K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Sustainable Design

Dec 06 2016

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Neolith Joins the Tiny House Movement

Neolith Tiny House Launch Party (www.BenRosePhotography.com)

Neolith’s Tiny House pays homage to the material by displaying a number of applications in a small space, including exterior and interior cladding, flooring, countertops, shower walls, fire places and furniture.

According to Mar Esteve, marketing manager for TheSize, the goal of the mobile space is to bring Neolith closer to the residential A&D community across different states and to showcase all the properties of the material: lightweight (great for transportation), durable, uv-unalterable; anti-grafitti, etc.

“We want to convey the message that every space – no matter how big or small – can look great and high end if the right materials are selected,” added Esteve. “We want to communicate that TheSize is aligned with sustainable architecture as well as a way of live.”

Neolith is seen in the Tiny House in the following applications:
– Exterior Cladding (Calacatta gold, Basalt Black, Textil White and Iron Frost)
– Interior Floors (Strata Argentum)
– Interior Walls (Iron Frost)
– Countertops and Island (Estatuario Polished)
– Bathroom Walls (La Beheme, Calacatta Gold)
– Fireplace (Steel Marengo)

The home features an OG36 36- in. outdoor barbeque grill with four individually contained burners for independent heat control, including a sear zone to seal in juices and a two-position rotisserie system. The master bath features the TOTO Neorest 550H toilet with a heated seat, built-in bidet system and choice of an efficient 1.0 or 0.8 gallon per flush. This is paired with a Kiwami Renesse lavatory faucet and a slim Villeroy & Boch washbasin and vanity, which is wall-mounted to save space. The shower includes an Upton rain showerhead and Gyrostream body sprays with rotating heads. In the guest bath, there is the TOTO Aquia Wall-Hung Toilet that takes up less floor space, gives the bathroom a more open feel and is easier to clean.

Oct 27 2015

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“Rehab Addict” Nicole Curtis on Saving $$ in Renovations


Nicole Curtis, star of HGTV’s “Rehab Addict,” has made an art of introducing the comforts and conveniences of modern living while restoring homes to their former glory. She believes not all home renovations need to be complete makeovers and spends her time preserving the character of old homes to their former glory. Nicole has teamed up with Mitsubishi Electric to help old house owners discover heating and cooling systems that’ll work effortlessly within their historical homes. She is a self-taught home rehabber, licensed real estate agent and designer, and K+BB recently got a chance to talk to her about avoiding expensive kitchen and bath renovations.

K+BB: What are some of your tips for avoiding a costly kitchen renovation?

Nicole Curtis: First, figure out what exactly you [or your client] need in your kitchen – so many people do not realize what they need until after they have lived in it. If you just moved into a new old house, do not do renovate right away. Live in the house for at least six months and take notes everyday.

After many homeowners do the renovation, they have what I call the “regrets.” “I wish we would have spent a little more or added a larger range.” Take time to properly plan it, otherwise you will regret it. [Explain to your clients that] it costs a lot more to redo something after its put it in than to take your eraser to your pencil drawings and redo it on paper.

K+BB: Where are some areas where it is safe to splurge and save?

NC: Splurge on custom cabinets with solid wood materials and dovetail drawers. Natural stone countertops are heat and scratch resistant and can take years of abuse. We see these materials in homes that are more than 100 years old; we know their longevity.

I am never going to spend $500 on a light fixture in the kitchen because they are pretty trendy and will go in and out. I will spend $500 to make sure I do not have particleboard in my cabinet design. If they change the color or layout, I can split up wood cabinets and move them around. I can’t do that with particleboard, and it is a challenge to repaint.

K+BB: What about bathrooms?

NC: [Advise your client to] spend money on a licensed plumber. This sounds silly, but so many people think they can do it themselves, and water leaks are no joke. I have seen so many houses ruined because someone spent more money on the vanity during the renovation and did the plumbing themselves. They should have spent the money on a licensed contractor.

Spend more on solid stone materials, like a tile surround versus vinyl. Any time you caulk it lets moisture in and you will have to redo it again and again. I see people splurge on an expensive mirror and then put vinyl flooring in a bathroom. Flooring and fixtures should be first, and then use leftover money later for something like expensive wallpaper. (Nicole admitted she hates wallpaper!)


K+BB: In terms of historical properties, what are some elements of the kitchen you think it would be safe to reuse?

NC: There’s not a component that can’t really be reused aside from drywall or if you are changing a layout. Wood floors can be used, stone countertops can be reused, wood cabinets can be reused. When you use disposable materials, because they are not solid, once you try and tear them out or reconstruct them, they just kind of fall apart in your hands.

A lot of the older homes were built as 500 square feet in 1880, and then additions were made throughout the years. I find a way to take the old house and make additions, add floors, etc. They get the extra space, but we can still keep the old house standing, and the way to do that is to blend new mechanics. This keeps budget in check because we are not redoing an entire heating system for the whole house.

K+BB: Do you feel today’s consumer has a realistic idea in mind when it comes to budgeting for these kinds of projects?

