Not to be missed fall home tips!

Ah, fall is officially here in Michigan and right on cue there’s a chill in the air. While the sun is still shining, let’s get ready for the upcoming cold. Check these off of your home care list and stay warm and dry this winter.

First call your HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) contractor to check and tune up your furnace, heat pump, or boiler for the heating season ahead. It’s a minimal cost that will prevent you from being caught in the cold with your furnace down. You can find a contractor to perform this work here. You’ll save time, money, and headaches by having the equipment tested for optimal performance and the prevention of carbon monoxide leaks.

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Make the most of the heating in your home by insuring your ceiling fan is turning the proper way. When the heat is on, your ceiling fan blades should rotate clockwise. This keeps the warm air circulating and not resting near the ceiling. Change the blade direction by flipping the switch located on the fan housing, where the blades rest.  

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It’s time to check the seal around your windows and doors. Sealing gaps can save you 10-15% on your energy bills. That’s money in your pocket and a warmer, cozier home!  On your home’s exterior, use silicone caulk to fill in gaps between window and door frames and siding.  Add weather stripping around doors to eliminate gaps. Old windows that can’t be replaced?  Check the glazing compound that holds the glass in place and seals the window and replace as necessary.  On the inside of your home, use rope caulk to eliminate gaps between window sashes and frames. Add foam gaskets around exterior wall outlet plates. Heck, even those silly door snakes can keep out cold drafts.

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Save time, money, and headaches by preventing ice dams on your home this year by taking these 5 steps.  Find detailed information here.

1. Seal     2. Insulate    3. Ventilate    4. Aerate   5. Pressurize

ice dams

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Save up to 20% on your heating and cooling costs by installing a programmable thermostat. The Nest makes your life easy in so many ways. It learns how you live and the temperatures you like. You can set it with your phone when you’re away and it even monitors extreme temps or furnace trouble and alerts you via phone.

nest t stat

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Check your roof for loose or missing shingles. Repair and replace as necessary.

Check your siding for peeling paint. Scrape, prime, and repaint to maintain the protective paint film.

Inspect your fireplace chimney, flue, and firebox.

After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters. Inspect the joints and tighten loose brackets.

Remove window air conditioners and store. Clean and cover ground units.

Share this with your friends, check these items off of your list, then get outside and enjoy the fall colors. Be sure to follow my blog, twitter, and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Warm up your Home without Breaking the Bank

It’s bitter cold here in Michigan now and I’m using all my tricks to stay warm in my home and home office. Of course, I want to save time, money, and the planet as much as you do. And I’m not going to take on any projects that require I work outside.  Try my tips that work every time and keep you inside!  Many of them cost nothing and the initial cost of others can be quickly repaid in energy savings and personal comfort.  Let’s start with no-cost and work up!

Switch your ceiling fan blades to rotate clockwise. This pushes warm air down to where you can enjoy it. Keep the fan on low so that it’s moving the warm air down without creating a nor’easter!

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Close the door on rooms that you rarely use. I do this in my own home. I close the guest room register nearly all of the way and keep the door shut. Our mechanical room door is left open just enough for the cat to access her litter box. Reduce your overall heating load by decreasing the area that requires heat, and maybe bump the temp up just a notch!

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Carlos Delgado ArchitectKeep heat vents and radiators clear. Allow the heat to flow freely by moving furniture and draperies away from the heat source. For forced air floor registers, purchase inexpensive air deflectors from your local hardware store. They redirect heated air that’s headed for the ceiling in to the room.  Install radiator deflectors to reflect heat in to your spaces and away from walls.

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Install outlet insulators on the switches and power outlets of exterior walls. These pre-cut foam gaskets are available at all home improvement centers. And they’re super inexpensive. They have made a big difference in my home, though they don’t seal the devices completely. Add the baby-proof outlet covers to fill unused outlets.

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Add weather stripping at leaky doors and windows. Weather stripping is an inexpensive way to greatly reduce air infiltration. It cannot compete with a well insulated building envelope with highly efficient windows, though the reality is that budget and weather may prohibit perfecting every building. Easy, affordable, and effective solutions increase your comfort, save money, and energy. In other words, every little bit helps! Check out this helpful guide on the best weather stripping types and where to use them.white space

Hoya bellaOur personal comfort is based on temperature and humidity, and many other factors that we’ll discuss in other posts!  In the winter, when the heat is on, moisture levels are reduced to a point of discomfort. Even when you have a humidifier on your furnace, as I do, and it can’t seem to keep up.  Adding plants to every room naturally increases our comfort by significantly increasing the relative humidity in rooms. Plus, plants are lush and lovely, they clean the air, and reduce dust!  Click here for my list of easy to grow plants.

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Pebbles rug by Piodao Group

Take the chill off bare floors by adding rugs, and wool rugs are fabulous for so many reasons. Because of the naturally insulating qualities of the fibers, wool feels toasty warm in the winter. It feels cool in the summer, if you can think that far ahead!  Wool fibers also clean the air and reduce allergens. On top of that they’re naturally stain resistant.

