Category Archives

eco-design

What Color Light Do You Want?

light bulb

With all the choices for light bulbs out there, it can get confusing which bulb to select. The good news is that with the increased awareness of green design and being eco-friendly, the lighting industry has introduced a variety of LED and CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs. When first released, the color of these bulbs was very sterile and gave off  a “cool” tone of light, leaving your living room feeling more like a hospital room. Now the industry has widen the spectrum and you can get LED and CFL  in a variety of color tones. The difference in these bulbs is the temperature at which the bulbs operate [measured in Kelvin (K)]. Each temperature gives off a different color of light.

By knowing about the 4 colors of light, you can create any desired ambiance in your interior design.

Warm Light: great for relaxation and entertaining. People look best under warm light. Ideal for living and dining rooms and accent in kitchens. Look for bulbs that are 2700-3500K

Neutral Light: this is a perfect balance between warm and cool light. Great for closets as they show the truest color…so you can be sure your outfits match well.  3500-4500K

Cool Light: great for areas where tasks are done, such as kitchens and offices.  5000K

Daylight: this is an even higher temperature bulb than the cool bulbs so they give the biggest visual separation of objects. Great in utility rooms, garages or hobby studios.  6000K

By using the color of light that reflects the ambiance you want in a space, you will enhance your surroundings tremendously. Let the light color match the room usage.

To learn more about creating inspiring spaces with Eco-Designi in Asheville and beyond please check out LouStewart.com

Simply Enticing Kitchen Design

Kitchens that boast of simplicity, clean edges and wide vistas inspire you to prepare your family meals with consciousness and pleasure.

Allow your view to come clear to you in the place where you spend so much of your time – the kitchen sink. Time to create a pantry to store your dishes, cuz we’re getting rid of the upper cabinets.

 

 Image Spotted on Silestone.com

Hurray for the contemporary kitchen design in Asheville and beyond!

Dangers of Dryer Sheets

In conversations with clients about how they can eliminate toxins from their homes, we discuss many ways in which a building can be constructed or renovated with eco-friendly options.

Yet sometimes the smallest of things can make a big difference.

While gardening, I noticed a smell coming from my neighbor’s house. The unpleasant smell permeated my yard so much that I had to go inside. I realized that this happened only on days when they did their laundry.  I knew this artificial scent had to be coming from the laundry products they used. So I did some research on this and found some startling facts.

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets with scents like April Fresh and Summer Orchard add toxic chemicals to your laundry and, consequently, your body.

 

 

 

CHEMICALS IN FABRIC SOFTENERS & DRYER SHEETS

Here is a list of just some of the chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets:

  • Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
  • Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
  • Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
  • Limonene: Known carcinogen
  • A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
  • Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
  • Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
  • Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
  • Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

So how could products with pretty names like Soft Ocean Mist, Summer Orchard and April Fresh be so dangerous?

The chemicals in fabric softeners are pungent and strong smelling — so strong that they require the use of these heavy fragrances (think 50 times as much fragrance) just to cover up the smells.

Furthermore, synthetic fabrics, which are the reason fabric softeners were created in the first place, do not smell good when heated in a dryer or heated by our bodies … hence the need for even more hefty fragrances.

In other words, remove all the added fragrance that endears people to fabric softeners and — like the cliché wolf in sheep’s clothing — the real smells of the chemical-laced fabric softener and the synthetic fabrics they were designed around may prompt people to shoot their laundry machines and be done with it.

ARE “SOFT” CLOTHES WORTH IT?

Fabric softeners are made to stay in your clothing for long periods of time. As such, chemicals are slowly released either into the air for you to inhale or onto your skin for you to absorb.

Dryer sheets are particularly noxious because they are heated in the dryer and the chemicals are released through dryer vents and out into the environment. Health effects from being exposed to the chemicals in fabric softeners include:

  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blood pressure reduction
  • Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract
  • Pancreatic cancer

Don’t wrap your family in chemical-coated fabric-softened towels! Simple baking soda will leave your laundry soft and your health intact.

SOFTEN YOUR CLOTHES SAFELY WITH THESE TIPS

Even if you don’t feel the effects of these chemicals today, they can affect you gradually over time, and children, whose systems are still developing, are particularly at risk.

There’s really no reason to expose yourself to these risky chemicals when natural alternatives exist. Not only are they safer for you, your family and the environment, but they’re much more economical too:

    • Add a quarter cup of baking soda to the wash cycle to soften fabric.
    • Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle to soften fabric and eliminate cling.
    • Check out your local health food store for a natural fabric softener that uses a natural base instead of chemicals.

It’s likely that fabric softeners and dryer sheets aren’t the only toxic products in your home. Many household products that consumers regard as safe are also full of toxic chemicals.

Source: http://www.healingnaturallybybee.com/articles/toxin5.php

So be wise when you buy.

iPhone Magnified

I just love when people come up with ingenious ideas that are so simple and practical. To amplify the sound of your iPhone or mp3 player, set it in a ceramic bowl. Amazing sound. And to think years ago, I had to arrange my whole living room around speakers that were 3′ tall and 2′ wide.

