It started with my mother’s Better Homes and Gardens back in the late 60’s early 70’s. Thumbing through them after she had finished looking at that month’s issue. Cutting out the pages of things I had liked and anticipating applying the ideas in my first apartment. I would make collages with images based on color. Pages of things of various shades of blues, greens and of course – purples. I never really liked oranges, yellows or reds – back then…

After I had graduated from design school and moved to Massachusetts, I began receiving my own issues of Better Homes and Garden each month in the mail. I then added Metropolitan Home and Architectural Digest. Martha Stewart came and went and as I glance over at the bookcase in my office now: stacks of Home, Domino (2005-2009) and House and Garden date back to 2006. The largest collection is Natural Home from May 2007 to this month’s issue. I also have an IKEA brochure for each year dating back to 2006.

lmk interiors, ltd. bookcase            lmk interiors, ltd. close up magazines

I love turning the pages and looking through old as well as contemporary issues. It offers inspiration for layouts, color palettes and overall design that I can share with clients. The only difference now is that I can view most of the magazines I have mentioned on the internet. I only subscribe to one magazine: Natural Home and Garden.

Several of these magazines are no longer published nor do they have websites, but I did want to share a few that I enjoy viewing. On any of these sites you can type in green interior design, eco-friendly design or sustainable design in the search window and find a wealth of ideas.

Metropolitan Home ceased publication in 2009, but a website with all of the archived issues and new inspirations can be found at http://www.elledecor.com/. The plus: there are so many categories to find a multitude of ideas; the negative: one can get lost on the website for HOURS! I find this to be true on most of the following websites. My advice is to limit your searches to an hour at a time.

http://www.bhg.com/ (Better Home and Gardens)http://www.architecturaldigest.com/                     http://www.marthastewart.com/                             http://www.traditionalhome.com/                               http://www.housebeautiful.com/                                        http://www.dwell.com/                                                 http://www.realsimple.com/ (I do look at this at the checkout register in the grocery store when they have an issue on the stands)http://www.naturalhomeandgarden.com/

                          Natural Home and Garden magazine issues

As I have shared, my Natural Home and Garden magazine is my largest collection. Mainly because it offers a wealth of information on green design. It showcases renovations and new construction as well as providing information on sustainable and recycled products for use in the home as building materials and purposeful  and decorative products. I enjoy using their website, but I still love turning the pages and dog-earring things I like and might use on my next project!

Through Facebook I have found some great websites (blogs) that keep me posted with innovative products and design ideas as well. By subscribing to them, I get their posts on my news feed and can click for the latest informative tidbit.

http://inhabitat.com/                                                      http://groovygreenlivin.com/                                   http://www.hipmomsgogreen.com/                     http://www.GoGreenWebDirectory.com/

I enjoy sharing these sites with you. If you have any questions, you can always contact me at design@lmkinteriorsltd.com or (978)335-1140.

before: Hamilton Wenham Teacher's Lounge

Would I be interested in helping to update the high school teacher’s lounge? That was the initial email regarding the “surprise” make over that a group of parents wanted to provide to show the teachers/staff how much they appreciated the work they provided for their children and within the community. I received this email on November 17, with the intention to execute the transformation over the Christmas holiday break (December 27 – 30). Basically, one month to raise funds, make selections/specifications, order/purchase and install during the busiest time of the year: between Thanksgiving and New Years. Naturally, I said I would love to help in any way I could. I have two children currently in the high school as well as a graduate, so I figured this was a volunteer effort that was within my comfort zone.

before: Hamilton Wenham High School Teacher's Lounge before: Hamilton Wenham High School Teacher's Lounge

A small group of us met with the principal to clarify any conditions that we needed to be made aware of and any restrictions. He informed us that we needed to use low VOC paint and that was about it. I thought it would be a great opportunity to also bring in a recycled flooring option that I have specified, FLOR carpet tiles. After assessing the situation, my thoughts were to:

