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Archives - 2020

Extensive Two-Year Remodel Transforms this Texas Home from Early 90’s

By • Nov 2, 2020

Texas is a land that is renowned for all things ‘big’ and when it comes to expansive homes and villas, the state holds true to its motto! Designed originally by David Shiflet in 1992, this exquisite Texas home was painstakingly revamped and remodeled by Mark Ashby Design to usher in an air of modern minimalism. In its new avatar, the large home feels both relaxing and captivating.

Family room of the house with glass walls and comfy sectional

The Westlake Hideaway sits on a lot that overlooks a secluded cove and this gave the architects an opportunity to combine complete privacy with unhindered views. With an interior that elegantly combines neural colors with splashes of blue and woodsy charm, every room inside the residence stays true to the new contemporary style.

Large and open living area with wood and white color scheme and an impressive dining area
Tall wooden fireplace wall becomes the focal point of this living room
Bespoke wooden accent wall for the TV and family room

Dark, framed glass doors welcome you at the entry with an open plan living are dining area next to it. A wood and white kitchen follows next with the custom family room on the other side. A woodsy accent wall with geo contrast steals the show in here while the bedrooms are draped in a bit more of bold color!

Closer look at the bespoke wooden accent wall of the den
Multiple islands and smart worktops shape this cool wood and white kitchen
Skylights bring natural light into this large kitchen with wooden cabinets

It is easy to understand the basics of the makeover in here. The architects chose a wood and white color palette to improve lighting in every room even as they alter the style of the home, Metallics and bespoke wood features bring contrast with playful splashes of color being relegated to personal spaces. An impressive and understated makeover that feels organic!

Entry of the Westlake Hideaway with framed glass doors
Large modern bathroom in wood and white
Textured walls and natural stone vanity for the small powder room
Drapes allow the homeowners to easily switch between privacy and natural views
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Dilapidated Old Home in Mallorca Gets a Smart Budget Makeover

By • Oct 28, 2020

Giving the old a new lease of life is a difficult task at the best of times. It gets harder when you are doing it on a tight budget. The St. Miquel 19 Refurbishment by Carles Oliver in Mallorca, Spain is one such exceptional residence. Revamped and refurbished to blend the old with the new in a seamless manner, the house was previously neglected and abandoned for a long period.

Beautiful weathered old finishes are preserved and enhanced inside the fabulous Spanish home

In its new avatar, distressed finishes, smart modern ergonomics and a world of white shape the residence. The old wooden ceiling has been carefully preserved and enhanced and another layer of textural char to the spacious new interior. Sections of the old house along with the rugged archways have also been left largely untouched.

Decorating the small wooden ledge in the living space with colorful prints
Efficient modern kitchen finds space inside the renovated old Spanish house
Exposed wall are a part of the new house that has undergone a budget makeover

The entire makeover was done on a budget of just € 18,000 and most of this amount was spent on turning the dingy interior into a more inhabitable space. Insulation and energy-efficiency were the top priority in here. An open plan living area, smart kitchen and dining space lead way into the bedroom on the other side of the home.

Irregular old archways inside the house were preserved and enhanced for a vintage appeal
Living area, kitchen and dining space of the revamped Spanish home
New makeover of the house focuses of cost-cutting measures and energy efficiency
St. Miquel 19 Refurbishment by Carles Oliver in Spain combines the old with the new

Roof insulation and the new biomass stove make a big difference to the interior and the transformed Spanish residence is perfect for those looking for affordable housing. Light, bright and still intriguing thanks to the many weathered finishes, this is one home that is unique in every sense of the way!

View of the bedroom and part of the living area inside the home
Wooden ceiling combined with walls that have a distressed finish inside the home
Aged and distressed finishes are combined with modern ergonomics inside the home makeover

Photograph Credits: José Hevia

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Small Scale Multi-Residential Building in Melbourne Clad in Serene Neutrals

By • Oct 26, 2020

Minimalism meets nature at the Carter Toorak House designed Carr in the inner suburb of Melbourne. The street façade of this multi-residential building offers complete privacy while the rear section is connected with the residential units in a seamless manner. With eight residential units inside the building, space is maximized in a stylish manner inside each apartment.

Contemporary facade of Carter Toorak House designed by Carr

Interior of each apartment is clad in neutral hues with white and gray shaping the backdrop. Marble and wood surfaces steal the spotlight in the sleek contemporary kitchen. A bight, dark club chair sits at one corner of the house while sliding glass doors connect the living area with the outdoors.

View of the Carter Toorak House from across the street with a private front
Custom marble entertainment unit and insert in the living room is a showstopper
Dashing and modern contemporary kitchen island draped in marble
Fall makes its presence felt in the backyard of the contemporary home

Marble fireplace in the living room along with a custom entertainment unit next to it bring textural contrast to the living area while the same color palette is continued in the bedrooms and bathrooms as well. Each of the apartment units is different in its own way with greenery adding color to the interior in its own unique way.