Tell me your secrets for staying warm in your home.  Share with your friends to keep them cozy, then follow my blog and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Naturally Clean – AKA How Not To Catch Your Spouse’s Cold

For the last two weeks my husband has been a walking cold virus. He believes that he has to ride it out and eventually it will go away. This is despite my efforts to help him overcome it quickly and naturally, not just mask the symptoms.  Nevertheless, it’s a challenge this time of year for me, and I’m certain for you, to avoid the common cold and flu viruses. Try my easy and natural methods to disinfect your home, instead of complicating matters by using cleaners that weaken your immune system. And I’m pretty certain you already have the most effective ingredient in your kitchen.

Vinegar kills 90% of bacteria though there is debate on whether it actually kills the cold and flu viruses. I trust it to clean my surfaces, door knobs, light switches, basically anything my husband has touched in the last few weeks! Tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and just a few drops go a long way. You can also add a few drops of your favorite pure essential oils. Mine are anything citrus such as lemon and orange as they really brighten the air.

Bleach and ammonia, on  the other hand, are dangerous, corrosive chemicals that cause respiratory problems and weaken our detoxification organs, such as our liver, kidneys, and lungs. They actually weaken our ability to heal. Read more about what’s in common household cleaners and why to avoid them here.

Remember, I’m an architect, not a medical doctor! I can help you keep your home healthy, though advise that you see a physician for medical issues.  Click for more healthy, effective, and inexpensive cleaners. Share this to keep your family and friends healthy! Follow my blog and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Buh Bye, Drywall…Hello, Fibers!

Drywall, also known in the building industry as gypsum board, is used extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In the early 1900s, drywall began to gain ground over the use of plaster walls. The installation of drywall saves time and money on product and labor.  The gypsum, sandwiched between two layers of paper, does have inherent fire resistant properties. These properties and its sound absorbing abilities can be increased by layering or different facings.  Combine these qualities with drywall’s easy acceptance of any finish from paint to wall covering and it’s become the standard wall material in the United States. I must say, I appreciate the ability to dramatically change a room just by splashing on a fabulous new paint color. But wait, there are so many wonderful alternatives waiting to be discovered and used. This time let’s explore fibers, that’s right, fibers!

WallArt cellulose panels

WallArt is a sweet collection of panels made from cellulose fibers removed from the waste stream of sugar cane production.

white spaceFilzFelt Knoll San Francisco

 Okay, seriously, my favorite fiber on the planet, wool, as a dramatic semi-private wall panel from FilzFelt. Wool even cleans the air!

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Submaterial figure no. 2More incredible wool wall panels from Submaterial.  With its luscious texture and sound absorbing properties, what’s not to love?

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FilzFelt IDEOFilzFelt makes it easy to customize designs and colors to your interiors, residential or commercial.

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Submaterial dimensional 1Need depth and texture? Submaterial’s wool panels have you covered again.

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Submaterial dimensional

Let’s end with a slice of heaven, wool slices of heaven, that is…once again from the magicians at Submaterial.

I’ll be sharing many more exciting wall options so follow my blog and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration. Check out my favorite exterior wall materials as well. It’s your turn to empower your life with exhilarating design.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Buh Bye, Drywall…Hello, Wood!

Drywall, also known in the building industry as gypsum board, is used extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In the early 1900s, drywall began to gain ground over the use of plaster walls. The installation of drywall saves time and money on product and labor.  The gypsum, sandwiched between two layers of paper, does have inherent fire resistant properties. These properties and its sound absorbing abilities can be increased by layering or different facings.  Combine these qualities with drywall’s easy acceptance of any finish from paint to wall covering and it’s become the standard wall material in the United States. I must say, I appreciate the ability to dramatically change a room just by splashing on a fabulous new paint color.  But wait, there are so many wonderful alternatives waiting to be discovered and used. Let’s start with wood, reclaimed, repurposed, laser cut, and even woven!

Bruag plywoodThese laser cut plywood panels, backed with color, make a powerful statement with energy, interest, and visual privacy.

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Plyboo durapalm

Woven panels made from reclaimed plantation grown sugar and coconut palm trees are curvaceous and lush. If that’s not enough, the screen they create can provide visual and acoustical disconnection.

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Antoni Associates

With just a little creativity, stock lumber creates a remarkably vibrant almost kinetic sculptural wall.

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Woven wall diyadventuresdotcom

Lean ribbons of rich dark wood weave through copper pipes to elevate them both for a partition with true texture and personality. Click for the DIY instructions.

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expozodotcom perforated panel bedroom

Giving new life to sun shade and separation, this open laser cut panel adds vitality and sophistication to a sleeping suite.

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bookshelf-as-room-divider

Display and storage are fantastic partners and allow light to penetrate in to an interior space while softly splitting room functions.

I’ll be sharing many more exciting wall options so follow my blog and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration. Check out my favorite exterior wall materials as well. It’s your turn to empower your life with exhilarating design.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Office Design to Increase Your Bottom Line – Step 3

Much like people make first impressions, so do our offices.  And these impressions are indelible whether fantastic, frightful, or worst of all, boring! Start today with the third step of my top 3 ways to make your office as impressive as your business…also known as Increase Your Business’ Bottom Line.