  • paint the walls, trim and bookcase (Sherwin Williams: Harmony)
  • stain doors and cabinetry woodwork
  • remove the existing carpet and install FLOR carpet tiles
  • reupholster the chairs surrounding the large conference table and make upholstered seats for the wood chairs
  • purchase new sofa and loveseat (since the existing ones were hand-me-downs that were falling apart)
  • purchase new end tables
  • purchase new table lamps
  • accessorize the wall unit shelves

An initial email went out to as many families as all of us knew sharing our intent and asking for donations of money towards the cause as well as time to volunteer to implement the design. We were stunned by the response within the first few days. As I had begun making selections and pricing out the costs, it looked like the donations would cover most of the expenses. I would pass my design discounts on where possible to help us reach our projected budget goals. I was able to do this on the paints/stains, FLOR carpet tiles, fabric for upholstering and labor costs for reupholstering and even on the tables from Bed, Bath and Beyond when a woman handed me a 20% discount coupon while in the check out line when she heard what the tables were going to be used for. The table lamps were donated by Timeless Interiors.

With everything specified and ordered before Christmas, we planned the schedule of installation. The carpet tile had been delivered to the custodial room and were being hidden under blankets. I had picked up the fabric yardage and was storing that along with the lamps at my office. I spent Christmas weekend assembling the end tables. The plan was that on Monday, the carpet would be ripped out and the walls and woodwork would be prepped for paint/stain (to be the messiest day of the week), Tuesday we would paint/stain, Wednesday we would install the carpet tiles, and Thursday we would have the sofa/loveseat picked up at Jordan’s and delivered and do final clean up and accessorizing.

Well- Mother Nature decided to throw a rather intense snow storm that Sunday into Monday – so the whole schedule was thrown out the window and we came in Tuesday to do our best to make it all come together with whatever volunteers showed up. The first issue that day was that the carpet was glued down for so many years – it took two very strong teenage boys along with some strong Dads to pull most of it up. There was an 8’x 8’ patch that would not budge. Luckily, the custodian walked in and mentioned a flooring company the school uses and perhaps they could help us out. Wednesday morning, Paul Ritchie of Paul Ritchie Flooring in Beverly and crew showed up to remove the remaining carpet patch and INSTALL the carpet tiles for us. I had intended to spend the day, along with volunteers doing this task. I am forever grateful that professionals did it!

during: Hamilton Wenham High School Teacher's Lounge during: Hamilton Wenham High School Teacher's Lounge

Everything was coming together beautifully. A few on-the-spot decisions regarding paint vs. stain when the old wood would not stop absorbing the stain and it wasn’t looking any better than when we started. Apply paint!

I ran to Christmas Tree Shop on Thursday to see what I could find for adding some colorful accessories (on a strict budget!) to put on the shelves. As soon as I walked in, I hit the jack pot. $70 for all the decorative pieces of glass, ceramics and metal baskets. Sofa/Loveseat delivered Friday morning along with a handful of volunteers to move in all of the other furnishings. Chairs will be reupholstered in the coming weeks. (My upholsterer was on vacation.) Coffee table will get a crackle/antique finish applied in the coming weeks as well. Otherwise, we were able to make this transformation happen on time and within budget.

The added bonus: Monday morning, when the teachers returned from vacation – they entered their lounge in awe. I received wonderful emails and phone calls throughout the day expressing their gratitude for the time and money donated to this project. They said, “This gesture of kindness has improved morale, fostered collegiality and provided a space that is comfortable, welcoming and professional.”

after: Hamilton Wenham High School Teacher's Lounge after: Hamilton Wenham High School Teacher's Lounge

after: Hamilton Wenham Teacher's Lounge

A rather nice way to end 2010. Here’s to a new year of rewarding projects. Always feel free to contact me at lmk interiors, ltd.

design@lmkinteriorsltd.com or (978)335-1140

Happy New year!

I’ll get to it when I have time… just keep re-organizing the piles…procrastinate…overwhelmed… we are having friends come over– hide everything! Oh yeah, perhaps we should just de-clutter.

