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!

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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, Väla Gård 120925Foto: Klas Andersson
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.

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Energy Systems Design

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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For more information on this property visit:

http://www.dsarchitecture.com.au/architects/clayfield-home-renovation/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

How to Make the Most of a Small Kitchen Space

Introduction

When it comes to kitchen size, is bigger always better?   If you have optimized your kitchen design and storage space, you many be just fine with a smaller sized kitchen.  The article below is a guest post on the subject of how to make the most of your kitchen space.   At the  end of the day if you determine you do indeed need a larger kitchen space, please make sure to develop a detailed design plan  BEFORE embarking upon a remodel.   Good planning and hiring professionals to assist you in the design and implementation phase will save you time and money and a lot of head aches.  S Interior Design adds their ‘2 cents’ shown in blue color font.

How to Make the Most of a Small Kitchen Space

It seems like there’s never enough room in the kitchen. Between accumulating extra kitchen tools and to learning how to make extravagant recipes, you likely need extra space. It’s no wonder that this is one of the most commonly remodeled room in the home, and homeowners are constantly looking for new kitchen layout ideas. Transforming your entire kitchen takes time if you want to do it right. In the meantime, there are simple steps you can take to make the most out of your small kitchen.

Creative kitchen tools storage

Photo Credit: http://www.sxc.hu

Get Rid of the Clutter

Nothing makes cooking more difficult than a cluttered kitchen. Store unused appliances into cabinets to free up counter space so you can cook properly. Having a set system in place can make using and storing small appliances easy so you aren’t left scrambling to make room at the last minute.

Go Up–It can strain your back to lift heavier appliances down from higher cabinets or up from low cabinets.  There are products that you can retrofit existing cabinets with to address this issue.  Check out Rev-A-Shelf   for ideas. Lift

Some home cooks face a dilemma if they need to use multiple appliances in a small kitchen. If you lack cabinet space, one solution is to temporarily store your appliances on top of the cabinets. This way you can take them down and use the tools when needed, but still have counter space.

 Knock Out Useless Storage

Cabinets can be your best friend when it comes to storing your kitchen goods, but when left unused, they can actually take up space. Knock out any cabinets you aren’t using. You can either leave them open as storage shelves, or take out the whole unit for extra counter space.

Kitchen spice storage

Photo Credit: trendir.com

Create Extra Storage

On the other hand, a lack of storage may be your problem. If fine dishes and other less commonly used items are taking up space, move them out of the kitchen. Use a china cabinet or wall storage in an adjoining room instead. For other less commonly used kitchen tools, such as Christmas tableware, consider moving it into storage until the season comes.

Remove Excess Furniture

Islands, stools and chairs can be useful in the kitchen. If you don’t use them often, however, it may be time to downsize to open up more space in the room. Consider replacing the furniture with smaller versions, or taking them out altogether.

Knock Out a Wall–Please do not knock down any walls before you know the structural implications!

If your kitchen is starting to become a little too claustrophobic for your liking, you can solve this problem by taking out an extra wall. The most common wall to take out is the one that separates the sink area to the dining area or family room. Not only will you create a sense of openness, but you can also add additional counter space on the other side of the room.

Use a Fresh Color—Make sure to use a washable paint finish in the kitchen regardless of the color chosen.  If you do choose to have a lighter paint on the kitchen walls, you can still add color with the back splash tiles, window treatments, kitchen accessories and on the floor.

In some cases, a kitchen might feel small, but the size is actually quite decent. If you are looking for a way to instantly make your kitchen look bigger, consider painting it a light color. Light pastels, beige and white are all good candidates. Before buying white appliances to match, know that your modern stainless steel dishwasher, oven and refrigerator can match any paint color.

 

 

Sara Fletcher is a professional blogger who writes on a variety of topics, ranging from home improvement, décor, and design. She loves to learn about sprucing up her home, and is always looking for the next writing opportunity.

Television in Your Master Bedroom

Okay, raise your hands “How many of you have a television in your master bedroom?”  If you do, do you wish it was a little less obvious?  There are solutions!
Below is guest post about TV Lift systems.  Options for a cabinet at the foot of your bed, drop downs from the ceiling and even in-floor automated systems are available.

On a personal note, I do not have a TV in the master bedroom, however if I did I would surely want the in-floor automated system!

