Design | Remodeling
While catching up on my daily dose of news, I came across a rather interesting story out of Olympia, Washington. After a local woman found out that her husband was leaving her, she allegedly tampered with his power tools, switching the positive and negative wires in an attempt to get back at him.
Remodeling is a huge investment - one of the biggest you will make after purchasing your home. Depending on your comfort level and general understanding of construction, hiring a contractor may be a necessity. It is important to know your limits. If you need to hire a contractor, then do so, but don’t just open a phonebook and call the first name you see.
Safety tends to be overlooked while working around the house. I once tried to move a ladder while I was standing on top of it. Instead of climbing down and moving the ladder over a few feet, I attempted to save some time. As you can imagine, that idea did not turn out the way I had planned.
Ana Escalante’s Greenbaum Residence
Snuggled into a delightful desert spot in Rancho Mirage, California, Architect Ana Escalante, founder of Escalante Architects, introduces an unpretentious home whose brilliant, sustainable design mimics how nature reconciles cozy shelters. In fact, one may wonder where the desert’s landscape stops and the house begins. Escalante draws from ecological ideas such as passive solar ventilation and cooling that offer her client an organic home that breathes resources back into nature.
The Project: A Carbon-Neutral Footprint
The client, Robert Greenbaum, is a film producer with very strong green initiatives for his home and lifestyle as well. He commissioned Escalante as his architect with two parameters: a carbon-neutral footprint and a lap swimming pool. Incorporating a lap swimming pool within a three-bedroom house on a tight site was Escalante’s first hurdle. “Before I went to the drawing boards, I met again with Greenbaum in a plea for him to reconsider the size of the swimming pool,” says Escalante. "Quite adamant, he insisted that his life faithfully centers on swimming daily for hours, often up to five miles per day."
The best alternative to plain painted surfaces used to be wallpaper. But wallpaper is difficult to remove, and installing it requires a lot of prep work, not to mention the time spent on precision measuring, cutting, and hanging. Faux painting can have an effect that is just as dramatic, but it isn’t as much of a commitment. And painting is one of the least expensive ways to customize a space.
In many historic homes, especially ones that date from the Victorian era, one of the most eye-catching design features is a stained glass window. These classic elements recapture the elegance and luxury of days gone by, but the beauty of stained glass is no longer restricted to older homes. Many manufacturers nationwide offer an extensive range of modern stained glass products to suit the needs of any homeowner.
The term “stained glass” actually refers to glass that has been painted and then fired; traditional works are constructed from pieces of cut glass that are set into lead channeling to form a pattern. Most of what we see today is really art glass, although some artisans still practice traditional methods.
Don't Mow Your Lawn
Prevailed upon by a technocratic society, people are frequently alienated from nature and social interaction. As such, rumor has it that ecological outdoor living spaces are greatly coveted safe havens. The sky’s the limit; an outdoor living space or room can take on the functions of any interior home space within the constructs and limits of any locale. This is green architecture at its best; it brings the residents and their visitors' mental, emotional and physical conditions back into sync with nature.
Homeowners are motivated to build a “greenhome” or to renovate their existing home for a variety of reasons, such as: saving money as utility costs rise, an enthusiasm and respect for nature, to achieve a healthy living space, and even to enjoy the advanced technologies associated with energy efficiency. Yet, a “greenhome” is a process more than a sum of products. Record the process, perhaps in a journal1, including websites and data about what and where the materials and services were purchased, various installations and reconstruction stages, experimental discoveries and failures, a record of costs and savings, and a record of temperatures to measure efficacies of eco-friendly materials and technologies. A journal, like that of a gardening journal or a travel journal, can help to keep the ball rolling and to act as a display of accomplishments for others who may follow in your footsteps.