01 Jul / 2015
The Not So Big Life
We can all be designers and architects…that is, architects in the process of our LIFE remodeling, according to Sarah Susanka, a bestselling author, architect, and cultural visionary. She was named a “Top Newsmaker” by Newsweek magazine, an “innovator in American culture” by U.S. News & World Report and has shared her insights with Oprah Winfrey and Charlie Rose. Sarah is well known for her book The Not So Big House, a guideline for remodeling with the approach of “build better, not bigger.” Her main approach to design is that if we look at the way we truly live, it’s not the size of the house that makes us feel comfortable, but the flow and function and attention to detail that makes us feel “at home.”
Her book The Not So Big Life, is an extension of this philosophy and uses the home as a metaphor to discuss more peaceful and centered ways to live our lives. As she puts it, “Your life is a lot like the house you live in. It has some things that you like and some that you find irritating.” Some problems are more difficult to identify, articulate, and resolve because they are less visible. However, just like remodeling a house, “you don’t need to change a lot of things in order to shift the character of the house, but you do need to evaluate what isn’t working and determine what you would like to have room for but don’t. Then you need to compose a good design solution that uses what already exits but modifies it here and there to accommodate the new functions. After that you must develop a thorough set of blueprints that record all the decisions made. And finally, to live the changes, you must build.”
To explore resources to simplify, prioritize and slow down, Sarah’s book offers a comprehensive tool for evaluating your life and redesigning it to fit who you really are and to reflect your core values.
Here are the 12 steps that go into the making of a The Not So Big Life
- Developing a Blueprint for a New Way of Living
- Noticing What Inspires You
- Identifying What Isn’t Working
- Removing the Clutter
- Listening to Your Dreams
- Learning to See Through the Obstacles
- Improving the Quality You Have
- Creating a Place and a Time of Your Own
- Proceeding Through the Construction Process
- Moving into Your Not So Big Life
- Maintaining Your Newly Remodeled Life
- Being at Home in Your Life
A detailed explanation of the above 12 steps can be found in an excerpt from her book Not So Big Life. “Learn How to Restructure and Simplify Your Life”
A master in the use of metaphor to help explain new dimensions of understanding, Susanka unveils a process for changing the way we live by fully inhabiting each moment of our lives and by showing up completely in whatever it is we are doing. Through this process of self-discovery, described in The Not So Big Life, readers uncover more meaningfulness and vitality in their own lives.
The Not So Big House book series by Sarah Susanka brings to light a new way of thinking about what makes a place feel like home – characteristics many people desire in their homes and their lives, but haven’t known how to verbalize. How big is Not So Big? Not So Big doesn’t necessarily mean small. It means not as big as you thought you needed, but designed and built to perfectly suit the way you live.
Possibilities—Life’s Invisible Feast Sarah Susanka at TEDxSanDiego 2013
01 Apr / 2015
There are many elements that drive a design: structural requirements, costs, and functionality, to name a few. However, there is an easy rule, used by many designers to create an aesthetically-pleasing, well-pulled together room. The Rule of Three is a principle used in many areas of design: architecture, graphic design, and photography (though, in graphic design and photography, it is referred to as the Rule of Thirds).
The basic idea is that details and objects that are arranged or grouped in threes (or odd numbers) are more appealing, memorable, and effective than even-numbered arrangements. According to Cecilia Walker of Cecilia Walker Designs, “While it is easier to create symmetry by balancing elements in twos, odd numbers create harmony and force movement and visual interest.” Consistent with Feng Shui principles, odd numbers give Yang energy and even numbers, Yin. Yang expands and moves, Yin contracts and condenses.
With interior design, the Rule of Three not only applies to architecture, but to lighting, color, and interior accessorizing.
Color and the Rule of 3
This simple diagram from The Interactive Color Wheel represents one of the designer’s basic tools: The 60-30-10 decorating rule, which is decorating with a selection of three different colors, each with its own pre-defined function, produces pleasant visual impact.
Dominant color: Roughly 60 percent of the given space should be the dominant color. In interior design terms, this color is for walls. Neutrals are the good choice for painting walls.
Secondary color: The next 30 percent should represent secondary color.
Accent color: The remaining 10 percent of the color scheme is for accent color. Accent color should be attractive. Warm vivid colors are good accents.
