Several years ago, Hammerschmidt Construction remodeled the Powell Art Gallery room at Sequoia High School in Redwood City. This year, art teacher, Mozy da Costa Pinto called with what seemed an unusual request “Do you have any idea where I could find a number of used doors for an art project?” And, being the Certified Green Remodeling Company that we are, we happened to have many.

Rather than dump used windows and doors in landfills, we store them in our warehouse and either donate them to our church youth group’s, Mission to Mexico project, which builds homes each summer for needy families or we find new homes for them on Craigslist.
Da Costa Pinto wanted to provide each senior art student with a door to paint, symbolizing their impending rite-of-passage, from high school to the next step in their journey.

A few of the completed projects are pictured above. Check out more of the creative doors here.

Homeowners have very individual tastes and preferences when it comes to describing their favorite bathroom environment. It is important to realize that if you desire a relaxing, spa-inspired master bathroom in your home, there is no one standard look and feel for that room. The most important requirement is that it be a place where your personal comfort and enjoyment is a priority.
The gorgeous master bathrooms pictured here run the style gamut from Asian/Contemporary, to Transitional, to European/Modern. What ties these three bathrooms together, however, is the attention given to the 10 spa-inspired details below:

1. Calming hues that harmonize with each other and are flattering to your natural skin tones. Surrounding yourself with favorable colors can enhance your mood.

2. Elegant natural materials that are also eco-friendly—promotes pure pleasure. Experiencing the natural beauty of wood, bamboo, glass, stone and metal is even more satisfying when you know your selections are sustainable.

3. Straighter, less complicated cabinet exteriors, with highly-functional interior organizational systems to optimize storage. An uncluttered environment helps refresh and rejuvenate your mind.

4. Dual sinks, cabinets and closets that provide room for more than one person to use the master bathroom. If you share the room with someone else, having your own personal space will increase your feeling of tranquility.

5. Plenty of natural and artificial light for safety and a sense of well-being. Light plays an important role in helping you avoid accidents; plus, the amount of time you are exposed to light can affect your emotions.

6. Commodious zero-threshold shower and deep soaking tub—for all eventualities. Sometimes relaxation means a lengthy soak; sometimes it means hydro massage body sprays and rain showerhead in the shower.

7. Underfloor radiant heating and heated towel racks that ward off the shivers. Staying toasty warm as you exit the tub or shower prolongs your enjoyment.

8. WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures, ENERGY STAR qualified appliances, and LED light fixtures that reduce water and energy usage. It feels great knowing you chose wisely and saved money, all the while helping protect the environment.

9. Easily adjustable pre-set temperature controls for shower, bath and underfloor heating that removes all the guess-work. When you are tired, how nice not to have to think—just enjoy.

10. Audio/visual enhancements. Waterproof audio devices can be installed into your shower- head or tub, allowing you to play music through a blue-tooth enabled device, like an iPod or smartphone. A waterproof flat screen TV can be placed in your shower or on the wall next to your tub. You will not have to miss your favorite podcast while you are relaxing in the shower!

If you’re wondering how to incorporate dog-friendly features in your home, look no further. John received the title, Certified Dog Designer, from a client when he was asked to design a number of dog-friendly features into their whole house remodel. The home’s dog room (laundry/ mudroom) incorporated a dog washing station, a place for dog crates under the counter, and specific storage areas for food, leashes, and dog care items along with the requisite dog door.

Large slate tiles were installed on the floor in the dog room and main living areas. The beautiful natural stone is able to disguise dog tracks and it can be easily cleaned with a damp mop.

Playful dog paw tiles were installed on the floor leading to the dog door and custom “portrait” accent tiles were integrated into the backsplash – one for each of their current dogs and other special dogs in their lives. Having completed multiple remodels with custom pet-friendly features, John is well-versed in designing a home that accommodates the needs of the whole menagerie.

If you decide to transform your kitchen by opening it up, one of the challenges you will face is where to store the wide variety of items a homeowner typically wants or needs in the kitchen. When several walls come down, it means that some of the locations where your cabinets were installed earlier are no longer available. With less wall space for cabinets, you must get more creative with storage, using every inch of space as efficiently as possible.

