Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bob Swinburne

Check out these incredible stair designs by Vermont architect Bob Swinburne. They're sleek, modern, industrial-feeling, and affordable. Could we ask for anything more? I am in love. Luckily for us, Bob has agreed to come on board for our project and design our stairs and second floor railing. Very exciting. Besides using birch stair treads, I'm assuming ours will look very similar to these two.

I should also mention that Bob is in the proces of building a project similar to ours, Perry Road, a green, modern farmhouse.

His blog is also a wonderful read and has a lot more information about the Perry Road project. He also discusses topics like composting toilets, SIPs, and good fiberglass windows.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Let's talk toilets (part 2)

So we've made the plunge (get it?) and bought our toilets. In an earlier post, we described why we were excited about the Toto brand. In continuing to research, it seems that Toto really is the way to go. We wish we could afford their dual flush line but decided on the affordable Eco Drake. It gets rave reviews from Terry Love's website and at 1.28 gpf is a good environmentally friendly option. With the soft close toilet seat (which must be purchased separately), the price per toilet came to right at $250. We purchased the toilets on and they are currently running a free-shipping promotion. Sweet deal!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Eames plywood lounge chair

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we bought one of these online this weekend, too. We've always loved the look of them. I bought an Eames-reproduction (Plycraft) black leather lounge chair on Ebay this summer (pictured below) and this is Ryan's little matching Eames item. They will look adorable together.

My eBay beauty...


So Ryan and I made two purchases this weekend: industrial-looking stools for the kitchen island and a vessel sink for the master bathroom. The sink will sit atop a fantastic old cupboard that we found at a local antique shop a few weekends ago. The combination of the modern sink and the rustic base should be fab. And you won't believe where we purchased both the sink and the bar stools...COSTCO. The online prices are unbelievable and shipping is included.

Costco garage stool: $49.99

Costco square vessel sink: $89.99 (pop-up drain included!)

We also bid on Ebay for a wall-mounted faucet for the vessel sink that looks like this:

Here's the base for the vessel sink.

Lily, our yellow lab, had to check it out...

And then she posed with it...

And then her brother Gus wanted in on the action...

I guess it's about time the other half of our family made their appearance on the blog!

Found a couch!

So after recovering from the disappointment over our doomed order (and a lot more researching), we think we've finally found a modern, eco-friendly, affordable couch for our new home. Introducing the the Giselle from Boston Interiors!

It's currently on sale for $799 (normally $899) and the website says they deliver nationwide (although you can't purchase furniture online). And here's the great part. It seems to be eco-friendly. "All wood is renewable and harvested from American sources. Cores are 10-15% soy based chemicals. All non-toxic water based glue used in frames and cushions. Foam is free of CFC." Woohoo!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Window selection

Although I have been researching windows for awhile, I am just now beginning the process of eliciting quotes from manufacturers. We want the most energy efficient window possible...but are looking for something that's cost efficient, as well. After doing some reading, we've ruled out vinyl and wood. It seems like fiberglass is the best product on the market. There are a number of manufacturers of fiberglass windows. The most readily available in this area is Marvin's Integrity All-Ultrex line. We initially assumed this would be our choice. The price is reasonable and there is a Marvin showroom and distributor less than 5 miles from our building site in Williston. However, the Integrity line does not yet include casements and awnings (of which we have quite a few in our plans). I talked to a rep. from the company two weeks ago and he said he thought it was unlikely that those options would be available by next summer when we build. Frustrating. Marvin's Infinity All-Ultrex has the options we want but it is a more expensive line.

On the up side, this little snag has given me time to reflect on our original decision to go with Marvin and to investigate whether there are other comparable options within our budget. In reading wonderfully helpful posts from fellow bloggers on their window decisions, I have learned of other companies that produce excellent fiberglass windows. I can't express how helpful and educational following the building experiences of other bloggers has been. Read these couple of posts to gain an even richer understanding of the differences between the various fiberglass options available.

The guys building the 100k house in Philly are debating between Marvin and Accurate Dorwin. Jason Hammond (From the Ground Up blog) chose Accurate Dorwin. The folks over at EcoDeep Haus went with Inline.

I sent off emails to all of the following this morning to begin the quoting process:

Accurate Dorwin (Winnipeg, Canada)
Inline (Toronto, Canada)
Fibertec (Toronto, Canada)
Thermotech (Ottawa, Canada)
Marvin Integrity (can be purchased locally)

I'll keep the blog updated with quotes as we receive them.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Industrial floor coating

In reading the 100k house blog (fantastic blog based in my old stomping ground, Philly), I came across a mention of Eco Tuff Industrial Floor Coating. I did some research and found this information from the product's website:

"Eco-Tuff is a single component, zero VOC, high build, high flex ultra tough waterproof coating material. There are no hazardous ingredients, is non-flammable and virtually odorless. It is engineered for the most extreme environments from freezing cold temperatures to the hottest climates around the world. It is capable of withstanding abrasion, UV, chemicals, hot tire pick-up, and submersible applications. May be used on concrete, wood, fiberglass, and metal surfaces."