NC: I don’t think anyone ever has a keen eye on the budget. You should have two lists: a need list and a want list. With old houses, clients hate theirs because they are hot in the summer or cold in the winter. They will spend a lot on furniture when they need to first get back to the basics. I can’t tell you how many bathrooms I have walked into, and there is absolutely no heat source because they did not budget for it. Let’s make you comfortable in your home and work with you on what you have already, and then see where the budget is.

K+BB: Is it important for people doing a renovation to have a design expert on hand?

NC: I always think it is wise to have a design professional on hand because what looks good on a website or something you tear out of a magazine does not always fit in your space. What looks good on paper does not always look good in the field. A design professional knows that if you want to put in a 36-in. door, there can’t be a cabinet swinging into the door. It’s always good to consult one even if you are not hiring them for the whole project – even if you just have someone do the layout. You will never regret paying someone to help you to layout your design in the most efficient and budget-friendly way.

May 29 2015

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Benefits of a Garbage Disposer and Myths Dispelled


May is National Home Improvement Month, and as the month comes to a close, there’s still time to do one small project in the kitchen that will make a big difference: adding or replacing a garbage disposer.

This hard-working, under-appreciated appliance has come a long way since it was first invented back in 1927 by an architect in Racine, Wis., named John Hammes. Believe it or not, the photo above is what the first disposer looked like.

About half the homes in the U.S. have a disposer, and here’s why:

  • It helps keep kitchens clean, fresh and hygienic – no food waste in the trash can causing an odor to attract pests and fewer trips to the dumpster.
  • Putting your food waste down a disposer is more environmentally friendly than putting it in the trash to be hauled to a landfill where it will decompose and release methane (a greenhouse gas).
  • A good disposer only costs hundreds of dollars and will last for several years.

So, what’s keeping the other half of the homes in the U.S. from investing in this handy kitchen helper? Well, there are some long-standing myths about disposers that still need to be dispelled, and you can explain these to your clients:

  • “Water/energy used by disposers cancel out any environmental benefits.” Actually, disposers only use 1 percent or less of a household’s total water consumption and cost on average less than 50 cents a year in electricity.
  • “Using a disposer is bad for a home’s plumbing.” The fact is, food waste is 70 percent water. If you have a modern disposer with multiple stages of grind and you use your disposer properly, food waste is virtually liquefied, allowing it to move through your plumbing with ease.
  • “My house is on a septic system, so I can’t have a disposer.” If your septic system is properly sized and maintained, this shouldn’t be a problem. If your septic system can handle a dishwasher and a washing machine, it can handle a disposer.

– Leah Kondes, spokesperson for InSinkErator 

May 13 2015

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Save Water with Ease: Water-Efficient Home Upgrades

Image by njaj, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by njaj, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In recent years, low rainfall and record-high temperatures have resulted in a historically devastating drought in California. Some studies suggest the current drought, which most believe started in 2011, is the worst the state has seen in more than 1,000 years. But California is not alone. The country as a whole is in the midst of one of the most sustained periods of increasing drought on record, according to the Palmer Index.

Consumers know their choices can make a difference and are seeking smarter water options to support heightened environmental standards as well as save money. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year – approximately 16 percent of water loss comes from leaks within the water system. But consumers also expect to be able to make these adjustments without sacrificing experience.

For starters, the industry needs to keep encouraging homeowners to upgrade to WaterSense-labeled models that use no more than 2.0 gallons of water per minute. Using these models does not mean sacrificing experience, as some offerings even provide spray heads that create the feeling of more water while using less. Through updated technology, showerheads, hand showers and tub showers can feature innovations that control the water’s shape, velocity and thermal dynamics – creating a warmer, more luxurious spray that blankets the body – all while using a fraction of the water.

Many consumers may not be aware that toilets are the main source of water usage in their homes, accounting for almost 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption. Homeowners can save 13,000 gallons of water per year by replacing older, inefficient toilets. When getting rid of a leaky toilet, encourage consumers to look for a WaterSense-labeled option certified to use 1.28 gallons per flush – 20 percent less water than the current federal standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. Some toilets even offer leak detection and overflow protection to further assist consumers in their water-saving efforts.

 As a trusted advisor for consumers tackling improvement projects in the home, suggesting a faucet swap not only gives the bathroom a new, upgraded look but also saves water in the process. While most consumers are aware that turning off the tap when brushing teeth is a water-efficient practice, they may not know there are product and technology options that help reduce water usage when the tap is on. High-performance, water-efficient faucets and aerators bearing WaterSense labels can save a household 700 gallons of water per year, the equivalent of 40 showers worth of water, by using a maximum flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute – reducing water flow by 30 percent more than the standard flow of 2.2 gallons per minute.

With communities across America facing water supply challenges, it is more important than ever to encourage water savings and the installation of water-efficient products in the home. For more information about faucet, showerhead and toilet specifications and WaterSense-labeled products that save water and in turn protect the environment, visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/.

– By Paul Patton, Delta Faucet Company Senior Research & Development/Regulatory Manager