Informal and minimal outdoor decor for the multi-residential building unit
Kitchen with marble backsplash and contertops

It is the fusion of timber, marble and glass creating the harmonious backdrop in every room with bronze accents adding metallic glitz to the sophisticated backdrop.

Polished and modern wood and marble modern kitchen with ample natural light
Relaxing plush blue club chair in the corner adds color to the contemporary interior

The natural stone stands out as a luxurious feature in the kitchen, bathrooms, and fireplaces, while cabinetry is offset by bronze touches. Greenery and connection to nature were important consideration at Carter and a flowing indoor-outdoor relationship has been created through floor to ceiling windows and verdant landscaping, carried out in partnership with Acre.

Slim contemporary bathroom vanity in wood with marble countertops
Stylish contemporary bathroom with freestanding bathtub and sliding glass doors
Ground level floor plan of Carter Toorak House in the inner suburbs of Melbourne

Photographs Credit: Timothy Kaye

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This 1960’s Shop in Porto is Transformed into a Snazzy Modern Apartment

By • Oct 21, 2020

Love smart conversions and nifty renovations that save energy and resources? So do we and they are the perfect way to also find new design ideas which blend the old with the new in a seamless manner. Designed by Fala, the Uneven House in Porto, Portugal is one such clever home that was previously a ground floor shop and basement in a complex that was originally built in the 1960’s.

Ground floor shop and basement turned into a modern apartment

It is easy to admire the brilliant design that turns the cramped old shop and dark basement into a lovely contemporary apartment that is filled with natural light. A large living area that extends from the front façade to the rear section is the heart of the new house with kitchen and dining space next to it.

Marble floor along with pink ceiling showcases a unique eclectic interior that feels cheerful
Marble and glass create a stunning, fashionable interior

The Uneven House functions seamlessly despite the different levels inside the house and a new marble floor, pink ceiling and mirrored sections add to its brightness. Life inside the apartment feels rich and relaxing. Step outside and the new private yard is equally inviting. Even the outdoors seems to embrace a black and white color scheme – something that work so very well on the inside of the house.

Black and white color scheme brings life to both the exterior and the interior of the house
Modern and gorgeous rear yard of the uneven house with glass walls leading to the interior

Wooden door with marble handles, luxurious bedrooms and modern bathrooms complete the fancy makeover. Smart and sensible, this Portuguese home appears sophisticated and yet eclectic at the same time – a rare quality to have indeed!

Lovely glass facade stands between the interior and the outdoor
Street facade of the Uneven House in Porto cleverly hides its modern interior
View of the private rear yard of the Uneven House in Porto from distance
Wooden doors with marble handles make an instant impact
Design plan of Uneven House deigned by Fala

Photographs Credit: Ricardo Loureiro

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Cost-Effective Ways to Maintain a Comfortable Temperature in Your Bedroom

By • Sep 24, 2020

Extreme temperatures can be a considerable hindrance to a good night’s sleep. This is particularly true in areas that are prone to bitterly cold winters and blisteringly hot summers.

A sleeping space that’s too warm or too cool is practically guaranteed to leave you tossing and turning all night, which is likely to impact your ability to function the following day.

Fortunately, maintaining a comfortable temperature in your bedroom doesn’t have to entail spending a small fortune on heating and cooling costs. Homeowners looking for cost-effective ways to keep their sleeping spaces at an agreeable temp should consider the following measures.

Install a Good Ceiling Fan

A bedroom-based ceiling fan is an absolute must for people living in areas with hot summers and/or year-round warm weather. Good ceiling fans will be able to effectively circulate cool air throughout your sleeping space, setting the stage for a comfortable night’s rest. During periods of extremely warm weather, run your fan counterclockwise at medium to high speeds. This will ensure that instead of simply blowing warm air around the room, your fan will push cold air down. Furthermore, for maximum safety, make sure ceiling fans are turned off before you adjust them.

Invest in Sun-Blocking Window Dressings

Extreme sunlight stands to increase the temperature in your bedroom, particularly if said room is located in an area that receives a fair amount of sun. Additionally, copious amounts of sunlight finding their way into your bedroom can make sleeping through the early morning hours quite a challenge. You can nip this problem in the bud by investing in sun-blocking window dressings. Not only are sun-blocking tools easy to install and highly effective, they’re also affordable on any budget.