Design and Aesthetics
Margaret Everton is one of the many wonderful writers for Houzz. She is an arts and culture writer and explorer of how and what people create. Her work spans the disciplines of architecture and design, art, lifestyle, history, and literature. In her article, Using The Rule of Three In Your Home’s Design, she created an Idea book on the theme of threes and how, as a design tool, the rule in creative variations works in many ways. Here are a few examples:
In this home by Taylor Lombardo Architects, “the larger center arch not only accentuates the room’s center, but its raised height gives the room a loftiness that isn’t literally there. The room not only has added depth, but the illusion of added height.” Read More
With interior design, the Rule of Three can be implemented in progression and spatial composition. Consider the work triangle in kitchen design, color and fabric schemes, arrangements of furniture, and groupings of accessories.
For more inspiration, see Freshome Design and Architecture Magazine’s recent article “10 Designs That Incorporate the Rule of Three”
They demonstrate how to arrange furniture, tabletop objects, and artwork and provide examples of why the Rule of Three is not a hard-and-fast rule. There are times, such as in a small space, where it may make more sense to successfully “break” the rule.
31 Mar / 2015
Stylish. Simple. Affordable. Eco-Friendly.
It’s not too often that one can describe a product with all four of these attributes. Yes, there is home product that exists that is stylish, simple, affordable and eco-friendly. We are referring to FLOR Carpet Design Squares. Although, it has been around since 2003, we recently had a client come to us to help them with decorative finishes for their new addition. Hardwood floors had been installed throughout their home; however, they needed protective floor coverings for the laundry room, kitchen, living area and hallway. We knew FLOR was the answer. It was perfect for all four areas. Ever since, we have been a huge fan.
What is FLOR? FLOR is an innovative modular system of carpet squares (20” x 20″) that you assemble to create custom rugs, runners, or wall-to-wall designs of any shape or size. FLOR works great on hardwood, vinyl tile, laminate, plywood and concrete sealed with nonsolvent sealant.
With a full array of textures, colors and patterns, the designers at FLOR offer something for everyone. Whether it is the look of traditional herringbone pattern, playful leopard & zebra prints to earthy/nature & industrial tones, FLOR squares adds personality and conveys your unique style to any room. You can create floor coverings for any space, from cozy nurseries to busy kitchens or everyday high traffic hallways and entryways.
From beginning to end this product is simple. (Square+Dot=Rug). Simple to request samples (they’re free at Palo Alto store) and order product, simple to assemble by yourself (no contractor required) and simple to clean. FLOR rugs are easy to install, move and/or change, and they stay in place with FLOR dots, a patented adhesive, which adhere to the bottom of each square and not your floor.
Affordable. Costs run from $10 to $30 a Design Square (with the majority of Design Squares priced at $16-$18). They arrive to your door in about a week.
Need a quick estimate of how many squares your floor needs? Use FLOR’s Tile Calculator
All FLOR face fibers are nylon with varying degrees of recycled content. The backings are a vinyl composite, increasingly made from recycled materials. FLOR carpet tiles meet or exceed the Carpet & Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus standards for VOC emissions. Most FLOR carpet squares use a GlasBac backing, a vinyl composite, which is 100% recyclable. FLOR also offers a Return & Recycle Program – they take your old FLOR tiles and turn them into new product.
FLOR customer service is exemplary. Designed-challenged? No problem. FLOR offers design assistance over the phone as well as in the store. We are fortunate to have a retail store local in Palo Alto, where you can view samples and consult with an in-house designer to help you create your own unique composition.
Visit FLOR at 321 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301 (650) 289-9609 or check out FLOR’s Facebook page for more information, ideas, and inspiration:
12 Feb / 2015
We all want our homes to be safe havens—places where we can relax in comfort and security. But every year, home-related accidents result in medical visits and sometimes death to thousands of people in the United States. The top three causes of these injuries are: 1) falls, 2) poisonings, and 3) fires and burns. Many of these accidents take place in the bathroom. The average person uses the bathroom six times a day. With such a high level of usage, it is important for this room to be as safe as possible. We recommend these home improvements to help keep you and your loved ones safe while using your bathroom.
1. Falls: Eliminate!
• Wet, slippery tubs and shower floors can lead to some of the most serious injuries in the bathroom. Select non-slip floor surfaces for your bathroom and install grab bars.Many grab bars today are cleverly designed to avoid giving your bathroom an institutional appearance. Check out the new products from Invisia, that integrate a toilet paper holder with a grab bar, or a towel bar with a grab bar—effectively hiding the grab bar in plain sight.