3. Make your office comfortable and clean. This sounds like a no-brainer, yet I’m so often shocked by the condition of offices, as shown in this photo I snapped recently. Whether your office is a space for clients or only for colleagues, it must make them feel welcome and at ease.IMG_6706

In reception and guest areas, use the vacuum and dust daily. You may not be able to install new flooring, though keeping it clean shows that you are trying to maintain it and a sense of respect for your guests and where you will receive them. A drop of organization goes a long way here too. Hide the cords, remove the empty accordion file, store loose files in drawers.

Of course these guidelines go for employee areas as well. Your employees and colleagues will perform better in an environment where they can focus on their goals, instead of dusting their work space. Don’t have the budget for a cleaning crew? I’ve washed windows, cleaned the bathroom, and used the vacuum, mop, and Swiffer many times at my business. In fact, it was our every day early morning routine. Start tomorrow, keep it up every day, and it will never overwhelm.

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Comfort is key when providing for your guests and employees. Your clients may come from a wide range of backgrounds yet your core group of clients have things in common. Provide for them in ways that also represent your company’s personality. For example, if you’re a produce wholesaler, your office interior design should reflect the vibrancy and freshness of your product and the vigorous pace of your business. In this office design shown above, I created a spirited and stable design for the young owners of a fast growing company that provides internet security for financial institutions. That’s a very serious and high-tech business yet the owners wanted to express their personality and the love of their work through color and contemporary style. Pops of vibrant color balance the stable blues, black, and grey tones. If guests must wait, they have seating choices and surfaces for their coffee or to work.

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This office that I designed from a former dark-room provides every amenity to make you, your employees and colleagues, and your guests thrive. Lighting, from outside and overhead task lighting, makes working easy at any time of day. Hidden shades let you control daylight or gain privacy at the touch of a switch. Individual temperature controls easily adjust to your preferences with air conditioning, forced air heating, and even radiant heat warming the cork floor. Combine all of these with the balance of warm colors and acoustical privacy to create an empowering office.

So you see it’s easy to impress your clients and empower your employees with a few steps that will ultimately increase your business’ bottom line. Start today by looking at your office as though it’s your first time there. Be sure to read Step 1, Step 2, and share with your colleagues. Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Design for Yourself…Now!

Okay, I’ve been away for a long time and I’m excited to be back and discuss one of my favorite topics – designing for yourself!  Recently my hair stylist told me that she and her family decided not to sell their home. They purchased it 14 years ago and planned to stay there five years. Most importantly she shared how free she felt that she could at long last customize and decorate her home for her family! I could see the joy and relief in her eyes.

You see we’d discussed this on many occasions! She lamented using lifeless neutral tones so that, she believed, she could easily sell her home.

beige beige and more beige

You’ve seen the typical new spec home colors…boring!

I suggested that no matter the future mystery buyer’s taste, they would begin to personalize it the minute they got the keys. And I recommended that her family’s needs and wishes and tastes should drive their choices. Unknown future buyers must not stifle her home design on the interior or the exterior, rendering it unsatisfying for 14 years!

My hair stylist attributes the delight in her newly grasped home design freedom to my repetitive urging and proclaiming the glorious benefits of surrounding yourself with your very own definition of beauty. Wrap yourself and your family in the colors, materials, and furnishings that fill you with joy. The energy imparted from the things that you appreciate fills your surroundings and you with vitality.

So go ahead and cover your home with the colors that you love. Start small as color is powerful and adjusting to the drastic positive changes can be overwhelming. I’ve seen it happen with clients who believe the new color isn’t just right. But it’s really just that sometimes we’re not ready for the dynamic transformation that color brings. Give yourself time to appreciate your new surroundings and to finalize the details of a space to make it harmonious.

Okay, let’s get started! First determine the mood you want to create. Then find colors that impart the feeling you desire – calm, nurturing, energizing, cozy, creative, happy.

ImaginEco nature color inspiration cherry blossom

Nature has an endless source of colorful inspiration…go outside!

For inspiration look to nature, a favorite art piece, or browse the myriad of online color resources. Check out one of my very favorite Design Seeds.

Now test your chosen colors with art, fabrics, accessories – items that won’t break the bank. When you’ve tested and proven your color prowess, select your paint colors to tie every thing together and reflect the mood you want to achieve. Your paint for the walls and ceilings will unify the elements in your room, either new or remaining. Be fearless and follow your instincts. Avoid asking friends and relatives as they’re certain to disagree and bring their own taste to the discussion. This is your home or office and they’re sure to love it when they see how it has empowered you.

ImaginEco colorful city home

In this home my client wished for a cheerful room. She’s delighted with the sunny results.

ImaginEco artist studio 1

Fearless color dramatizes her paintings and energizes my artist client in her studio.

ImaginEco office color

Even offices can have subtle yet energizing color! Say buh bye to beige cubicles.

Good luck and remember to follow your instincts! Your home should make you feel as good as your favorite outfit does. Now share this so your friends can be fearless too.  For more tips and inspiration Like ImaginEco on facebook.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise