cool product of the month – sigg cups

siggthis month’s cool product is sigg cups. yes they sound like you can by them at ikea right next to the dunkfurr or lack but they don’t seem to be there…yet. why am i deciding to feature the sigg cup and why is this a cool product? well, i’m glad you asked.

reason #1. unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock the past year, you’ve probably heard about the plastic bottles being made that leached bisphynol-A. i didn’t read enough of the hoopla to really find out what bisphynol-A really is, but i figured when they throw in the word “leaching” in there, it can’t be good. my wife is especially hypersensitive to this kind of stuff since we have two little boys (my nalgene bottle has served me fine for 10+ years but that’s another story).  we had made the switch to sigg cups long before the plastic scare last year, which brings me to…

reason#2. we drink a lot of water in our family, and i mean a lot. it is pretty much the only thing our 2 1/2 year old drinks with the exception of almond milk at school. he keeps trying to get us to give him some coffee but so far we have resisted. we knew by using a re-usable water bottle, we’d be saving a lot of water bottles from ending up in the landfill. I started looking around for cool re-usable bottles, ones that would be special to us and ones that we’d take the time to take in and out of our cars/home/office on a daily basis rather than toss in the back next to the baby wipes and strollers. i stumbled upon the sigg cups and read a lot about them, everything good as far as i could tell. they are an aluminum bottle with a special leach proof liner. on top of that, they have cool designs and frankly just look cool. one of the competitors, kleen kanteen just doesn’t quite have the cool factor. my wife, jake, and i each have 2 sigg cups so we always have a clean one to take with us (or when we leave one in the car and are too lazy to go out in the morning to get it, just grab the other. in fact, since we actually have 4 sigg cups between my wife and myself, i’ve been known to collect 2 or 3 in my car before remembering to bring them all in. in fairness to my wife, she does the same thing).

sigg has a great website that allows readers to read all about their products and the company. they also have an environmental message and is a member of 1% For the Planet, donating 1% of their worldwide sales to protection of the environment. sigg cups are available online as well as rei and whole foods. i’m sure more retailers will be selling them in the near future as they are really catching on. they have several designs to choose from and some very cool colors. they also have kid sizes too although we quickly found out that our son, jake, wanted the bigger size like us.

a sigg cup justs makes sense. for the environment and for your health. i remember when we used to buy the arrowhead or crystal geyser bottles, we could end up with a lot of empty bottles in the backseat in the course of a couple of weeks. now we don’t do that anymore, and that’s a good thing.

cool product of the month – yolo colorhouse

yolothis month’s cool product is ….drumroll please……. yolo colorhouse. what the heck is yolo colorhouse, you ask? well, in a nutshell, it’s environmentally friendly paint with no VOCs (the little volatile organic compounds that keep me up at night trying to figure out where to cut them out next). thankfully, yolo has discovered a way to eliminate them from their paint line. it seems that the big guys like benjamin moore, sherwin williams, and dunn edwards are following suit or are in the process of following suit as some of the bug guys’ paints are still labeled low VOC but i’m sure in the near term the major manufacturers will have no VOC paint offerings.

why do i like yolo? i first met one of the owners, virgina young, at the west coast green expo in san francisco about a year and a half ago (don’t bother calling ms. virginia and saying david doucette recommended your product because that was a well attended expo and i didn’t do anything stupid to leave a lasting impression). i liked what she had to say and really like the company’s philosophy. at the time, no one had no VOC paint, they were on the cutting edge and created yolo for that sole purpose. they also have a great and informative website that describes who they are and what they do and as well as lots of info on their product offerings.

i’ve been waiting for the right project to use the product on and finally found it in our westbourne project which just received the first coat of paint on the walls. it’s looking beautiful and i really like yolo’s color pallette. no, they don’t have a bazillion colors like the big guys, but they also don’t need it. their color palette is diverse and finding a color to suit your needs shouldn’t be a problem.

depending on where you live, finding yolo paint may be a challenge, but don’t let that stop you (we all need a good challenge now and then). if you’re in the los angeles area, you can find them at livingreen in culver city or at cox paint center also in culver city. they also have a retail locator on their website and you can order online (see, that challenge wasn’t so bad).

i’m glad to have been able to finally use their product and very pleased with the results. as i move my business forward i’m looking to align myself with companies that are concerned with the environment and have an environmental message. i’m tickled yolo with yolo and hope you’ll check them out for your next project.

what is the big deal about closets anyway?

master-closet-floor-plan
master closet floor plan

the westbourne project is entering the final stages and the most fun. it’s where everybody can really start seeing things come together. we’ve completed the design of the master closet which is really luxurious, complete with a custom built island and dresser. we’ll also be installing shoe racks and plenty of hanging space. we’re using FSC, forest stewardship council, walnut. it will be stained a dark color and is sure to look gorgeous. by the way, in answer to the title, the big deal is that we all want them and we all have closet envy…. that, and we never have enough.

