Below is a guest post on the subject of using LED lighting options for the interior and exterior of your home (or office for that matter!). S Interior Design specifies LED light options for all of our client projects. Even if it is simply replacing existing recessed can light bulbs with an LED option, the new light output can make a big difference in how the space looks. Continue reading
Category Archives: Eco-Friendly Design
Pallet Creativity for Your Home
I was asked if I would guest post this unique article about how to use pallets for home furnishings. Loving an upcycle project as much as anyone, I was happy to do so!
How To Bring the Outdoors In
Here in AZ it is finally time to throw open the doors, slide open the windows and enjoy time outside. The following infographic describes some easy ways to create visual and functional flow between the inside of your home and the outside spaces. (please ‘click’ on the image to get a larger, more readable size)
Inspiring Offices – 5 Creative Green Workspaces
Great guest post that speaks to the benefits of Green Design in the work space. Many of these principles and practices are scalable to the residential environment too.
S Interior Design encourages eco-friendly design elements where ever feasible for their projects residential and commercial.
Inspiring Offices – 5 Creative Green Workspaces
Protecting the environment has become a vital issue for many people. As the need for environmentally conscious ways of living increases, businesses are now doing their part to introduce green initiatives into their workspaces.
Listed here are 5 examples of the most interesting and creative green work environments that have been developed by companies in recent years. Each example goes out to prove the various tactics that industry leaders are tackling in order to accomplish, essentially, their most important job: preserving the environment!
Seattle’s Bullitt Center
Considered the greenest business building in the world, the Bullitt Center in Seattle has over 50,000 square feet of space and uses a small percentage of the energy normally required for commercial buildings. It has been designed to create its own energy source by using solar panel technology. But because Seattle has relatively little sunshine throughout the year, the Bullitt Center also utilizes the grid when needed. The building contains showers on each of its floors and has no automobile parking on its premises. It does provide covered parking for bicycles, encouraging occupants to use bikes in place of cars.
Skanska’s Green Building
Skanska’s office building is located on a former farm in Sweeden. It’s the nation’s first Deep Green building and has a net-zero energy consumption level. No hazardous materials were used for its construction, and none of the waste produced during the process ended up in landfills.
Similar to the Bullitt Center, Skanska’s green workspace uses a solar power system for its energy. The building uses heat recovery units that help reuse a large percentage of heat that would otherwise be lost in outgoing air. The building cost $5 million and used locally sourced materials in its construction.
The Jones Lang LaSalle building prioritized non-hazardous materials in its construction and recycled approximately 75 percent of the waste produced. The building uses sensors to monitor daylight and occupancy as a means of controlling its energy requirements. This creative green workspace was able to reduce its water use by 40 percent along with an overall energy reduction of 13 percent. But perhaps more significant was the result it had on the building’s occupants. When looking at the number of sick days of its employees, the company discovered that absenteeism was lowered by over 30 percent. The green technology led to fewer sick days among workers, pushing the notion that going green isn’t just beneficial for the environment, but for the people as well!
Lohre and Associates
Cincinnati saw the green workplace revolution appear in the workspace of Lohre and Associates. It saved considerable costs both in its construction and in its operation. Scraps from carpet and wood were recycled and composted in the building process, while old window blinds were reused. The building features creative green bathroom technology that uses hand-washing adapters that funnel sink water into toilets, which in turn, reduces massive amounts of water usage.
Energy Systems Design utilized environmentally-friendly energy controls, plumbing and lighting systems within their green workspace. Although limited in their ability to renovate the existing structure, they found creative ways to design a greener workspace. Throughout the building, recycled materials such as used glass and wood were utilized in a remarkable act of turning junk into something new. Also, rubber cork tiles were used for the building’s flooring, which helped to further the project’s resourcefulness and aesthetic appeal. The result of is a set of high-efficiency units that save energy and reduce costs.
The possibilities are endless…
Plenty of other companies now, too, are joining the green workspace revolution, by initializing smarter design tactics that consist of recycled and eco-friendly materials. To some it may mean resorting to more heavily involved projects such as harvesting solar power and implementing smart water systems to cut down wasteful consumption, but to others, it may be something as simple as installing glass balustrades, such as those offered by Aqua Vista Glass. A solution like this allows for the use of more natural light to indoor spaces and less dependency on timber resources. This saves energy and costs for business owners, while creating a more naturally lit open space that promotes a smarter, eco-friendly standard.