2013 – A Good Time To Renovate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good news for the home building industry. Last week (March 2013) the Commerce Department report showed the rate of single-family home construction at its highest level in four and a half years, the results of this study point to a strengthening economy, housing and renovation market. Yeah!

A survey done  by the popular Houzz site showed that 54% of those polled are planning to do a renovation project on their home this year. All that “pent-up” energy is about to be released into newly designed bathrooms, kitchens and more. In fact, 28% are sprucing up their bathrooms, while 23% are planning to tackle their kitchen or an addition.

Here in Asheville, I have definitely seen an increase in activity. The projects on our schedule this year include a mix of kitchen and bath remodels with several additions, as well as some new construction.

We’re happy to see people investing in their homes.

 

 

How To Pick The Best Colors for Your Home (Part 2)

To continue our investigation of picking wall colors for your home, I want to share a couple of other helpful tips.

START WITH AN INSPIRATIONAL PALETTE

Pull two or three colors from a favorite painting, photograph or piece of clothing….. something that really resonates with you. Match these colors to samples at a paint store or have your interior designer match them for you. This can be your inspirational palette.

MAKE AN OVERALL PLAN

To often, people make the mistake of selecting too many colors, thinking they need to paint each room a different color. This can result in a piecemeal look that chops up the visual flow of an interior.

Instead, if you use your inspirational palette as the basis of your color choices, you can vary the hues and tones of these colors to create a smooth transition from space to space. The result – a more cohesive look to your home.

TRUST YOURSELF

The most important part of selecting your colors is to trust your gut instinct. Response to color is very visceral and you will know deep within you if a color resonates with you or not. A good designer will not tell you what color to paint your walls, they will guide you to the colors that will suit you best. Trust your instincts and you will be happy with the colors you choose.

 

How To Pick The Best Colors for Your Home (Part 1)

When choosing wall color for a home, some people get totally overwhelmed.

Here is the approach I use with my interior design clients to make this process easier and more fool-proof.

First,I caution clients that just because a certain color may be your favorite, it may not look good all over your house. A neutral with a hint of a favorite color can be a smart starting place.

Another good starting place is to figure out if you prefer warm (yellows, oranges and reds) or cool colors (blues, greens). Most people gravitate toward one over the other, but you certainly can use both in a home. I like to find a main color first, especially if the design is an open concept.

SAMPLE, SAMPLE, SAMPLE

The number one rule in selecting color is to get samples and paint them on a large poster boards. You don’t want to paint the sample paint on your walls because it is a lesser quality and is not good to have under your new paint coat – believe me I did this years ago in my own home and it really affects the paint job. It is so important to look at the colors in your space on a sunny day, cloudy day and at night. This will help your decision and its much cheaper in the long rung than buying full gallons of your first choice just to discover it looks horrible in your space.

NATURAL LIGHT

The amount and direction of natural light affects wall color. Eastern exposure will add a greenish tint, while southern exposure is more yellow, whitish which can brighten or wash colors out. Western light is more orange, and northern light tends to be more grey which neutralizes and cools everything.

ARTIFICIAL LIGHT

With the variety of light bulbs on the market today, it can get confusing what to use and how it can affect the overall look of your home.

Incandescent bulbs will bring out the yellow tones, while fluorescent bulbs will generally bring out the cool tones. However, you can now buy warmer rated CFL’s. LED’s can cast a very cool white light but can also be purchased with a warmer rating.

REFLECTION

Every color has a “Light Reflectance Value” (LRV) which is a rating from 0% (absolute black) to 100% (pure reflective white). Similar to a gray scale, the LRV indicates how much light is absorbed or reflected by a color. Many paint samples will list an LRV number. This becomes very helpful when selecting several colors that will been seen together , like in an open concept. If you choose colors that have very different LRV ratings, the result will be jarring as the colors will fight for attention. Staying within 7 or so points in the LRV, you can use different hues without creating a disturbing contrast.

These aspects can help you avoid costly mistakes and guide you toward a color choice that you can be happy with for many years.

How To Determine The Correct Size For a Dining Room Chandelier

A chandelier can set the tone for your dining room so you want to make sure you get the correct size and proportion for your space. Here are some basic guidelines to go by when determining the correct size for your chandelier.

SIZE IT UP

If you’re selecting lighting for a new home and you don’t have dining room furniture yet, there’s a very simple rule you can follow. Add the length and width measurements of the room together. Your answer equals the right size diameter a chandelier should be. For example, if your dining room is 10′ x 14′, a 24″ diameter chandelier would look great.

However, if you already have a table, it’s more important to size the chandelier to the table than the room. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your chandelier is one-half to three-quarters the width of your table.

For the right hanging height, position the bottom of the chandelier about 30-32 inches above the table, adjusting to work with the size of the table and the overall scale of your space.

LIGHT IT UP

Casting the right amount of light is so important in creating an ambient setting. You want to avoid the harsh light that comes from functional, or more direct, lighting. Instead, cast a soft, warm glow over your picture-perfect feast. Consider adding a dimmer switch, so you can adjust lighting as needed. You can also use shades for softer lighting.

Picture Source: houzz.com via Jessica on Pinterest