Thursday, January 8, 2009

I think I'm in love

When I first saw the ostrich feather lamp on Apartment Therapy a little while ago i thought it was cool but a little over the top. Then AT Chicago posted a readers DIY version here and I think that might be just perfect for my dining room. We will be removing the closets that were built into our dining room to convert it into a bedroom soon and I've been wondering what to do for lighting. For some reason there isn't any fixture there now so we would have to bring in new wiring to attach to, plus most lighting fixtures I've seen that I like are way out of our price range. I already have an IKEA paper globe shade so all I would need to get would be the cord and some parchment paper. Now I can't wait to rip those closets out!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Progress!

Over the holidays we made some progress on the house. I got a bunch of sewing projects done and the two of us managed to cut a hole in the wall between the foyer and my office.
Please ignore the boxspring at the right of the photo, it will be going out to the curb this afternoon. One of the joys of old houses is that when designing stairways, they never imagined the existence of any bed larger than a full size having to be carried up the stairs. We wound up having to get a split boxspring and squishing the mattress to get it up to the bedroom. Having this opening makes the house feel so much bigger. I am keeping an eye out for some vintage french doors that I could put there which is why we haven't put up any trim around the opening. If I find a pair of oak french doors, I'll want to make the opening match the width of the doors. That way, in the future this could be used as a guest room or at least have the option of some sound privacy when the TV is on in the living room across the way.You may remember that the bed was previously looking like this. It's a small change, but it helps the room feel more together. Funny thing is that the pillow cover, even with the yo-yo's took less time than any of the other sewing projects I did.Here are the curtains I finally finished and the painting I got for Christmas by Karen Ponelli. I apologize for the quality of the photograph. There is an incredibly small window of time when there is enough light in the room to get a decent picture. You can see the painting in detail here. The next project in line is to convert the small pantry in our mudroom into a coat closet. I have everything I need to do it, now I just need to set aside some time.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Original Green


At times it seems there is a conflict between my interest in old houses and in green building. After all, old houses are drafty and inefficient right? Not necessarily. Though many of them could use a bit more insulation, most were built in a time when energy wasn't so cheap and easy to come by. People had to build houses that took into consideration things like the sun and wind and how they would heat or cool a house. Otherwise, people would die of heat stroke in the summer and freeze to death in the winter. This is the premise behind The Original Green. For centuries people built buildings that used very little energy simply because there wasn't much energy to be had. It developed into styles that were very specific to each region and their climatic conditions. Today green buildings tends to focus on solar panels and windmills and other "gizmos" to reduce their energy use. Steve Mouzon, the creator of the Original Green concept, is trying to change the discussion of green buildings to focus on methods used traditionally to create green buildings and less on the "gizmos" that get all the attention in the media. Check out his website. It has a lot of good information and can really change the way you think about what makes a place "green". Also for those out there on Facebook, join the Original Green cause.

Happy New Year! (a day late)

I hope everyone had a happy New Year's celebration. Hopefully 2009 will turn out better than '08. I've had a fairly productive couple of days here. I've been off from work for a little while and although the first few days off were pretty much dedicated to Christmas shopping, this week I've been able to get stuff done around the house. I've finished almost all of my sewing projects, plus we cut a hole through the wall between our foyer and office/den. The previous owner had converted it into a bedroom which really cut it off from the rest of the house. I'll post some photos as soon as there is some nice sunlight for taking them.

Another item on my "to do" list that I haven't been quite as productive on, is studying for the LEED exam. For those that don't know LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is essentially a rating system to determine how "green" a building (or neighborhood) is. Since everyone is looking to jump on the bandwagon to call their stuff "green", this provides a pretty tough standard for actually making it so. There are some other rating systems out there, but they seem to be more influenced by various building product industries so their standards seem to be a bit more watered down (IMO). You may be wondering how one studies for a rating system. Actually, the test is to become a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) which is one way of calling yourself an "expert" in green building. It shows a knowledge of both green building and the rating system itself and how it works. The reason I am rushing to study now is that in the spring they are adopting a new "upgraded" system and test which will be harder and require prior experience in green building before you can sit for the exam. By prior experience, they mean you have to have worked on the certification of a commercial LEED building. The firm where I work does primarily residential projects, so it would be hard to get to work on a commertial LEED project since there aren't too many out there. If you'd like to find out more information about the system or how to become certified, check out www.usgbc.org .
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