Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spanish Colonial Home that is Environmentally Friendly. Living Green in Colorado.

An Artist's Spanish Colonial Home Shines in One of Colorado's Sustaining Developments

GARNA -- The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association -- recently hosted 
a "Living Green" Home Tour. All 10 homeowners who opened their doors 
to visitors had embraced either all or many of the benchmarks outlined
by the U.S. Green Building Council on how to build responsibly.

 A Santa Fe-based tile artist and her husband built this Spanish Colonial courtyard home above in Buena Vista, Colorado's South Main Development. It was featured on the GARNA tour. The door to the left is the entrance into the main house. The home that appears to be next door is a rental or guest cottage. A large courtyard behind the stucco wall unites the dwellings.

According to Architect Kenny Craft, who is part of the South Main Development team, this Spanish Colonial home features insulated concrete forms, structural insulated panels, reclaimed hardwood floors and timbers. His Web page says they specialize "in authentic, traditionally rooted architecture in an urban context."

As an aside, the South Main Development in Buena Vista, CO, was founded by two siblings who happen to be the children of the couple building the Spanish Colonial featured in this post. A previous LWYL -- Love Where You Live -- article introduced the "live-where-you-work" community by toasting the artist who owns the home being shown today. If you'd like to see her amazing tile work -- one-of-a-kind outdoor furniture -- please click here. You won't be disappointed. Very cool stuff!  Here's a video of her at work: Just click.

Moving forward from the short digression . . . .

The artistic homeowner incorporated her original tile work into the lower window facade.
The trees are young Aspens.

She also found the following additional accent places for her tile work. So, before we move on to discussing the components of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program, take a look:

 The "rug" is actually made of tile.

A different window with another nature-inspired design.

This tile work celebrates the Arkansas River, which is a block away from this house,
and the Aspens that fill the forests. They used river rock and topped the chimney 
with twin clay flues.

Tile work embellishes the steps leading up to the guest/rental house.
As you notice, she also embedded them into the stuccoed columns.

Close up of the tile on the risers.

It's all in the details. And for the USGBC -- U.S. Green Building Council -- that would mean incorporating at least one, if not all, of eight principles they outline for responsible construction.

The USGBC is a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built, and operated. USGBC is best known for the development of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system.

LEED measures the following:

1. Indoor Environmental Quality.
Indoor air is sometimes two to five times worse than outside. A LEED-designed home minimizes explosure to toxins and pollutants. (If you wonder how that could be, check out here why your flooring selection might be making you sick. From Green America Organization.)

2. Energy Efficiency. 
How effective are your appliances? Those sanctioned by Energy Star can reduce energy consumption up to 30 percent. Now, think of the impact if EVERYONE did this one thing:  Replace your old with high Energy Star rankings.
3. Water Conservation.
Wasteful water is both costly and risky, particularly as population growth and a changing climate make clean, safe water increasingly scarce. A LEED home finds creative ways to conserve water. (Check out water-saving toilets.)
4. Site Selection.
The real estate adage about location, location, location being your number one criterion is true when it comes to building green. LEED encourages homes that are close to schools, work, shopping and transit stops. (This is where the South Main Development project is especially strong. (Check them out here.)
5. Site Development.
Employ construction practices that protect area wildlife, natural resources, and encourages proper drainage.

6. Materials Selection.
Use reclaimed or sustainable materials (such as wood for your floors and cabinets) or those from recycled products (such as plastic and glass) when building. 
7. Residents' Awareness.
Be informed about the construction process. 
8. Innovation.
Find innovative ways to increase a home's performance. (One home I visited but was still under construction but had large deep planters formed in one indoor room. The homeowners plan to grow and harvest certain foods throughout the year. While it's cold outside, the sun is typically hot and plentiful. Builder/Designer:  Natural Habitats)
More photos of the one particular Spanish Colonial courtyard house on the Living Green tour:

 The homeowners elected to maximize the space of a smallish room by
building a desk of reclaimed wood and attaching it to the window frame.

How about devising a headboard made of reclaimed material? This one is wood.

Here's a green idea:  Hire a local artisan to use reclaimed materials to create
the details, such as this one, that make a home so creative and unique.
Go green:  Use a product, such as the river rock on this fireplace, that can be obtained locally or nearby.

