Saturday, July 12, 2008

green flooring

As always, been thinking about the green home of my dreams lately. I’m surprised how little home builders are paying attention to green flooring options. Not only does it save our planet, but it is usually less expensive. Maybe they’re just afraid people won’t think it’s beautiful.

Green Building Center gives suggestions for green flooring options. The marmoleum is not my favorite because it reminds me too much of linoleum, but I would love to use bamboo and cork flooring in our home.

A while back, I ordered some bamboo samples from
Simple Floors. I love the color choices they have. My favorites are Irish moss, Vertical Natural, and Red Cognac. Amazing how affordable…some are even $1.99 a square foot. Unfortunately, I know you have to do your research on the product, for you can’t guarantee how green the bamboo really is and if fair trade is being implemented. A great article to read: on Treehugger.

At the same time, I also ordered some cork flooring samples from
Simple Floors. Lots of choices there as well. The patterns within the samples were very different. Once again, very affordable at less than $4 a square foot.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

some pretty details

Once again, great photos from the Better Homes and Gardens website...
A farmhouse style sink with an extra detail. No, i don't really like the detail, just the idea of a detail there...:) Oh, I do like the faucet though.
Pictured below is a beautiful way to focus on your pottery/china collection. Since the pieces are all white with blue designs, the blue bead board is the perfect background with the white cabinets. Not to overdue it, having the white bead board below draws the eye to the exquisite pieces stored above.

I'm digging this faucet...

green (colored) kitchens

Just some great kitchen/dining pictures from Better Homes and Gardens' website:
(the focus was on the color fav)

I love the green pictured above...always wanted some green cabinets. I also enjoy the open cabinets/shelving to display some favorite pieces. Although i think you have to be careful when using yellow...i like the choice in the back splash...

My favorite part of this kitchen are the large windows bringing in so much light...definitely a must for Carl and i we've decided. The lantern is a nice tough and the island/dining table...very interesting. The only overhead cabinets with the strong horizontal lines are very beautiful. Once again, i love the green, but i prefer the hues in the first and last pictures. Using just a bit of it to paint and having the white bead board below is just charming. Ceiling above with extra detail to give the room a little more of a formal feel (though i don't plan on having a separate dining room...i want to save that sf for something studio perhaps). The horizontal & encased windows above complete the design.
I really love the green pictured, though i think it's a bit too modern for our contemporary craftsman. Maybe if i changed the counters and the dark wood floor... Gotta love the bib sink though.
So this one isn't fact a bit too whitely pristine, but i adore the light coming in from the gorgeous windows above the sink.

This green is very similar to the too modern one i talked about above...perhaps the same hue, i just like the comfort of the honey colored wood floor, straw on the chairs, and the mixture of the greens and blues in the pottery. Seems less starkly modern. I think i prefer the light maple color that we used in the condo floors.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

yestertec & craftsman beauty

YesterTec offers so much more than just furniture or cabinetry. They create stations within spaces for efficiency as well as beauty. Here is one of their latest projects...a renovation of a craftsman styled home in Maryland. Carl and I are in love with Arts & Crafts, Craftsman, Bungalow style. We'd like to design a home that is what we call "contemporary craftsman." Here is the beauty of a home:

And the kitchen...YesterTec's main design area: built for a family that uses their kitchen as the heart of their home. Notice the light pouring in that cozy, yet efficient space, as well as the details throughout the room. "The room also features a center island/custom designed prep table that accommodates six chairs for informal family meals...Great for entertaining, ten people can sit in the kitchen without invading the prep space of the cook."

The beautiful armoire pictured in close-up below is actually a fridge/freezer/dry food storage original Yestertec design. Incredible. The wood and other materials just flow into One another and you forget you're in a modern kitchen...i just love it!

The island (that really just looks like a table) is more than just an island: it has a great food prep area with a deep sink, garbage system, butcher block top, and room for informal eating or making room for guests. Incredible! I've had a distinct picture in my head for a while about our future kitchen, but i think this design fits our needs so much better.

