Friday, July 24, 2015

Rammed Earth: Affordable, and Relatively Unknown

Back in 2009, I wrote a piece about my discovery of construction using Rammed Earth. James White has re-visited the topic in Rammed Earth: Affordable, and Relatively Unknown.



They are comprised not of stone or brick, but of a material called rammed earth. Considering that both structures have been standing for well over 1,000 years, doesn't this process deserve a second look?

Rammed earth is created when clay-rich soil is mixed with lots of water and a natural construction stabilizer. In ancient times, stabilizers often included animal blood, urine, bitumen and even certain plant fibers.
Structures designed with rammed earth can be further reinforced and supported to optimize sustainability. For instance, various timbers can be used to offset heavy weight and offer additional stabilization. In modern day, one only need to substitute cement for those aforementioned stabilizers, and the structure is made exponentially more secure. This new mixture—referred to as cement stabilized rammed earth or CSRE for short—has the same strength ratings as cement. For reference, that means it can withstand about 6,000 psi of pressure.

Read More - See more at: http://www.greenbuildermedia.com/buildingscience#sthash.EzOXfEne.dpuf

Thursday, July 16, 2015

5 Creative Ways to Upcycle Pallets for Home Décor


If you’re looking for a unique way to add personal touches to your home décor, look no further than your garage. Many people have a décor gem stored there: pallets. Wood pallets are incredibly versatile and can lend a hand in projects that are DIY-friendly but look professionally done.

Upcycling a wood pallet – or using it for something new – is a great way to recycle used materials.

Here are five creative ways to upcycle pallets for your home décor:

1.    Book Shelf



It seems like there’s never enough space for book lovers to store all their favorite reads. Pallet bookshelves are a great addition to any room, and can be made to be the perfect size for housing and organizing thick novels, magazines or children’s stories. Plus they make a great conversation piece.
2.    Towel Rack



Tired of wet towels on the floor? A pallet towel rack – easily made from one piece of wood sanded down from a pallet – is the perfect solution. You can customize the piece with hooks and a coat of paint to turn it into a truly one-of-a-kind – and functional – part of your bathroom or kitchen.
3.    Coffee Table





Finding the right coffee table for your décor may be as easy as stepping into your garage and grabbing an old pallet. All right, so it may not be quite that easy, but you’ll have a good jumpstart on the materials needed. The project can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like, but this double-decker pallet coffee table is a perfect meeting point. With enough storage for electronics, magazines and books, you can’t go wrong adding this piece to your home furnishings.
4.    Pallet Wall




For small spaces that could use a little texture, a wall of pallet boards can be just the right touch. The wood can be stained different colors to warm up a cool-toned room, and you can easily add pegs to give it just a little more function for hanging up hand towels, washcloths or even pictures. This project may need a little assistance since an indoor renovation of your walls can be tricky.
5.    Bench
If you’re in need of some additional seating in your living space or outdoors, try putting together a pallet bench. There are so many different styles and types to consider, depending upon how the bench will be used. A pallet bench propped up against a wall in a mudroom, for example, would have no need for a back to be built on, as the wall would support the person using it. A bench outside, though, may need a back, so it’s readily available for lounging. 


Pallets are an excellent asset to have around, as they can be used in many home décor projects. The options are nearly endless. Try tackling one of these five upcycling projects, and bring an old pallet back to life. 



Note from Mike, here in San Miguel, there’s even a very good restaurant whose walls are made from pallets.

BIO: James White works in construction and blogs in his free time at Homey Improvements. He also enjoys hiking, photography, and buying new gadgets. Follow him on Twitter @DIYfolks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Home Décor Portland Oregon


The Irwin Real Estate Group (IREG) at Keller Williams Realty Sunset Corridor, has a blog that today gives us a peak at Home Decor for 2016 from a Chinese perspective.

"Each year as we view the old year in our rearview mirror, we anticipate the start of the new year. What will 2016 bring for home décor Portland Oregon?

"Just like fashion designs and hair styles, home décor trends are constantly changing and evolving. Each new season brings a new must-have feature for your home, new colors and new materials. In order to keep your Portland home looking fresh and chic, what are the hot trends that you can incorporate into your décor?"

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The tabletop as art display space: Ceramic mosaic tops by Furthur



The LA Times today reports that for some time "...tables with ceramic-tiled tops have often been relegated to patio and pool areas — strictly outdoors.




