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Design Inspirations  Green Talk



Banquette Seating expands useable space

update to blog of February 28, 2010

I'm a big proponent of maximizing the space you are given. Banquette seating is great for the home with the 'small' eating space in the kitchen that really is never big enough for a table and four chairs.  Some people have very small dining rooms that also have the same challenge.     

We just finished a recent project that had this issue.  The clients wanted to be able to seat 8-10 people in their dining space.  We designed/built a banquette that fits nicely under the window sill, coordinates with the other furnishings in the home and accommodates the heat vent.  Plus, the fabric selected is anti-microbial and stain resistant!  A channel in the base funnels the heat from the duct on the wall to the new vent cover in the toe kick.



Both the seats and the back have springs in them similar to commercial grade restaurant booths keeping them comfortable but firm.   The fabric is pulled tight (no loose cushions) and there is a coordinating welt that marries the back of the cushion to the wall.  This contemporary style fits in nicely with the decor and architecture of the home.  It looks like it was meant to be there  - which is what we want.  :)

We have added Banquette Seating to our featured products page, as I am a proponent of locally made custom seating that maximizes space!     As usual, contact me with questions, Chiao!


Green Talk - Nature's Free Energy

Can I ask a dumb question? Since we are YET AGAIN in an crisis over the cost of ENERGY, both in dollars and in the effect on our environment, (nuclear radiation, oil spills), why are we not maximizing the FREE energy of the sun and rain? 

Yes, I know, solar panels are expensive and rainwater harvesting systems can also be pricey.   Plus, I have been informed that our electrical bills are 'too cheap,' and our water and sewage bills are 'too low' to make it worthwhile to conserve water and electricity.    Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't we built big damns to generate this cheap energy?  Damns that destroy our wildlife and block salmon and other fish upstream to spawn?  Also, we (taxpayers of King County),  have built a new sewage treatment plant so 'we need to use it' since we have already paid to have it constructed.  That's like saying we 'can't afford' to recycle because we built a new landfill and we have to fill it up. What is wrong with this?Rainwater storage tanks that will be buried

I'd rather invest in solar energy and rainwater harvesting at my home than pay for a bigger sewage plant.  How can a regular home owner afford solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems?  Our government could offer heavy tax credits for the installation of these systems into homes.   The home owner would benefit by receiving an energy harvesting installation (sun and water) along with ETERNAL SAVINGS on utility bills.  Germany does it. That's why Germany is so energy independent.  Why can't we do it?  What, you say? Our government can't afford to give us tax credits?  Then why are we currently giving $35 BILLION in tax breaks to the oil companies?  Just tell me why.  I'd really like to know.

Comments can be posted at  

Stormwater - Stormwater is a big polluter in our area.  Stormwater is rain and snow melt that runs off surfaces such as rooftops, paved streets, highways, and parking lots. As water runs off these surfaces, it can pick up pollution such as: oil, fertilizers, pesticides, soil, trash, and animal waste. When stormwater goes into a storm drain, it is not treated. It goes directly into Washington waters. Rainwater harvesting and treatment reduces stormwater pollution.


Why are kitchens layouts so Mid-Century?

Have you ever wondered why and who decided that all the washing of the dishes is going to be at the same location as where you wash and peel your vegetables, which is usually the same location as your garbage disposal, which is usually the same location as your garbage can (under the sink) ? I'm sure it made sense 50 years ago or so, but why do we continue with old traditions that do not work any more?

Is there a reason why the layout cannot reflect the way we prep, clean and cook in the 21st century? NO! Let's move forward with our lives! Let's make our environments work for us, not the other way around!

It makes sense to separate the 'prep' area from the 'clean up' area.  The clean up area can have the large sink, and dishwasher.  The garbage can should be in a 'pull out' by the clean up area NOT under the sink.  The pull out garbage unit should have TWO bins, one for regular garbage and a second one for recycling.

The 'prep' area should have it's own sink such as the Crevasse  from Kohler.   This has been my favorite sink (and an under appreciated one)since it came out a couple years ago.  You can scrape your scraps right off the cutting board into the narrow sink drain which is compatible with all garbage disposal styles.  Plus you can either center that sink on an island allowing access for two people across from another, or, you can pull that sink closer to you towards the edge of the counter.  You can also straddle the sink with the cutting board and toss your scraps off on the side into the sink.  All sorts of options! One push of a button and 'whoosh!' water flows down the angled sink, bring all the scraps into the garbage disposal.  Now that's progress!

Plus, I'm sure you Seattle-ites know that I didn't forget the composting garbage bin!  This type of garbage should be located by the 'prep' area NOT at the main sink.  Check out this model whose lid opens and the entire unit slides forward as the door is opened.  No more food marks on the lid!  As you know, the tops are important in order to contain the small of these bins.  The inner container has a built-in handle for easy removal.  All of these composting bins are necessarily small, because you just do not want to have that much food rotting in your house.

Now don't get me started on refrigeration!

Contact me (206) 517-4424 if you have questions or more solutions! Ciao!


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