CLUTTER

At some point, is it possible to have everything in it’s proper place and have the home or office close to what we see in the magazine? Yes, the photos showcase staged environments at their best. But, with some planning and lots of organizing, I believe we can live and work in a space devoid of clutter.

As a designer, I sometimes find that what I design for my clients does not always translate into my own living space or office area. I create cabinetry, cubbies, shelves, closets, organizers and storage capabilities so that there is a place for every item in their kitchen, living room, bedroom and bath. When I look around my house, I find the pile of bills, the items I have read, but am not sure whether to file them or keep them out to review yet again, the clothes from the day before draped over the chair at the foot of my bed, the basement a receptacle of items that simply “can not” be discarded just yet. And that is just me, there are four other people plus a dog and two cats living in our home! The list goes on and on. In a perfect world, one would move into a home and have a pre-determined place for everything. Well, I am here to share that even I do not have this mastered.

That is why we have Professional Organizers, the Fly Lady, blogs to help us learn how to de-clutter, Container Stores and lots of books on de-cluttering as well. I would like to share a few bits of information that I have gathered to assist all of us with our battle against stuff.

NoClutter2

www.flylady.net:

According to Marla Cilley (aka The fly Lady), “Taking 15 minutes each day to de-clutter an area and clearing your hotspots are among some of the most powerful tools you can use to create a more peaceful home. Remember: You cannot organize clutter – you can only organize the things you love!”

  • When to De-clutter: Decide how often you are going to de-clutter a zone. Do a little every day – use a timer. But be warned – this can become compulsive! Once you get started you will want to clean like a banshee! Don’t burn yourself out! Only do small amounts at a time. The house did not get dirty overnight and it will not get clean overnight. When you set the timer you can only do two sessions at a time. This goal may seem unattainable right now, but you can do it in little pieces. In a couple of months, the whole house will be de-cluttered.
  • De-cluttering Equipment: You will need garbage bags, boxes, magic markers, and a dust rag. Label the boxes “Give Away”, “Throw Away”, and “Put Away”. Line the “Throw Away” box with a plastic garbage bag.
  • Set your timer: for 1 hour (or 30, 15, or 10 minutes – it doesn’t matter how long). Just do the job as fast as you can and do not pull out more stuff than you can put away in that length of time. This means just one drawer, one closet (or even one shelf in one closet), one magazine rack, or digging under just the furniture in the zone. Not all of them at once!
  • Start at the entrance to the room: Then, work your way around the room clockwise. Do not skip a spot. Whatever happens to be next, just do it.
  • De-clutter Away! With boxes at your feet and dust rag in your waistband, start off by cleaning out and getting rid of the things that do not belong in this room. Put garbage in the “Throw Away” box, donations in the “Give Away” box, and stuff that goes somewhere else in the “Put Away” box. Don’t worry that you do not have a place for everything right now. By the time you finish you will. That’s a promise from FlyLady!
  • What to de-clutter? Things to ask yourself as you get rid of your clutter:
    • Do I love this item?
    • Have I used it in the past year?
    • Is it really garbage?
    • Do I have another one that is better?
    • Should I really keep two?
    • Does it have sentimental value that causes me to love it?
    • Or does it give me guilt and make me sad when I see the item?
    • Cleanse this room of everything that does not make you SMILE.
  • Sing this song: “Please release me, let me go” as sung from the stuff’s point of view. It needs to be loved by someone and if you don’t love it – GET RID OF IT!
  • Get rid of the garbage! When the “Throw Away” box gets full, pull out the garbage bag, close it, and put it in the trash can, the pickup truck, or wherever you keep your garbage. Put a new garbage bag in the “Throw Away” box and keep on Flying until the timer goes off.
  • Donations: When the “Give Away” box gets full, seal it off, and put it in your car. The next time you are out, you can donate to the area thrift shop. Do not save your clutter for a yard or garage sale, you will be blessed by giving it away. The value can be deducted on your income tax. Remember you are trying to get rid of clutter – not relocate it somewhere else in your home. Now, grab another box, label it “Give Away”, and get back to work.
  • “Put Away” Stuff: When the “Put Away” box gets full, take the box in your arms and run around the house (good thing you have shoes on – right?) and put the items in the room where they belong. If they have a place, put them there, if not put them in the room where they logically belong. By the time you have finished you will have a place for everything and everything will be in it’s place.
  • Timer Goes Off: When the timer goes off, you have to put away all the boxes, but first you have to empty them all. Go as fast as you can.
  • Another great website overflowing with information on de-cluttering and getting your life organized is www.zenhabits.net. Leo Babauta shares his personal story and provides simple steps to follow that are similar to the Fly Lady’s but add a Zen flavor.

