Title:
Removable modular baseboard and shelf systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Removable modular baseboard and shelf systems comprising a receiving frame and a plurality of removable boards. An exemplary removable modular baseboard system includes a board receiving frame, a plurality of removable boards, a base, and an air permeable seal, such as a brush seal. The removable modular baseboard system allows easy access to plumbing, electrical wiring and HVAC conduits beneath kitchen cabinetry, bathroom vanities, entertainment centers, free-standing shelving, wall-hung shelving, island cabinetry, and other shelving systems. The board receiving frame defines the board receiving area. The base is connected to the board receiving frame on one side and the air permeable seal on the other side. The air permeable seal and the base define the height of the access area beneath the plurality of removable boards and define an air gap between the receiving frame and the floor.



Inventors:
Lizell, Christopher A. (Green Lane, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/167186
Publication Date:
12/29/2005
Filing Date:
06/28/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B77/04; A47B91/00; A47B96/20; (IPC1-7): A47B77/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ING, MATTHEW W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MOAZZAM & ASSOCIATES, LLC (MCLEAN, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A removable modular baseboard system comprising: a receiving frame defining a board receiving area; a plurality of removable boards disposed within the board receiving area; and a base connected to the receiving frame that defines a height of an access area beneath the removable boards and defines an air gap between the receiving frame and a floor.

2. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 1, further compromising an air permeable seal connected to the base on a side opposite to the receiving frame, wherein the air permeable seal and the base define a height of an access area beneath the plurality of removable boards and define an air gap between the receiving frame and a floor.

3. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 2, wherein the air permeable seal comprises a brush seal.

4. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 3, wherein the brush seal comprises bristles adapted to wick water from the floor.

5. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 1, wherein the receiving frame is constructed from a single sheet of material.

6. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 1, wherein the receiving frame is constructed from two or more pieces of material.

7. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 1, wherein the receiving frame comprises a lip formed around the board receiving area that supports the plurality of removable boards.

8. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 1, wherein a connection between the receiving frame and the base supports the plurality of removable boards.

9. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of removable boards have substantially equivalent width and length dimensions.

10. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of removable boards have substantially different widths.

11. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 1, wherein at least one removable board of the plurality of removable boards comprises a pre-cut notch.

12. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 1, wherein at least one removable board of the plurality of removable boards comprises a pre-scored notch.

13. The removable modular baseboard system according to claim 1, wherein one or more sides of the base are detachable from the receiving frame.

14. A cabinet comprising: a cabinet housing; a receiving frame connected to the cabinet housing and defining a board receiving area; a plurality of removable boards placed within the board receiving area; and a base connected to the receiving frame that defines a height of an access area beneath the removable boards and defines an air gap between the receiving frame and a floor.

15. The cabinet according to claim 14, further compromising an air permeable seal connected to the base on a side opposite to the receiving frame, wherein the air permeable seal and the base define a height of an access area beneath the plurality of removable boards and define an air gap between the receiving frame and a floor.

16. The cabinet according to claim 15, wherein the air permeable seal comprises a brush seal.

17. The cabinet according to claim 16, wherein the brush seal comprises bristles adapted to wick water from the floor.

18. The cabinet according to claim 14, wherein the receiving frame is constructed from a single sheet of material.

19. The cabinet according to claim 14, wherein the receiving frame is constructed from two or more pieces of material.

20. The cabinet according to claim 14, wherein the receiving frame comprises a lip formed around the board receiving area that supports the plurality of removable boards.

21. The cabinet according to claim 14, wherein a connection between the receiving frame and the base supports the plurality of removable boards.

22. The cabinet according to claim 14, wherein the plurality of removable boards have substantially equivalent width and length dimensions.

23. The cabinet according to claim 14, wherein the plurality of removable boards have substantially different widths.

24. The cabinet according to claim 14, wherein at least one removable board of the plurality of removable boards comprises a pre-cut notch.

25. The cabinet according to claim 14, wherein at least one removable board of the plurality of removable boards comprises a pre-scored notch.

26. The cabinet according to claim 14, wherein one or more sides of the base are detachable from the receiving frame.

27. The cabinet according to claim 15, wherein the plurality of removable boards comprise air gaps between adjacent boards, and wherein air can circulate into and out of the cabinet through the air gaps and the air permeable seal.

28. A cabinet comprising: a cabinet housing; a receiving frame defining a board receiving area; and a plurality of removable boards disposed within the board receiving area, at least one board of the plurality of removable boards defining a notch adapted to allow passage of a conduit through the at least one board.