Above: a great view of the cooktop/fireplace feel in the kitchen as well as the dining table. And below: a beautiful place for your computer/billing/mail/etc. I picture homework being done in the kitchen/dining area just as i did growing up...until my mother could no longer help...then i went to my room to try my best to figure things out. This way the kids have access to mom and the computer while studying...a great combo!

To read the entire article and learn more about YesterTec, click here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

timberlane shutters

i adore these shutters!

beautiful hardware

I've been admiring Timberlane Shutters for a while now. Maybe it's the craftsmanship, maybe it's the reminder of living in Europe, maybe it's because it's soo green.

Probably all of the above.

* the shutter styles are historically authentic

* each is handcrafted

* treated to withstand weather

* custom crafted to fit you home, desires, and windows

* traditional mortise and tenon hardwood peg construction used for longevity

* beautiful hardware straight from the blacksmith

There are many good reasons why europeans and much of the world have been using shutters for hundreds of years.

I have lived in France and Italy and never had air conditioning. We learned to use the shutters to improve the air quality and desired temperature within our flats. When living in Torino, near a "red light" district, we learned to shut the noise out with the shutters. In Switzerland and Paris, the sweet smell and breeze of rainy days could be brought in while still keeping us dry.

In my parents home, like many contemporary american track homes, we have shutters. Though they are completely nonfunctional. I'd like to benefit from their beauty as well as function! Yes, I am enamored by Timberlane's mission, research, quality, and craftsmanship.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Thanks George, an employee of NORA (National Oilheat Research Alliance) for the site: Oil Heat I'm very interested in all of the alternatives out there and particularly enjoyed reading about the "bioheat" option which has soo many benefits listed on their site:

lubricates your heating system
is similar in price to "regular oil"
clean burning
you don't need to buy new supplies or heating system
it is safe
even heating throughout home
domestically made
made from veggies, hemp, seeds, rice, nuts, get the idea

Testing conducted by the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) found that a Bioheat blend of 80% low-sulfur heating oil and 20% biodiesel (B20) reduced sulfur oxide emissions by as much as 80% or more. Nitrogen oxide emissions were lowered by about 20%. In addition, carbon dioxide emissions can be lowered by 20%.

If everyone using heating oil used a B5 blend (5% biodiesel/95% heating oil), 400 million gallons of regular heating oil could be conserved. This would be a big step towards conserving oil, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

Oh, and i agree with you George, it's definitely not green to change your current system. All you need is that "green oil"!

Thanks so much for the suggestion...any more great green info you've learned at NORA or through your own experience?

Friday, May 2, 2008


I'm crazy for recycled glass. I just think it's gorgeous. And there are soo many options.

EnviroGLAS is one of many manufacturers currently recycling glass and porcelain to create their beautiful products. Their focus currently is on the kitchen & bath slabs, flooring, and landscape mulch.
The mulch has the texture of natural sand, but without sharp edges from glass pieces. Unlike other mulch products out there...the color is not going to change over time.

Their products are durable, green, and beautiful...need i say more?

freshaire paint - no vocs

Yes, there are no VOCs in the Freshaire paint mixture as well as the color. Another suprise is that you can buy it at the Home Depot. There is a lifetime warranty on their paint products and it is durable enough to clean just like VOC-full paint. Even better...for a limited time you can order 3 free samples of their paint. To order your own free samples click here.

old house parts - salvage

I think these doors are soo beautiful. With a little sanding, and some non or low-voc paint, they would look just stunning. Old House Parts is among many architectural salvage options out there. They have doors, windows, sinks, tubs, hardware, furniture, and lighting...if only they were local :).

liz's antique hardware - salvaged beauties

There's just something exciting and tantalizing about discovering and finding old treasures to bring a sense of charachter into your home. Next time i visit my parents i hope to check out Liz's Antique Hardware. Till then, i'll be looking forward to their catalog and searching their site full of lovelies!