    David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done (GTD) has some insightful methods of de-cluttering at www.zenhabits.net/the-getting-things-done-gtd-faq/ as well as his book: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.

    Some of my clients have asked for initial help by a professional to get them started when planning to organize and de-clutter. I often refer clients to Professional Organizer, Nancy Black of Organization Plus to assist. She offers an initial 3 hour consultation service that helps when taking the first steps to achieving a more balanced existence. http://organizationplus.com/03_threehourtransfomration.html

    home_20081022_clutter_banner

    With the holidays upon us, this is the time when most of us put forth a great effort to clean and organize our homes with the added incentive of company coming to visit. If that is what it takes to motivate us for the big push, then so be it. But for the every day living amongst our possessions, I do recommend finding that balance with some of the tips mentioned above. Happy de-cluttering and if you find you need someone to share your situation with, please feel free to contact me at design@lmkinteriorsltd.com or (978)335-1140.

    My intention last month was to read a book I had recently purchased and then share my findings on my blog. I would be travelling with my daughter to Washington, D.C. for 10 hours each way. It would be the perfect opportunity to spend time reading, snoozing, munching and just looking out the window while listening to my iPod. Well, I was able to do everything but the reading. I realized I get car/bus sick.

    So, here we are a month later, work has been busy (fantastic), and I still have only gotten about 1/3 of the way through the book. I decided that I would share what I have learned regarding the subject matter. The book is entitled, Homes that Heal and those that don’t (how your home may be harming your family’s health by Athena Thompson. I learned of this book through a series of conversations with various people. www.homesthatheal.com

    A friend from high school posted a comment on Facebook about how impressed he was to see my involvement in “greening” my interior design business. He asked if I had heard of the movement known as Bau-Biologie or Building Biology. I admitted I had not heard of it and began my research.

    Definition of Building Biology:

    Bau-Biologie® is the holistic study of the man-made environment, human health and ecology. The intrinsic aspect of IBE is to hold nature as the golden principle. Bau-Biologie®, or Building Biology, is not a narrowly specialized subject, but is a living subject that brings together fields of study that are otherwise only taught in isolation. IBE was started in North America in 1987, with a mission to raise awareness that buildings can abide by the laws of nature. The principles of Bau-Biologie, or Building Biology, & Ecology are based on the premise that what is healthy for the occupants (biologically compatible) will also be good for the environment (ecologically sustainable). These principles which emerged in Germany due to problems with post-war housing construction are relevant today. After World War II, new houses were quickly built in Germany to accommodate the growing population. Studies of these new houses found a pattern of illnesses not characteristic of the population, but characteristic to the commonalities of the living environments. The new housing, being quickly built, and unable to properly air out (“outgas”, or “offgas”) provided for an environment where the occupants were the recipients of every volatile organic compound (VOC) emitted from the construction materials. Along with this, other irritations became manifest because of the electrical systems. These two major irritants set to work simultaneously, and enhanced effects arose.

    From these discoveries a study began among a few individuals to catalog and characterize the offending components. What emerged was a Standard of Baubiologie Method of Testing, with recommended threshold guidelines for sleeping areas (the space where and when one is most susceptible to biological irritation and damage). A small group of individuals was formed among whom Dr. Anton Schneider, Wolfgang Maes, and the Institut für Baubiologie und Ökologie Neubeurn (IBN) started a training system to educate those that were willing.