29. The cabinet according to claim 28, wherein the receiving frame is disposed toward the bottom of the cabinet housing and the receiving frame and the plurality of removable boards comprise a baseboard of the cabinet.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/582,813, filed Jun. 28, 2004, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to cabinetry and, in particular, to a cabinet structure for accommodating conduits such as plumbing and electrical wiring and outlets.

2. Background of the Invention

Most cabinetry on the market is intended for use in areas where conduits such as plumbing and electrical wiring must be routed inside the cabinetry. Unfortunately, common cabinetry is designed with a fixed, non-removable base, which creates considerable areas of inaccessible dead space between the cabinet base and the flooring.

The consequences of inaccessible space around plumbing-related conduits are considerable. Drooping or disintegrating bases in kitchen sink and bathroom sink cabinets are commonplace in homes and offices. It is also common for pests such as insects, rodents, and toxic molds to flourish in such spaces, unknown to end users. Toxic molds like toxic black mold thrive in dark, damp environments and feed on the plentiful wood and paper content of cabinetry. If, or when, the end-user becomes aware of a problem, the fixed base design of standard cabinetry prevents end-users from correcting it without removing the base and consequently compromising the cabinetry structure, function, and aesthetic qualities.

The installation of cabinetry in areas such as kitchens and baths involves routing plumbing, electrical wiring, and sometimes heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) conduits within the cabinetry structure. Routing these common conduits typically requires drilling holes through the base of the cabinetry as plumbing and utilities usually comes up from the flooring. The process of routing these conduits can be very difficult when installing common cabinetry, as a fixed base structure requires the work to be done from inside the cabinets where the area is very tight with limited accessibility. Unfortunately, once a hole is drilled for a conduit, it is permanent and cannot be undone, and, in addition, holes are often not very precise because they are precut and not precisely fitted to the conduit.

The unfortunate and frustrating fact of common cabinetry is that the entire area and the conduits between the floor and cabinetry base are inaccessible for maintenance and repairs without literally tearing out the base of the cabinet. Reconfiguring the conduits or moving and reusing the cabinets elsewhere is also hampered by common cabinetry design because new holes would likely be required, further compromising the aesthetics, function, and integrity of the cabinetry.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed toward a modular baseboard or shelf unit for use in cabinetry of various types and applications, especially where conduits such as plumbing and electrical wiring are routed within the cabinetry structure. An embodiment of the invention provides a baseboard or shelf unit with removable boards. In the case of a baseboard unit, an air permeable seal, such as a brush seal, can extend from a base of the unit to a floor surface. The invention simplifies the installation and maintenance of cabinetry and internally routed conduits, allows for a cleaner and more precise installation, allows for dynamic placement and configuration of the cabinetry and conduits, and significantly improves upon the sanitary conditions, safety, and aesthetics of the surrounding environment in which it is utilized.

One embodiment of the present invention is a removable modular baseboard system. The removable baseboard system includes a receiving frame, a plurality of removable boards, and a base. The receiving frame defines a board receiving area. The plurality of removable boards is placed within the board receiving area. The base is connected to the receiving frame and defines the height of the access area beneath the removable boards and the air gap between the receiving frame and the floor.

The receiving frame is preferably constructed from a single sheet of material. In another embodiment of the present invention, the receiving frame is constructed from two or more pieces of material. The receiving frame can include a lip formed around the board receiving area that is used to support the plurality of removable boards. In another embodiment of the present invention, the connection between the receiving frame and the base is used to support the plurality of removable boards.

In one embodiment, the plurality of removable boards has substantially equivalent width and length dimensions. In another embodiment of the present invention, the plurality of removable boards has substantially different widths. At least one removable board of the plurality of removable boards can comprise a pre-cut notch. In another embodiment of the present invention, at least one removable board of the plurality of removable boards comprises a pre-scored notch.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the removable modular baseboard system includes an air permeable seal, such as a brush seal, connected to the base on the side opposite to the side connected to the receiving frame. The air permeable seal and the base define the height of the access area beneath the plurality of removable boards and the air gap between the receiving frame and the floor.

