Title:
FURNITURE UNIT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A furniture unit including a plurality of frame members having at least one access opening in one of the plurality of frame members. The unit may be a furniture display unit having an access opening to accommodate an electrical cord of a light for a shelf, wherein the light is arranged between a shelf top and shelf bottom of the shelf. The electrical cord may pass through an access opening in the shelf, and through to the access opening in the unit. The access opening can be filled with a resilient type material conforming around the electric cord after the electrical cord has passed through the access opening or be covered by a panel, adhesive tape or other mechanism to obscure the view through the opening. The resilient type material may be a gasket, sponge-like material or deformable material.



Inventors:
Kelly, Harrison H. (Christiansburg, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/276532
Publication Date:
09/07/2006
Filing Date:
03/03/2006
Assignee:
PULASKI FURNITURE CORPORATION (Pulaski, VA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
108/23, 312/223.6
International Classes:
A47B81/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ING, MATTHEW W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREENBLUM & BERNSTEIN, P.L.C. (RESTON, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A unit comprising a plurality of frame members which are configured to form a skeleton of the unit and at least one access opening in at least one of the plurality of frame members.

2. The unit of claim 1, further comprising at least one shelf having at least one shelf access opening aligning with the at least one access opening.

3. The unit of claim 2, wherein the at least one shelf includes: a shelf frame having rails and the least one shelf access opening extends through a portion of the shelf frame rails, at least a shelf top attachable to the rails which is substantially translucent or transparent; and an electrical device coupled to the at least the shelf frame and having a cord arranged to pass through the at least one shelf access opening and the at least one access opening.

4. The unit of claim 1, further comprising a resilient material affixed substantially along a length of the at least one access opening.

5. The unit of claim 1, wherein the unit is a furniture unit comprising one of at least a curio and furniture display unit.

6. The unit of claim 5 wherein the at least one access opening is positioned in a rear frame member of the plurality of frame members of the furniture unit.

7. The unit of claim 5, wherein the furniture unit includes one of: the at least one access opening extends upward toward an upper portion of the furniture unit, such that at least one hole associated with and in open communication with the at least one access opening is arranged at a top portion of the at least one access opening; the at least one access opening extends toward a lower portion of the furniture unit, such that at least one hole associated with and in open communication with the at least one access opening is arranged at a bottom portion of the at least one access opening; and the at least one access opening extends between the upper portion and the bottom portion of the furniture unit, such that at least one hole associated with and in open communication with the at least one access opening is arranged along a length of the at least one access opening.

8. The unit of claim 1, further comprising a mechanism blocking at least a portion of the at least one access opening.

9. The unit of claim 1, wherein the resilient material is one of a gasket, a sponge material and a deformable material.

10. The unit of claim 1, further comprising at least one hole or aperture in open communication with the at least one access opening.

11. The unit of claim 10, wherein the at least one hole is larger in diameter than a width of the at least one access opening.

12. The unit of claim 10, wherein the at least one hole is larger in diameter than a plug head of an electrical element, such that the plug head is capable of passing therethrough.

13. The unit claim 10, wherein the at least one hole is positioned in at least one end of the at least one access opening.

14. The unit of claim 10, wherein the at least one hole is one of capped and blocked with one of a plug and a cap that conforms to the at least one hole.

15. The unit of claim 14, wherein the plug and the cap are made of a resilient material to conform at least partially to the at least one hole.

16. The unit of claim 1, wherein the at least one access opening is positioned, so as to not interfere with a placement or adjustability of one or more shelves.

17. The unit of claim 1, wherein the at least one access opening is one of a slot, groove, hole and channel configured to allow a power cord to pass therethrough.

18. The unit of claim 1, wherein at least one element extends to a harness in communication with a central controller for operation of an electrical device.

19. A shelf structure comprising: a shelf frame having rails; at least one electrical device arranged with the shelf frame; and at least one access opening in the shelf frame structured and adapted to allow an electrical cord of the at least one electrical device to pass therethrough.

20. The shelf of claim 19, further comprising at least a shelf top and a shelf bottom attachable to the rails, at least one of the shelf top and the shelf bottom are made of one of a translucent or transparent material.

21. The shelf of claim 20, wherein the rails include a top ledge and a bottom ledge configured to seat the top shelf and the bottom shelf, respectively

22. The shelf of claim 20, wherein the translucent or transparent material is one of glass, acrylic plastic glass, frosted glass and stained glass.

23. The shelf of claim 19, wherein the shelf frame forms an interior hollow section which accommodates the at least one electrical device.

24. The shelf of claim 19, further comprising a fixing device so as to attach the at least one electrical device to at least one rail of the rails.

