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Design Inspirations  Green Talk




Bless those in power that use their power to help humanity.

Bless the designers that improve the quality of life of people

Bless those that create healthy interiors and exterior environments, those that create healing enabling spaces.

Bless the customers that sustain the design profession

Bless those that are able and working, bless those that are poor

Bless those that are ill and let us pray for their healing

Bless those that care for the ill, those that give to the ill

Bless those that mourn the passing of loved ones

Those that comfort the ones who mourn

Those that love unconditionally

Bless those that carried you when you could not walk

Those that held you when you could not stand

That caught you when you fell.

To our loved ones - You are not forgotten, You are loved.

Dedicated to James Y Suzuki, Patricia Ann Spain, George T Suzuki, Hiro Suzuki, Tomiko Suzuki, Tosh Kojima, Mary Ima, Paul Ima, Eunice Spain, Thomas Spain, Gerald Lutz, Margie & Norio Harui, Kevin Liu, Ben Oh, Marcelle Bitton, Zillah Levine, Charles Wischman, Donald Joseph Strathern


When does your back yard belongs to someone else?

I was trimming overgrown bushes and trees in my back yard when the neighbor directly behind my yard informed me that he was going to obtain 4' of my back yard for his own use!  It turns out that the home and property that I purchased in 1989 has an alley easement of 8' in the back yard.  This easement has been on our properties (on the east side of block) for approximately 100 years, way before the other side of the block (west side) was even platted.  **Important - the properties on the west side of the block do not line up with the east side, in other words SOME of my backyard lines up with this neighbor but not all of it.  Talking to the east side neighbors revealed that all of our 'old' fences  incorporate the alley into the properties on the east side of the block.  

I went ahead and replaced the old fence that had partially already fallen down (that divides me from my north neighbor) and was promptly given a letter from the city of Seattle DOT stating that I was violating the public access to the alley by replacing the fence.  Now, I want you to know that my house is not on the end of the block but in the middle.  The entire block has incorporated this 'alley' into their back yards.  At one point I suggested that I just remove the part of the fence that I replaced that sits on the 'alley' and I was told 'NO, you have to get a permit to remove the fence.' WHAT??? 

I found out that my neighbor to the north also received a letter about the fence.  Apparently he and I are the target of this aggressive neighbor who happens to be a city employee with clout.  So after approximately 26 years of use, there is a possibility that my back fence will be jagged, partially bumped into my yard 4'-8'.   My north neighbor and I will have to apply to use this alley space ($344 application fee, $140 year per structure meaning a fence or swing or tool shed) AND SOMEONE can appeal the city's decision to grant us the use permit, denying us use of the space that we have been maintaining for many years.

Consolation was given by my friend Vidal who promptly saw the 'zen' of the fallen trimmed tree and built a pond UNDER it.  This beautiful Zen water garden provides peace while I await the city's decision on how to proceed.

Reflecting on nature's beauty, Christine


Award winning Kitchen!

Christine Suzuki, ASID, LEED AP  (me!), was awarded First Place for Residential Small Kitchen, in ASID's 2015 Awards of Excellence competition.  I love all of my design projects but it is nice when we receive confirmation that others love them as well!

This kitchen is in a small condo on Queen Anne hill. The original kitchen was a small rectangular room with two entrances, one from the hall, the second from the dining room. My role in this project was to create a space that looked and felt bigger, create an island with a breakfast bar and to add ‘a little bling.’  .  We removed the wall separating the dining from the kitchen and added an island with a breakfast bar.  We also bumped the back wall of the kitchen into the bedroom behind it giving us extra room to maneuver.  I like to minimize any protrusions into the space, so I selected the recessed finger pulls for the cabinetry.  

The opaque glass insert create a feeling of space as well.  The richness of the brandy stained cherry cabinets is balanced by the warm yellow color of the cork floor. We created a ‘feature’ wall behind the sink with glittering round metal tiles, centering the upper cabinets.  The hanging metal hood doubles as a light fixture.  All the upper cabinets are a double bi-fold tilt up style which makes it easy to access all items in the cupboards while retaining a clean horizontal line.  The large pantry cabinet to the left of the dishwasher is actually a 6” deep cabinet that is fit within the studs of the wall behind it.  