Give Your Master Bedroom a Facelift with a TV Lift

Of all the rooms in your house, the master bedroom is the one space that should be devoted completely to your comfort. This area serves a single purpose: helping you rest and relax. That doesn’t just mean sleeping, listening to music, or reading a book. It can also be very soothing to lounge on a luxurious memory foam mattress and watch a favorite show before it’s time for lights out. For many of us, that’s actually part of the ritual of “winding down” as we prepare for sleep. The biggest problems with putting a TV in the master bedroom have to do with space and aesthetics. Here are three ways you can use an automated TV lift mechanism to keep your master bedroom looking serene and uncluttered.

Foot of the Bed

One favorite master bedroom project is installing a TV lift at the foot of a bed. It can go in a prefabricated TV lift cabinet or in a custom-made piece of furniture to match the headboard. If you pick a screen the correct size (between 42 and 46 inches on the diagonal), the viewing distance is just right. This is the type of setup to choose if:

  • The space at the foot of the bed isn’t needed for a walkway
  • You like to sit propped up in the bed while you watch TV
  • You want a lift cabinet that blends in with your existing bed frame
  • You want a piece of media furniture that provides storage for additional A/V components, DVDs, and more

Ceiling Drop Down

Sometimes, adding another piece of furniture can really throw an entire room off-balance. That’s OK; you don’t need a cabinet to install a TV lift. The lift can be concealed in the ceiling to drop down at the push of a button. This is a much more attractive option than having a wall mount looming over the bed. No one will even know it’s there until the lift is activated. A drop down mechanism is ideal if:

  • You don’t want a big entertainment center taking up floor space
  • You don’t want to block French doors or a picture window with a view
  • You like to recline far back with your head tilted slightly up as you watch TV

Under Floor Lift

This is one of the least expected places to hide a TV lift, but it can be a great way to keep your bedroom décor looking streamlined. An under floor lift will work with almost any type of floor covering since the lid floats up with the TV. It blends particularly well with hardwood floors since the grooves in the wood flooring hide the outline of the lid easily. This is the style to choose if:

  • You want to install a very large, heavy TV that isn’t suitable for a ceiling mount
  • Your bedroom faces a wall where there isn’t generally any foot traffic
  • You like to watch TV from a longer viewing distance

With so many great options for installing a TV tastefully in a master bedroom, we bet you won’t rest until you have a TV lift to call your own!

Wood Floors-Basics You Should Know

Wood flooring is more popular than ever.  In Arizona, I have more clients requesting wood flooring over tiles which were the prior go to flooring option for most.  There are so many options not only in how the wood floors look, but how they are constructed and it can get a bit confusing .  S Interior Design thinks that this guest posting will help take away some of that confusion.   If you love the look of the wood floor, but your budget doesn’t allow for that, there are also some good alternatives available; wood look laminates (have come sooo far!) and even tile that emulates wood planks.

Until just a few years ago your options when fitting wood flooring were very straightforward. Equally they were also limiting, as wood in its natural form does not fit outdoors nor does it fit well in areas that experience humid and damp conditions such as the kitchen, bathroom and basement. So what has changes and what are your options nowadays?

Types of Wood Flooring: Today you can choose between two types of wood flooring technology, each offering its pros as well as cons. The two are engineered wood and solid wood.

Engineered Wood Flooring – Each planks is made of three syntactic materials and a layer of solid wood. The use of solid wood on the top means that they look exactly like traditional wood flooring, however the use of syntactic materials underneath means that engineer type does not inherit the limitations of wood.

Typical Uses – If you intend to fit wood flooring in a potentially humid area such the bathroom, your only safe option is engineered wood. If you intend to fit the floor yourself, it is possible to fit these planks in a floating installation so glues, nails and staples are not required and it therefore makes engineered easier to fit.

Solid Wood Flooring – Each planks is made from complete natural wood. These are the traditional types that until a few years ago were also your one and only option.

Typical Uses – If longevity and durability are an issue, such as in commercial properties, solid wood offers a service life potential of 100 years. Additionally, the surface can be sanded and coated again every few years thereby making the floor look brand spankin new.

Grades Of Wood: Both solid and engineered types are made from solid wood. Made completely from solid wood in the case of solid floors or as a top layer in the case of engineered floors. The solid wood is divided into levels of grade. It is an indication to the visual side of the plank, nothing to do with quality. Your choice of one grade over the other depends on your design taste and budget, as the higher grades will cost slightly more.