Another embodiment of the present invention is a cabinet. The cabinet includes a cabinet housing, a receiving frame, a plurality of removable boards, a base, and an air permeable seal. The receiving frame is connected to the cabinet housing and defines a board receiving area. The plurality of removable boards is placed within the board receiving area. The base is connected on one side to the receiving frame and on the other side to the air permeable seal. The base and the air permeable seal define the height of the access area beneath the removable boards and the air gap between the receiving frame and the floor.

Another embodiment of the present invention provides a modular shelf unit without a base, which can be positioned, for example, in a cabinet toward the bottom as a removable modular baseboard or higher in the cabinet as a removable modular shelf. A cabinet according to this embodiment can comprise a cabinet housing, a receiving frame defining a board receiving area, and a plurality of removable boards disposed within the board receiving area, with at least one board of the plurality of removable boards defining a notch adapted to allow passage of a conduit through the at least one board.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system in an assembled position, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram showing an exploded view of the exemplary removable modular baseboard system shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet having a partially assembled removable modular baseboard system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram showing exemplary removable boards having notches that fit around conduits, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system that includes a detachable base with four sides, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system that includes a detachable base with one side, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet containing a removable modular baseboard system without a base, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet containing a modular shelf unit and a removable modular baseboard system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

Before one or more embodiments of the invention are described in detail, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction, the arrangements of components, and the arrangement of steps set forth in the following detailed description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed toward a modular baseboard or modular shelf unit for use in cabinetry of various types and applications, especially where conduits such as plumbing and electrical wiring are routed within the cabinetry structure. The present invention can be used in, but is not limited to use in, kitchen cabinetry, bathroom vanities, entertainment centers, free-standing shelving, wall-hung shelving, island cabinetry, and other shelving systems, and solves many problems associated with common cabinetry design and installation.

The present invention is intended to significantly reduce the likelihood of mold and pest infestations, and allow end users to know about and correct problems if they do occur. In addition, the present invention simplifies the installation process, saving the end user time and money with more precise and clean results, and enables end users the freedom and flexibility to move, reconfigure, or reuse their cabinetry without compromise. The present invention offers end users a more versatile product that empowers them to take control of their environment with respect to cabinetry configuration and placement, cost of installation and ownership, lifespan of their cabinetry and surrounding building structure, and most importantly the environmental health and quality of their work and living spaces.

An embodiment of the invention provides a base or shelf unit with removable boards and an air permeable seal, such as a brush seal, extending from the base of the unit to a floor surface. The invention simplifies the installation and maintenance of cabinetry and internally routed conduits, allows for a cleaner and more precise installation, allows for dynamic placement and configuration of the cabinetry and conduits, and significantly improves upon the sanitary conditions, safety, and aesthetics of the surrounding environment in which it is utilized.

Unlike common cabinetry, the invention allows for full access to the floor beneath the cabinetry both before and after the installation process. By allowing access to the space between the base and flooring, the installation process is not only greatly eased and simplified, but end results are cleaner and more precise as cuts are more closely fitted around the conduits. Further, cutting and drilling procedures for conduit routing can be done outside of the interior space of the cabinet, thereby avoiding the marring of the interior structure of the cabinetry caused by drilling and cutting for the conduits. An added advantage of the removable baseboard system is that the conduits can be reconfigured or updated at any time, as the base boards are reconfigurable and replaceable. Such functionality allows the cabinetry to be reused with a clean installation each time.

The invention allows accessibility for routine maintenance, inspection, repairs, and cleaning, empowering end users to take control and maintain the structural integrity of their building and cabinetry, and to maintain a clean, safe, and healthy environment in which to live and work.

Since common cabinetry design renders the entire area between the floor and cabinetry base inaccessible, installers and end users may not be aware of leaky plumbing until damage has been done. To repair a leaky pipe, the base of the cabinet must usually be torn out around the pipe, which essentially destroys the function, structural integrity, and aesthetics of the interior cabinet space. Even if a pipe is not leaking, in general, pipes do sweat, causing an accumulation of moisture between the floor and base area. Usually, the area is caulked in from the front to cover gaps on an uneven floor. Base coving is used for the same purpose. Either way, the area does not effectively breath and dry out.

On the other hand, if no seal has been used, water and dirt will freely accumulate under the base and base edge causing further damage. Either way, the result is a persistent dampness, which can result in a slow but progressive deterioration of surrounding structures and environmental conditions due to water damage, and a strong likely hood of pest infestation such as carpenter ants attracted by wet wood, and toxic molds thriving undetected under ideal conditions. These problems cannot be addressed by routine cleaning since the area is rendered inaccessible dead space by common cabinetry design. All too often, owners give up in frustration and tear out the droopy, mangled, moisture soaked base and simply store items on the floor space. This is certainly not what the cabinet owner had in mind and degrades the structural integrity of the cabinetry.