Rinnai - green heat

I'm all about efficiency. Not to say that i am a perfectly efficient person, but tools, practices, and , that make my family's life more efficient is so enticing and invigorating to me.

So you can imagine my interest in Rinnai's efficient product line of tankless water heaters, ductless heaters, fireplaces, and cooking appliances. Here is a tibit of what they have to offer:

tankless water heaters:

From Rinnai's product overview page, their water heaters:

"Produce and supply endless streams of hot water to multiple outlets simultaneously without any fluctuation in temperature

Are up to 50 percent more energy efficient than a traditional natural gas water heater and up to 70 percent more efficient than an electric water heater

Shut-off automatically when the water supply is closed, providing users with significant energy savings - in turn saving money on their utility bills

Are compact wall mounted units with a life expectancy of 25 years, whereas hot water tanks require about 16 square feet of floor space and usually last around 10 years

This graph is especially enticing to me because, though i am a rapid shower gal, Carl finds sweet indulgence in a long shower (which I've learned he also requires), which makes it imperative that i shower first if i would like some warm water. :)

No need to think about that any more...

consistency...right up there with efficiency...

Ductless Heaters
"When winter sets in, there are certain rooms that get used less because of cold spots. But with the consistent and even heat provided by a Rinnai Ductless Heater, you can enjoy comfortable heat anywhere all winter long. Rinnai heaters are efficient and easy to install. And the innovative cool-to-the-touch cabinet makes it safe for the whole family."

safety....a must!


There are several options. I always imagined having a salvaged old stone fireplace...but this modern style is also aesthetic...

There are free-standing models as well. The pictured fireplace is model RHFE 750. Here are the details:

"Rinnai redefines the standard with the innovative RHFE 750 power flue gas fireplace. The RHFE 750 is up 83%* AFUE efficient through the use of a stainless steel heat exchanger and modulating gas valve with automatic blower.*NOTE: AFUE efficienty rating can be achieved with propane model and maximum vent length of 7.2 feet with no elbows."

Features & Benefits (from site):
Zero clearance kit option available
Consistent room temperature for maximizing comfort
Sealed combustion system minimizes indoor heat loss
Stainless steel heat exchanger
Thermistor for accurate temperature control
Digital dual timer function
Full-function remote gives total control of heat and flame output
Pre-heat mode to ensure set room temperature is attained
3-speed fan allows for even heat distribution


also available are:

portable cooktops - wonder if they'll come out with cooktops for our everyday use...

rice cookers - supposedly, this gas rice cooker cooks quicker and more evenly than the electric rice cooker

smokeless griddles - we use our electric griddle on average twice a day...

Monday, April 14, 2008

greener, safer, paint options

I've been watching the paint options for a while now, not quite sure how great they really are despite what certain companies profess...

Here is a healthy home tip from Martha Stewart that gives you a recipe to make your own green milk paint.

"Milk paint is an organic material that gives surfaces a distinctive color-washed finish. As the name suggests, milk is a principal ingredient in the material, acting as a binder for pigments the same way polymers do in latex paints and oils do in oil-based ones. People have been mixing milk paint for a long time; it has been found on artifacts dating to ancient Egypt, although it's perhaps most commonly associated with colonial-era furniture. The fact that the material doesn't give off noxious vapors (often called VOCs) accounts for its continued appeal within today's green building community. Craftspeople, meanwhile, value its saturated colors and translucent finish, which can be used to give wooden furniture, terra-cotta pots, and other textured surfaces an antique look.

You can't, however, simply mix milk with color pigment and spread it on the walls. The following recipe will yield enough paint to cover a bureau or other large furnishing:

Milk Paint How-To

1. Mix the juice of a lemon with 1 quart of skim milk in a large bowl. Leave the mixture overnight at room temperature to induce curdling.