Prime grade – Prime grade wood flooring are cut from the middle of the tree which means that the floorboard will have the least amount of colour variations between the planks and knots are very few in between.

Select grade – Select grade wood flooring are cut from the second ring from within the core of the tree which means that the floorboards will show some colour variations between the plank and some knots can be expected.

Natural grade – Natural grade will feature sapwood and black knots of up to 30cm in size. Compared to the previous two grades, price difference will become more substantial making this grade very popular when fitting wood floors on a tight budget.

Rustic grade – Floorboards will feature sapwood and black knots of 35cm. There might be unlimited colour variation between the floorboards. Rustic is the most affordable option.

Colours Of Wood Flooring – Another changing aspect of wood flooring are the colours of the planks. In the past the species of wood (e.g. Pine, Walnut, Oak etc) would have determined the colour of the plank. While this is still true, flooring technology has allowed for special colours to cover the planks and thereby meet the precise shade to compliment your interior. Examples of bespoke colour include:

It is always a good idea to consult with professional interior designers prior to fitting wood flooring. These options and considerations make wood flooring less straightforward than it used to be. However, it also means that wood can fit more interiors than ever before as well as suitable across more areas in your home or commercial property.

Guide and images by Oak Flooring company Wood and Beyond. London based company of solid oak flooring, engineered, decking and worktops. Its woods are FSC sourced (stands for Forest Stewardship Council).

3 Creative Ways to Save on Remodel/Build Projects

I was approached to host this guest post for our blog.  Of course, before we accept a guest post, we research the company that is asking for the placement.  The post below provides some interesting ideas to consider before embarking on a Remodel or even a new Build of a home.  The writer supports a company that provides building plans for a set fee, versus hiring of an independent architect to create plans from scratch.  With these plans in hand, you MUST still build your local team of experts including the general contractor and an interior designer.

How to Save on Remodeling in Today’s Economy

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Sometimes embarking on a remodel of your home is done not just because you need a change of scenery, sometimes it is out of sheer necessity. With families growing, more adults are keeping residence in their birth homes and people moving back in, the home that you’re in right now, may be bursting at the seams.

Also, because of an unfavorable job market due to a shaky economy, people are turning to self employment and setting up home offices or running businesses from their home.

Remodeling is now more than just a stylistic option because you want to change the look of a room, it has become somewhat mandatory since the home itself has become re-purposed. But what does this mean for you if you NEED to remodel your home but you can’t necessarily afford to? Chances are, you’ve already solicited a quote from a contractor and realized that remodeling price tags that read $60,000.00 are par for course. What’s even more daunting is that the average American makes significantly less than this per annum which means that for many of us, remodeling, while necessary, may be nothing more than a pipe dream.

Don’t worry! We can’t promise to cut your costs in half but we can provide you with a few tips that can help you achieve your remodeling goal based on your financial limitations. One example from inception is that you can save on house plans and floor plans by actually doing them yourself seeking the reduced-cost services of online vendors who specialize in these plans, solely. Here are a few others that you can use today!
1.     
Ask you contractor to dip into his leftovers!

Contractors almost always have surplus building materials from jobs that they have completed and they may not always find a use for them. Ask your contractor if he has anything in stock that would be suitable for the remodeling you’re engaging in that he would be willing to utilize either gratis or at a reduced cost.
2.     
Let go of the “‘Aint nothing like the real thing, baby!” mentality!

There are certain accent materials that look wonderful and will last a long time that you may want in your remodeled home – but they cost an arm and a leg. The material market now however has really met the needs of the consumer on a budget and has produced comparable, reasonable facsimiles that you can use instead of pricey originals. Solid oak flooring is very expensive, but you can use engineered oak flooring instead that is significantly cheaper and equally attractive and durable.

3.      Going once, going twice, SOLD!

Building supply auctions are a great opportunity for you to outfit your home with high-end materials, furnishings and appliances for much less than the retailers can ever dream of offering. Federal Government Surplus and Seized Property Sales are exciting avenues you can turn to to get the most bang for your buck. Do you research and you’ll come out a winner!

 

Christine Cooney loves learning about architecture, gardening, and cottage house plans. Her goal is to devise contemporary home plans for her own dream house.