December 29, 2010

In Praise of Bed Alcoves

Extreme Bed Alcoves
Hotel Aire de Bardenas in Spain via Remodelista

In his landmark tome (and my favorite architectural book of all), A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander explains why Bed Alcoves are a winning design idea.

Pattern #188 - Bed Alcove 

Bedrooms make no sense. 
Don't put single beds in empty rooms called bedrooms, but instead put individual bed alcoves off rooms with other nonsleeping functions, so the bed itself becomes a tiny private haven.

 Floor plan view of Bed Alcove
Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language

Imagine having full use of rooms that go largely uninhabited during the day, just because there is a big bed hogging the middle.  Bed alcoves save so much space, you might find yourself being able to build significantly smaller, or forgo that addition altogether.  Plus, they are an incredibly cozy and delightful place to sleep.  That is why all of the bedrooms in THE CONCORD GREEN HEALTHY HOME will employ Alexander's clever pattern.

Some inspiration:

Kid favorite
Clearly, designer Suzanne Kasler is a big fan of the bed alcove concept, as these next three photos show:


Cottage - unknown, Modern - Piet Boon, Exotic - unknown, Kid Favorite - Sandell Sandberg.

December 17, 2010

First Look: Front Entry is Complete

Welcome to
Photo: Lisa Kauffman Tharp

In good interior design, one signals the style of the home's interior right as you step inside the front door.   THE CONCORD GREEN HEALTHY HOME is no exception.   The entry is a simply elegant blend of "rough luxe" - that's rustic and refined - with thick bluestone flooring, wicker and antique wood, all counterbalanced by a delicate Murano glass chandelier.

The aesthetics belie the design's healthy and energy-efficient features.

Look beyond the beauty of the reproduction stripped-pine bench, and you will find its healthy attribute: it provides ample shoe storage under its lift-up seat lid, thereby keeping dust, dirt, and pesticides from tracking inside.

A "runner" of bluestone laid from the front door to the french doors that lead out to the rear garden provides a durable path for kids running through the house.  All the while, the stone is busy absorbing passive solar gain from the sun's rays each morning, which captures big energy savings in this super-insulated home.


Hudson Bench - Bradshaw Kirchofer

Glass Chandelier - Murano

French Market Basket - Mainly Baskets

Pillows - custom by me - Kauffman Tharp Design

Door Mat - Dash & Albert from Comina

December 11, 2010

Best Practices for Maintaining "House Health" During Remodeling & Repairs

Photo: Lisa Kauffman Tharp

Why are the contractors at THE CONCORD GREEN HEALTHY HOUSE inside a ziplock bag?  Actually, they are utilizing best practices to protect the health of the home's occupants while they make a repair.

Any time you need to open up walls or create any sort of construction disturbance inside your home, here are some important tips for preventing contamination:
  1. Tent - Build a makeshift enclosure of plastic to seal off the work area.  Add a zipper (in red) for easy access.
  2. Negative Air Pressure - Set up a window fan blowing to the exterior within the sealed space.  This will draw any dust, chemicals, etc. outside.
  3. HEPA Vacuum - As you can see in the photo, as dust is stirred up from cutting into the ceiling, the HEPA vacuum is being used to clean up any particulates right away.  Vacuums with HEPA filters clean 99%+ of particulates.  Do NOT use a shop vacuum, as they simply spread the dust around.
  4. Shut & Seal Air Systems - Shut down and seal off vents to any forced hot air/air conditioning/ventilation/filtration systems, in which errant particulates can enter into the ductwork.
A special thanks, as always, to the folks at Aedi Construction, who have utilized these best practices throughout the project.
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