One of the most popular storage solutions for open kitchens is to build a large island with drawers underneath the countertop. Unlike cabinets with doors and shelves, full-extension drawers make it easy to see and reach items, even if they are stored in the back of the drawer. These drawers can be deep enough to hold large bowls and baking pans, or shallow enough for utensils. Today’s drawer organization systems can help you store much more in a new drawer than you were able to store previously in a drawer of the same dimensions. There are options like pegboard systems and drawer dividers that can compartmentalize the space to fit your specific items. Drawers may be fitted with soft and self-closing mechanisms, so that opening and closing a drawer is effortless. Find whatever you need inside the drawer, even at night, by including in-drawer LED lighting that activates by motion sensor when the drawer is opened. Design a storage cabinet on wheels that slides under the island countertop when not needed, but can provide an additional flat surface for food prep when rolled out into the room.

Another answer to the open kitchen storage quandary is to optimize the functionality of all wall cabinets. Consider using frameless cabinets, since these give you freer access to the contents of the cabinet. Lift-up or sliding cabinet doors, along with those that retract into the sides of the cabinet, are convenient since the cabinet can stay open and accessible for meal preparation, without disturbing the workspace. Try to conquer the dead space that often goes to waste in the corners of the kitchen. Currently, in addition to the traditional lazy susan, there are an amazing number of pull-out and swing-out solutions to a “blind corner.” Take time to decide which system will best fit your needs. If you choose to take your cabinets to the ceiling in order to maximize wall storage space, consider adding pull-down shelving systems inside the highest cabinets to make your items accessible without a step-stool. Narrow shelves or wire racks installed in the backsplash area provide easy-to-reach storage, along with an opportunity to bring a bit of color and excitement to that space.

* Photo : Formaldehyde-free cabinetry, cork flooring, low-VOC paints and a locally-made backsplash with recycled content.
(Photo by Michele Lee Willson)

Kirsten A. Flynn
Sustainable Home

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If you wait until the last minute to consider your lighting needs when you are remodeling your kitchen, you may repeat some of the mistakes you have lived with all these years. Installing a single ceiling light fixture in the center of your kitchen creates unwelcome shadows over your work space as you try to prepare meals. Another oversight would be to install ceiling cans around the perimeter of the kitchen without carefully considering where the beams of light will contact the various surfaces in the room. If you place the ceiling cans too close to the kitchen cabinets, for example, you may create uneven scallops of light on the surface of the cabinets, as well as shadows in the middle of the room.

Good lighting design is developed simultaneously with the rest of your kitchen remodeling plans. It takes into account the following three separate layers of light that work in concert to achieve the optimal lighting experience. Ideally, these layers should be switched individually.

1. Ambient — This is the general illumination of your kitchen that allows you to see well enough to move about the room confidently and safely. The ceiling mounted fluorescent boxes that used to be the standard fixture used for this purpose are out. The most popular choices today are ceiling cans and large surface mounted fixtures. Chandeliers may also be used for ambient lighting.

2. Task — This is lighting that helps you perform tasks in your kitchen, such as meal preparation, cooking and work space clean up. For obvious reasons, when you are wielding a sharp knife you want your work space sufficiently bright, but free of glare so you can clearly see what you are doing. The same thing is true when you are stirring a bubbling pot of soup on the stove. Task lighting is usually provided by under-cabinet lights or pendants over an island.

3. Accent — This is the lighting that emphasizes the little details that make your kitchen look exceptional. It can include the spotlight that accentuates a large painting hanging on the wall, as well as the several small pucks installed behind glass cabinet doors to highlight your favorite crockery. Recessed cove lighting is accent lighting that creates visual interest on a ceiling.

As you are planning your lighting, take into account that highly reflective surfaces will impact your lighting design. You should avoid placing fixtures in a location where the light will reflect off your polished granite countertop, causing an uncomfortable glare in the eyes of anyone seated at the kitchen island.



It is also important to consider how your age, and the ages of others living in your home, may influence the amount of light necessary in your kitchen. In order to see clearly enough to read recipes or the instructions on food packages, most older adults need three to four times more light than they did when they were younger.

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