Sun-blocking curtains are a good option for people whose bedrooms are frequently set upon by extreme sunlight. As the name suggests, these curtains are designed to block outside light and are ideal for people who prefer their sleeping spaces to be as dark as possible. If you don’t feel like investing in new curtains, why not try blackout screens. These screens are even more affordable than the aforementioned curtains and can be applied to windows with ease. With proper care, this very small investment can last a very long time. However, keep in mind that many blackout screens aren’t made to be reused, and once you’ve removed them from their respective windows, the adhesive generally isn’t amenable to reapplication.

Select the Appropriate Bedding

The type of bedding you select can have a profound impact on the quality of your sleep. As such, it’s recommended that you take the climate into account when choosing the right bedding. During periods of warm weather, look for bedding composed of lighter materials, and during periods of cool weather, look for bedding that’s conducive to warmth. Linen and cotton, for example, are both materials that are associated with comfortable summertime sleeping. The natural fibers from which these fabrics are woven breathe very well, making them perfect for warmer weather. Conversely, if you live in an area that’s prone to extreme cold, you can sleep comfortably with wool, cotton fleece, cotton flannel and cashmere bedding.

Have Your Central Heating and Cooling Units Professionally Inspected

Having your central heating and cooling units professionally inspected at least once a year is associated with a number of benefits. For starters, it helps ensure that small problems are caught early on – i.e., before they’re able to become costly nuisances or potential safety hazards. Secondly, annual inspections can help these essential devices continue to run at peak efficiency, thereby saving you money on heating and cooling costs. The harder heating and cooling units have to work, the more running them is liable to cost you.

A good night’s sleep is essential for many reasons. In addition to providing you with plenty of energy for the day ahead, getting enough rest can prove beneficial to your concentration abilities and general outlook. However, when dealing with extreme temperatures, comfortably sleeping through the night can be an uphill battle. While maintaining an agreeable temp in your home is often synonymous with increased heating and cooling bills, there are a number of cost-effective measures that can help you combat extreme temperatures in a convenient and budget-conscious manner.

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Turning Your Bedroom into a Comfortably Cool Summertime Sleeping Space

By • Aug 28, 2020

Getting a comfortable night’s sleep during the balmy summer months can be quite the undertaking. Few things are less conducive to a good night’s rest than extreme heat, and despite the abundance of gorgeous weather summer days bring, summer nights can be a trying time for sensitive sleepers. In addition to difficulty functioning, poor quality of sleep is conducive to a wide range of health and behavioral issues. Fortunately, while maintaining a high quality of sleep throughout the summer months may be challenging, it’s not nearly as daunting as you may think. As you’ll find, turning your bedroom into a comfortably cool summertime sleeping space is well within your abilities.

Install a Good Ceiling Fan

A good ceiling fan can be a boon to your summertime sleep quality. By circulating cool air throughout your home, ceiling fans effectively reduce energy costs while helping your residence maintain a comfortable temperature. During the summer months, ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise, as this enables the blades to push cool air down in a column. This, in turn, makes the air feel cooler than it actually is. Anyone serious about summertime sleep comfort needs a dependable ceiling fan in their bedroom.

Invest in the Right Mattress

Your bed is undeniably the most important part of your bedroom. Without a comfortable bed, a good night’s sleep is unattainable, regardless of the weather. So, if your mattress has seen better days or is well past its prime, you’d do well to invest in a new one. Given how much use most mattresses get and how important they are to sleep quality, it pays to do your research before making a decision. A plethora of factors go into determining which mattress is best-suited to your individual needs, so you shouldn’t simply sink money into the first semi-attractive option you come across.

Throughout your search, comfort should be foremost on your mind, and a good hybrid latex mattress can more than deliver in this department. Once you’ve found your ideal mattress, make sure you have a bedframe that’s both sturdy and large enough to comfortably support it.

Utilize Lightweight Fabrics

Using your wintertime bedding during the summer is basically asking for trouble. Whereas winter bedding is designed to retain as much heat as possible, summertime bedding is made with breathability in mind. When shopping around for the right summertime bedding, look for sheets and comforters that utilize natural fibers – i.e., cotton or bamboo – and high-tech wicking fabrics, like the ones that are used to create workout clothes. Take care to avoid high thread counts, as these can trap body heat.

You should adopt a similar approach when searching for summertime pajamas. Although silk nightwear is popular, it can trap body heat, making it a poor choice for summer. Instead, look for sleepwear made from lighter materials, like bamboo hybrids, linen and cotton.

Block Out the Sun

The summertime sun stands to add quite a bit of heat to your bedroom. Although air conditioning and ceiling fans can go a long way in keeping this space nice and cool, the heat generated by the sun doesn’t make this task easy. So, if your bedroom is located in an area that receives a significant amount of sunlight, invest in sun-blocking curtains. While a little bit of sunlight is still liable to find its way into the room, the amount of sunlight that penetrates this space will be significantly reduced.