Another idea:  Use corrugated metal as the eaves covering. Take
a look beyond the doors here.

To protect your indoor air quality, consider using non-toxic paints. See Eartheasy's guide.
In keeping with the dark trim used throughout this house, the owners opted to go dark on the closets, too.  

 An upstairs view to the living room.
Old beams were selected for the ceiling.

Hope this gives you some food for thought when building and remodeling your own home.
Talk to me. I love it when you do!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where You Live: What You Need to Know About Dimmer Switches! And Do-It-Yourself Halloween Decorations.

Sometimes the Best Advice
Comes From the Most Unexpected Sources.
My handsome 80-something-year-old dad, who's known for almost anything but his
interior design expertise and anything related, called me the other day
to give me a tip on dimmer switches.

 Just say "no" to these energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs if you're using dimmer switches.

You see, my parents recently swapped out their smallish, shiny brass chandelier for a larger bronze brown number. When we talked, I suggested they might want to install dimmer switches, especially since the lights face downward. "It shouldn't be a big deal," I said. And my mother quipped in return, "We have them!" Well, alrighty. Who knew? They're already ahead of me ( surprise there really).

So, I get this call a day or so later from my dad who says he placed energy-efficient bulbs in their new chandelier. Then, they began hearing a low humming noise, and the light itself was flickering. Naturally, he investigated. And, I'm glad he did. It benefits me and perhaps you, too!

As it turns out, dimmer switches need incandescent bulbs -- not florescent ones!

 Use these bulbs with lights operated by dimmer switches.

If you want to know the "why" part of this, click this link and you'll get your answer. 
And if you knew this, then you probably also know what to do with tombstones . . .Or do you?

Looking for A Halloween Decorating Idea?
 (I ran across a "how-to" for Gravestone Rubs in Galveston Monthly magazine. 
And, I thought there might be more than one application for such an exercise . . . .)

(Actually, my daughter, Kate, thinks this would be a great late afternoon or early evening event for a group on or before Halloween. So get how of the house, take a cemetery tour and see what interesting tombstones you find!)

How to Do a Gravestone Rubs:
First, find an interesting gravestone. Perhaps one dating back to the Spanish-American War.
Look for interesting sentiments, icons and images. 

You may need to clean the gravestone before you being your artistic rub.
Use a soft brush to clean it with water or diluted pool shock. You want
to remove the dirt.  
 (photos from Galveston Monthly)

You can use rice paper, butcher paper and perhaps just plain-Jane white. 
Tape the paper to the gravestone, after it's been gently cleaned.
Then begin to rub with a piece of charcoal, rubbing wax or crayon. Begin at the edges and work inward. Spray it with hairspray to ensure its hold. Gently remove the paper.

Since graveyards, ghosts and such often characterize the eeriness associated with Halloween, these rubbings might inspire some fun decoratations. What do you think? Have some ideas to share?

OR, if you run across some interesting, albeit cryptic symbols, they might be interesting transfers for pillows, placemats, family records or original artwork. Or what else? Any ideas out there?

Some symbols found on gravestones.
(photo from Galveston Monthly)

A YouTube link for gravestone rubs; click here.
Or, if you prefer to read a primer for beginners, go here.

I've bought my rice paper!  Now, I just need to find time to visit our local cemetery. 
So stay tuned.....

In the meantime, I've been in the kitchen. More pumpkins line my counter. 
I found a terrific recipe in Eating Well magazine for Maple-Pumpkin Custard!
From Eating Well magazine.

Talk to me. 
I love hearing from y'all !!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Where You Live: One Trend Forecaster and One Designer Offer a New Look for Pumpkins

Move Over Black and Orange . . .
this Halloween, the white pumpkin is making a big splash.

Up until recently, I hadn't considered a pumpkin being any color but orange.
But then, white pumpkins began showing up in my email box. 

One came from Trend Forecaster Stacy Garcia who noted that white pumpkins are a "calming" addition to a rather hectic time. They also can easily -- and elegantly -- transition from playing a role in Halloween decor to becoming a focal point of a pretty Thanksgiving table. 

 photo from Stacy Garcia

Pretty, don't you think?  I saw -- or, rather, I noticed -- for the first time last week these creamy pumpkins at my local farmer's co-op.