25. The shelf of claim 19, wherein the rails include at least one rail notch, so as to accommodate the at least one electrical device.

26. The shelf of claim 19, wherein the rails include ledges to accommodate an upper shelf and a lower shelf.

27. The shelf of claim 19, wherein the at least one electrical device is positioned between the top shelf and a bottom shelf.

28. The shelf of claim 19, in combination with a furniture unit comprising a frame member with an opening having an obscuring structure thereon or therein, the opening being in substantial alignment with the access opening such that an element of the electrical device is capable of passing through the access opening and the opening to an exterior portion of the furniture unit.

29. A unit comprising: at least one lighted shelf having an opening in a rail member for a cord to extend therethrough; and a frame having at least one access opening, wherein the opening of the at least one lighted shelf is aligned with the access opening of the frame such that the cord can pass through the opening and the access opening to an exterior of the frame.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority under U.S.C. § 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/658,154, filed on Mar. 4, 2005 and of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/679,660 filed, on May 11, 2005, the disclosures of which are expressly incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a furniture unit, a shelf unit and a furniture unit with one or more shelf units.

2. Discussion of Background Information

Using separate lighting units to illuminate products displayed on furniture cabinet shelves is widely known in the art. For instance, it is common to attach one or more lighting fixtures within a display cabinet such as a curio to illuminate ornaments or other trinkets. Most commonly, fluorescent lighting, incandescent lighting or halogen lighting, for example, is used for this purpose by attaching such lighting directly within and to the cabinet.

When manufacturing furniture display units or the like, numerous factors are considered, such as cost constraints, sizing parameters, lighting and aesthetics of the overall unit. More specifically, the aesthetic issues result in a struggle with the amount of illumination versus hiding the often numerous lighting unit power cords, so as not to distract from the viewing display area. Often, the end result of the above issue is not enough illumination of the ornaments or other trinkets and unsightly views of power cords within the display unit.

Thus, it would be beneficial to maximize the illumination of the shelving display area, as well as hide unsightly power cords. The problem of improving illumination could be addressed by providing various lighting units dedicated for lighting different portions of each shelf. Such an arrangement is not very cost effective or aesthetically pleasing, particularly since this arrangement likewise illuminates the many unattractive power cords for each lighting unit, which detracts from the pleasing view of the ornaments or other trinkets on display.

The invention solves one or more of the above-noted problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention is directed to a furniture unit that may be a curio or other furniture piece for displaying items. The furniture unit may include an access opening, e.g., slot, groove or channel, in the frame to allow a power cord to pass therethrough from an interior to an exterior of the furniture unit. The furniture unit may also include one or more adjustable shelves with or without self-contained lighting.

The shelf may include a self-contained light for self-illumination or for illuminating another shelf. In this manner, display items, e.g., ornaments, on any shelf can be illuminated. The power cord of the light may be placed through the access opening located, e.g., in the rear of the furniture unit, so as to be away from visual sight. The one or more access openings of the display unit can be positioned, so as to not interfere with the placement or adjustability of the one or more shelves.

The access opening of the furniture unit may appear as a slot, groove or channel and can include a hole or aperture in the frame. In one implementation, the hole should be larger in diameter than a plug head of the power cord or element, such that the plug head can pass therethrough. It may be advantageous to position the hole at one of the outer ends of the access opening, approximate a top and/or bottom of the unit, depending on the positioning of the access opening.

The access opening of the furniture unit may be provided with a material to mask the opening and to hide the power cord from view, e.g., the opening may be filled with a resilient type material that can conform around the power cord after the power cord is passed through the access opening (or inserted into the hole and within the access opening). The resilient type material may be a rubber gasket, sponge-like material or deformable material. The hole or aperture may also be capped, blocked or the like with a plug or cap that can be press fitted into the hole. The cap or plug can also be arranged to conform to the hole. An opening arranged in the shelf, e.g., shelf frame, is preferably aligned with the access opening of the furniture unit so that the power cord can easily and aesthetically be placed therethrough.

According to a feature of the invention, the power cord can extend to a harness connected to a central controller for operation of the light or other electrical device. Further, the central controller can be arranged in an interior or an exterior of the furniture unit.

According to a feature of the invention, the one or more shelves can be adjustable. The adjustability of the one or more shelves can be provided by at least one adjustment hole along a frame of the furniture unit. The frame is defined as a skeleton, which is the structural features of the unit. Further still, the one or more shelves may include a shelf frame having at least one rail that can be integral or attachable, and may include the one or more shelf openings. The shelf frame may have at least one shelf top and/or at least one shelf bottom attachable to the at least one rail. The shelf top and/or the shelf bottom can be made of a translucent, transparent or other material to allow light to transmit therethrough. These other materials may be glass, acrylic plastic glass, frosted glass or stained glass to name a few materials. The shelf frame including the at least one rail can be hollow.