But that's changing, says Michelle Arias, who, with her husband, Raymond, opened Furthur on Sunset Boulevard 20 years ago. Tables adorned with 4-by-4-inch Mexican azulejos (ceramic wall tiles) are now in-home worthy because the quality of the tiles that she gets in Dolores Hidalgo, about a 40-minute drive north from San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico, has so vastly improved.




Azulejos can be traced to Moorish influences in the Iberian peninsula. Both there and in Mexico they became an obvious status statement — ornamental wall art that also functioned as a temperature moderator. Azulejos turned up on walls, floors, ceilings and were featured in churches and royal mansions




Read More Here

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Screen Door Will Open For Brunch and Lunch Seven Days a Week

The Screen Door has been added to my itinerary for next visit to PDX land.

Image: Allison Jones


A massive bombshell from weekend brunchmaster Screen Door. Starting June 11, the Southern fried East Burnside restaurant will  open for brunch and lunch seven days a week.That's right: chicken and waffles on a Monday, all the grits and Spicy Creole Bloody Marys you can handle Tuesday, Friday, Sunday, whatever—just throw your calendar away entirely. Also, the restaurant will debut a huge new lunch menu, built around a line-up of 13 Southern sandwiches (muffaletta and brisket to po’boys served on custom Alessio French bread). “It is kinda nuts,” says co-owner David Mouton with a laugh. “But we are so excited.
Along with that big sandwich roster, expect a half-dozen appetizers and a heavy emphasis on salads and veggie specials at lunch to balance out the restaurant’s meaty eats; a nod to the fact that every Screen Door meal need not be a gut-busting challenge.
Screen Door has had the market cornered on weekend brunch for nearly a decade now, with parody-worthy weekend wait lines creeping around the block and a crack team of 50+ staffers, including a handful kitchen pros whose sole job is to handle the 2,200 pounds of chicken the restaurant fries up each week.

The expanded hours and ambitious new menus have brought their own challenges—first and foremost, a lack of space. In addition to the restaurant’s own kitchen, Mouton and wife/co-owner Nicole now rent a commissary kitchen where the crew does all its batch cooking--like stewing collard greens and gumbo and butchering chickens. They also renovated the Screen Door’s garage to make space for a second “micro-kitchen,” where their baker can churn out fresh biscuits and daily shortcakes and its chefs can whip up dinner specials. 

With August marking the restaurant’s 10 year anniversary, Mouton says it was the right time to make some big changes. “Over the last couple of years we’ve been tempted to open another Screen Door over the river or open different concepts. But instead of taking our eye off the ball, we’d rather expand our hours here and maintain our institutional status,” he says, crediting the restaurant’s staff for giving him and Nicole confidence to undertake the expansion. “The sentimental reason is that I really want to respond to the neighbors. They’ve been asking us to open for brunch on weekdays for years. You know, we didn’t open the restaurant with fried chicken and waffles [on the menu], that was a customer request. In fact, all of our main menu items were customer requests. We just respond to what people ask for.”

“Screen Door is its own beast,” Mouton laughs. “It’s taken on its own life—we’re just here to steer it."
Screen Door's new hours:
  • Weekday brunch 8 am-2 p.m; lunch served 10:30 am-2 pm (Mon-Fri)
  • Dinner 5:30 pm-10 pm Tues-Sat; 5:30 pm-9 pm Sun-Mon
  • Saturday & Sunday brunch 9 am-2:30 pm
2337 E Burnside St
503-542-0880


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

From Mukava, the World’s First Egonomic Reading Table.

From Mukava, the world’s first ergonomic reading table. 



Designed by multi-award winning industrial designer Hiroshi Ono, Mukava is compatible with all mobile and tablet devices as well as books and documents. Mukava features our patented hinge system that adjusts to more than twelve possible positions, making your reading or viewing experience comfortable wherever you are. Feel free to watch their new promotional video highlighting its versatility and design:


Mukava currently offers three revolutionary products which are listed below

3) Mukava For Monitor Arm (http://www.mukava-tables.com/?page_id=21874)


All of their products are currently in production and they will begin taking pre-orders on May 25 in preparation for a full product launch on 1 July, 2015.

