August 30, 2009

Design Postcard from Nantucket - House Tour and Favorite Resources

Brant Point Lighthouse

I recently attended the 54th Annual House Tour, hosted by The Nantucket Garden Club. Their tours are always a design-inspiring summer highlight. This season, we were treated to beautiful homes on the beach in the Brant Point area of the island. I would love to share photos, but alas, no picture-taking allowed in these gracious private homes. My favorite space was a sea-glass-color dining room. We soon learned that it had been created by Victoria Hagan, one of my favorite designers.

Undeterred by a drizzly day, we then hit some of my favorite shops in town.

Always my first stop:
COASTAL Vintage Home and Garden.

A perfect blend of organic, sea-inspired pieces
mixed with industrial touches and European flair, Coastal is my kind of place...
and one I plan to visit again when it is time
to furnish and accessorize THE CONCORD GREEN HOME.

Coastal's owner, Karen Fisher, sharpened her gorgeous aesthetic vision during years spent
as VP Merchandising at Calvin Klein in New York - the bastion of minimalist, textural design - and it shows, throughout the inviting retail space she has created.

A vintage zinc-topped table and organic linens,
attended by mid-century modern wire chairs that cross somewhere between
the famous
Eames Molded Plastic Armchair and the airy Bertoia Diamond Chair.

Nice proportions on this long narrow table in reclaimed wood.

Next stop: Nantucket Looms

This island mainstay epitomizes the classic Nantucket vibe.

With a hand-weaving studio on its second floor, Nantucket Looms offers a wide selection of all-natural textile accents for the home...

... as well as lovely casegoods and upholstered pieces.

On to: Anderson's Fine Gifts, which specializes in beachy accessories...

... like these table top delicacies...

... and framed sea fans + sand dollars.

And if you have the time before the idyllic ferry ride back to reality, grab lunch at The Galley Restaurant, adjacent to the Cliffside Beach Club. In my opinion, its the best spot on the island for dining right on the water. Plus, it offers casually elegant Nantucket design from every vantage point.

Photos via


August 25, 2009

A "Must Read" for a Healthy House

I wish I had found this book earlier. Like me, these authors - an architect, a doctor and an environmental health scientist - have all experienced first-hand the difficult long term effects of indoor air pollution, now "one of the top four environmental health risks identified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)". Also like me, none of them had intended to focus their life's work on healthy design -- that is, until they personally learned how critically important it is.

Just 35 years ago, things were different. Before the energy crisis of the 70's, buildings were not sealed tightly. They also didn't contain the thousands of synthetic chemicals that are now an every day part of the most commonly used building materials. Most people are simply unaware of the many toxins present in their homes, schools and workplaces, and more importantly, of the ill effects caused by repeat exposures.

Thankfully, these pitfalls are easy to avoid if one is informed. In a step-by-step manner that smartly follows the sequential phases of construction, Prescriptions for a Healthy House shows you how to ensure that your family's indoor environment will be safe... providing the do's and don't of building methods and materials selection in an accessible, easy to follow format. I suggest a little additional research to see if there are even better alternatives introduced into the marketplace since the book's most recent edition was published.

Check it out at your local library, or online at Amazon.

Here's one of my favorite healthy houses featured on
This Old House's website:

Architect: David Webber; Photos: Casey Dunn


August 24, 2009

Why A Standing Seam Metal Roof is Sustainable

Credit: Iron Horse Standing Seam Roofing Co.

I am pleased to announce that
Iron Horse Standing Seam Roofing Co.
has signed on as a Sponsor of

  • RECYCLABLE - Made from recycled materials that are 100% recyclable
  • LIGHTER - 3x lighter than asphalt
  • ENERGY EFFICIENT - High solar reflectance bounces sunlight and heat away from home, thereby significantly reducing cooling loads, which account for 1/6th of all electricity generated in the US each year.
  • MOISTURE PROTECTION - Snow slips right off. Ice dams that cause serious structural damage never have the chance to form, which is why you find so many metal roofs dotting the New England countryside. Plus, the structure stays dry, thereby avoiding unhealthy mold growth.
  • DURABILITY - Can last a lifetime. This is not the 'ole tin roof on the barn. Far outlasts asphalt, which contributes 13 billion pounds of waste to US landfills annually.
  • RAINWATER HARVESTING - A good option if you are considering collecting rainwater for irrigation of your gardens. The smoother, cleaner and more impervious the roof surface, the higher the water quality and volume that can be collected. Be sure to research the best finishes for your intended use.
Iron Horse hails from Vermont (a.k.a. MadCow Roofing in NH), where they know how to shed snow. They exclusively install Englert Metal Roofing.

