Green Living – Warmboard Radiant Heat

Each week I participate in an interior design “tweet chat” with a number of fabulous designers, vendors, and other trade professionals.  One of my favorite vendors in the chat is Warmboard, a fabulous radiant heating company based out of Aptos, California.  Not only am I jealous of their picturesque location, I am completely inspired by the 35-person company that embodies three of my favorite qualities in a product: creativity, efficiency, and integrity.

Forced air heating system vs. radiant heating system

Forced air heating system vs. radiant heating system

How it works

Okay, let’s be real, I am not the expert on this.  If you want an in-depth explanation, visit the Warmboard website at: http://www.warmboard.com.  For a brief synopsis, read on.

Warmboard is a panel of highly conductive, recycled aluminum mounted onto a new or existing subfloor with small grooves for tubes that carry warm water.  The water emits heat, which is evenly spread across the floor by the conductive panels.  The heat then radiates through the floor and warms your space evenly and efficiently.  The secret to the product is this aluminum panel, which is 2-5 times more conductive than traditional radiant system and allows the water temperature in your system to operate a lower temperature, reducing your overall energy bill.

Warmboard subfloor with aluminum panel and water circulation tube.  The finish floor can be installed directly above this!

Warmboard subfloor with aluminum panel and water circulation tube. The finish floor can be installed directly above this!

Warmboard comes in two versions, the original Warmboard panel (used in new construction) and the Warmboard-R panel (designed for remodels and existing structures). The original panel is a code-approved structural subfloor and radiant panel in one.  The Warmboard-R is a radiant panel that can be installed onto existing slab and subfloors…it can even be installed in walls and ceilings to preserved existing floors!

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An example of the warmboard system installed.

What I love about it

  • Manufacturing: Warmboard is made right here in Northern California.  This allows the company to ensure a deep commitment to quality and the environment.  Having the factory close by allows them to efficiently manage production to ensure they are making only the finest products. Plus, they employ American workers!!  
  • Materials: The subfloor panel and the OSB remodel panel are made from wood from sustainable forests in both the US (Oregon) and Canada.  Unfortunately, the aluminum for the conductive panel is shipped from China, which is pretty much the only place to get it these days.  However, the aluminum does contain a large portion of recyclable metal.
  •  Efficiency: The pre-designed panel system is approachable and easy to install.  The highly conductive panels make for lower operating costs than other radiant systems and heat your home quickly and evenly.  They also allow wider tubing spacing which reduces the cost of installation materials and labor.
  • An awesome team: The Warmboard team is an eclectic bunch!  From athletes, photographers, geeks, and gamers to equestrian-types, cyclists, and boaters, they all came together because they have a passion for this product and a commitment to excellent customer service.  Ross, the team’s Marketing and Creative Director, puts it like this: “I think one word that really describes us is “integrity”. What do I mean by that? Well, our team won’t try to sell you something you don’t need. If Warmboard isn’t a good fit for your project, we’ll tell you. We’ll suggest ways to save you money. We tell you what kind of components you need so you’re not buying too much or too little.  We really want to partner with every client to ensure their project is successful and their home is comfortable.”

Great product, right?  I bet you are wondering how much it costs.

Any radiant heat system is going to cost approximately $10 – $15 per square foot.  $4 – $5 of that cost is the product alone and $5 – $10 is from the additional subfloor, hardware, tubing, any structural adjustments to the house, and overall labor.

Warmboard panels cost a bit more than standard systems, $6 – $7 per square foot, but labor and parts are substantially reduced resulting in a lower installation cost. There is no need for an additional subfloor or required structural changes to the house. In the end, the final costs are fairly comparable but the end product differs in quality. Ross explained it like this: “Would you rather spend $20K on a new car that has 200 Horsepower and 35mpg OR would you spend $15K on a used car that has 120 horsepower, 20mpg and required another $5K to fix it up? Most people would take option 1.”

Personally, I am excited to find a project where I can use this awesome product and have more opportunities to interact with their friendly team.  A big thank you to Ross for answering all of my questions with thoughtful and thorough answers!

A break from the office

This Friday, I am taking a break from fabulous office spaces and taking a look at the world’s first co-working space, the cafe.

"Les Deux Magots", where Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and other existentialists contemplated their theories in Paris.