If you’re not thrilled about the idea of spending money on new curtains, consider investing in sun-blocking window coverings. These coverings are affordable on virtually any budget and are very easy to attach to windows. Just keep in mind that blackout coverings aren’t as resilient as sun-blocking curtains and are unlikely to last as long. Additionally, stick-on coverings that have been removed from windows generally cannot be reattached.

The quality of one’s sleep is very important. Not only does a good night’s rest help recharge your batteries and leave you primed to tackle the day ahead, it can also provide you with a healthier outlook and heightened ability to function. Since comfortably sleeping through the night can prove challenging in extreme heat, it’s imperative that you make a few adjustments to your bedroom during the summer months.

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How To Choose A Ceiling Fan To Create The Perfect Personalized Cooling Space In Your Home 

By • Jul 30, 2020

The summer is in full swing and you know what that means: it’s sweltering hot outside. The air inside your home is getting a bit stuffy and you need better air circulation. It’s time for a new ceiling fan. But how do you choose a ceiling fan that’s right for you?

The process can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You want something functional, durable, and eye-catching. This article will help take the guesswork out of how to choose a ceiling fan and give you the confidence to install your new fan in the ideal location with no trouble at all.

Understand how a ceiling fan works to help you select the proper location for it in your home

While you may feel cooler standing beneath a ceiling fan, the fan itself doesn’t really cool down the room, it merely circulates the air without changing the temperature of the room. That’s why it feels cool when an individual stands (or sits) beneath it, but not.  The fan moves air better if it is running counterclockwise in the summertime. A large, low speed fan will actually move more air than a faster or smaller model, so keep that in mind choosing a new ceiling fan for your home.

How to choose a ceiling fan for your home

Now it’s time to select the right fan for your home. In addition to looking for something that will match the decor of your home (for an indoor fan) or your outside venue/porch (for an outdoor fan). Before starting your search, try to work out your budget to find an affordable and energy efficient fan.

There are a few key steps to follow when considering how to choose your ceiling fan: determine where you’ll install the fan, choose the size and style, decide if it will have lights, how it’ll be mounted, how it’s controlled and check the airflow.

Determine the ideal location for your new ceiling fan

To determine a great location for your new fan, first consider how you’re going to use it. Indoors, it can help move air, provide lighting, or improve the aesthetics of the space.

Outdoor fans are ideal for sunrooms, garages or porches. A damp-rated fan is great for covered outdoor spaces, while wet-rated fans are perfect for spaces constantly exposed to wet weather.

Size and style

Find a fan that is not only functional but fits your room. For smaller rooms, choosing a fan that measures less than 29 inches in diameter up to 39 inches will help avoid an overcrowded appearance in the room’s decor while adequately improving the airflow. Larger rooms (bedroom, living room, kitchen) require larger fans, typically between 42 and 56 inches. This chart from Hunter Fans has a nice break down of sizes/locations:

Ensuring the size and style of the fan fits your space is vitally important when choosing a new ceiling fan. Choosing the style of the fan is the fun part. Aside from modern and traditional designs, you can choose a rustic or farmhouse design to achieve more of a cozy feel to the room or industrial fans for a more urban feel. There are many choices available to help you choose a ceiling fan that’s ideal for you.

Lighting and mounting type

Once you’ve established the size and style of the fan, consider what type of lighting you’ll use (if any) and how you’ll mount it to your ceiling. You’ll need to figure out how many bulbs and what type of bulbs you’ll need to suit your room’s lighting and energy-saving needs.

How you mount the fan depends on the room. If the room has a low ceiling, mounting it close to the ceiling or totally flush with the ceiling is your best bet. For rooms with high ceilings, mounting extension rods may be required.

Controls and Airflow

The final considerations for how to choose your ceiling fan are how your fan will be operated and how well it moves the air in your home or outdoor space. Control is a matter of preference, whether it’s with a pull chain or controlled remotely via a wall switch, a smartphone and/or remote control.

Perhaps the most important aspect in how to choose a ceiling fan is the airflow. The efficacy rating of your fan determines the airflow and CFM (Cubic feet per minute) of the fan. A higher CFM means better airflow with reduced energy cost. Contoured and aerodynamic blades help optimize the airflow of a quality fan and are important considerations when making your ceiling fan purchase. Be sure to select the proper efficiency rating for your needs and by following these steps, you’ll have the air circulating from a great-looking ceiling fan in no time.

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SCDA Architects Designs Soori Bali, a Resort Residence in Tabanan Regency, Bali

By • Jul 27, 2020

Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (15)

Soori Bali is a project designed by SCDA Architects in 2010.

It is located in Bali, Indonesia.

Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (1)
Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (2)
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Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (11)
Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (12)
Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (13)
Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (14)
Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (15)
Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (16)

Soori Bali by SCDA Architects:

“Soori Bali lies within the Tabanan Regency, one of Bali’s most fertile and picturesque regions. Here, the landscape ranges from volcanic mountains and verdant rice terraces to beautiful black-sand beaches overlooking the Indian Ocean. The location provides for a complete hideaway and offers numerous quality views of the surrounding beach, ocean, mountains and rice fields.

Soori Bali was designed with the overt principle of green sustainable initiatives in mind. The project is conceived to be both climatically and socially reactive to its locale. The design responds to the notions of climate and place, and endeavors to engage the local landscape and community. The design of the resort was approached with a sensitivity to the nuances of the site setting, and thus executed with the strategy of minimal environmental impact, minimal built footprint and with local cultural practices (religious and ceremonial processions) taken into consideration.

With an understanding that the beach is an important socio-economical aspect of the site, deliberate efforts were taken to consult and incorporate the customs and contributions of the local community within the conceptual design process. The construction methods adopted also creates training and jobs for the neighbouring villages. About 50% of the workers currently on site are recruited from the surrounding community.

The resort reflects on its privileged location by adopting the predominant use of locally sourced materials, together with a careful integration of indigenous motifs, forms and elements. The result, a harmonious balance between the clean, contemporary lines of the architecture and the soothing tones and textures of the internal and external finishes and finishing.

The design of the restaurant terrace and spa facilities incorporates terracotta screens; adapted and stylized from traditional Balinese motifs. These screens generate a marked visual contrast when combined with the dark terrazzo floors and feature walls clad in dark grey volcanic lava stones, such as Batu Candi and Batu Karangasem.

The villas are characterized by the interplay of materials which flow from the interior to exterior spaces. Smooth terrazzo walls and floors are combined with hand brushed natural timber screens, soft silk upholstery and custom designed dark stained timber furniture to form a serene internal space. The use of timber flows into the external spaces, where timber screens wrap a private bale overlooking a private plunge pool lined with Sukabumi stone. Paras Kelating, a light grey volcanic stone is applied to feature walls along the pool edge which combine with soft hues of beige and warm grey textured paint to complete the palette.

A mixture of Villa types were sensitively designed to respond to the local climatic conditions whilst maximizing views out to the surrounding beach, sea and paddy fields. Careful consideration is given to each villa plan and its built form and details to create a comfortable, energy efficient resort style living.

The climatic parameters particular to site, sun movement and prevailing wind direction, were established to assist in the formulation of the orientation of villas and common areas, and their planning concept.

The major building orientation is toward the North-South direction. Some are tilted a few degrees to the East to incorporate the morning sun. Openings were maximized on North-South face to encourage filtered natural light into the building whilst minimizing large openings on west side to reduce heat gain during daytime. Provision of overhanging roof eaves, roof screen systems and deep ledges were employed to reduce heat from direct sunlight.

Operable windows are provided on at least two sides of each room plan, and on each end of the villa to encourage effective cross ventilation and to bring in natural air to the interior spaces. Cross ventilation to all room interiors would provide natural cooling and sufficient fresh air intake in room to minimize CO2 level, thus reducing the reliance on Air Conditioning Systems.

In addition to the siting aspect and layout design of the villas, several design elements and materials were intentionally selected to control the buildings on a micro-climate level.

Provision of a 2nd layer of timer trellis on villa roof would minimize direct heat absorption to the roof itself; the actual roof incorporates additional insulation to further reduce heat gain internally. Material finishes are using “cool colors” in both the paint and stone selections to minimize the absorption of thermal energy, local materials selected naturally respond to the local climate, for e.g. Paras Kelating, Paras Kerobokan, Batu Chandi & Batu Kali for Feature Walls throughout the resort. Location of planters and position of low shrubs and taller trees would be placed to maximize wind flow through villa and common spaces, thus avoiding creation of wind barriers.

The exterior hardscape and softscape designs are intended to create a seamless transition between the interior and exterior spaces, with the specific goal in preserving the natural topography. Built elements are planned to sit ‘lightly’ on the land. The selection of trees responds to both the local climate and the resort planning with tree types playing a key role in the creation of ‘shaded spaces’, private pavilions and communal areas.

Due to the relatively severe coastal conditions which exist during certain periods of the year, the landscape design also incorporates a variety of indigenous local plants and coastal ‘hardy’ species, for e.g. Ipomoea Pes-caprae, Scaevola Taccada, Cocos Nucifera & Cerbera Odollam. This selection identifies and responds to the need for less long term maintenance and reduced water requirements for irrigation.”

Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (17)
Floor plans
Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (18)
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Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (19)
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Soori Bali by SCDA Architects (20)
Floor plan

Photos by: Mario Wibowo

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Ralph Germann Architectes Design a Private Residence in Préverenges, Switzerland

By • Jun 11, 2020

House FFL by Ralph Germann architectes (1)

House FFL is a private home located in Préverenges, Switzerland.

Completed in 2014, it was designed by Ralph Germann Architectes.


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Get the Best Sleep You’ve Ever Had on an Organic Mattress

By • Jun 11, 2020

Do you need a new mattress? When most people shop for a mattress, they consider things like price, durability, warranty, and, of course, comfort. But have you ever wondered what materials are used to make your mattress and whether they’re healthy or safe?

Conventional mattresses are typically made with synthetic materials that can off-gas volatile chemical compounds (VOCs) into your home, aggravating allergies, asthma, and other health concerns. Even the natural materials, like cotton, in your mattress can pose a health risk, because of all the pesticides used to produce them. An organic mattress made with natural chemicals is the healthier and safer option, and you don’t have to sacrifice comfort, either. Here’s what you need to know to interpret the labels on organic mattresses and choose the best one for your needs.

Organic Mattress Materials

Organic mattresses are made with many of the same materials that conventional mattresses contain, minus synthetic plastics and polyurethane foams that can off-gas toxic chemicals. Organic mattresses are typically made with organic cotton, wool, or latex, which is a natural material made from the sap of the rubber tree.

Organic is much healthier and safer than conventional cotton because it is grown without pesticides. Cotton is actually the world’s most pesticide-intensive crop, consuming more than 20 percent of all insecticides and herbicides used worldwide. If you choose a mattress made with conventionally grown cotton, you’re sleeping on all those pesticides. So, clearly, organic cotton is the way to go.

Organic wool is also a good choice if you want a comfortable, water-resistant and naturally fire-retardant mattress. Wool is naturally fire-resistant because it contains high levels of water and nitrogen, so it needs more oxygen than the surrounding environment can provide in order to burn.

Many organic mattresses are made with organic cotton and/or wool padding wrapped around inner coil springs, just like most conventional mattresses. However, there’s some evidence that an inner-spring mattress can increase rates of cancer and melanoma. If that’s something that concerns you, an organic latex mattress might be the best mattress for you.

How to Interpret Organic Mattress Labels

It’s best to buy your organic mattress, mattress pads, and protectors from a reputable manufacturer of organic bedding materials. The Avocado Green Mattress, for example, is a popular choice. If you want to shop around, though, you need to do your research on companies and understand what organic mattress labels mean.

Not all of the words and designations on organic mattresses mean what you think they mean. For example, the term “natural” carries no weight, as there are no standards used to define something as “natural.” It’s nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

You should even be cautious about the word “organic” on mattress labels. Unless the mattress is labeled with the USDA Organic seal, you have no way of knowing that a substantial portion of the materials used to make the mattress are actually organic. The USDA Organic seal certifies that at least 95 percent of the materials used to make the mattress are certified organic and processed without the use of possibly toxic chemicals.

Organic mattress manufacturers use a lot of logos to label their mattresses, and they don’t all indicate the same stringency in processing standards, nor do they even all apply to the entire mattress. For example, the popular Casper line of mattresses is labeled Oeko-Tek Standard 100 compliant, but that label applies to the top of the mattress alone. The rest is compliant with the less-stringent CertiPUR-US standard.

The best labels to look for on organic mattresses include the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification, which means that at least 95 of the materials used in the mattress are certified organic, and the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), which means that a mattress made with latex is 95 percent organic. Both standards also place restrictions on the use of toxic chemicals in the other five percent of a mattress’s components.

Less stringent, but still good, the Oeko-Tek Standard 100 label doesn’t mean that a mattress is organic, but does mean that certain toxic and allergenic chemicals have been banned in its manufacture. It also sets limits on how many VOCs can be used in the mattress.

You spend a third of your life in bed, so it’s important to use safe, healthy bedding. You’ll get the best sleep of your life knowing you’re safe from toxic chemicals, flame retardants, and synthetic components. When it comes to choosing a new mattress, organic is worth it.

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RS+ Robert Skitek Design a House in Krostoszowice, Poland to Fit Into the Surrounding Topography

By • May 27, 2020

House in Krostoszowice by RS+ Robert Skitek (14)

House in Krostoszowice is a residential project completed by RS+ Robert Skitek.

The home is located in Krostoszowice, Poland.