According to a feature of the invention, the shelf top and the shelf bottom may be attached by glue, adhesive or tape or other fastening mechanism, and may be placed on ledges or shoulders formed on of a frame of the shelf. Further still, the rail may include a bracket, clamp or other type of fixing device, so as to attach the electrical device, e.g., light, thereto. The rail may also include at least one rail notch, so as to accommodate the light and/or the power cord. The one or more openings arranged in the at least one rail of the shelf frame is positioned so as to allow the power cord of the light to pass therethrough. The one or more openings in at least one rail can, in one embodiment, align with the access opening of the frame of the furniture unit.

Other exemplary embodiments and advantages of the present invention may be ascertained by reviewing the present disclosure and the accompanying drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is further described in the detailed description which follows, in reference to the noted plurality of drawings by way of non-limiting examples of exemplary embodiments of the present invention, in which like reference numerals represent similar parts throughout the several views of the drawings, and wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a front perspective view of the unit in accordance with an aspect of the invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a front perspective view of the frame in accordance with an aspect of the invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a back perspective view of the unit in accordance with an aspect of the invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates an enlarged plan view of an access hole in accordance with an aspect of the invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates an exploded view of the shelf frame in accordance with an aspect of the invention;

FIG. 6 illustrates a partial perspective view of the shelf frame within the frame in accordance with an aspect of the invention;

FIG. 7 illustrates a back perspective view of the unit in accordance with an aspect of the invention; and

FIG. 8 shows a cross section of an embodiment of the shelf in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

Referring now to FIG. 1, the furniture unit 1, e.g., a curio or other furniture piece for displaying items (hereafter “unit”), is composed of frame members forming a skeleton of the unit. In embodiments, the unit 1 includes a front 2 and a rear 3 and, for purposes of description, a top 4 or upper portion, a bottom 5 or lower portion, an interior 7, and an exterior 6.

The interior portion 7 of the unit 1 includes several shelves generally depicted as reference numeral 18 (e.g., shelves 18a-18c are shown). The shelves 18 have a shelf top 21 and, in one embodiment, a shelf bottom 22. The shelves 18 can be adjustable via adjustment holes 17 along the interior 7 of the unit 1. Each shelf 18 may include a light 25, e.g., a light or illuminating device, for illuminating items or objects. The light 25 includes a power cord 26 that is passed through an access opening generally depicted as reference numeral 12, e.g., slots, grooves, holes or channels, through the rear 3 of the unit 1, and preferably through one or more frame members. One or more holes 13 may be provided along the length of the access openings 12.

In one embodiment, the access openings 12, e.g., slots, grooves, holes or channels, extend along the rear 3 of the unit 1 within one or more of the frame members. This is designed to allow an element 26, e.g., a power or electrical cord, to pass (including the plug head 27 of the power cord 26) therethrough to an exterior 6 of the unit 1. Of course, access openings 12 can also be arranged to allow power cords for electrical devices displayed within the unit 1 to pass through the rear 3 of the unit 1 for connection to an electrical outlet. Two access openings 12a and 12b are shown, although any number of access openings 12 can be implemented so long as the integrity of the unit 1 remains intact.

The upper portion 4 of the unit 1 can accommodate a number of shelves, e.g., two upper shelves 18a and 18b, such that the access opening 12a accommodates power cords 26 of lights 25 and other cords or cables positioned within or on the shelves 18a and 18b. Further, the lower portion 5 of the unit 1 can accommodate a number of shelves, e.g., two lower shelves 18c and 18d, such that the access opening 12b accommodates power cords 26 of lights 25 with the shelves 18c and 18d. Further, for the access opening 12a extending toward the upper portion 4 of the unit 1, a hole 13 can be positioned at a top-end of the access opening 12a approximate the top of the unit 1. As an alternative, for the access opening 12b extending toward a bottom of the furniture unit, the hole 13 can be arranged at a bottom-end of the access opening. As discussed above, the power cords 26 are not visible from the front 2 of the unit 1; instead, the power cords 26 extend to the rear 3 of the unit 1, via the access openings 12a or 12b, to the exterior 6 of the unit 1.