We also created an upper U shaped drawer for the sink cabinet to gain precious storage space.  The challenges for this project are typical of a condo, we needed to keep the drainage and venting in the same locations.  The cement radiant heat ceiling meant that we had to create a lowered ceiling with shallow recessed lights.  The old elevator was small and we were challenged in getting the granite counters up to the fifth floor.  The ending result, however, was outstanding and the clients have enjoyed this Seattle get away ever since.


To Breathe or Not to Breathe - Air Quality that kills

My friend Vidal had to be rushed to the emergency because of an inability to BREATHE.  The doctor said that he had a virus in his lungs.  His regular doctor had told him that he had ‘exercise induced asthma.’   Neither one could explain why it occurred only at his home.  Was it allergies? Food allergies?  Dust mites?  Pet dander?  Environmental pollution? All of the above?  On top of a virus in the lungs and exercise induced asthma?  The medicine given at the emergency room worked only temporarily and the inhaler barely helped at all.  Daily cleaning of the house was not enough. 

FINALLY, at the recommendation of a friend, he found an air filter that solved the problem.  Not just any air filter, because he already had three air filters in his house and still had problem breathing.  This air filter was different.  ORECK air filters clean the air significantly better than their competitors.  The difference was immediate.  He was able to breathe in his own home.  Even I could ‘breathe’ the difference.  It wasn’t a smell or lack of a smell, it was actually easier to breathe with this filter on.  HEPA filters have been the best that any of us could get to clear air but  ORECK has a better permanent filter called the Truman Cell.** 

Last week, I walked out of the house and promptly started coughing and clearing my throat.  WHY?  Because of smoke that came to Seattle from wild fires east of the mountains.  These terrible fires that were destroying forestry and homes on the other side of the mountains brought carcinogenic smoke to Seattle.   Fog today?  No, just smoke hiding the sun.  It has been stated that indoor air quality is 5 times worse than outdoor air quality.  Is that still true?  Or is it now safer to breathe inside air rather than outside air?  Do we have a choice?


**HEPA filters capture 99.97% of particles from the air passing through the filter, preventing them from moving through to the other side. HEPA filters will eventually capture so many particles (depending on usage and environment) that their efficiency is compromised — and they will have to be replaced. Permanent filters, also known as electrostatic precipitators (or EP filters), are composed of a series metal plates and wires. Particles from the air are positively charged as they enter the cell wires and then are attracted to negatively charged plates (much like a magnet) where they stick until cleaned off. Whatever the type of air purifier and filter used, note that all the air in a room may not pass through the filter.







Soft Modern Kitchen

What is soft modern?  Modern design without the ‘coldness’ of what we associate with modern.  Soft Modern incorporates ‘tactical’ elements to balance against smoothness, ‘friendly’ colors that are muted and relaxing.  Round shapes are allowed to associate with rectangular shapes.  I was happy to be selected as the designer for this Soft Modern kitchen.

 I call this kitchen ‘Earth Water & Air’ because of the materials selected and their relationship to these natural elements.  Usually, a design using ‘natural materials’ has a dominant color of browns which represent wood.  In this case, soft reflective gloss green cabinets remind us of water,  little globe lights bubble in the atmosphere.  Blue and green mosaic tile creates a sense of air or smoke going up the hood and the satin textured granite counters say ‘stone’ in the very basic sense of the word.  The granite has a very subtle color without normal busyness of granite patterning.  The ‘hand’ of the stone, a subtle but distinct texture, along with the color, was the basis of the entire design, providing our first strong relationship to nature.  The enlarged windows allow this family to be ‘one’ with the outside elements.

Take a look at all the pictures of this kitchen on our website under portfolio/kitchens.  

With gratitude, Christine