Mükava is about more than selling the world’s best reading table. They are about helping communities at home and abroad to learn to read. Mukava's Project for Adult Literacy and Schools, LLC is focussed on two causes; adult literacy in America and building a school for homeless children in Jakarta, Indonesia. Twenty percent of the total profits of their company go to their causes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to Choose Paint Colors to Complement Furniture



Most people already own furniture before deciding to paint and repaint. Choosing a color that complements the furniture you already have only makes sense. Knowing how to choose the right color, texture and pattern of paint can be quite a challenge, though.

Complementary Color Matching

The first step to choosing color for your home should be to find a family of colors that complement your furniture colors. If you’re lucky enough to have neutral colors for your furniture, such as tan, white or black, then you can choose almost any color scheme.

For everyone else, you’ll want to visit your local paint store and choose some sample color strips in a variety of choices. Find one that is as close to the color of your furniture as possible. Now, turn to a color wheel to find complementary colors.

If you have an accent chair or pillow in the room, choose one of the minor, lighter colors in the pattern to paint your walls. The best colors will be directly across from and in the same row as your color. Remember that you want contrast. Everything shouldn’t match exactly or your room will look flat.

Opposites Attract

If you have darker furniture, brighten up the room by adding lighter or “happier” paints. However, there are a few neutral dark colors that don’t dampen a room’s ambience when there is dark furniture as well. Grey is a versatile paint color that coordinates well with many hues and adapts to different lighting.

Choosing an adaptable paint color for your walls makes it easier to change your furniture whenever the need (or want) arises. You can still add personality to your room with splashes of color through throws and pillows.

When and Where to Use an Accent Wall

Is there a wall in your home that you want to draw attention to?

Make sure the color you choose doesn’t clash with any art or furniture on that wall.

This is also a good opportunity to use more than one paint color and add glossy stripes in the same color, texture, sponge painting or other specialized techniques.

In a larger room, it can be tempting to add a lot of special details, such as a textured wall. However, this can be quite time consuming on a large wall. Instead, consider adding these details to just a small area, such as over a fireplace.

Just keep in mind:

·         If your furniture is modern, stay away from antiquing styles or texture. Stick with smooth surfaces and geometric patterns.

·         If your furniture is antique, stay away from geometric patterns and modern designs.

Keep Your Lifestyle in Mind

Ultimately, the paint you choose has to fit in with your everyday life. For example, it probably isn’t a wise decision to choose paint that doesn’t wash easily if you have small children. Maybe you even want to consider using chalkboard paint for kid’s room walls.

Consider all the factors involved in making your house look great, including using multiple textures, complementary colors and adding detail to draw attention. If you take your time and choose based on all these elements, you’ll have freshly painted walls that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

BIO: James works in construction and blogs in his free time at Homey Improvements. He also enjoys hiking, photography, and buying new gadgets. Follow him on Twitter @DIYfolks.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Karttell Stuns Me

I wrote last about the 10 most expensive furniture brands. This morning I received an email with this picture:


When I previewed the email, Bev was standing right by me. I saw the breasts and "eros" and thought, "Whoa someone just sent me porn."

Like any male, I waited to look until Bev moved to another room.

It was an arresting ad from Kartell about the new egg-shaped chair named Ero/s/. They got my attention:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Most Expensive Furniture Brands in the World



Insider Monkey has a list of the ten most expensive furniture brands in the World. The list contained two surprises for me. How about you?

#10 - French Heritage - Each chair and tables are crafted to perfection to match up the mood of your home. French Heritage gives you a taste and feel of casual contemporary style. No wonder why they priced a chair for $4,173. Smooth and silky chair.
#9 - Christopher Guy furniture offers a wide wild variety of luxurious deals: from headboards to gold-worth sofas, from trendy office furniture to luxy upholstery
#8 - Henkel Harris - Mary and Caroll Henkel put up a small manufacturing pant together with their designer friend, John Harris. They pledge to create only a masterpiece of design.
#7 - 
Fendi Casa - Offers an iconic collection perfected with a feel of contemporary era.
#6 - 
Kartell - It’s about time where creativity and glamour meet innovation.
#5 - 
Boca do Lobo - By getting their limited-edition products, sure that you’d feel all the passion and love of the designers with the work of art they have completed.
#4 - 
Poliform - They revamped the classy style to the modern age, making the best of both worlds when it comes to getting your furniture done! 
#3 - 
Edra - Their best practice is combining the traditional to modern which is just way too cool. It was founded in 1987 in a city full of art appreciation and traditional culture
#2 - 
Restoration Hardware - Surprised? It’s known for providing comfortable yet pleasurable designs of furniture. 
#1 - 
Henredon - I knew the furniture was high-priced, but one of the most reliable and yes, most expensive furniture brands in the world? No.