Additional white pumpkins came from the Interior Designer Susie Caliendo for a story I was working on for a magazine. 
Susie said she covered her pumpkin in Elmer's glue and then sprinkled white glitter all over it for a lovely Cinderella effect.

 photo from Susie Caliendo

Susie's glittery white pumpkins were a reality a couple of weeks ago when Colorado got its first powdery snow. Our little town didn't get the usually fall dusting; we got six inches! Long gone though . . . and it's back to warmer days. Even still, I could envision the white pumpkin look even more so. And how natural it is . . . .

What about your choice of color for pumpkins? Orange, white . . . or do they come in other hues?  I'd love to hear from you!

And how about turning your holiday decor into tasty pumpkin bars?
I just made some delicious pumpkin bars with my smallish orange ones!
I've added the recipe here to my collection.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Where You Live: Important Measurements to Know About When Decorating Your Home

How Big Should Your Chandelier Be?
What Size Table Should You Get?
Renowned designers provide the answers.

I've been wanting to do a post on this subject for quite sometime, as we all need to access this information -- important measurements to have when decorating a home -- from time to time.

Co-incidentally, I was visiting my mom and dad when I began surfing the various design topics headlining the magazine app on my iPhone. It turned out to be a relevant pastime. The three of us just had been discussing what type of chandelier might work in their dining room. I had mentioned their old one seemed a bit small for their space. According to the latest House Beautiful (online edition anyway), Interior Designer Bunny Williams has the answer!

So . . . How Big Should Your Light Fixture Be?

Bunny Williams

Her answer:  Add the length and width (in feet) of your room to determine the diameter of your chandelier. A 20' x 15' room requires a light that is 35 inches in width. (Interior Designer Thom Filicia, by the way, advises hanging the chandelier 36 inches from the top of the table.)

How Large of a Table Should You Get for Your Dining Room?

Charlotte Moss

Her Answer:  Know that a 36-inch rectangular table is perfect for conversation. A 48-inch round seats six, and a 60-inch round will accommodate eight to ten chairs.

How Far Will a Gallon of Paint Go?

 Alexa Hampton
Her Answer: A gallon of paint will cover approximately 400 square feet of wall space. 

What is the Best Curtain Height?

 Miles Redd

His answer:  Mount curtains as far up as you can to give the room height. Then let them break 1-1/2 inches onto the floor.

To see what other designers have to say about light switches, sofa fabric quantities and the perfect kitchen island height, visit House Beautiful to read the short article. 

What questions do you have? Or if you have the answers to other common questions, please share! My Comment Box is available to you below. It's always nice to swap information.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Where You Live: Kitchen Inspiration From Julia, Stephen and One Fiery Cook

First Up:  A Handsome Kitchen From Interior Designer
Stephen Stills
I clipped this photo when Stephen Stills was featured -- not so long ago -- in The Wall Street Journal. I'm not sure what attracted me . . . it might have been the balance of light and dark and even perhaps the herringbone-patterned floor.  I like it because it's approachable; I could see a real family spending time here. You probably know what I mean by that, right? Some kitchens seem so pristine that you might as well hang a sign that says, "Off Limits." But, not this one. For more about the designer, go here.

Houston Interior Designer Julia Blailock 
Created an Interesting and Pleasing Kitchen Space:

I especially liked all the furniture-quality built-ins this kitchen offered. The layout is such where there is space for the main working space. And, then, in an area "behind" the kitchen space (and dining room, which isn't seen here), is this long stretch of an area with various displays and cabinetry. I've included a "long view" of this space among the photos below.

If you would like to see more of Julia Blailock's work within Love Where You Live, please go here. She worked on a Houston Dream Home.
She's also been featured in Secrets of Segreto; for that post, please take this link -- that will show you the home where this kitchen resides. And, Cote de Texas also has featured Julia; please click here.

More Inspiration . . . A Fiery Red!
One Homeowner's Dream Place.

 You can see more and more of this kitchen by taking a quick jump to 
As always, I enjoy hearing from you! Please leave a comment -- or tell me what's cooking in your kitchen. Either from a design point, or really seriously what you've got on the stove!
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