It looks like an interesting product. It's very green: non-hazardous, zero VOC, LEED compliant, and includes recycled content. Plus, it is waterproof, abrasion resistant, stain resistant, UV resistant, and does not chip, flake or peel. It is a self-leveling material that rolls or sprays on like an epoxy floor and can be applied directly over a plywood subfloor. Assuming competency on the part of the flooring subcontractor, it can give you a smooth finish very similar to that you'd see on factory floors or in industrial warehouses. It comes in a variety colors and several shades of grey, the color we would probably pursue.

This might be the perfect fit for our first-floor needs. We have been looking for something industrial and modern, not too hard (got to watch out for the pups' joints), and eco-conscious. Oh, and did I mention it's relatively affordable? Here is a picture of it applied.

Also, the company provides top-notch customer service. I emailed them yesterday to find out whether the product is compatible with radiant heating systems. They said it would be fine and the heat would pass through the flooring material without a problem. Sounds too good to be true!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Farmhouse table purchased!

So Ryan and I had a very productive day today. We stopped by Five Corners Antiques in Essex Junction...and lucked out. Sitting in the middle of the room when we walked up the stairs was a perfect farmhouse table (7 ft.) with mismatched chairs. We loved its rustic feel. And the juxtaposition of the primitive nature of this piece and our modern kitchen should be great. This is a wonderful store with a fantastic selection of antiques. David, the owner, was kind and gracious, even helping us arrange and re-arrange the chairs until we found the right level of mis-matchedness. We could not have been more pleased with the selection or the service.

Here is a recent article in the Free Press written about David and his shop.

I'll also make a plug for buying used furniture as way of going green. Any day a tree remains standing in the forest instead of being cut to make new furniture is a good day.

Here are some pictures of our beauty from the shop (compliments of David--thanks again!)

Friday, October 24, 2008

More scandinavian inspiration

Skona Hem might be one of my favorite magazines even though I can't read a word of it. Here are some photos of a beautiful apartment they profiled on their website. I heart the combo of rustic, modern and industrial.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

ICF home in New Hampshire

So have we mentioned lately that we lucked out with our builder, Al Rossetto? Technically, he's not our builder. We're acting as our own general contractors and Al has been gracious enough to serve as a consultant on the project as well as the primary sub for elements including foundation, wall system, HVAC and central vac. He's incredibly knowledgeable about green/energy efficient building practices, committed to keeping us on budget and honest as the day is long. And I haven't even begun to describe the kindness he and his wife, Gail, have shown us over the past year. Case in point: we spent the weekend with them in their brand spankin' new SIP home in Lancaster, New Hampshire. They invited us over to see the house and to take a trip down to the southern part of the state to tour the finished product of one of Al's clients, Rouleen, a fellow owner-builder. We spent Saturday and Sunday eating great food, drinking good drinks, talking about green construction, laughing and telling jokes. We felt like part of the family. How many people can say this about their builder? All in all, we feel blessed to have found Al and to be under his care.

Anyway, as mentioned above, part of the purpose of the weekend was to check out Rouleen's recently completed home. She built a full-ICF home meaning both the basement and the first floor are constructed of ICF blocks (Logix, I believe). She put on a traditional truss roof with blown-in insulation.

When we tell folks that we're considering an ICF home, the response we receive is often some version of, "Why would you build a house out of concrete? Won't that be like living in a bunker?" These pictures of Rouleen's home illustrate that ICF homes, just like any other type of home, can be stunningly beautiful. The wall system doesn't dictate the feel and ambiance of the house...the owner/decorator does. You can have a colonial ICF home (like Al and Gail's), a craftsman style ICF home (like Rouleen's) or a million other options. ICF can fit any aesthetic. I didn't once think "bunker" when I was in Rouleen's home. She's done a beautiful job and was such a joy to meet. She was wonderfully helpful with little tips and hints. And she gave us confidence that we, too, could act as owner-builders and could come in on-budget.