Credit: Englert Inc.

A pretty modern-day farmhouse
in the Berkshire Mountain region of Western Massachusetts,
sporting it's metal top.

Architect: Andy Burr, FAIA; Photo: Ken Gutmaker, via Residential Architect Online

Wow! You can even use it on the ceiling. That's, uh, "thinking inside the box". :)

Credit: Iron Horse Standing Seam Roofing Co.

Check out Bob Vila's Vermont Farmhouse Standing-Seam Metal Roof Basics
to learn more about how this type of roofing is installed.

August 21, 2009

One Week Farmhouse: Foundation to Rafters in 7 Days

Amazing to watch a house come together so quickly. Save the roof sheathing and the front porch, the volumes of THE CONCORD GREEN HOME are set.

With its bare wood exposed and the green Raindrop house wrap starting to show, the house is calling quite a bit of visual attention to itself. Once it's clad in simple clapboard, with a farmhouse roof on its head, landscaping at its feet, and the beautiful birch tree is replanted out front, this home will settle humbly back into its lovely surroundings, and hopefully -- if we have done our job well -- look like it has always been there.

Let's review the framing days, just for fun:

Day 1: Subfloor

Day 2: Walls of first floor

Day 3: Second floor walls. Stop and wait for more materials to arrive.

Day 4: Finish second floor walls

Day 5: Attic subfloor

Day 6: Gables going up.

Day 7: Roof rafters (Time to adjust the camera angle.)

The sweet attic dormer that survived several budget cuts. Glad it made it.

August 17, 2009

There's a new kid on the block... a lesson in Fast Framing.

A view from the park.
THE CONCORD GREEN HOME begins to take shape.

Hello Neighbors. Nice to meet you.

Construction always takes longer than planned, right? This past week, the opposite occurred. The panelized subfloor, first floor and part of the second floor went up so quickly - two days in fact - that the crew had to quit working until today when the next shipment of panels from Connor Homes arrived. Wow. I like panelized construction. A lot.

8:20 Wednesday morning, the walls started to go up.

Just 7 hours later, the first floor walls with all the door and window openings are done.

By 3 o'clock the next day, Aedi's crew was so far ahead of schedule, they had to quit until today.

Even the park views are nicely "framed".
The job site stays incredibly clean.

Patrick, our site supervisor, said that the dumpster is still almost empty. If this job were stick-built, the waste would be piling up, and multiple dumpsters would be trucking out to the landfill.
Yes, panelized construction is a good thing.

August 10, 2009

Let the Framing begin!

THE CONCORD GREEN HOME's first floor arrives from Vermont today. In anticipation, the youngest member of our family got a head start on the framers, with a scaled model of the foundation and first floor.

Like a giant Lego kit, the framing components are unloaded from the Connor Homes truck.

Whew. This panelized construction can be exhausting.

Not a bad daylighting study. :)

August 9, 2009

Inspiration Photos for a "New Old" Farmhouse

Here are a few inspirational design photos that illustrate my vision for THE CONCORD GREEN HOME's aesthetic - a comfortable, elegantly simple place.

Love this exterior color palette. White clapboard, light gray standing seam metal roof and natural stone.
Estes Twombly Architects.

Another good example - Sara Taylor House
Connor Homes

Beautiful front entry.

A light and airy living room in Wellesley, MA.
Architect: D. Michael Collins.

A wonderful creamy kitchen. Love the marble countertops, but working on greener options.
Frank Randolph.

Excellent daylighting. This garden kitchen was featured
in Southern Accents Magazine's Top 10 Kitchens.

Lots of great interior elements...horizontal plank on wainscot and ceiling, reclaimed flooring, industrial farm pendant. Perfect.
Carrier and Company

Warm white mix, both from Butik Biskopsgarden
Photo: Mari Eriksson

(Apologies for unknown sources/credits. If you know a source, please note it in Comments and I will happily update. Thank you.)

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