  
 
 
master closet elevation #1
master closet elevation #1
   
   
custom dresser elevation
custom dresser elevation
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
custom dresser & cubbies
custom dresser & cubbies

cool product of the month – shaklee

happy new year to all! 2009 is finally here and i’m expecting many good things this coming year. 2009 should be about change, cleaning out the old and starting anew. with that in mind, i’d like to introduce january’s COOL product of the month;

shaklee healthy home cleaning products.  shaklee is the number one nutrition shakleecompany in the united states. YES, they are a corporation, BUT a corporation with a conscience. their web site is fantastic and full of wonderful information about their products and their commitment to the environment. from their website:

“Our mission at Shaklee is to provide a healthier life for everyone and a better life for anyone. We do it by making natural products that are so exceptional, you just have to tell your friends. Every product that goes into every Shaklee bottle is designed to improve health, work without compromise, and be gentle on the planet.”

i’ve been using their cleaning products at our home for the past year and i really love them. the best thing about them is that they do not smell. you don’t realize how great that is until you spend the afternoon cleaning and realize you don’t smell anything, no lemony fragrance, no lavender. with two young boys crawling and running around our house, this is a big plus. i especially like the basic h2 cleaning concentrate. you put a few tablespoons in a bottle and fill the rest with water, and voila! you have a safe, non-toxic cleaner for wiping all kinds of surfaces. i will admit the dishwasher detergent wasn’t as effective at getting our dishes sparkly clean so i’m still searching for that product to come along. my recommendation is to spend some time on their website and order a few products to try. most you will love, some you may not, but once you find the products you like, you’ll never dread another cleaning day.

i’ve been trying for the past couple of years to align myself with more environmentally conscious and responsible vendors, contractors, clients, and friends. i’ve also been taking steps at home to improve indoor air quality and shaklee cleaning products help my family in achieving that goal.  i don’t get anything for plugging their product, it’s not necessary, the satisfaction of spreading the word and helping others improve their own indoor air quality is enough for me. i believe whatever little steps we take, the world will be a better place. if my little steps can be multiplied by everyone i know, and their little steps can be multiplied by people they know, it just keeps going. here’s to keeping it going in 2009!

the master bath, a private sanctuary

the master bathroom is one of the most important rooms in a home. it can be a place where you wake up and greet the morning or a place to relax after a long day. the westbourne master bathroom satisfies both of these requirements with style.

master bathroom floor plan
master bathroom floor plan

 when you walk into the master bathroom, you’re immediately greeted by an almost six foot wide by nearly eight foot tall built in cabinetry unit that can hold robes, towels, linens, as well as a counter for a coffee maker or espresso machine and a small refrigerator to hold milk and water.

if you move to your right, you’ll see a private toilet room complete with a dual-flush toilet by caroma and waterless urinal by falcon

if you move to the left you will enter the main space of the master bathroom. you’ll find a long vanity with dual undermount sinks. the vanity “floats” above the floor for easy cleaning and is made from FSC, forest stewardship council, teak veneer, and formaldehyde free cabinets. the countertop will be caeserstone.

the shower consists of a steam shower unit which will allow for some nice relaxing time after that long day (or a great way to start the morning for you early morning types). the shower and tub are designed to be one unit by using a caeserstone tub deck that will also become the shower bench.

