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.

california going greener

david22california has long been a trend setter  for the rest of the country and many states look to california for guidance on setting up many of their own rules and regulations. here is an article, from the associated press,  that i hope grabs the attention of other states’ legislators,  california’s committment to go a deeper shade of green. one particular point that caught my eye was this one:

“But there will also be costs: Cars could become more expensive, and Californians can expect higher electric rates as utilities increase their use of renewable energy. Homes built with energy-efficient materials could also prove more costly, as could gasoline reformulated to release less carbon dioxide.”

i thinks it’s a great idea the utility companies will be increasing their use of renewable energy, but it sounds like this may be an increase in cost to the consumer. one way to create a win win situation is for the homeowners to make sure their existing homes are as energy efficient as possible (window leaks are sealed, weather stripping around all exterior doors is installed, dual pane windows are installed, to name a few).

for homeowners considering a major remodel or new construction, it’s even more important (as well as an exciting opportunity) to consider designing and building the most energy efficient home possible, including properly sealing the exterior envelope with foam and insulation, using energy efficient windows with low e and argon filled glass, planning for open spaces to allow for natural ventilation, and planning for overhangs that keep the sun out in the summer but let the sun inside in the winter. the above items, when properly designed into the project, will add little overall cost (assuming a major remodel), but will go a long way in helping your home become more energy efficient.

insulation, hoo, what is it good for?

let me start by playing catch-up on the westbourne project. it is an existing two story home and is currently undergoing an extensive remodel. the interior was completely gutted down to the studs and the owners graciously donated much of the interior to the reuse people.

we provided the architectural design services and are also providing construction services as well, which makes for a cohesive “green” project for everyone involved.

we began construction in the middle of july. I originally designed the home to be “green” but I wasn’t aware we could qualify for the LEED for homes program because I thought only new homes could qualify. however, because of the extensive renovation and the green steps I had already implemented into the design, the project qualified and we are now participating in the program.

we’ve reframed much of the interior and completely opened up the ground floor to include a much larger kitchen and dining area that opens to the backyard via a 12′-0 wide sliding door system that allows the dining area to flow outside.

we’ve also installed all new doors and windows and a “cool roof” that will aid in limiting heat gain from the sun’s rays. we’ve spent the last month patching and repairing the existing stucco as well. tomorrow we will be having most of the structure sprayed with a natural chemical called borate that termites really don’t like, so they won’t be coming around for dinner anymore.

we are now getting ready to install the insulation, the topic of my post. it’s amazing to me that the most older homes circa 1950, in the los angeles area never had insulation installed in the walls. the old walls  typically consist of a 1″ layer of interior plaster, 3 1/2 inches of air space and another 1″ of stucco material. that’s not much between you and mother nature when you go to sleep at night, especially if your bed is up against an exterior wall.

in the 60’s they began putting insulation in the walls in the los angeles area and the choice has always been a batt fiberglass insulation, the pink itchy scratchy stuff that you see in home depot in giant rolls, the ones with the pin panther on it. they still use it today but there are better alternatives that will do a much better job at sealing the exterior envelope (which should be the goal of any insulation job).

for the exterior walls on our project, we will first seal and caulk around all the doors and windows and fill all holes and gaps, any place that the outdoors could get in and vica versa. we then need to install a mesh netting on the interior of all the exterior walls. then we will use  a loose fill made of 85% recycled newspaper (it’s treated to be fire retardant) made by greenfiber and blow it in the walls. this process will completely seal the exterior envelope to leed standards.

for the interior walls, we have been considering a formaldehyde free fiberglass batt insulation made by johns manville and the now hip and trendy, recycled blue jean or cotton insulation made by bonded logic. we decided yesterday to use the batt insulation manufactured by johns manville, a company known for its formaldehyde free insulation products because it is a less expensive option. the cotton insulation is a great product but is difficult to work with and costs 2-3 times as much as the batt insulation.

properly insulating your home is one of the most important things you can do when remodelling your home. make sure your architect and contractor are aware of the different insulation types and conscious of your budget. all too aften, architects aren’t as informed as they should be about insulation and  builders just “do it the way we’ve always done it”. it may be up to you to educate your team.

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.

welcome from david doucette, aia leed ap, founder of reside architecture, inc.

welcome to my blog for the office i founded, reside architecture, inc. this is new territory for me but i’m hoping to share thoughts on architecture, residential design & construction, green building principles, green living, and share updates on our own projects as well.

one of our more exciting projects at this time is an existing two story home in west hollywood, california that we are performing a major remodel on. we are providing design and construction services and are currently in the middle of construction. the most interesting aspect of the project is that we designed the home to qualify for the LEED for homes rating program, a new national green building program and the most comprehensive green building program in the country click here for more info.

another project i am very excited about is the complete restoration of a 1956 airstream travel trailer. this particular model has the beautiful name “flying cloud”. it is a work in progress and i’ll be writing more about this project as well.