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Design Inspirations  Green Talk



Nature & Designs Inspired by it

Many designers have been inspired by nature, Frank Lloyd Wright designed Falling Water to be site

specific and to mimic the rock ledges of the water fall.  Antonio Gaudi designed his Sagrada Familia cathedral where he created branching columns in the shape of a trees complete with foliage.

 There is something about nature that inspires us, perhaps it is the grandeur, perhaps the simplicity, perhaps it is the quietness of the moment.  My design inspirations have always come from natural materials, the quality of the natural light and the way it is filtered.  I find myself always trying to bring the outside in.  Listening for the sound of water, rustling of leaves, chirping of birds.


There is a sense of peace that hits the base of my soul when I am in nature.  Since I realistically spend 97% of my time indoors, I believe I am 'destined' to constantly manipulate my interior surroundings to try to recreate that 'natural 'experience.  My guess is that becoming an interior designer was the wisest decision I've made.

"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature."  Frank Lloyd Wright



Sustainability & Interior Design Articles

I've been writing a monthly column about sustainable interior design called "Green Talk"  for around two years.  The main audience has been interior designers, but I now realize that the content may be of interest to any and all of my clients and customers.  From now on I will post the article on this blog for your reading pleasure.  For past articles I have posted links to  The following is the February issue of


Take care of Nature or Nature will take care of you.

Alicia Silva, Allied ASID, LEED AP, used to say that polluting our environment is like "peeing in the swimming pool." Even if you were not the person who peed in the swimming pool, you are part of humanity that has to swim in it. As our world gets smaller, we are increasingly aware that we are all connected. When one person pees in the pool, we all have to swim in it. From the scarcity of certain shellfish to controversies on oil drilling and our dependency on oil, to social conflict half way around the world, we share our joys and pains with the rest of the world, and they with us. Our "green" movement has to encompass more than just us, be bigger than the Northwest, and cover more territory than the United States. It really HAS to be a global movement.

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece
of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by
the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's
death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and
therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for

– John Donne


Selecting Counters for your Kitchen

Remodeling a kitchen is a big project and selecting the right counter can make or break your project.   The three main considerations that everyone needs to address are:

a)  Durability/wear ability

b)  Installed Price

c)  Color & patterning in relation to other materials in your kitchen

For kitchen counters the durability debate has been between granite and quartz with stainless steel and marble being thrown by the wayside. (picture:  Vyara Gold granite counter)

QUARTZ:  The truth is, if you want a counter that never stains and has a consistent pattern and color without variation, you need to stick with manmade quartz products (Silestone, Caesarstone, etc)  These products are made with real quartz stone in a binding resin.  The upside is that you have a durable counter that will withstand heat and will be the exact color and pattern as the sample that you were given.  Another positive is that you can select 'patterns' that look like limestone or marble but have the durability of the quartz material.  The downside is that it is just as expensive as granite and you do not get the unique variations that natural stone provides.

GRANITE:  is extremely dense and therefore is less likely to stain in comparison to other natural stones.  Granite is a stone, a natural material.  All natural materials can absorb stains, just in varying degrees.  All natural stone counters should have be sealed to protect the stone against staining. The beauty of granite is the unique one of a kind patterning available in a multitude of color variations.  The downside of granite can be the intense pattern activity (It can be very busy)

MARBLE:  This is a neglected beauty of a stone.  Yes, is is slightly less dense than granite, making it more prone to staining.  But if you have been to Europe, you probably sat at marble tables and counters and walked on marble tiles that have been installed for hundreds of years - and they look great!    Marble has less veining than granite, giving it an elegant look.  Marble is a favorite of pastry chefs, both professional and ameteur.    I often add marble counters into a kitchen design for a contrast to the primary counter material.  Marble tends to be less expensive than granite or quartz.

STAINLESS STEEL:  Another neglected material.  It is durable and you do not have to worry about matching colors.  Scratches blend together to become invisible (think of your stainless sink.)  Be careful of reflecting under cabinet lights onto a stainless steel counter.  Either select a different type of light source for task lighting or keep the stainless counter away from upper cabinets.

ALTERNATIVE materials:  There are numerous counter top products that should be considered, but are too numerous to explore in this article.  They range from recycled glass, recycled porcelain, recycled paper, recycled walnut shells, etc.  The durability of these products range from marble to granite in comparison and vary just as much in price. 

