help with the blending is by using ethnic textile. They look good with everything and will help make a subtle transition between the two very distinct worlds.

Keep the focal point vintage

One of the greatest tips in interior decoration is to have a central point. Usually, having something interesting enough but does not overwhelm the rest of the arrangement can be a handful. To help you with the arrangement, a vintage piece would be a great placeholder. The contrast and rustic appeal it would offer is significant. All you have to do is adopt a minimalist design for the rest of the pieces, and your focal point should do just fine.

Mix it up

Before you get it all wrong, not everything you mix up in this aspect will light up a room. If done the wrong way, you can quickly turn this into a sour thumb. The one proven idea is to mix a couple of traditional chairs into the modern setting. They bring up character instantly.

There are plenty of ways that you can work those old chairs and other pieces of furniture into your new modern living. However, while you might need some professional help in some instances, the ones mentioned here are pretty simple and can be achieved with minimal effort.

Matching Those Dining Chairs with the Proper Style and Table

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I visited my friend the other day and could not help notice that his wife had changed the dining chairs. It was a breath of fresh air considering I had always wanted to tell him how unfit they were for each other but my friendliness could not allow it. Anyway, that gave me a great idea! Instead of going around telling people how messed up their dining areas were owing to bad chair selection why not put my expertise to some good use and help people pick the right dining chairs for their taste? Great right? So, here we are.

Rustic style

With all the live edge furniture going around, you must have landed yourself a great live edge table and now you can’t seem to pick the right chairs to go with that right? Well, here is a great idea. Traditional farm style wood chairs. They are heavy and durable and pair well with rustic tables. You can even them throw them around the rustic farm table. If you care more about authenticity, you might want to look into the shaker style type of wood chairs. They have that hint of uniqueness in them as well.2202-438x

You many also opt for the café style bent wood chairs. They are making quite the resurgence and are quite the fit with their curvy lines and definitely look great with virtually any table. But, you do not have to take my word for it. Just try it out and see how well that blends.

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The large family appeal

You have a larger than life family and in most instances, you have guests dropping for dinner. It can be a hurdle especially when you are not sure of how many guests are coming so here is a very raw idea and one that you might find to be a light bulb moment like it was for me. On one side of the dining table, you can have the regular chair then on the other side have a bench. To make it much easier both on the eyes and the user, opt for cushioned one or a banquette seating. You will need a tip to pull this off. Place the bench on the side that has the window. This helps to frame the dining area nicely and give it a sense of depth .images (2)

You might find this hard but you will not believe it until you try it out but classic Eames Bentwood chairs could also make for great dining room chairs that bring a hint of class and elegance and allow you to show off your exquisite style.

Choosing great dining chairs can be a nightmare. Unlike the tables that will usually jump at you when you see them, the chairs have a different story. You have to consider so much before selecting them not to mention that they should also be able to go well with your table. Bad chairs take away the positive energy of the table which is why you have to pay particular attention to make sure you get the pairing right as well.

Minimalist Dining Rooms

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Besides the one pathological extreme of hoarding, most people find it difficult to decorate a room with just the bare minimum that successfully captures and enhances its beauty. As a result, research and development into contemporary living has focused itself on educating people about the principle of “less is more”. Minimalist furnishing is not, however, a self-contained method of design, but tends to borrow from other styles with the main objective being clean lines, simplicity without being simplistic, and of course, cutting-edge design technology.

Given that a dining room is intended as a place to actually dine, it will largely set the tone for the remainder of the room. For a sleek, minimal appeal, square and rectangular tables are the preferred choice thanks to the simple, straight lines. Yes, round, oval or other geometrically shaped tables may be embraced by the more daring, but that would often fall into the more avant-garde niche of modernism.

Minimalist dining rooms can combine both striking aesthetics and user-friendliness in an effortless manner when done right. Practicality should always be the key consideration because after all, one should be able to comfortably eat and enjoy your meal without being distracted by complex and complicated dining facilities.

Another important element to a cohesive dining room is to accent the room with a color and texture scheme that should make the room comfortable and inviting. While striving for a coherent theme, you should not become so fixated on replicating a space straight out of a magazine catalog. The room should still be warm, welcoming and lend itself to many happy sociable moments without fear of disturbing the organized arrangement of furniture and décor.