FIG. 2 shows the unit 1 including a frame generally shown as reference numeral 9 composed of a front frame member 11 and rear frame member 10, and can include one or more cross-frame members 8. The rear frame member 10 includes two access openings 12a and 12b, each having resilient type material, an adhesive tape, panel, brush-like structure or other structure which is configured to obscure the view through the access openings, all generally depicted as reference numeral 16. The holes 13 can be provided at either end 15, e.g., a top-end or a bottom-end, of each of the access openings 12a and/or 12b, which are sized to accommodate a plug head of the power cord 26, so as to allow the plug head of the power cord 26 to pass therethrough. The adjustment holes 17 can also be provided along the interior 7 of the rear frame member 10 of the frame 9 to allow for adjustment of the shelves 18, via adjustment mechanisms.

FIG. 3 shows a rear view of the unit 1 of FIG. 1. In this embodiment, the two access openings 12a and 12b run substantially along a length of the rear frame member 10 in upper portion 4 and/or lower portion 5 of the unit 1. As shown, the hole 13 is larger in diameter than a width of the access openings 12a and 12b to accommodate the plug head 27 of the power cord 26 of the light 25 e.g., an electrical device to pass therethrough. The holes 13 may be positioned or placed at either or both ends 15 of the openings 12a and 12b or at any position along the access openings 12a or 12b. For example, the access opening 12a extending toward the top 4 of the unit 1 may have the hole 13 positioned closest to an uppermost top of the unit 1; whereas the access opening 12b extending toward the bottom 5 of the unit 1 has a hole 13 positioned at the lowermost bottom of the unit 1.

The access openings 12a and 12b can be positioned in the rear frame member 10 of the unit 1, so as not to interfere with the placement or adjustability of the shelves 18. In particular, the access openings 12a and 12b may be positioned so as not to interfere with the power cord 26 extending from a rear 19 of the shelves 18a-18d. Moreover, since the access openings 12a and 12b are positioned along the frame member 10, the shelves 18a-18d can be moved upward or downward, without requiring removal of the power cord 26.

FIG. 4 shows an enlarged view of the access opening 12 and the hole 13 with a resilient material within the access opening 12. The access opening 12 may also be covered by an adhesive tape, panel or other type of material in order to obscure the access opening, itself. In further embodiments, the access opening 12 may be obscured by a brush-like or flap-like mechanism which allows a power cord to still pass therethrough. To assist in hiding the power cord from visual sight, and to reduce attention being drawn to the access opening 12, the access opening 12 may be filled with the resilient type material, brush-like or flap-like structure or covered by an adhesive tape (with a pattern matching the pattern of the unit), panel or other structure which is configured to obscure the view through the access openings. The resilient type material 16, in one embodiment, conforms around the power cord such that the access opening 12 is closed. The resilient type material 16 may be a rubber gasket or sponge-like material.

As shown in FIG. 4, the hole 13 is sized so as to allow the plug head of the power cord to pass therethrough. Accordingly, the plug head of the power cord can be passed through the hole 13 of the access opening 12 (positioned in the rear frame member 10), from the interior 7 to the exterior 6 of the unit 1. See FIG. 1. The hole 13 may also be capped, blocked or the like with a plug 14 that can be press fitted into the hole 13. After the plug head has been passed entirely through the hole 13, the power cord 26 can be moved, e.g., downward or upward, within the resilient type material, brush or flap like structure, etc. of the access opening 12.

FIG. 5 shows an exploded view of a shelf 18. In this embodiment, a self-lighting shelf 18 includes shelf frame 23, a shelf top 21 and a shelf bottom 22. In this embodiment, a light 25, e.g., an electrical device, can be fastened to the shelf frame 23 with a power cord 26 having a power cord plug 27, passing through shelf opening 24 (and then through access opening 12) to an exterior 6 of the unit 1, and to a power source. As previously discussed, the shelf top 21 and/or the shelf bottom 22 may be made from a translucent, transparent or substantially transparent material such as glass, Plexiglas, frosted glass, stained glass, etc Thus, the light 25, e.g., an electrical device, can project light through the translucent shelf top 21 and/or the shelf bottom 22 to illuminate objects therein.

The shelf frame 23 comprises rails that can be integral or attachable, and may include the one or more shelf openings 24. The rails comprise a rail back 23a, rail right end 23b, rail front 23c, and rail left end 23d. Further still, for example, each rail (23a, 23b, 23c and 23d) may include a rail ledge 23e, or a rail narrow flat surface for the placement of the shelf top 21 and/or shelf bottom 22. Moreover, the shelf top 21 and shelf bottom 22 can be fixed to the rails (23a, 23b, 23c and 23d) by glue/adhesive, tape, tabs, gravity, pressure fitted or other conventional manner.