As more people become conscious of the need to reduce waste and energy consumption, eco-friendly workspaces will become the norm. Employees will reap the benefits of a greener work environment, and will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are part of the solution, and not the problem.
Image credit: wikipedia.org and http://www. group.skanska.com/
Mary Ann Keeling is a freelance writer and business consultant who travels frequently. She is interested in all forms of green design, particularly those modern, clever ideas that can help in protecting the environment.
Home Design That Welcomes The Outdoors IN!
Finally the weather is turning a bit more pleasant. Spring has sprung in much of the country (or will soon……). S Interior Design is based in Arizona and it is definitely time to enjoy the outdoors before the triple digit temperature arrives. Below is a guest post about a home renovation in Australia that fully recognizes the opportunity to meld the outdoors with the interior spaces. Quite beautiful!
Clayfield renovation (Bayview) – Bringing the outdoors in
Brisbane is blessed with a gorgeous sub-tropical climate that lends itself to an outdoor lifestyle, and the suburb of Clayfield is a perfect example of this desire to spend time connected to nature. So it’s not surprising that the owners of this pre-1946 Californian Bungalow requested that Dion Seminara Architecture create for them a home that would fully take advantage of the predominantly fine weather.
The renovation involved an addition to the rear of the existing home which consisted of a dining space and a stunning new kitchen. A deck and courtyard were built at the rear of the home with sliding doors from the kitchen/dining room opening the home up onto this area. The result of this is immediately noticeable as the transition from inside to outside is seamless, resulting in a feeling of freedom and a connection when entertain in the courtyard area.
On those days that are less than ideal due to rain or the occasional cold change, the interior of the home can be closed off creating an intimate space that is warm and comforting.
At the front of the property a new double car port blends into the existing home, with a remote-controlled gate sealing off this area from the street. A new gate and gatehouse added to what already was an appealing streetscape and the re-landscaped front yard now takes on the appearance of a pleasant little courtyard itself.
Inside the little used main bedroom and hallway were originally the main beneficiaries of the prevailing north-east breezes that cross the property. Given that not much time was spent in these spaces they were renovated to create a gorgeous, naturally ventilated new living area that features an abundance of natural light. Creating a truly inviting space that thanks to the air-flow and natural illumination, further enhances the feeling of connection with the great Australian outdoors.
For more information on this property visit:
Using Natural Light in Your Design
One of the greatest gifts a designer can leverage is natural light sources. Understanding the natural light opportunities in a room can guide material selections and what types of artificial lighting is added. Here in Arizona, S Interior Design likes to incorporate SolaTubes and strategically placed clerestory windows in homes and offices so our clients can enjoy the abundant natural sun shine without loosing heat and privacy controls. Below is a guest post about windows, natural light and window covering options to consider.
Using your window space to the best effect
While the structural architecture and design of a room can have an effect on its atmosphere and mood, it is the lighting that truly brings it to life, enhancing the room’s design and décor, as well as creating the mood. Lighting patterns, colors and targeted illumination can create a variety of moods, from cool, restful and relaxing, to warm, active and cheerful. Both artificial and natural lighting can be used creatively to bring out the best features of a room and distract attention away from more negative areas.
Artificial lighting is an part of interior design, but natural lighting, courtesy of windows, is often overlooked or seen as something to work around. Natural lighting, however, is not only better for the eyes; it is also the best light to see accurately, see colors and tones and is a natural mood-enhancer. Choosing the right window coverings and treatments to allow natural light in to the best effect is an important step in truly finishing a room.
Window decorating and natural lighting
There are a variety of different types of window coverings and treatments to choose from. Selecting exactly which to use depends on the room that the windows are in and the lighting effect required.
Window treatments in the bedroom need to be functional in some way, whether it is blinds that can be adjusted or shades that can be easily raised or lowered. Drapes and curtains are also frequently used in bedrooms; many being made from the same fabrics and trims as the bed linens. Room darkening and heat and sound insulating, these types of window coverings have the added benefit of creating a romantic and relaxing mood, particularly when made from luxurious fabrics and materials, such as sheers, brocades or velvet.
In the main living areas of the home, letting in natural light while maintaining a measure of privacy is the key. Covering only a portion of the window is an ideal way of admitting natural sunlight while maintaining privacy. Plantation shutters, along with other styles of window shutter, are a great way to accomplish this lighting effect. Covering only the lower pane or portion of the window, plantation shutters may be opened as desired to let in even more light. Even when closed they allow plenty to come through while keeping the room’s occupants screened from the outside world. Shutters fit in with almost any interior design, in particular country styles and Victorian design, as well as modern and eclectic looks.