“Les Deux Magots”, where Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and other existentialists contemplated their theories in Paris.
Photographer unknown

What was the first cafe you visited?  I remember mine!  Walnut Creek’s Cafe La Scala.  It may not be the world’s trendiest cafe, but in the eyes of an 18 year old girl itching for the “college campus vibe”, it totally fit the bill.

Though cafe culture may have taken a while to reach my little Bay Area suburb, it is not a new invention.  Cafes have played host to a myriad of new ideas throughout history – entrepreneurs hacking code, rebels starting political movements, and writers contemplating their next novel.  But why?  What is it about the cafe environment that allows for this level of collaboration?

Concept Starbucks store in Amsterdam Design by Liz Muller, Starbucks Concept Director

Concept Starbucks store in Amsterdam
Design by Liz Muller, Starbucks Concept Director

The answer is simple.  Cafes have both public space for collaboration and nooks, sometimes even private rooms, for more private discussions.  Oh wait, isn’t that the theory behind the newest wave of office design?  Open, collaborative workstations with designated areas for one-on-one interactions?

Coach House in London Design by SHH

Coach House in London
Design by SHH

So, with this post, I tip my hat to the many small cafes around the world that have shown employers that the best ideas are born from human interaction and a relaxed, creative atmosphere.  Enjoy!

Cotta Cafe in Melbourne Design by MIM Design

Cotta Cafe in Melbourne
Design by MIM Design

 Zmianatematu cafe in Łódź, Poland Design by xm3

Zmianatematu cafe in Łódź, Poland
Design by xm3

Bauhaus Books and Coffee in Seattle Designer unkown

Bauhaus Books and Coffee in Seattle
Designer unkown

Green Living – Carpet

 

Ever stepped into your local carpet store and been overwhelmed by the number of options?  How do you decipher quality from unnecessary expense?  What is “green” and what is just marketing buzzwords?

The stark reality is that new materials and furniture in your home often emit harmful pollutants into an enclosed space.  This is called off-gassing.  Most people notice it easily with paint – the icky smell that gives you a headache and might make you nauseous – but carpet is equally offensive.

While developments in low or zero VOC paint have become widely available, the carpet industry has only just begun exploring eco-friendly options.  Below are a few tips I offer residential clients. For commercial clients, the issue becomes more challenging and will covered in a separate blog post.

  1. Go with natural fibers  - Natural fibers like cotton, wool, jute, and sisal are all considered “green” options.  Look for organic fibers that have not been treated with chemicals for moth proofing or fire proofing. Beyond being green, natural fibers will wear better than synthetics on every level.  Imagine buying a polyester suit instead of a wool one.  It might look okay on the first wear but if you are using it everyday, it will eventually start to pill, sag, and look rather drab.  The same is true of carpet.  Natural fibers may cost more up front but they are a worthwhile investment. 
  2. Carpet OptionsLook for a natural backing – Carpet fibers are held together by a web-like backing material.  In the past, PVC or styrene-butadiene rubber backing were the industry standard.  We now have a selection of natural backing materials like jute, cotton, and hemp. The backing is held together with adhesive which should be rubber-free.

    via Floorganics.com

    via Floorganics.com

  3. Ask your installer to air out the carpet for three full days before installation.
  4. Install carpet in moderate weather so you can keep your windows open to air out the space.
  5. Tack, don’t glue – To tack down carpet, the installer lays down a perimeter of thin wood (often plywood) to attach the carpet to.  Tacking carpet is not always ideal due to the type of carpet or size/shape of the room.  In this case, look for water-based, low-VOC glues.  American Formulating & Manufacturing, the Environmental Home Center, and Natural Home Products offer such adhesives at competitive prices.  carpet tack strip

Traditionalist at Heart

Recently, I have been going through a traditionalist revival.  I know I’m not the only one.  With Downton Abbey hot on the ratings and The Great Gatsby movie coming up, luscious interiors are here!

Personally, I always lean toward a clean traditional. There should still be an intent beyond loading in every extravagant piece of furniture and patterned fabric. There should be a simplicity.  Most importantly, there should be pieces that are not new, that are a little worn, and give the room character.

Below are some of my favorite traditional interiors.  Some lean toward country chic while others are more refined. Despite their differences, they all possess a sense of drama and a little bit of sparkle to add a hint of nostalgic glamour to the space.