Since the dining room is one area where the family gathers almost daily to spend some quality time together, adding a layer of visual softness to the room will indeed make it a welcoming space. Blend in a hint of industrial charm or add a touch of organic beauty to the minimal dining room to make it more comfortable and inviting.

Having said all the above about limits and parameters, modern and minimalist living can prove to be a true adventure in innovation, creativity and authenticity. Bold design aesthetics, risky combinations and non-conventional approaches can have the impact of turning an otherwise standard space into a work of art as well as save it from the mundane.

The Beauty of Steel

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Steel is traditionally regarded as a medium used in the industrial arena, though in this modern era steel has been taken to a whole different level. The world of creativity has embraced this medium and added warmth, colour, depth and texture.

There is an extremely wide variety of steel art available, depending on your needs, preferences and heart’s desires.

The image of canvasses, oil and water paints, paper and posters is what comes to mind when we think about art. Beautifully framed pictures painted or drawn using various techniques or abstract paintings that allow the imagination to run wild.

With the advancements of technological components such as CNC machines, lasers and computer programmes the grande-all-steel-spiral-staircase-large-diameter-steel-staircases-in-a-range-of-colours-152-pface of art has taken a detour. The use of steel has become a different way to express art and the possibilities are endless. The steel can be left out in the elements to get a natural, rustic look, or it can be painted with special acrylic paints, brush finished for a warmer look, polished to a high shine, or powder coated. Powder coating is one of the options where the materials are heat treated to withstand high heat for durability of the surface.

The wall art deco created by various artists or blooming artists are incredible. From forms of animals, plants, people and objects to magnificent signage. There is nothing that cannot be created as an art piece to decorate your walls, both interior and exterior. Depending on the specific artist, colour is incorporated either by using stained glass, beads or special paints. Other types of materials may also be incorporated, for example, wood, sand, stones or a different type of metal.

Steel art is also being used to enhance basic structures around the home. The designs of gates and balustrades have become focal points. The saying “first impressions are lasting impressions” is in the forefront of many homeowners’ minds, therefore property owners opt for opulent main gates with elaborate arty designs – it most definitely makes a “first impression”.

A balustrade’s main function is safety and in past years these were constructed with only that in minsteel-chair-design-sheet-metal-galvanized-casprini-yuyu-4d so were quite plain and practical. Today it is a whole new concept. The balustrades architecture is more imaginative than ever. We find designs of flowers, dragons, animals, symbols, curves and lines, and even words and names. The potential is endless – you think it and it can be created!

Steel is also used as a medium to produce . The furniture can also be made to specifications of your own taste and requirements. Here too the possibilities are endless. Indoor furniture such as tables, chairs, coffee tables, bed sets, to name just a few. The possibilities for the outdoor furniture designs are also magnificent.

Finding manufactures, suppliers, designers and/or artists is easy. The web has a huge data bank of information worldwide. Looking through catalogues for ideas before making a final decision is also an option.

When you are looking for something different, or something original, something to add flare to your home: how about looking at steel as an option.


Simple Ways to Give Your Home a Facelift

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Create a whole new look without breaking the budget

Dress up your windows: Curtains can add or detract from a room without you even noticing they’re there. Choose a simple, neutral and easily washable fabric, focusing on the texture rather than the color and add 20 cm to the length and let them fall to the floor.


Add a bit of nature: Plants and flowers can give a room a fresh vibrant and healthy feel, they can add serenity to your space and they’re great for regulating the oxygen in your home. Depending on the feel you want, you can use mostly greenery such as big round leafed plants or tall grasses, or use bold flowers to add splashes of color to your home. If you want more of gardens of Babylon feel you could put some hanging creepers on a high shelf and let the fronds cascade over it. If lighting is a bit of issue there are an increasingly realistic range of silk flowers and synthetic plants on the market as well.

Rug up: a bold floor rug can bring a room to life; think bright colors and Aladdin’s cave. Conversely a nice solid neutral color in a great texture can really tie a room together and add warmth and comfort.


Make your own art: canvases are cheap, and even cheaper are old bits of MDF wood, make sure if you’re using something other than canvas you use a good quality base coat, I would also recommend using a top coat as well to protect your art. You can get topcoats in gloss, matte or completely clear and they’re well worth the extra few bucks to protect your painting from spills, dust, etc.


Replace the hardware: putting in new door handles and replacing the ones on your kitchen cabinets can make your whole home seem more modern without breaking the bank.