House in Krostoszowice by RS+ Robert Skitek (1)
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House in Krostoszowice by RS+ Robert Skitek (14)
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House in Krostoszowice by RS+ Robert Skitek (22)

House in Krostoszowice by RS+ Robert Skitek:

“The surrounding landscape interested us more than unexciting development context. Hilly area and forest in the background has become a main point of reference. The building fits to existing topography, coincides with the landscape. House is open towards the most interesting views and separate from the nearest buildings. From the street we can see single-storey building with garage and glass foyer between. This characteristic body of the buildings have a required by the local law sloping roofs, they are covered totally with slate. Concrete fence wall marks platform with building, entrance area, driveway and wooden terrace suspended over the ground. Bedrooms are located downstairs. This part of the building is partially covered by ground and invisible from the street. Under the upper terrace, at the ground level is second, fully covered terrace. Exterior cantilevered stairs link both terraces. In interiors, white surfaces of walls and slanted ceiling are complemented by glass, polished concrete and natural wood floors, wooden stairs and dark accessories. On the top level there is open living room. Pantry, study room, toilet and kitchen were hidden in white cuboid. Above cuboid there is mezzanine with bookcase. Wooden stairs are a conspicuous part of the living room. When we go downstairs we can walk out directly to lower terrace. On this floor there are 2 rooms for children, main bedroom with dressing room, toilet, technical rooms with laundry room and climbing gym. In addition, a storage accessible from the outside is located on the lower floor.”

Photos by: Tomasz Zakrzewski

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How to Update Your Old Home While Preserving Its History

By • May 15, 2020

To many homeowners, older properties are just more fun than new construction. While some buyers focus on the flaws of a 50-year-old home — the inefficient windows and doors, the outdated appliances and light fixtures, etc. — others revel in the property’s unique quirks, believing them to be beloved relics of the past. Older homes have history, and it is a homeowner’s duty to honor and preserve the history that first attracted them to a particular home.

However, that doesn’t mean that homeowners should be resigned to living in any outdated space they purchase. As long as a property isn’t protected as historic, homeowners are and should be allowed to make whatever changes they feel necessary to make their homes feel comfortable, functional and valuable. But — how can homeowners balance the drive to make their homes look and feel up-to-date with the charm and character that inherently comes from an older property?

Understand What Historic Features Have Value

Most old homes aren’t particularly historic. Few homes stand the test of time; most fall down or are demolished after about a century, at the point when they are no longer as functional or aesthetically pleasing as homebuyers expect. Even so, almost all older homes have features no longer built into new construction properties, and some of these features are inherently valuable due to the character they impart. In general, the older the home, the more of these features will be present.

For example, colonial and Victorian homes tend to be teeming with valuable elements, like wood flooring and wood molding, built-in shelving and cabinets, wood-burning fireplaces, plaster walls and the like. In contrast, old homes from the ‘50s and ‘60s might have mid-century modern architectural elements, like sunken rooms, large windows, atriums and asymmetrical floor plans.

It might be useful for homeowners to consult a home appraiser with experience in homes of a relevant era. Appraisers should be able to point to elements of a home that have inherent value, so homeowners can keep these elements intact while renovating other, less desirable aspects of their property.

List the Historic Elements You Love in Your Home

It is important to preserve the elements of a home that have value, but it is also important to protect the elements of a home that bring homeowners personal joy. Homeowners should take inventory of the aspects of their older home they most appreciate, which might not be features that homebuyers will be able to identify or care much about on the first pass. As long as these elements aren’t inherently unsafe or remarkably unappealing to other people, homeowners should strive to retain these features during their renovations. This will help homeowners maintain the character that first attracted them to the property, even if other elements change drastically.

Research What Updates Might Be Covered

Some homes, as they age, develop weaknesses that endanger those who live inside as well as their belongings. Usually, these weaknesses can be remedied with some remodeling — but before homeowners shell out for the full cost of the renovation, they should check with their insurance and warranty providers to see if they can help cover the costs.

Typically, homeowner’s insurance only covers damage that occurs in an unanticipated and unpreventable disaster, like a tornado, hailstorm or flood. Homeowners who recently suffered some catastrophe should consider filing a claim, especially if the event has led to increased safety concerns in their older home. Any insurance money gained can be put toward repair and renovations that add value to the property.

Many homeowners wonder: What does a home warranty cover? Warranties are a different type of coverage to insurance, which protect different systems around a home from lifetime wear and tear. Warranties are essential for homes older than 15 years because they help homeowners manage costs associated with repairing and replacing appliances, electrical and plumbing elements and more. Homeowners who have recently experienced issues with covered systems can seek quick, easy and inexpensive aid through their home warranties.

Remember to Match the Historic Style With Renovations

Finally, perhaps the most critical note for homeowners hoping to retain the charm and character of their older properties is the importance of matching renovations to the existing style of the home. Most everyone has seen additions or renovations that don’t exactly suit their surrounding structure; mismatching styles are jarring to the eye and the atmosphere of a home, making it feel like a patchwork of old and new as opposed to a charming historic space. Homeowners should do their best to identify the era and style of their home and make design choices that are appropriate for the property and their modern sensibilities.