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via My French Country Home

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via Zsa Zsa Bellagio

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via Room Reveal

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via Sweet Home Style

Friday Office Inspiration: Take a cue from nature

This morning, while perusing my email from my iPad, I came across this image of Richard Branson conducting a meeting outdoors on Necker Island.  (You can read the entire article on Linked In here.)  It reminded me of how I always wished my French Lit courses were held underneath the gorgeous elm trees on the Scripps College campus.  Doesn’t it seem ultra-luxurious to work in the outdoors?

Richard Branson and team on Necker Island

Richard Branson and team on Necker Island

If you too are dreaming of a little bit of outdoor sunshine to inspire your work, here are 5 offices that do it amazingly well.  Which is your favorite?

By Jonathan Oliveras

By Jonathan Oliveras

By Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway

By Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway

By Herman Miller

By Herman Miller

By Jeremy Samuelson

By Jeremy Samuelson

Ok so the 5th office may not be so practical.  But it’s a pretty cool art installation!

By Tres Birds Workshop

By Tres Birds Workshop

 

 

 

 

Inspiration from Cameroon

I met the lovely Esther Fame a few weeks ago when I sat next to her during a women owned business lunch.  The minute I sat down, I noticed a gorgeous printed fabric clutch in her lap.  Esther and I immediately hit it off and she told me all about her her fashion business.  That beautiful clutch was handmade by Esther with fabric imported from her native country of Cameroon.  Her company, Fantabela (a combination of fantastic and beautiful) can be found on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/FANTABELA

I was so inspired by her fabrics that I had to try these patterns out on an interior.  I’ve used the clutch as my focus piece and built the scheme around it.  Enjoy!

By Abigail Design Studio

By Abigail Design Studio

A Good Navy

“Now, that’s a good navy.” my grandmother used to say.  She worked as a seamstress in wealthy circles of San Francisco.  She made custom dresses and could be counted on to reweave the finest of cashmere sweaters.  I’m sure she worked with millions of colors, all designed for different skin tones and body shapes, but her personal favorite always came back to navy.

My grandmother modeling the latest fashions.

My grandmother modeling the latest fashions.

It’s funny how colors can pervade your memories.  I cannot look at the blue section of the paint deck without remembering how she classified *that* navy.  When I see the deep blue just beyond the breaking waves, I think of her.  My family and I always comment when we find it.  ”Oh look, there’s grandma’s navy!”.  I am drawn to navy for no other reason than remembering her artists eye for the subtleties in color.  It needs to be complex, almost black or charcoal.  You should not be able to tell the different unless the two are face to face.

So, today, I dedicate this blog post to my grandmother, the queen of navy.  Modern but understated, insanely classy without being stark.

By Plamen Nedev

By Plamen Nedev

By Angie Hranowsky

By Angie Hranowsky

By Brian Watford ID

By Brian Watford ID

My three favorite navy swatches from Benjamin Moore.   By themselves, they all qualify as a “good navy”.

Navies

Office inspiration: Sunshine yellow

It is an absolutely gorgeous day here in San Francisco.  The sun is shining and the temperature is that perfect 64 degrees.  In honor of the beautiful day, I am sharing some of my favorite yellow office spaces.  I have also shared three of my favorite yellows for commercial spaces: Benjamin Moore Yellow Finch (#2024-40) for a green undertone, Pure Joy (#327) for an orange undertone, and Sun Porch (#2023.40) for a true vibrant yellow.  I love the color pairings that Ben Moore suggests for each! Enjoy!

Taproot Foundation, New York

Taproot Foundation, New York

VNB’s new Darmstadt premises

VNB’s new Darmstadt premises

Google Office, London

Google Office, London

Yellow Finch

Yellow Finch

Pure Joy

Pure Joy

Sun Porch

Sun Porch

Feeling the Squeeze: Making the most of your SF rental

I knew the rental market in San Francisco was going bananas but something about Curbed Sf’s recent article on the subject really hit home. Rents in neighborhoods that were once affordable have more than doubled in price.  Bidding wars are in full swing in trendy neighborhoods like the Mission.  You can see the article here.

