Author Archives - Sophie
By Sophie • 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.
By Sophie • 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.
By Sophie • 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.
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.
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.
By Sophie • Feb 20, 2020
The invisible house was designed by Studio Okami Architects.
Three houses situated in a row, replaces an old villa. The houses share a driveway, while parking and entrances are solved separately on the ground floor in each volume. Designed by R21 Arkitekter
The Beachfront MIJORA is a collection of villa style tourist accommodations, designed by Yasuhiro “Hiro” Yamashita of Atelier TEKUTO. Situated along a beach in Amami Oshima, a subtropical island in southern Japan, each villa boasts a breathtaking view of the sea.
A single-storey bungalow with an unsympathetic later addition previously occupied this sloping site, facing south along the Cooks River.
Modern Ryokan kishi-ke operated by Kishi-ke Co., Ltd is a coastal small ryokan in Kamakura, the former capital of Japan, in the suburbs of Tokyo.
By Sophie • Feb 11, 2020
By Sophie • Feb 10, 2020
The plot on a sloping hillside in Kanton Solothurn is defined by two roads deriving from the south adjacent crossroad and a significant elevation of the terrain on the north side. The architecture explores the concept of creating a house within a house. With displacements in the outer monolith, various space was established outside as well as inside the building.
By Sophie • Feb 7, 2020
A shelter for a hunter’s family leisure time is located on a small hill in the deep Lithuanian forest. Design by Devyni architektai
By Sophie • Feb 7, 2020
The house called Zilvar designed by ASGK Design, is located on the outskirts of a small village in Eastern Bohemia, surrounded by fields and forests.