The weekend was a blast, Rouleen and her gorgeous home rocked our worlds (as did her pork stew and homemade coleslaw--mmm, mmm good!), and Al and Gail were tremendous hosts, as usual. Our sentiments might change over the course of the next few months....but right now, this home building thing is super fun. Here are some pictures of Rouleen's beauty:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Modern barn interpretation

So we're obviously not building a barn. But we are trying to channel a strong agrarian aesthetic and the shape of our home is quite reminiscent of a barn. So why not glean some inspiration from them? Especially modern ones. I have always been drawn to this particular barn home in New York state. Dwell featured it a few months back and I've been meaning to blog about it but keep forgetting. Enjoy the photos.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Indoor fireflies

I can't help but adore these mason jar pendants. They remind me of the fireflies my sister and I used to catch when we were little. This DIY fixture allows you to hold onto a bit of summer in your home year-round. Lovely. DIY directions at Design Sponge Online.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Swedish inspiration

So as I've perused various magazines and websites over the summer, I've found myself more and more attracted to simple, Scandinavian styles. I love massive amounts of white...on the walls, the floor, the ceiling. I love natural wood, the more rustic the better. And I love spicing up the two materials with a splash of color (red, yellow and blue being particular faves). Oh, and throwing in a couple of raw industrial elements doesn't hurt. In short, I think I am falling in love with Swedish interiors. Here are some inspiration shots that I find myself drooling over...can we bring a Swedish touch to our Vermont farmhouse?

From Desire to Inspire

From Cookie Mag

From Skona Hem

From Materialicious


So it has been awhile since we've posted, we know. But it's been a busy summer. I was out of town most of July for work (and visiting my folks in Bama) and Ryan and I spent half of August in Costa Rica with Sara and Jav. Trip of a lifetime. Anyway, we're back in the game now and buckling down to make some important house decisions. We plan to meet with our primary sub, Al Rossetto, later in the month to review the four quotes we've received from SIP and ICF companies (two from each). We're leaning heavily towards going with ICFs but want to ensure that it makes sense cost-wise.

We also received word yesterday that the sofa we were so excited about from is not coming. It turns out the company is having trouble with its suppliers and is refunding our money. We are disappointed to not have our sofa but appreciate the company's professionalism in the matter. I suppose it's back to square one for our green, affordable sofa hunt. Any ideas?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Help us pick a sofa...(UPDATED)

UPDATE: Upon reading all of the research on the harmful effects of materials and chemicals commonly found in most sofas on the market today, we have decided to forgo the options we listed below (although we still really like the styles). In our search for eco-friendly furniture options, we quickly learned how incredibly expensive they can be. Imagine my delight to stumble across, a California-based company that, according to their website, strives "to positively impact the world by making safe, eco friendly furniture affordable to everyone." They are the first eco-friendly company to offer sofas for under $1500. A variety of sofa styles (including some great modern designs) and configurations are available but all are guaranteed to be made with sustainable, non-toxic, environmentally friendly materials. Here is some more information from their website...

"Did you know that over 90% of furniture is made with materials known to cause global warming, respiratory problems, breast cancer, and even leukemia over extended periods of time? As if that weren’t bad enough, the furniture industry is devastating the world’s forests with their careless harvesting practices. Eco friendly furniture offers a solution to these problems by using non-toxic glues, cushions made from natural materials (soy and latex), and hardwood frames from responsibly managed forests. Good eco furniture also replaces chemically derived fabrics (polyester, nylon, and viscose) with natural fabrics (cotton, hemp, and linen). These simple changes are vital to preserving the planet, and the health of our families. The problem is that most companies who offer eco friendly furniture are price gouging their customers. The average price for an eco sofa is now over $4,300. is not interested in these schemes. Our mission is to positively impact the world by making safe, eco friendly furniture affordable to everyone. In fact, we are the first company to offer genuine eco sofas for under $1,500. We allow you to feel good knowing that your family and the planet are protected at a fair price."

We are placing an order tonight (to take advantage of a 10% off and cushion upgrade sale) for the "Jodie" sofa in "Putty" colored natural hemp fabric. We're so psyched. Granted we'll be spending a bit more than we had planned but we know it's the safest and most responsible choice. An extra $200 or $300 seems like a small price to pay for peace of mind and for maintaining our commitment to going green.

(Original post below)

So as we continue to tackle huge things like what type of wall system to use (we're back to the SIP/ICF debate and are waiting to hear from four companies with bids), I'm keeping myself busy with smaller tasks like picking out cool furniture for our new abode. Today's quest...the perfect sofa for $1000 or less. Here are the top contenders. What's your fave?

Room and Board "Westwood" ($999)

Room and Board "Brooks" ($799)

Pottery Barn Teen Convertible Couch ($799 although not currently in stock, according to PBTeen)

Exclusively Home "Plaza Tufted Sofa" ($685 + free shipping!)

Ikea "Sater" ($399)