 

master bath cabinet elevation
master bath cabinet elevation

tall cabinetry, plan & elevation
tall cabinetry, plan & elevation

 

everyone hangs out in the kitchen

 it seems no matter how small your kitchen is or how hard you try and keep people out, when you have friends over, they always end up in the kitchen. it’s inevitable. i must admit, i’ve even tried to leave the kitchen a little dirty, maybe even leave a few dishes in the sink before having people over for the sole purpose of keeping them out of the kitchen ( it never works by the way, and i end up washing dishes with one hand and flipping  mushrooms in the other in front of an amused audience). so i decided to not only accomodate people in the westbourne kitchen, but really create a kitchen that will be sure to be the center of the party, that embraces the gathering and celebration of good food and great friends. from family gatherings to cocktail parties, this is one kitchen that will see a lot of smiling faces.
kitchen-plan1
floor plan

 

we created an open kitchen that features a large sliding window system by nanawall that will allow for great cocktail parties as the outside/inside line merge to become one. we’ll also be building a countertop on the outside side of the nanawall window system. the countertops will be caeserstone, a product made from crushed quartz and extremely durable. the drawing below is the floor plan of the kitchen (layout);

Elevation looking at cabinetry, sliding window system
elevation looking at cabinetry, sliding window system

 

the drawing to the right is an elevation (as if you were standing in the kitchen looking out) of the cabinetry and sliding window system. the windows will all slide to the left allowing a gracious 10′-0 opening;

 

  

elevation of cabinetry and 4'-0" range
elevation of cabinetry and 4'-0" wide range

 

the drawing to the right is an elevation looking at the 4′-0″ wide range and cabinetry. notice we’re not installing uppers along the back wall which we’ll keep a nice open feel in the kitchen (we have plenty of storage).

 

 

elevation showing refrigerator and upper cabinets
elevation showing refrigerator and upper cabinets

 

the drawing to the right shows the upper cabinets and refrigerator wall elevation. the cabinets will be made from FSC, forest stewardship council, rift cut white oak. the cabinet construction will be 100% formaldehyde free.

cool product of the month

Each month I’m going to be writing a blurb about a cool product that I have either used or plan on using for an upcoming project. it’ll be something as simple as a place that sells reusable canvas bags, ah that’s an idea right there, to more construction related fare such as a modern sliding door system. without further adieu, here’s the unveiling of december’s COOL product of the month;

naturemill’s automatic indoor composter.  it’s a nifty contraption that sells for $299 and can compost a majority of the food waste that is produced in your home. instead of sending it to the garbage disposal or trash, i.e. landfill, put it in the composter and let it work its magic. you can use the compost in your garden, or for you city dwellers, give the compost to a neighbor or the neighborhood community garden. disclaimer: I have not yet used this composter, or any composter for that matter, but I’ve spent plenty of time on the website researching the product. the naturemill website has a video demo as well which gives you a good idea of how the product works.

at 20″ high the composter is compact in size and may be able to fit in one of your kitchen cabinets providing  there is a pull out shelf as you will need to access the composter on a regular basis. the other option would be to locate it in a pantry or even the garage. the composter does require power, so you’ll want an electrical outlet nearby.

I’ll be purchasing one of these units for the westbourne project and at the same time will be ordering one for our family as well. one word of caution; it’s not quite plug and play, as you’re going to want to spend some time with the instruction manual as there are specific instructions for first time use as well as a list of items that are not meant to be used in the composter. there is also a “balance of chemistry” of food waste and sawdust pellets that should be maintained to reduce odors.

I think this product will take a little getting used to but I think it is well worth the time investment. I think of the valuable lesson my son jake will learn as he proudly empties the last of his untouched asparagus into the composter… the reward of not eating his asparagus, because da da, composting is fun!

puleaze, take your shoes off at the door

i remember growing up as a kid in new hampshire and playing in all kinds of dirt piles, sandboxes, and mudholes. i remember the pile of shoes in our den that seemed to stay there year round, however i never remember being told to take our shoes off in the house except in the winter. looking back now,  the pile  of shoes were probably all of our winter boots collecting dust in the summertime. we also had the long shag carpet in our rooms too. so imagine a mix of dirt and crud from our shoes and the shag carpet in our home. as kids, we never thought anything of it.

nowadays, i make it a point to take off my shoes when going into our home and try to remember to do the same when going into someone else’s home. the main reason for a “shoes off” policy in our house now is because it’s just plain cleaner and healthier in our house as a result (that and i have two young boys who would lick ice cream off the floor if they were allowed). shoes track in all kinds of dirt and debris. if you can leave all of that literally at the door, you’re on the way to a healthier indoor environment for you and your family.

you can put a small shoe rack or bench by your door or, if you’re renovating, you can install a recessed niche or a built in bench with storage for your shoes. the leed for homes program gives one full point of credit for implementing such a measure and, i might add, the program does not hand out points like candy. it’s further proof that more people are recognizing the benefits of such a simple idea. in fact, it’s such a simple idea, it’s almost not even worth writing about…almost.