• A comfort height toilet provides a seat height that is the same as that of a standard chair, maximizing your ease and comfort when sitting down or standing up.
• An LED light sensor night light in the bathroom will automatically turn on in low light levels. The night light will softly illuminate the path for safe nighttime visits to the bathroom, helping you avoid any tripping hazards along the away. It will also provide enough light to safely complete all normal bathroom tasks.
2. Poisonings: Eradicate!
• More than two million poisonings are reported to poison control centers each year—with the highest rates among children under age five. To help prevent poisoning, all medications and other poisonous items should be locked up and placed out of reach of children and pets. This may be accomplished by adding child-proof locks on the doors of cabinets where cleaning solutions are stored, as well as by installing a medicine cabinet with a built-in lock box for added safety.
• Keep all medications and bathroom cleaning solutions in their original containers with labels attached, to ensure they are used properly and not mistaken for another product. Never mix one medication with another.
3. Burns: Exterminate!
• Although 96 percent of all homes in the United States have at least one smoke alarm, some burns occur without any smoke! Each year, about 112,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms with scald burns, many of which are a result of household water heaters being set at temperatures above 120 degrees F. To prevent these burns, turn down your water heater to 120 degrees and install an anti-scald regulator fixture in the shower, tub and vanity sink. (This article features the ioDIGITAL from Moen)
• Never leave potential fire hazards, such as space heaters, candles or curling irons, unattended. Replace lit candles with battery-powered “flameless” candles and purchase a curling iron with an auto shut-off function.
15 Jun / 2014
Article courtesy of Plamar USA, Inc.
So you’re remodeling your kitchen or bathroom and have decided you want engineered quartz for your countertop. What now? With the many quartz products available today, how do you choose the best one for your countertop?
As countertop experts, we have been asked this question many times and can confidently answer that there is really no how-to-guide in choosing the right engineered quartz material. Our advice is to look at the range of products available in the market – Caesarstone, Silestone, Cambria, Pental Quartz, Color Quartz, Hanstone, Zodiaq, Icestone, Vetrazzo, and LG Viatera to get an idea of the range of choices. Educate yourself by visiting their websites to learn the features of each brand and how they differ from one another. In doing so, you’ll be able to identify each brand’s its composition, the range of colors and patterns available and how each brand compares to the others.
01 Jun / 2014
In your enthusiasm for remodeling your kitchen or bath, other less exciting spaces in your home may be ignored, even though they desperately need a make-over. A garage is one of those oft-neglected areas, because homeowners typically are not very concerned about the appearance or functionality of their garages. However, if you thoughtfully consider some of the items that you regularly deposit in your garage, you will realize the importance of having a plan for organizing and improving your garage as well.
01 May / 2014
During the last few decades, the front facade of most new suburban homes was dominated by a garage. This placement of the garage was convenient for homeowners who wanted to quickly enter their homes after work and put all the noise and confusion of the day behind them. If they wanted to spend time outside, they went to their private deck or patio out back. Family life centered around the backyard.
Today’s families are happily rediscovering the advantages of the front porch. A front porch provides opportunities for people to meet and connect with their neighbors, often developing meaningful relationships. These shared experiences tie neighborhood families together and help create a sense of community.
15 Apr / 2014
By Mark Lesnick
Founder, Mark Concrete
When I dream about remodeling my bathroom, I think about the new tub, maybe a steam shower, and certainly a gleaming new showpiece-of-a-vanity. I start the planning in my head – the textures, colors and styles. And then the demolition, the chaos, the mess! You may ask yourself, “How can I get the bathroom I’m envisioning with the least amount of mess and stress?” One way is a “Turn-key” bathroom vanity. It is a remarkable concept we developed to create a gorgeous work-of-art in a bathroom vanity that is simple to install and impresses the most discerning eye.
The “Turn-key” vanity system features a concrete surround with integrated sink and pre-installed cabinetry. All that is required is to set the complete vanity structure in place, install the fixture of your choice, and hook up the supply and drain lines and you are done with that portion of your new bathroom. One example of these turn-key vanities is pictured here with an “Erosion” sink mold.
01 Apr / 2014
This year the International Builders Show (IBS) and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) joined forces for one fabulous Design and Construction Week in February. Co-locating in Las Vegas, the building industry trade shows attracted more than 75,000 attendees. Remodelers, kitchen & bath designers, and builders crowded together in the aisles, anxious to see and experience all the new product introductions from cabinet and appliance manufacturers, etc.