The CHALLENGE for a successful kitchen design is to coordinate the patterns and colors of the cabinetry, the flooring, and the counters.  A very strong patterned granite can 'take over' the personality of the kitchen.  This can be a good thing, OR it is the nightmare of the home owner ('all I see is the busy granite!') 

The QUESTION that you want to ask yourself is 'What do I want to be the visual star of attraction in my kitchen?'  If it is not the counter, then you want to stay away from most granites (the exception being black absolute, which has little to no pattern.)  The pickle that many homeowners find themselves, is that they have already selected/installed the flooring as well as the cabinetry and then they start looking at counters.   If your selections for flooring and cabinets cannot be changed, your good options for kitchen counters are extremely limited.  

The best advice I can give is to hire professional to help you successfully coordinate your patterns & colors and avoid the pitfalls that can present themselves in this extremely expensive venture.



Painting your bedroom for health & wellness

We spend 6-8 hours a day sleeping in our bedrooms.  What we are surrounded by, what we breathe, touch, see and feel, all affects our health and well being.  Many of us are blissfully unaware of the chemicals in the backing of our carpet, the VOC's in the paint on our walls, or the toxins in our bed covers.  Many of us are also unaware of the HEALTH BENEFITS of painting your bedroom.

1)  Specific colors/color frequencies can help relax your body, reduce tension, lower blood pressure.

2)  Paint with zero VOC's is good for your health.  The alternative being paint with VOC's (VOCs are volatile organic compounds, which are chemicals that off-gas into the air and into your lungs.  Yes, they are bad for your health.)

3)  Painters that are EPA Certified Renovators know how to provide the extra care needed to keep the dust and related particles contained and away from your loved ones and pets.  (This includes lead dust from lead paint that might be on a layer of paint on your home that is older than 1978)

Of course, I cannot flaunt this information without offering a package deal for the Valentines day month of February!  FEBRUARY SPECIAL:  Professional color CONSULTATION, zero-VOC PAINT, and professional EPA certified Painters to paint your bedroom for only $400.  Call or email me for more information! 206-517-4424 (Restrictions apply, projects must be scheduled by Feb 28, 2011 to qualify for this offer.)


Light & privacy-balancing the benefits

Natural light is a wonderful commodity.  It provides a sense of the outside  a connection to nature, and a peacefulness that settles our circadian needs.  Whenever possible, the addition of skylights or solar tubes in your home is the best investment for your interior health.  The light that comes through a skylight is significantly brighter and more expansive than the light that comes through a window.  The light that comes through a window is often shadowed by a roof overhang, or, gasp, it may be facing north and receive a dimmer light than the south side. 

Glass is commonly the material of choice to allow natural light into homes and offices.  Because of its transparency, the use of glass will make a space look and feel bigger.  Glass has its downside, however, generally in regards to privacy.  There are several options to consider:

1) When presented with the choice of having windows with natural light or looking into your neighbors bedroom, we chose a third option in this bathroom.  We added decorative film onto the windows, creating a 'light diffuser.'  To coordinate, we installed the same film onto the glass of the adjoining closet door.  

This decorative fim has a 'scratch' pattern to it, however there are many other choices, a popular one being the rice paper pattern. 


2)  The next picture shows upper cabinets with etched glass inserts.  We still get the benefits of glass, however the view through the etched glass is slightly diffused.   The apples were pulled forward in this picture to be seen.  Anything 3" back from the glass is seen as a blissful blur. (Do you want to arrange the interior of your kitchen cabinets?  I don't!)  Also, recent tests with AV equipment confirm that remote controls WILL work through etched glass.


3)  My latest favorite is the next alternative - Lumicor.  Lumicor is an architectural product  made of resin panels fused together with textural items placed between the panels.  In this case, there are reeds that are between the panels creating a very unique interesting texture.  Lumicor panels are also used as shower enclosures, light diffusers, inserts into french doors and counters.

4)  I recently founda 4th option from my colleague Tish Oye of Glassworks.

Glassworks designs, fabricates and installs kiln-formed glass, which “embosses” flat glass with interesting textures and patterns.  It can be made in clear glass or any color to match your interiors.  In addition, the glass inserts can be made of 100% recycled glass.  As with all Glassworks glass, it is inert, does not emit any VOC’s has a very long life and is easily recyclable, unlike acrylics and/or resins.  This picture shows the slumped glass option.  I hope you’ll keep this option in mind when thinking of using glass!