Saturday, February 27, 2010

Progress Report: Siding!

Go ahead, let out a little scream. I did! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Daylighting: Transoms and Solar Tubes

Our architects educated us about the benefits of installing windows and other openings to provide indoor lighting via natural light--also known as "daylighting." After our brains were filled with knowledge, we were certain we had to include daylighting options in our home design. It just makes sense.

Today, transoms and a solar tube populate our home, brightening up the small space, and helping us save energy by reducing our artificial light dependence. Passive solar windows that help regulate temperature will also provide natural light as well as help to keep our heating/cooling costs down.

Transoms—fixed interior windows—are built into our guest bedroom and first floor bathroom. In the photo below, you can see the transom window above the first floor shower. On the other side of the wall is the kitchen.

A solar tube (one of the most technologically-advanced daylighting systems available) in the second floor bathroom will provide an abundance of natural light. You can see the rooftop dome in the photo below. The tube is lined with reflective material, which will capture daylight and bring it into our home. Even low angle sunlight can be captured and redirected into the tube through this system.

We're excited to see just how much light these features will provide us with when we're living in our home and using these rooms regularly.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Interior Progress: Framing and Drywall

As promised, here are some shots of the inside of our home. It's getting there!

Below is a photo of our front door. It's located on the east side of our home within the screened-in porch. We anticipate our screened-in porch to act as our "mudroom," housing all of the dirty/snowy/muddy shoes. When you walk in the house, the stairway is immediately to your left. Downstairs leads to the basement, upstairs to the loft.

The railing on the stairs is only temporary. We’re going to have a wood/cable system, which we think will make our cozy home feel a bit more open. Plus, we think it looks cool.

And here is a picture of our guest bedroom, located on the north side of the house.

Below, is our first floor bathroom. The antique corn chopper-turned-sink vanity will sit directly where that white tube is now. Our “outdoor” light fixture will be installed where the metal disc/wiring is now. The shower (with a tub!) and dual-flush toilet will be on your left.

Here’s a pretty dark shot of our kitchen. That beam you see running across the ceiling is there to stay, but will get a face-lift. Our salvaged kitchen sink will go right under the window on the west wall, our fridge will be on the north wall to the right of the smaller sized window and our pantry/laundry room to the right of the fridge. Our countertop will be U-shaped and the side closest to the living area will have extra counter space and room for bar stools across from the stovetop.

From the kitchen, you’ll look out into the main living area pictured below—only, you know, there won’t be all that stuff in the way of the awesome view.

Walk upstairs and you’ll come face to face with the office which will also have a Murphy bed installed to accommodate more visitors than can fit in the first floor guest bedroom. Continue down the hallway to the master bathroom, which features purple walls!

Just kidding, that’s just our drywall! The dual-flush toilet will be on the north wall, right under the window. Our salvaged sink vanity will be to the left of the shower. There’s also going to be some sort of wall shelving to accommodate our toiletries since our vanity has no drawers. We’re currently looking into antique medicine cabinets.

On the far side of the loft sits our master bedroom. If you were looking up at the space from the living area, typically the railing would end where the master bedroom starts and a solid wall would enclose the space. Instead, we are going to install barn doors that will open up and allow one to look down to the first floor. We think this will keep the open loft feeling. We'll probably leave these doors open most of the time and close them when visitors come to stay. Here is a photo looking out of our bedroom to help you visualize.

When all is said and done, there will be a railing in front of the barn doors to keep us upstairs, in case we get too close to the edge. Below is a rough idea of what we are intending to accomplish.

Hope you enjoyed the tour! Stay tuned for our countertop, paint and daylighting choices.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Progress Report: Decking!

We spend a lot of time outdoors. That's why we were thrilled to see that so much progress had been made on the outdoor living areas of our home.

We based our decking choice on durability and long life cycle, and decided on AZEK decking, a material made out of cellular PVC (with no wood fiber mixed in). It is mold, mildew, scratch, split and fade resistant. Yes, it's plastic, and many might argue that plastic isn’t “green.” But it will never decompose—making its lifespan indefinite, and it's purported to be recyclable.

It was breathtaking to see the deck in person. And I'm certain it's going to be my favorite "room" of the house. It gets so much sun--when we last visited, the deck was covered in snow in the morning, and had melted by the time we left the house, only an hour or two later.



The screened-in porch on the east side of our home is shaping up nicely too! We're hoping to take as much advantage of the outdoors as possible--while escaping the dreaded "black fly season" in early summer.

Stay tuned for views inside our home!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Benefits of Going Carpet Free

We’ve been getting asked a lot lately why we chose to use hard surface flooring throughout our whole house. It seems lots of people think our home will look and feel cold without wall-to-wall carpeting. I’m here to tell you it won’t!

Here’s why we decided to forgo the fuzzy floors:

Off-gassing- There are a lot of chemicals that make up the face fibers, primary backing, and secondary backing of carpeting. These pollutants are off-gassed into the air for quite some time after the carpet is installed. Some of these gases are even considered toxic—to both the environment and homeowners themselves.

Allergens- Dust, pollen, pesticides and soil are tracked in and kept in wall-to-wall carpeting through the bottoms of shoes—and it’s next to impossible to eliminate these offenders. Inefficient vacuums even cause dust and allergens to become airborne.

To remind you, this is what we’ve chosen for our flooring as an alternative to wall-to-wall carpeting:

First floor living area, first floor bathroom and second floor bathroom: We’ll be installing Vermont slate in these areas as it's sourced locally, takes advantage of the passive solar design and incorporates additional thermal mass. Our radiant heating coupled with warmth from the sun means our floors should be nice and toasty!

First floor kitchen and guest bedroom: Cork flooring will go in these rooms. We chose cork as it’s natural, durable, anti-allergenic and thermally insulated. That’s right—cork will reduce heat loss in rooms and even body heat loss through your feet. It also naturally maintains a comfortable median temperature.

Second floor office, hallway and bedroom: We loved the look of hardwood, so opted for fast-growing bamboo rather than using wood from disappearing forests. It’s sustainable, durable and attractive. Radiant heating will keep these rooms from feeling frosty underfoot!

If you're still worried, don't be. The house will "feel" even warmer when we throw down some cheery area rugs!

P.S. You can see photos of our flooring choices in this previous post.