In contrast to common cabinetry design, an embodiment of the present invention allows access underneath the base of cabinetry. Removable boards allow full time access to plumbing, electrical wiring, and HVAC conduits and outlets to check for or repair leaks or make adjustments without removing the cabinetry. These boards allow for routine cleaning to remove dirt, allergens, and household pests. These boards also allow end users to know about and correct water leaks and pest infestation, which would otherwise continue undetected in traditional cabinetry and pose serious health risks and cause structural damage to adjacent flooring and cabinetry.

Another embodiment of the present invention preemptively addresses moisture related issues. Slight gaps between the removable boards, in conjunction with an air-permeable seal, such as a base brush seal, allow the area underneath the boards to breath and dry out moisture from spills and sweating pipes. The brush seal, like caulk and base coving, is designed to create a seal and hide unevenness in flooring, but has many additional advantages. Unlike caulking and base coving, the brush seal does not trap water on either side of the seal, but rather wicks or draws water up and away from adjacent flooring where it is evaporated by airflow around the brush bristles.

In addition, the brush seal and baseboards allow for the cabinetry to be movable and reusable. Wherever the cabinetry is placed, the brush seal automatically adjusts to the flooring and the base boards are simply realigned, re-cut, or replaced to account for an alternate conduit pathway. In contrast, caulking and base coving common to traditional cabinetry is permanent, inflexible, and does not account for moving or reusing the cabinetry.

Another benefit of the brush seal is that it eliminates the need to cut holes in the cabinetry for HVAC heating and cooling vents and returns. The brush seal is permeable to airflow, supporting adequate flow of the heated or cooled air in most applications and actually providing for an ideally even dispersion of the airflow around the cabinetry, further drying any moisture present. Vent covers are accessed via the removable board system for adjustment of airflow as usual.

The removable board system is not only functionally beneficial, but simplifies the installation process, allows for a more versatile and dynamic placement of the cabinetry, and further retains the aesthetic quality and structural integrity of the cabinetry, since no holes are cut for vents, and no unsightly vent cover is visible. In-fact, the cabinetry can be placed partially over-top a vent if need be, eliminating the need for costly ductwork.

The present invention has many functional and aesthetic advantages over traditional cabinetry design, finding utility and novelty in almost any application of cabinetry. The benefits of the invention are significant, desirable, and beneficial to end users and those in the surrounding environment. The ease of installation, maintenance, and repairs offer owners a less expensive and quicker installation and an overall lower cost of ownership. The movability and reusability of the cabinetry offers owners the option of re-arranging their living or work spaces, or reusing their cabinets elsewhere. And perhaps most importantly, from the bathroom to the kitchen, the invention preemptively addresses poor environmental conditions and health risks common to standard cabinetry design. The invention offers end users the option of maintaining a clean, safe, versatile, and sanitary environment in which to work and live.

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system 100 in an assembled position, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Removable modular baseboard system 100 includes receiving frame 110 in which a plurality of removable boards 130 is disposed. Removable boards 130 are shown in FIG. 1 as having substantially the same width and substantially the same length. In another embodiment of the present invention, removable boards 130 vary in width. In another embodiment of the present invention, removable boards 130 vary in length.

Receiving frame 110 defines the board-receiving area. Receiving frame 110 is constructed from a single sheet of material. In another embodiment, receiving frame 110 is constructed from two or more pieces of material.

Receiving frame 110 is mounted on top of base 120. Brush seal 160 is affixed to the other side of base 120. Base 120 and brush seal 160 define the height of the access area beneath removable boards 130. Brush seal 160 is designed to contact the floor. An exemplary brush seal 160 includes a polypropylene bristle in a metal channel with an overall height of approximately 0.88 inches. Brush seals are manufactured by Precision Brush Company of Solon, Ohio, for example. Bristle material and color is chosen depending on the application and customer preference. For example, in a kitchen or bath area, a bristle material resistant to water, fungus, and bacteria, such as nylon or polypropylene, is used. In other applications such as entertainment centers, horse or goats hair bristles are used for the desired look, color, and feel. The bristle density can also be chosen to suit particular applications. For example, if the cabinet is placed over an HVAC vent, a lower bristle density is chosen for greater airflow. In a kitchen area, a very high density bristle is chosen for a tighter seal against water, dirt, and pests.