Can any of these brands be found in Portland, Oregon? 

French Heritage - J. Garner Home Seattle
Christopher Guy - Neiman Marcus
Fendi - Saks San Francisco
Poliform - Architectural Resources Ketchum, ID
Restoration Hardware - 315 Northwest 23rd Avenue
Henredon - Parker Furniture

Incorporate Interesting Decor for Vacation Getaway Spot


Photo By ep_stock

Jennifer Kimrey shares in the Houston Chronicle that"Decorating and furnishing a vacation home can be very different from decorating and furnishing your first home or primary residence.

A prevalent trend that has lasted years is decorating your second home to honor its location, but that doesn't mean everything has to be "beachy" everywhere - moderation,please.

A great way get more enjoyment out of your second home is upgrading the outdoor areas. Cozy outdoor sitting areas, for example, allow homeowners to extend their indoor living space to the outdoors and have become a popular focus of second-home redecorating.

"Patio furniture trends have shifted away from traditional iron patio furniture to contemporary plastic wicker furnishings. This style is very popular. For a more 'designer look,' many of my clients purchase their outdoor furniture and have custom pillows made to match their decor.

The outdoor kitchen is another popular feature. "In addition to your standard grill, it's also very popular to have an ice maker, refrigerator and smoker as fixtures in your outdoor kitchen. We also see many homeowners choosing wood-burning pizza ovens. Another popular feature is a built-in fireplace or fire pit.

Ultimately, the best decorating decisions you can make for your second house are ones that make you happy and give that property a cozy feeling of home.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Your Clients Are Getting Younger

More than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015), and this year they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.



What’s Hot in Outdoor Furniture

Kim Cook at the The Reporter describes what's hot in outdoor furniture "Outdoor living spaces have come a long way from the days when “outdoor furnishings” meant a few inexpensive folding chairs around a flimsy plastic table. 
[...]
"...manufacturers are offering new furniture, textiles and materials that resemble indoor furnishings yet can withstand the elements.
What will we see in 2015?

  • Vintage modern and ultra-modern - Watch for midcentury modern styling in outdoor pieces to coordinate with this popular interior style. Luxe looks evoking old Hollywood are also in.
  • Global Style - Asian, Moroccan, Mediterranean motifs, and Silk Road accents
  • Flexible use - a trend toward “chat and chill” configurations of furniture used both indoors and outdoors or comfy seating for both areas; portable fire pits.
  • Color is in - Deep indigo looks fresh and new, and so does coral and dark blue. The natural neutrals — sand, mocha, charcoal, cream — stay strong for 2015. Their versatility makes them good choices whatever the climate.
Brown Jordan’s Marin lounge chair in flame suede with leather pillow, designed by Michael Berman, is an example of an outdoor furniture piece that could easily work indoors. The blurring of lines between indoor and outdoor furnishings continues to be a strong trend for spring/summer 2015.Courtesy Brown Jordan, Roger Davies
  • Patterns - all kinds of bright patterns
  • Rustic Contemporary -  like chicken-wire doors and weathered-look metals with contemporary seat materials and colors.


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Chris Soderberg Chosen For Pearl Re Design

photo by Amy Ouellette 

Realtor Sasha Welford of Debbie Thomas Real Estate (402 NW 13th Ave, 503-226-2141), who sold Scott Showalter, the new president and CEO of the Oregon Symphony, his 11th-floor condominium, then referred him to Chris Soderberg Design (1110 NW Marshall St, 503-206-4096). Debbie Thomas and Soderberg have collaborated many times over the years. Both were part of developer John Carroll’s team during the Pearl’s first building wave, nearly 20 years ago. And recently, Soderberg remodeled Thomas’s Pearl District real estate offices, as well as the lobby of one of Carroll’s first buildings, the McKenzie Lofts.