Kitchens frequently do not have large windows or have windows with unusual shapes, so finding suitable coverings and treatments that are stylish, yet functional, may prove difficult. In addition to shutters, which also work well here, café curtains are a very popular window covering. Functioning in a similar way to the shutters, café curtains leave the upper part of the window nearly bare, allowing plenty of natural light to come through, while also ensuring a degree of privacy. Café curtains are available in a variety of styles and fabrics.
LED Lighting– Good to Know
An article from HOUZZ describing the benefits of LED lights and showing some of the most common applications. As designer, I am specifying LED lighting for all of my remodel projects.
Small Space Solutions
Bigger is not always better! Read the guest post below for some inspired ideas on how to live big in small spaces.
5 Inspired Small Space Solutions
If home is a tiny urban studio in London or a bijou apartment overlooking the rooftops of Paris, then space might be an issue for you. Just because you compromise on the size of your home, doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style – there are a myriad of inspired, multi-tasking solutions perfect for small spaces, that add a little
je ne sais quoi to any apartment, no matter how tiny! Read on for our 5 inspired small space solutions that you can tailor to suit your needs…
Mezzanines have been around in Parisian studios for the last century, but lately they’re taking off as a top interior design tip in London apartments too. You’re effectively adding another level into your studio – it’s almost like building a shelf for your bed. You don’t have to use your mezzanine as a sleeping space; it could be for dining or as a home study, if you’re a freelancer. Get creative and add glass or Perspex mezzanines with lighting for a cool, contemporary feel, and choose from a traditional ladder or a more permanent inbuilt staircase. This not only adds space to your apartment, but lifts clutter and furniture away from the floor area for a lighter, roomier feel.
#2 Multi-tasking furniture
You’ll remember them from the bedroom of your youth, when they were a single bunk bed with a desk or sofa underneath, but things have moved on since then. Designer, contemporary furniture which serves a variety of purposes can be custom made to suit your studio – imagine a mezzanine bed with inbuilt wardrobe and desk underneath – the perfect work and relaxation combination. Make your furniture work harder by choosing pieces with a dual purpose – a wooden coffee table with storage drawers, a bed with divan storage or a table that doubles as a handy chest for linen. These little space saving ideas mean even the tiniest flat will be free of clutter and look fresh and appealing.
#3 Crate Storage
Take a tip from the commercial interior design experts and use reclaimed crates as storage – this adds a rustic and industrial feel to any apartment, and you can paint or stain crates to match your existing décor. There are even companies who sell crates already refurbished in a range of delectable pastel hues that will look as at home in a Paris apartment as they will in London or New York. Use smaller crates to stash toiletries and knick knacks, while larger crates are ideal for books, DVDs or bedding. Make an interesting feature in your living space by stacking a few different coloured crates.
#4 Drawer Stairs
You might be thinking, ‘What?’ when you hear the next truly inspired design idea – stairs which double up as handy drawers! When you consider the space beneath stairs is usually empty, why not utilise that space to store clothes and other belongings? In a tiny studio apartment, you need to make the most of any available space and this unique idea will certainly be a conversation starter.
# 5 Circular Kitchens
Compact Concepts’ Circular Kitchen is a unique and eye catching kitchen that is, you guessed it, circular! Fitting as much as possible into a tiny space, this bijou yet fully functional little kitchen features electric hobs, a fridge, microwave, sink and dishwasher as well as the usual cabinets and worktops. Available in a range of finishes, the funky red gloss choice peps up any bland and boring studio.
David Bell is a freelance writer and blogs about interior design, food, travel, art and culture. Follow him on Twitter @DavidBellWriter
It’s Good to be GREEN
No, I am not talking about green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, or green eggs and ham, but green in terms of selection of eco-friendly materials to complete your home remodel. Below is a guest post that describes some good ideas about how you can ‘think green’.
Making your home remodel as green as possible
When remodelling a home you have to make environmental concerns a priority now, not just because of government regulations and stipulations, but also because we have a duty to build buildings and homes that use as few resources as possible, will operate without depleting natural resources on an ongoing basis, and will stand the test of time and be durable and liveable for many years to come. This might sound like a challenge if you’re remodelling a home, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t mean your remodelled home has to be a complete off-the-grid tepee without electricity or running water, it just means that you should use approved green products and appliances when doing your constructions. Information about green solutions is readily available; just browse design and construction firms like Unique Design. Green design doesn’t have to affect the appearance of your remodel either, just the mechanics of it. Here are some pictures of green remodelled homes:
It is now very easy to power your kitchen or bathroom by using solar energy, so if you are doing works on your plumbing or light fittings you should think about this. Solar energy will also attract generous rebates from the government, meaning that your energy bill will dramatically decrease.