Alternatively, brush seal 160 could be any air permeable barrier that allows the passage of air, compensates for the unevenness of a floor, and eliminates any gaps visible between the bottom of the cabinet and the floor. For example, plastic strips or cloth strips could be used in lieu of a brush seal.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram showing an exploded view of the exemplary removable modular baseboard system 100 shown in FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 2, removable boards 130 are shown with varying widths.

FIG. 2 shows that base 120 and brush seal 160 define the air gap between receiving frame 110 and the floor. FIG. 2 also shows that removable boards 130 are supported by lip 170 formed in receiving frame 110. Removable boards 130 are also held in place by contact with each other. Removable boards 103 can rest next to each other or can interlock, such as by tongue and groove connections. If air circulation is desired, boards 103 can be placed with slight gaps in between adjacent boards. Lip 170 is formed around a board receiving area of receiving frame 110. In another embodiment of the present invention, lip 170 is created by the connection of base 120 to receiving frame 110.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet 300 having a partially assembled removable modular baseboard system 100, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Receiving frame 110 is connected to a cabinet housing so that brush seal 160 makes contact with the floor. Receiving frame 110 and removable boards 130 function as the bottom shelf of cabinet 300. The opening of receiving frame 110 and the opening of base 120 allows plumbing and electrical wiring to pass from the floor into cabinet 300.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram showing exemplary removable boards 130 having notches 180 that fit around conduits, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Removable boards 130 allow notches 180 to be cut outside of the interior space of a cabinet. In another embodiment of the present invention, at least one removable board of removable boards 130 contains pre-cut notches 180 of varying sizes and shapes. In another embodiment of the present invention, notches 180 of different sizes and shapes are pre-scored on at least one removable board of removable boards 130 to allow for easy removal during installation (e.g., the notches can be conveniently punched out). In another embodiment of the present invention, at least one removable board of removable boards 130 contains on at least one side pre-marked notches 180. In another embodiment, notches on adjacent boards 103 can be aligned to accommodate a conduit in between both boards.

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system 500 that includes detachable base 520 with four sides, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Removable modular baseboard system 500 also includes receiving frame 110, brush seal 160, and a plurality of removable boards (not shown). Detachable base 520 is connected to receiving frame 110. One or more sides of detachable base 520 can be removed from detachable base 520 and receiving frame 110. In an alternative embodiment, instead of configuring base 520 of removable modular baseboard system 500 to be detachable, base 520 can be a built-in non-removable base to provide added strength if necessary for certain cabinet applications.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system 600 that includes a detachable base 620 with one side, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Detachable base 620 is connected to receiving frame 110. An air permeable seal 160 is attached to base 620.

Another embodiment of the present invention provides a modular shelf unit without a base, which can be positioned, for example, in a cabinet toward the bottom as a removable modular baseboard or higher in the cabinet as a removable modular shelf. FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet 700 containing a removable modular baseboard system without a base, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Cabinet 700 includes receiving frame 110 and a plurality of removable boards 130. A removable modular baseboard system without a base is used to give cabinetry a more furniture like appearance. Receiving frame 110 can, however, be produced with pre-drilled holes to accommodate installations with or without bases.

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet 800 containing a modular shelf unit and a removable modular baseboard system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The removable modular baseboard system includes receiving frame 110, plurality of removable boards 130, and base 120. The modular shelf unit includes receiving frame 810 and plurality of removable boards 830. The modular shelf unit provides additional storage space while allowing access to plumbing and electrical wiring conduits.

The foregoing disclosure of the preferred embodiments of the present invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many variations and modifications of the embodiments described herein will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in light of the above disclosure. The scope of the invention is to be defined only by the claims appended hereto, and by their equivalents.

Further, in describing representative embodiments of the present invention, the specification may have presented the method and/or process of the present invention as a particular sequence of steps. However, to the extent that the method or process does not rely on the particular order of steps set forth herein, the method or process should not be limited to the particular sequence of steps described. As one of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate, other sequences of steps may be possible. Therefore, the particular order of the steps set forth in the specification should not be construed as limitations on the claims. In addition, the claims directed to the method and/or process of the present invention should not be limited to the performance of their steps in the order written, and one skilled in the art can readily appreciate that the sequences may be varied and still remain within the spirit and scope of the present invention.





 
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