Let there be light: pay attention to the lighting in your home, this part will probably be the most expensive tip on this list, but it’s well worth the money spent. Lighting not only affects the look of the room and the way colors show up, it can also have a pronounced affect on your mood. Rooms full of natural light will make you feel happier, more energetic and inspired in your day to day life, whereas darker rooms can make you feel depressed and unmotivated.


Floating wall shelves: are relatively inexpensive and easy to install and a great way to display little knick knacks collected from around the place, they can also be great for books, candles or plants.


If you must, you can always give your place a new lick of paint for a really fresh feel, again it’s cheap and you can do it yourself, but be careful with your color choices! You don’t want to have to go through the whole process again in a few months. Also consider investing in designer modern furniture. A new designer or designer reproduction sofa and armchair can add years of life back into your home.

Essential furniture pieces

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First blog post! I’ll update this post throughout this week. Leave a comment if you’d like us to add additional essential pieces.


Starting out or cleaning out: The essential pieces you need to create the perfect mix in your home


Here are five essential pieces of furniture you need to have and five non-essentials you might want to ditch.


Bookcase- a great bookcase can be a lifetime or even heirloom piece, opt for one that is at the very least, sturdy and well built. Even if you’re not a big reader you’ll be surprised at the amount of stuff you put there. It’s a great place to store recipe books, magazine, even files, as well as the ubiquitous Harry Potter and Tolkien.

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Sofa- a sofa is the kind of furniture piece you will constantly be updating depending on your budget, lifestyle, personal style and body type. It is, however, a very important piece as it says a lot about you as a person and has a huge impact on the feel of your home. An uncomfortable sofa can make a whole house feel unfriendly and unwelcoming. Always take a great deal of care when choosing this piece, and never pick the latest, most expensive trendy piece.

Queen Mary Sofa

Bed- obviously this is a pretty essential piece in any home, even though it often feels as if none of us use it enough. Mattresses should be replaced fairly frequently and will change throughout your lifetime depending on your age and lifestyle, but a good bed frame can see you through thick and thin. Invest well, you want something that is very sturdy and won’t creak or move around. It should also, if possible, be relatively easy to disassemble and put back together as this can be a nightmare if you’re moving house.

Coffee table- as a friend of mine so eloquently put it, “If you don’t have a coffee table, where will your guests put their coffee cups?” It is the centerpiece of your living room and is where a lot of living happens. Again make sure it is sturdy and won’t break under a big load of magazines or when your toddler inevitably tries to climb on it. I would also recommend choosing a surface that doesn’t scar easily (unless that’s the look you’re going for).

Eames style Molded Plywood Coffee Table

Dining set- a great dining set can see you through years of dinner parties and entertainment. It can be the place where your children do their homework, the place where you introduce two friends who become a couple. Choose carefully and invest well, as this is another piece that can see you through a lifetime.

Some non-essential pieces:

End tables- they are a magnet for clutter, if there is a surface anywhere, guaranteed you will fill it with things you would rather be put away. Take away the temptation and do away with end tables, they are unnecessary and get under foot.

Buffet or sideboard– who has space for a massive old sideboard in their dining room? If you are one of the lucky few that do then you could probably find a better use for that space anyway.

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Curio/display cabinet– this one goes without saying, we are well past display cabinets, instead invest in some great little shelves dotted about the house to display our curiosities, and while you do this, ask yourself if all of these things really need to be displayed in the first place.

Recliner- it’s great to put your put feet up but instead consider smaller ottomans or footstools, which can be stacked and stored out of the way.

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Desk- this one is a little bit left of field, as depending on your lifestyle and or profession then a desk can be pretty essential, but in most cases it is just a place that attracts clutter. If you’re not using it at three to five days a week, then you probably don’t need it, especially if your home computer is a laptop.


Wasp Office Desk

Welcome to Birch Knoll Antiques!

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While we do our best to fully document the items we have in inventory, this site is representative of our style. If you like our style but do not see what you are in search of, contact us and we’ll try to fulfill your request.  Feel free to call us at 617.784.4958 or drop us a note via email at [email protected]

Our goal is complete customer satisfaction whether buying from our shop, a show, or on-line.

We hope you enjoy your experience in our shop. From time to time expect to see posts about furniture in stock and general tidbits about the industry.