Monday, December 28, 2009

The Holidays in the Hills

We spent our holidays snow shoeing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and had an absolute blast. We didn't see a soul the entire time, the puppies ran an played, it is why we live here and love it.


2009 in Review

2009 brought some serious out of the box thinking as far as home design was concerned, not that other years haven't seen big leaps in ingenuity and non-traditional design, but this year's designs were inspired by two main pressures we all face - Economy and Environment.

This year saw smaller, module homes come to the fore front to remind us that $250-$350 a square ft doesn't have to be the norm and we can live in custom, detailed finished homes with stunning architecture for an affordable price. Our homes can still be not only our best investment but a place to be proud of, to enjoy LIVING in ourselves and stand out from the cookie cutters of the 80's and 90's.

And there has been an enormous push to green it up, not only in the building of our homes utilizing refurbished, recycled and sustainable building resources but as important building homes that are efficient and utilitarian to run day to day. No more extra rooms we don't use more than twice a year, no more energy sucking appliances, windows and lack of insulation. High quality homes today have little to no indoor toxins (still working on getting rid of this addiction to granite countertops) and pride themselves on high comfort, ease of use and maintenance and low cost to run....isn't this logical?

Check out Jetson Green's top 62 Innovative Green Homes of 2009 - and there are 4 Container Homes on this list, I hope our hits this list in 2011!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Comments Feature

I am hoping the comments feature of the blog is fixed now. So I am expecting a plethora of comments raving about my every written word.
If you are still having problems commenting, please let me know.


I think that Remodelista must be my favorite website ever. There isn't anything they post about that I don't like. But they hit the jackpot when they posted about Erin Martin's Water House in Napa, I am utterly in love with this place, its stunning. I love everything about it, it rocks my world. Check it out at Erin Martin's website or on Remodelista.

 I adore the dining room and the seeming absence of the wall and that dining room table is fantastic.
The kitchen is as near perfect as I have ever seen. Of all the hundreds of photos I have collected from magazines and on the net, this takes the prize as being as close to what I would love in a kitchen. Of course nix the chairs and concrete countertops;-)

The exterior is stunning, the awning and clean outside facade and how you can open up the house from front to back, leaves me breathless.

Thank you Remodalista...pure inspiration!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Container Cabana

I am starting to think I should just give up on blogging and give you all a link straight to Jetson Green, they write about everything we are doing, want to do and hope to do container!

Here is another container project, though I wonder where on earth they bought a container through that cost them $2,900, they are a lot cheaper through the ports.The link to the piece is here with more pics.

They did a nice job, I really like that it is insulated and the interior wall covering. This reminds me of one in Oakland that used a refrigerated container as their business office, it came out really well. I will try to find a picture of that one.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Even the Men of God live in Recycled Container Homes

Place - East L.A.
Use - Four Square Church Parsonage
Construction - 7 Shipping Containers and some stick built portions

To see more check out the blog entry from Jetson Green
Even men of the cloth see the potential in this building type and did a great job to utilize both types of construction to create a residential and educational space.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One Step Further

Earth Shelter homes are for sure all the rage, small footprint, low profile, incredibly energy efficient and often a good option for building where local regs might not let you build a traditional home, like this one at Big Sur. But check out this place in Switzerland - fantastic. Click here for more pictures of this stunning place.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kyle's Kitchen Drying Rack

Currently we have a very old dishwasher that we do no use. One, because its not Energy Efficient. Two, it is horrible at washing the dishes, they don't come out very clean. Three, we are somewhat opposed to dishwashers, just can't fathom how they can possibly save water. I say this because there are two of us. We don't eat a lot so when we do, we just about have to completely wash our dirty plates before they go into the dishwasher as it takes a good week to create a full load, which means that the dirty plates would be sitting there a week before being washed and that long with food caked on, no dishwasher would get them clean.

I haven't used a dishwasher yet that has gotten a full load really clean. Inevitably something has to be hand cleaned or rerun through the machine again. And this is with diligent pre-rinsing. What is the point.

Okay, rant over - so we use our dishwasher now as a great drying rack, its fantastic and works perfectly. So in the new house instead of a dishwasher Kyle had the idea of a drying cupboard. Lots of drainage, water catchment and maybe a fan. So when I saw this picture on AT this morning, I was excited, a sort of smaller take of what we had in brilliant and makes us glad we aren't the only people seeking these out of the box options to living.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Power Buy Back

I just heard that our power company in CA, PG&E, will now buy back your power from your solar installation on your home. Whatever excess you do not utilize over the coarse of a year, they will purchase back from you. Massachusetts is also beginning this practice. 42 states and DC currently offer net metering in which they give you credits for the excess power you supply them that you can then use to offset the power you use at night or on stormy days. Now more states are working toward actual payment additional power you give to the grid over and above what you use. That could potentially make solar panels a money maker if you had an energy efficient home and conserved where you could.

And shocking fact, the Garden State, NJ, is second in largest residential solar installation to CA and is very solar friendly. 17 states offer solar incentives and between state and federal refunds you could potentially finance over 1/2 the cost of a solar installation....something to think about!

The Box Office goes up in Prvidence

Do you think our home will be built this fast, how fantastic would that be.....

Courtesy of Jetson Green

Its a fantastic look when it will be done, what a great, fun place to work, might actually make me want to go to work.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Natural Awning

In our efforts to create our passive solar house we are taking a few key ideas from our current place. It faces East and has a large front porch and back deck with a big overhang. Both the porch and deck are fantastic and keep the house very cool and shaded in the summer, but it does in the winter too, which isn't a good thing. And when I say cool, its probably 15 degrees cooler in the house than outside....Brrr cold in the winter. Its also hard to have house plants in the winter because there is little sun that penetrates the house.

So with the new house, how do we shade the sun in the summer and achieve this fantastic natural cooling effect but also allow the sun in, in the winter and reap the warm, sunny benefits in the winter...its a challenge and we have been looking  at all kinds of awnings and retractable sun shades. We did see a fantastic awning that is made of a series of flaps that open for sun and close for shade, it was a fantastic design and we loved it. But I do like this natural, willow branch awning. It could easily be removed in the summer. I wonder how long it would last and how hard it would be to make, I am imagining a fantastic use for manzanita!!