    One of the architects, Helmut Ziehe, took the program and its possibilities to the USA. In 1987, he founded the International Institute of Building Biologie and Ecology (IBE) which presently offers seminars across the U.S. Two certification streams are available, the Building Biology and Environmental Consultant (BBEC), and the Building Biology Practitioner (BBP).

    The three groups of most sensitive individuals that reap the greatest benefits are: infants, the elderly, and the immune-compromised. Some people become environmentally hypersensitive, and although conventional medicine suggests that the problem(s) may be psychological, there is growing acceptance that there is an environmental cause. http://buildingbiology.net

    According to Wikipedia:

    Building Biology (or Baubiologie as it was coined in Germany) is a field of building science that investigates the indoor living environment for a variety of irritants. Practitioners consider the built environment as something with which the occupants interact, and believe its functioning can produce a restful or stressful environment. The major areas focused on by building biologists are building materials/processes, indoor air quality (IAQ) and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and radiation (EMR). Building Biology is a holistic approach to the built environment. It is concerned with the interaction between the built environment and the health of the occupants. This can be in residential, public, or commercial buildings. There are 25 Principles of Building Biology, which govern the decision making of Building Biologists.

    The 25 Principles of Building Biology

    © Institute of Building Biology + Ecology Neubeuern IBN

    Natural Location

    1. Building site without natural anomalies or human-made disturbances
    2. Residential homes away from sources of emissions and noise
    3. Human-oriented housing with sufficient green space
    4. Personalized and family-oriented housing or settlements

    Balanced Electromagnetic Radiation

    1. Lowest possible interference with the natural balance of background radiation
    2. Without exposure to human-made electromagnetic and radiofrequency radiation
    3. Lowest possible level of radioactivity in building materials
    4. Natural color selection, daylight exposure, and shielded full-spectrum lighting

    Clean Indoor Air

    1. Without outgassing toxins, but with a pleasant or neutral smell
    2. Lowest possible levels of fungi, bacteria, dust, and allergens
    3. Good indoor air quality with natural ventilation
    4. Natural regulation of indoor air humidity through humidity-buffering materials

    Thermal Comfort

    1. Low total moisture content of a new building that dries out quickly
    2. Well-balanced ratio between thermal insulation and heat retention
    3. Optimal air and surface temperatures
    4. Heating system based on radiant heat

    Healthy Design

    1. Natural and unadulterated building materials
    2. Best possible drinking water quality
    3. Human-oriented noise and vibration protection
    4. Application of physiological and ergonomic findings to interior and furniture design
    5. Consideration of harmonic measures, proportions, and shapes

    Environmental Protection, Energy Efficiency, and Social Responsibility

    1. Causing no environmental problems
    2. Minimizing energy consumption and utilizing as much renewable energy as possible
    3. Building materials preferably from the local region without promoting exploitation of scarce and hazardous resources
    4. Building without causing social burdens

    According to Paula Baker- Laporte:

    considered one of the top ten green architects in the U.S. and a certified Building Biologist: “The natural building movement championed by the theories of Building Biology and a small but growing sector of environmentally concerned builders, designers and homeowners is gaining momentum. I believe there is a synthesis at hand between the two seemingly opposite approaches to healthy building. A natural home equipped with all the amenities of modern life faces many of the same indoor environmental qualities as does a sealed construction, and ventilation systems are becoming more common in natural buildings. On the other hand manufactured, code pre-approved permeable wall systems such as aerated autoclaved concrete are being introduced in to the mainstream market place. Straw bale construction has now been tested and codified in many locations. More and more construction products now advertise being “environmentally friendly” and “non-toxic”. Green building rating systems that reward healthier building practices are springing up all over the country. Regardless of the starting point we are moving towards healthier homes that are freer of toxic chemicals, more energy efficient and kinder on the environment.” http://www.healthyhouseinstitute.com/a_968-Building_Biology_and_the_Healthy_House http://bakerlaporte.com/index.htm

    Carol Lloyd, on special assignment to San Francisco Gate:

    “Bau-Biologie originated during the 1970s as a way of researching the factors involved in healthy and sick buildings and educating the public on ways to improve the healthfulness of existing buildings and future construction. In Europe, Bau-Biologie is an established discipline distinguished by research laboratories studying the issue and a well-known profession of healthy-home inspectors hired by homeowners and business owners alike.