Last year, our rent increased by $100/month.  After a quick search on Craiglist, I realized that despite the increase, our apartment was still way less expensive than anything comparable in today’s market.  So, rather than moving, we decided to invest a bit in making our apartment more homey and functional.  We were strategic in where to spend our money.  We addressed storage needs specific to our current space using Ikea  but are investing in a queen bed that we will be able to take with us from place to place.  We selected a West Elm rug for our living room, knowing that our next living room may be a different size but invested in purchasing a new piece of art that we love.

By Abigail Design Studio

By Abigail Design Studio

Rug: West Elm

Sofa: Cisco Home, Hayes Valley

Coffee Table, Cisco Home, Hayes Valley

Pillows: Mix of West Elm and gifts from India

Armchair: Hand-me- down from my parents

Twisty Tables: Viva Terra

By Julia Costhttp://cargocollective.com/juliacost

By Julia Cost
http://cargocollective.com/juliacost

Our strategy got me thinking.  With so many people staying put in apartments that were originally meant for the short term, they may be doing the same thing as us.  Updating but not over-investing in their current space.

So, I am launching an apartment specific design service that caters to apartment dwellers who prefer to update their current space than dive into the insane rental market.  After a free initial consult to discuss the project and your style, I will quote you a flat fee for the project.  The fee is based on the size of your space and the complexity of the project.  Then we begin!

A standard project would include:

  1. A meeting for me to snap photos and measure the space as well as any items that you are planning to keep.
  2. A floorplan for the proposed changes
  3. A packet of proposed furniture, paint colors, art, etc that you purchase.  The packet would include the item price and purchase information.  The idea is that you can implement the changes as you feel ready.

Need some inspiration to get your apartment revamped?  Check out these awesome interiors from Apartment Therapy!

LKDining121012

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/lauren-kevins-house-tour-181441

LKBedroom121012

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/lauren-kevins-house-tour-181441

Ross-Living-Area-Main-Image

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/rosss-cozy-modern-home-in-midtown-house-tour-181652

02_Ross-Livingroom-011513

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/rosss-cozy-modern-home-in-midtown-house-tour-181652

KristenLehman-2

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/kristin-and-adams-refined-bohemian-abode-house-tour-182960

Take out the sherbet, it’s time to party with neon!

Where were you in 1989?  Were you rockin’ the hot pink scrunchies or running around in hammer pants?  I won’t recount all the possibilities of where you were, but I will tell you that my 5-year old self was splashing around the pool in a neon pink swimsuit while experiencing my first major earthquake.

Neon.  More than scrunchies, leggings, over sized sweatshirts and light up tennis shoes, neon was the 80′s for me.  I dreamed of a black and white bedroom with neon accents (yes, I had a plan in my head…I’ll sketch it for you sometime).  A black lacquer dresser accompanied by white vases with bright flowers.  A geometric neon bedspread and hot pink curtains to match.  It sounds intense now but, at the time, I would have forfeited an entire year of my favorite rainbow sherbet to have a neon room.

Lucky me, after years of realizing how tacky my childhood room could have been, neon is back in style with a millennial twist!  I am thrilled and terrified at the same time. So how do we use this crazy trend? I’m going to take a cue from a childhood favorite: rainbow sherbet.

Balance neon with white

Take a hint from the sherbet below and use white as your base for a neon inspired room.  Select two neon accent colors for a fresh clean look.  I love the warm on warm (orange and pink) color combination. You can also opt for a warm on cool combo, think pink and blue.

Rainbow_Sherbet_0842l

 

 

By Terrat Elms Interior Design

By Terrat Elms Interior Design

By Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

By Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Balance neon with pastels

Allow neon to take the stage and support it with pale pastels.  I love to use pastels as solids for a more modern look.  Heavily patterned pastels verge on dated.  The feeling is super fresh and clean.

sherbet-1

"Design

"Design

Don’t forget the cone!

How many times have you heard me say it?  Pairing bold items with natural wood creates a perfect balance.  Look at the medium brown color of your ice cream cone.  Pair neon with a similar color.  You will have a natural look that will keep you far away from the 80′s.

By Capoferro Design Build Group

By Capoferro Design Build Group

By Koch Architects, Inc. Joanne Koch

By Koch Architects, Inc. Joanne Koch

By Webber + Studio, Architects

By Webber + Studio, Architects