Plumbing fixtures are good place to focus your attention as well, as faulty or inadequate fixtures are responsible for huge amounts of leaking and water wastage. A good thing to do when in the midst of a remodel is to get an energy audit, which will show you exactly how and where your energy consumption is going. It might be a revelation to find out exactly how energy is used in your home, and then you’ll know what the big consumers are and how you can save on energy expenses. Most people find that energy is used for a few hours in the evening, across two rooms, the kitchen and the bathroom. As a general rule, good quality products are better for the environment because they use energy more efficiently and last longer, meaning that they stay out of our landfill for longer.
Kitchen Back Splash–Do You Have One?
A kitchen back splash is a perfect example of how design elements can be both FUNCTIONAL and LOOK GREAT. Having a back splash will protect your walls from stove top splatter from food and oil and water. Often people will simply add a 4-6 inch back splash in the same material as the counter top. We encourage you to take it beyond that and extend up higher, preferably to just under the wall mounted cabinets and even higher at the cook top wall. Similar principles apply in bathroom design.
I realize that S Interior Design is a big fan of the glass tile back splash as evidenced by the last 3 kitchen remodels we have completed for clients. Here are a few pictures that show 3 options we have used. This illustrates that even within only the category of glass tiles, the choices are many. One of our favorite options is from Oceanside Glasstile as they strive to eco-friendly in their manufacturing processes.
Below is a guest post courtesy of Erin Devine on the subject of kitchen back splashes.
Selecting the Perfect Kitchen Backsplash
Selecting the right colors and textures for your kitchen back splash can be a tricky task when you consider all of the options out there. There are as many kitchen and design choices as there are back splashes to choose from. Fortunately, knowing a few “do’s” and “don’t’s” can make the process much easier.
Keep in mind that busy patterns detract from the rest of the kitchen’s décor. If any busy pattern is to be used, it should contain colors from the kitchen to tie everything in and not create too much of a focal point. Further, the area of back splashes should not be large in comparison to the rest of the wall space.
Glass tile is one of the prettiest types of tile. Glass doesn’t attract mildew or mold, cleans easily, and offers numerous color choices. The reflective property of glass tile makes it one of the most favored of tiles because it offers an unparalleled shine and rich color.
Choose a backsplash to enrich the overall look of the kitchen rather than the space it occupies. For instance, choosing backsplashes one or two shades darker than the cupboards is wise. You can also choose a color similar to the floor in the case where the rest of the interior is of a light color. With that said, choosing colors that do not mesh create an eyesore. Glass tile backsplashes create somewhat of a focal point, however, they should not contrast so much from the rest of the interior that they’re all the eyes focus on.
Backsplashes belong under cabinets and neatly contained between other fixtures. Moreover, back splashes look best when placed underneath the cabinets. On the other hand, if pulled out onto a joining wall without a cabinet to frame them, the look is awkward. Keep back splashes underneath or butting cabinets or choose one in a color one to two shades within the shade of the wall so that it blends in. However, where cupboards frame the back splash, it is safe to go with a darker color.
Avoid drastic colored tiles where the rest of the décor is neutrally toned and colored. Whatever colors are present in back splashes should tie in well with the rest of the kitchen. In the instance of a multicolored kitchen, choose small tiles with each color to create a mosaic or opt for a simple design with a dramatic border.
The idea of back splashes is to accentuate the beauty within the kitchen—to pull everything together. The idea is to add to, rather than detract from, the overall appearance of the kitchen. When things don’t “look right,” people know it. Whether a person has an eye for interior design, colors or creativity, they quickly notice if things are off. Not to mention that home is a place for self-expression, rather than being overly concerned with how others perceive their choice of décor. For this reason, establishing individual preferences is key for any interior project. Back splashes are beautiful and functional and are meant to be enjoyed, so make sure that you choose a back splash that reflects your taste and accentuates the design of the rest of your kitchen.
Erin Devine is a guest writer for Floor & Décor Outlets, a flooring and tile retailer with a do-it-yourself attitude and an eye for style. She loves writing and maintaining her own interior design blog, DIY Home & Floor.