Some properties are designated as historic homes and require special permits to change in any way — but most old homes don’t fall into this category. Still, homeowners should be careful to remodel and renovate with an eye to the existing charm and character of their homes, especially if they appreciate the quirkiness of aged spaces.


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Uniquely Circular Home Boasts 360 Degree Views for Prim Dog Watching

By • May 5, 2020

Have you ever looked at your pet and realized you are so in love with them that you’d do essentially anything to make sure they’re safe and happy? Well, that’s precisely the thought process some homeowner’s in the Netherlands had when they asked the designers of their new house to work with them on building a home that would let them watch their dogs play in the yard from any angle. They meant it, too; the finished home is completely circular, providing the owners with a 360 view so that they can keep an eye on and enjoy the site of their dogs while the animals play happily outside and get plenty of exercise.

The home, called the 360 Villa, was designed and brought to life by Dutch architects 123DV. For their purposes, the home gave designers a chance to explore how architecture can be a medium that is fully and genuinely inclusive of humans and animals and their lives, needs, and habits, rather than just being built around them. The dogs in question are a pair of stunning and well behaved Alaskan Malamutes; quite large and affectionate animals who are clearly much loved by their owners, a Dutch couple.

The finished custom home is, on its exterior, wrapped in a glazing that acts like constant glass window panes. This, in partnership with the shape, is what allows those inside to see out to the yard, all the way around the house and from any interior vantage point. This way, when the dogs want out again but the owners must tend to responsibilities inside, everyone can have what they want and the owners can still keep a safe eye on their furry friends while they’re working or cleaning indoors.

In total, the villa encompasses 85 square meters; this size was determined to provide ample space for the couple and their two large dogs, considering everyone in the interior planning as well as the exterior and shape choices. Even the dogs are afforded ample space to play and move freely and comfortable when they are inside, which is beneficial since they are of a high energy breed.

The exterior of the house is surrounded by a gently sloping lawn that gives the dogs all kind of space but also affords the house a higher vantage point in the yard. This provides an effectively uninterrupted view of the dogs from the inside of the house while they play. The surrounding glazing is protected from sight-blurring rain splatter and sun glare by the way the roof extends over the edge at the wall, acting as a shading canopy without blocking out the stunning abundant natural light the windows let into the home’s interior space.

Of course, any house that’s made with an entirely glass exterior and wraparound windows needs to find other creative ways to preserve privacy. This is another way that the incline of the yard serves a tangible purpose. The top of the slope actually meets the window higher up on the side that faces the street rather than the private yard. This affords the home a great view without exposing its entire wall length out to the sidewalk and passersby.

Inside, the home is largely open concept in order to make it feel extremely spacious and full of good flow despite its slightly more modest (by some standards) square footage. The central social space in particular is open-plan, letting the kitchen, dining room, living room, and the sliding doors that lead to an open deck feel like a wonderfully melded hub space. This area actually takes up about two-thirds of the home.

The private areas of the home are unique because they can also be opened out into the main living area for extra effective flow, or closed off for more spatial delineation thanks to a set of sliding doors that portion out the bedroom space and bathroom. When it’s all opened up wide, a large circular skylight above the central living room floods the entire home in cheerful, natural light.

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House Design in Brazil with A Large Pergola For a Family With Two Dogs

By • Apr 29, 2020

This project involves (for leisure use) the extension of an existing house, located in a quiet and surrounded by trees neighborhood in Brasilia-DF. The family (composed of a couple, three children and two dogs) loves to receive friends at home. They felt the need for a larger space, outside the main house, for social events.

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Family Mamurbaba House in Turkey

By • Mar 25, 2020

Mamurbaba House by Orkun Nayki Architecture is a family house designed on a 817 m2 parcel. It was designed with the living standards of a family as our focus. Considering the dynamics of the region in the project design, the functionality, simplicity and sustainability of the structure were prioritized. A minimal, simple and transparent style is adopted in the design without compromising the modern line. In this direction, the content, naturalness and compatibility of the spaces, orientations and materials used are provided. It is completely compatible with nature, sustainable and timeless.

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2inOne Aframe House in Austria by Haro Architects

By • Feb 27, 2020

2inOne is an integration exercise within the urban fabric. The plot is located in Gneis, a suburban area of the city of Salzburg characterized by a dense fabric of single-family homes. Over time and as a result of successive segregations, “residual” plots have emerged which, due to their size, proportions or orientation, are less attractive for real estate development.

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Sloped Villa With Green Roof in Belgium Studio Okami Architects

By • Feb 20, 2020

The invisible house was designed by Studio Okami Architects.

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