    When I complained that when we’d first moved into the house, which features refinished floors, new carpet, and new double-paned windows, I sometimes went upstairs and felt as if the whole second floor were filled with poison gas, the building biologist I had hired hardly seemed surprised.

    “You’ve got a classic situation with a tight building,” he explained. “If a building isn’t getting air in, then all the chemicals in your home just stay there, and you have to dilute it. You can do that with an expensive ventilation system, or you can do it the old-fashioned way — by opening the windows.”

    And even though I didn’t go in for a lot of laboratory testing, just seeing my home through the building biologist’s eyes allowed me a glimpse of a more holistic understanding of our relationship with our built environment. Seeing the whole as a system changes everything. For instance, he recommended running the ceiling fan for 10 minutes after showers and the hood fan while cooking to prevent mold growth. But that practice, he noted, would trigger another need: to replace the air that is being sucked out. “If you don’t allow the fresh air to come in, the fans end up sucking air from attics and crawls spaces and places where you’d rather not be breathing,” he said. “Thus, when you turn on a fan, you should also open windows.”

    Likewise, it’s not simply the original off-gassing of my carpets that presents health concerns but the fact that synthetic fibers in carpets bond with many pollutant molecules. Without suggesting I rip the carpet out tomorrow, he observed quietly, “If it’s a pollutant, it will probably bond with the carpet, and if it’s on the carpet, it will go in your child’s mouth.”

    By the time he described the presiding metaphor behind Bau-Biologie — that every building is a living organism — I realized I would never look at buildings in quite the same way again.”

    Matthew Waletzke, a Certified Building Biology Environmental Consultant (BBEC):

    Neighborhood Environmental Site Evaluations – Some of the most dangerous or costly hazards exist outside and can contaminate a home through pathways to human contact such as vapor intrusion, soil and groundwater. Even if an area appears pristine it does not mean that issues are not present. This report will help to protect you and your family’s health, ensure a sound investment and understand nearby risks.

    Healthy Bedroom/Nursery – The rooms that we sleep in are by far the most important when it comes to our health. Not only do we spend almost one third of our lives in this environment but it is also a time when our bodies are most vulnerable to outside stressors. Those stressors can come in the form of electromagnetic radiation, allergens/bioaerosols from the air and even from the beds that we sleep on. Expectant parents should be especially concerned when setting up a nursery as newborns and children are much more susceptible to these stressors.

    Electro Magnetic Radiation (EMR) – EMR is a much misunderstood subject and is also a much understated subject when it comes to our health. There are many common symptoms which have been linked to EMR, including fatigue and difficulty sleeping to much more serious conditions as fibromyalgia and other various autoimmune conditions. Through this evaluation, you will find where high EMR exposure exist both inside and outside of your home and how to eliminate or avoid them. In this evaluation we will discuss industry “best practices” related to use of common electronic equipment and cellular phones to keep your exposure to a minimum.

    Moisture Intrusion/Mold – High humidity and moisture is not only uncomfortable for those living in a home but it also promotes the growth of biologicals, such as dust mites and molds. Controlling moisture intrusion into or onto building materials is the key to controlling many problems that adversely affect health, as well as, preventing damage to building materials.

    Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) – Indoor air climate has a seemingly limitless list of possible pollutants. Building materials, furnishings, mechanical equipment, occupants and occupant activities all create these pollutants. They can travel through the building as air flows from areas of positive pressure to those of lower pressure. We will identify how these air movements flow and pinpoint the source of pollutants.

    As you can see, there is a great deal to read and learn about this subject. I will continue to read the book, seeking solutions to the issues and perhaps learning more about becoming certified as a building biologist. If you would like to learn more about this subject, please visit the websites I have highlighted or feel free to call my office at (978)335-1140 or send an email to design@lmkinteriorsltd.com.

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