“We’re seeing a whole second generation of Pearl buyers,” Soderberg says, “many of whom are making Portland their second home. They’re tearing things up—getting rid of granite and adding quartz—and they want to customize their spaces.”
Soderberg and Showalter hit it off immediately. “We walked through together and were both speaking the same contemporary language,” she says. “I felt strongly right away that we needed to go in a gray direction. His art has a lot of color.”

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ooh and Aah Over Granite Countertops.

For years when we've watched House Hunters International, the couple searching for a house ooh and aah over granite countertops. Those days are over says Ben Keough. "EuroCucina 2014, there was a huge variety of granite alternatives on display. From
stainless steel to tempered glass, from ceramic to wood... we’ve seen the future of your kitchen, and it’s not granite."


Now we have:

TEMPERED GLASSThe thick, translucent material is tough and has a pleasant tactility, while still remaining easy to clean. According to company reps, it’s also available in a huge variety of colors.



CERAMICSthe “closest thing you can get to indestructible.” The material is scratch-resistant, easy to clean, and cool but not cold to the touch.



NANOTECH MATERIALSThe most unusual alternative countertop at EuroCucina came from Italian designer Arrital, courtesy of Arpa Industriale. Referred to as a “nanotech matte material,” the Fenix NTM countertop is anti-reflective, anti-fingerprint, self-healing, and soft to the touch without being... well, soft.



WOODSolid wood and wood-finished countertops, often contrasting with or overlaid on a stone or synthetic material. Everything from mahogany and ebony to light pine and bamboo was used, and often paired with matching cabinetry to create a minimalist yet warm look.



STAINLESS STEELplenty of designers at EuroCucina made a virtue out of this particular vice and made stainless countertops look fresh and new again.



TILEAt least one designer at EuroCucina is aiming to bring them back. Minacciolo’s Minà multi-function island employs a beautiful mosaic tile top with subtle hues of red and orange.



Thursday, April 09, 2015

5 Questions to Ask When Organizing Your Kitchen

The kitchen is most likely the most-used and least-loved room in your home. When you're working all day, running around after children, and basically leading a busy life, it's easy to let the kitchen become disorganized and unwelcoming. However, with a little bit of love and elbow grease, you can transform your kitchen back into the heart of your home.



Where Do I Start With Organizing the Kitchen?When faced with the mammoth task of putting your kitchen back into order, it can be overwhelming. Where do you even start? Many recommend first of all going through your cabinets and emptying them, discarding anything that's out of date, broken or never used. You'll instantly have more room and fewer things to organize.

How Do I Make Cooking More Efficient? Now you'll be looking to rearrange what you have left into your existing space. A good tip is store items where you'll need them the most. For example, put cooking utensils in a jar near the stove, and store like items, such as pans, all together in one area for easy access. Less-used items that are kept for holidays can be kept in less-accessible areas, as you won't need them as often.

 Can I Use “Dead” Spaces in My Kitchen? You can and you should. There are myriad ideas online for using every last inch of space in your kitchen, but our favorites involve hanging items wherever you can. Put in hooks on the inside of doors to hold aprons and shopping bags, or underneath your upper cabinets to hold utensils. Empty wall space can be used, too, to hold smaller items such as spices on a spice rack.

 How Do I Make My Cabinet Space Efficient? Once you've emptied your cabinets of all the excess things that clogged them up, it should be easier to keep them organized. A good tip is to use a Lazy Susan in your cabinets, especially for anything that may spill. You can easily access anything you need with them, plus it's easy to clean up messes if they do occur. Also, use see-through storage, such as clear plastic tubs or wire baskets, so you can see everything in there.

Can I Recycle Anything? Of course you can. Nearly everything in your kitchen can be reused to organize something else. Some ideas include using old LEGO bricks for stacking cookie sheets and using empty baking powder containers to store small amounts of things, like salt and flour. Old magazine files can be attached with magnets to your fridge, keeping all your papers tidy. There are endless possibilities for recycling.
    Once you've gone through your kitchen and re-organized it to fit your needs, hopefully it will be much easier to keep it neat, tidy and clutter free. Now your kitchen will be a room fit for living, eating and entertaining. Plus, it will be much easier to find everything. Enjoy your new, stress-free kitchen.

    BIO: James works in construction and blogs in his free time at Homey Improvements. He also enjoys hiking, photography, and buying new gadgets. Follow him on Twitter @DIYfolks.