2. Pour it through a sieve lined with cheesecloth to separate the solid curds from the liquid whey. Add 4 tablespoons of dry color pigment (available at art-supply stores) to the curd; be sure to wear a mask, and stir until the pigment is evenly dispersed. Artists' acrylic paint also can be used in place of powdered pigment.

3. Add it one drop at a time, and stir constantly until you achieve the desired hue. Whether pigment- or acrylic-based, milk paint will spoil quickly, so it should be applied within a few hours of mixing. Rest assured, its sour smell will disappear once the paint dries. If you prefer, you can purchase milk paint rather than make it yourself. One source is Old Fashioned Milk Paint."

I checked out their milk paint source...looks promising, and has links to great "Green Expos."
The milk paint is interesting in that it comes in powder form, you can mix it yourself and change colors accordingly. They also have a "safe paint" line that is similar but without the milk...the milk line has an uneven look, where the safe paint line is more even. Both are great to use on furniture, and other projects around the house.
Other great paint options:

One of my favorite places...the Green Building Center, has three different paint companies that they carry:

YoLo Colorhouse - one thing i really like about YoLo is that they have a line specifically designed for little ones, called their "Sprout Collection."

click on each paint company above and read from their direct site

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

permeable pavement

belgard pavers
historical bricks

porous concrete pavement

One of the worst parts of having a driveway are the chemicals, oil, and grease that is washed off and then flows into our storm drains. The runoff can cause erosion, flooding and contamination of public waterways.

"Fortunately, permeable paving materials allow stormwater to soak into the earth, where naturally occurring bacteria help digest contaminants before they reach the water table. Called pervious or porous pavement, these systems keep groundwater clean, help tree roots breathe, reduce the severity of flash-flooding and reduce the urban heat-island effect because they absorb water into the ecosystem and don’t reflect heat back into the environment."

Options for allowing seepage:

Block Pavers are one of my favorite options. I saw quite a few when i was living in Italy and traveling in Europe that had openings for grass to grow through and over them. But these particular pavers aren't a great option for where we live, considering how much snow we get half of the year. (At least for the driveway). Though, they would still be great to use in pathways and patios. I sthink till the block pavers are a beautiful design option...especially if you want to create a pattern and varied colors.

Porous Concrete Pavement is another great option. Here's a helpful site: And from that site: "Pervious concrete pavement systems provide a valuable stormwater management tool under the requirements of the EPA Storm Water Phase II Final Rule. Phase II regulations provide programs and practices to help control the amount of contaminants in our waterways. Impervious pavements-- particularly parking lots-- collect oil, anti-freeze, and other automobile fluids that can be washed into streams, lakes, and oceans when it rains."

amd architects

First things first: the architects we are looking to use: AMD Architecture. Founded by principal, Angela Dean in '97, AMD Architects have been designing green in the residential, corporate, second home, and remodeling realms. Angela has also written Green by Design: Creating a Home for Sustainable Living, where she "shares the environmentally responsible design principles she holds dear. Her goal, in the book and professionally, is to make green building and healthy living accessible for everyone. Emphasizing the notion that green is not a menu of add-on options, but a design philosophy that integrates aesthetics, budget, function, health, and enjoyment."
I've enjoyed keeping an eye on their online portfolio. Carl and I want to design our home as much as possible on our own (preliminary drawings, concepts, etc.), and then take it to Angela and her crew to finalize it (construction documents, etc.)and make sure that it is as green and "off the grid" as much as possible.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

welcome to my green dream home!

Dreaming architecture and design for as long as i can remember. Drawing, sketching, and compiling magazines, books, lists of desires. It's time to make some sense of all these ideas.

Been thinking a while about blog-organizing my ideas for our "someday" home. Thank goodness we have time and more time to think about it. Designing and building your custom home is such a brain tweezer. There are soo many decisions to make and things to consider. Might as well get as much as possible decided while i can think about it leisurely :).

Many have asked what exactly Carl and I are looking for in a green home. Well, I'm hoping to answer that question here as well as generate suggestions, comments, and curiousity. This will be a fun journey...especially if it materializes one day!