In embodiments, the shelf top 21 and the shelf bottom 22 can be affixed directly to the shelf frame 23. Thus, the combination of the shelf frame rails (23a, 23b, 23c and 23d), shelf top 21 and shelf bottom 22 and, in this embodiment, the light 25, when assembled, can form a self contained lighted shelf, such that light can be illuminated above and/or below the shelf 18. In embodiments, the frame rails (23a, 23b, 23c and 23d) can include at least one rail notch 23f, so as to accommodate the light 25 and/or the power cord 26; and a connection of the power cord 26 to the light 25.

Referring still to FIG. 5, the shelf frame 23 may include one or more shelf openings 24 that can be positioned anywhere along the sides of the shelf frame 23, e.g., rails (23a, 23b, 23c and 23d), so as long as the one or more shelf openings 24 positionally correspond with the access opening 12, allowing the power cord 26 of the light 25 to pass from the interior 7 to the exterior 6 of the unit 1.

FIG. 6 shows an embodiment of the invention with the power cord 26 of the light 25 “snaked” along the rails (23a, 23b, 23c and 23d) and on top of a strip 32, to the shelf opening 24. Any known brackets, clamps or fixing devices 35 may hold the power cord 26 to the rails (23a, 23b, 23c and 23d). Alternatively, the power cord 26 can be “snaked” along a rail shoulder 23h of any one of the rails (23a, 23b, 23c and 23d) to accommodate the power cord 26, to the shelf opening 24. Further, the portion of the power cord 26 that attaches to the light 25 can be positioned in the rail notch 23e, and be arranged on top of the strip 32 via the brackets 35 (so as not to be visible when viewing the decorative ornaments positioned on the shelf), to the shelf opening 24.

Referring still to FIG. 6, the power cord 26 extending from the shelf opening 24 can be connected to an interior plug socket 30 fastened to the interior 7 of the frame 9 (of unit 1) to power the light 25. The interior plug socket 30 may be connected to a wall or power outlet exterior 6 of the unit 1 via access opening 12, to power the light 25. Alternatively, as the shelf opening 24 can be aligned with access opening 12, the power cord 26 from the light 25 can also pass through access opening 12 to the exterior 6 of the unit 1, and plug into an exterior plug socket 30. The exterior plug socket 30 can be mounted on the exterior 6 of the frame 9 (of unit 1), and connect to a wall or power outlet to power the light 25.

FIG. 7 shows an embodiment of the unit 1, in accordance with the invention. The power cord 26 is shown to be extending from the light 25 through the shelf opening 24 of shelf 18d, and through access opening 12b of the unit 11, to a central controller 29 having a harness 28, to power the light 25. For example, in the process of connecting the power cord 26 to the harness 28, the power cord plug 27 extends through the hole 13 of the access opening 12b of the unit 1, and is connected to the harness 28, to power the light 25. Moreover, as the shelf opening 24 aligns with the access opening 12b, the power cord 26 can be adjusted up or down along the unit 1 with any one of the shelves 18 through the resilient type material 16 of access opening 12b.

Still referring to FIG. 7, the central controller 29 may be used to adjust, turn on and off, etc. the lights 25 either together, individually or in any programmed or desired combination. The central controller 29 may also be connected to one or more recessed lights 42 that can be arranged anywhere on or in the unit 1. For example, the recessed lights 42 are shown to be arranged on top of the unit 1, so as to illuminate light toward one or more of the shelves 18a and 18b.

FIG. 8 shows a cross sectional view of an embodiment of the shelf in accordance with the invention. In this embodiment, the shelf frame 23 includes a top shoulder 23a and a bottom shoulder 23b on each of the rails, for accommodating the upper shelf and the lower shelf, respectively. In one implementation, a fastening device 100 may be used to secure the bottom shelf to the bottom shoulder 23b. This fastening device 100 may include a spline nail, for example. The shelf frame 23 further includes a bore or channel 102 extending through at least one of the rails which is aligned with at least a portion of the upper shelf. This channel allows a tool such as a pencil or pen, for example, to be inserted therein in order to lift the upper shelf thus allowing access to the light for repair or replacement. In one embodiment, the lower shelf forms a platform which provides for a smaller area shelf than that of the upper shelf.

It is noted that the foregoing examples have been provided merely for the purpose of explanation and are in no way to be construed as limiting of the present invention. While the present invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment, it is understood that the words, which have been used herein, are words of description and illustration, rather than words of limitation. Changes may be made, within the purview of the appended claims, as presently stated and as amended, without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention in its aspects. Although the present invention has been described herein with reference to particular means, materials and embodiments, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the particulars disclosed herein; rather, the present invention extends to all functionally equivalent structures, methods and uses, such as are within the scope of the appended claims.