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

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

Office Design to Increase Your Bottom Line – Step 2

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 second step of my top 3 ways to make your office as impressive as your business…also known as Increase Your Business’ Bottom Line.

2. Make your office current. If your office is stuck in a time warp of yesterday, how can you fill a clients’ needs today?  To be the best you have to be on top of the latest in technology and the most effective and efficient ways to take care of your clients.

magazines

You’ve been in that office where the magazines are yellowed with age, pages are torn out, and dog eared.  Frankly, I lose all confidence in a business that overlooks details, especially ones that are easy to remedy. Recycle those old mags and subscribe to a few new ones with diverse topics.

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WaitingRoom

Ditch the award wall.  Your clients most likely are aware of your qualifications or they wouldn’t be in your office. Impress them by showing them the benefits of working with you. Display what you’ve done for your other clients with before and after photos and client testimonials. Kudos on the living healthy plants here….more on those below.

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Reception Desk

Stuffed toys and heart wreaths should be visible only to their owner, unless you’re business revolves around these things. The shining face of your receptionist should get all of the attention. Remove the clock. If your clients must wait, don’t force them to watch the clock.

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waiting room

The ominous TV is the focal point of the room and it’s placed at an awkward viewing height.  Replace it with a flat screen placed on the corner shelf. Not in your budget to replace the TV?  Then just remove it.

Just say no to silk, plastic, and any other type of artificial plants. A healthy living plant is a symbol of life.  Check out my super easy to grow list of plants here or hire a service to supply your office with plants and care for them as well.

If you have a magazine rack, it should be filled with valuable information you’ve created for your clients to take home and a variety of current and diverse magazines.

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family-care-waiting-room

Office overhauls are very expensive yet should be a regular part of a business’ budget. A fresh luminous coat of paint will give this tired space new life. Place a vibrant colorful nature photo behind each desk. Use photos that have bright tones of the dismal red and green such as lime and orange. Arrange the furniture in small circular groups instead of lined up like soldiers.

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MidCity Office Furniture

Who wouldn’t be impressed walking in to this office?  It’s fresh and bright and current and clean. The furnishings are minimal, cohesive, bold in color, and sophisticated in style. Of course day light is your best design tool and the healthy plants add a dash of drama and color.

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health design dot org

In this health care setting, day light plays a major role again. The fresh color palette exudes vitality and health. And the receptionist is standing and awaiting you.  See Step 1 for more the importance of that.

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skype office lobby

Potted living and flowering plant…check.  Open airy brightly lit fresh space…check. Modern stylish seating…check. Company info for browsing…check.  Screen for viewing valuable information…check.

So you see it’s easy to impress your clients 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 and share with your colleagues. Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration to empower your life.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Office Design to Increase Your Bottom Line – Step 1

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 first of my top 3 ways to make your office as impressive as your business…also known as Increase Your Business’ Bottom Line.

1. Make your reception desk disappear. Immediately greet your guests by eliminating the barrier between them and the first human connection to your company. Of course desks are functional, yet imagine greeting a guest at your home from a behind a desk. Make the must-have desk minimal and place it so that your guests and clients are instantly greeted by a friendly face. The individual seated there should be aware that nothing is more important than the person stepping in to your office.

living social office

Awkward, and ironic!  You’ve been in an office where you feel uncomfortable immediately because there seems to be no one there to greet you. Lower the desk or at least a portion of it so there is easy eye contact.

elegant office source unknown

There’s no question that this office is elegant, sophisticated, and current. Yet imagine those chairs are filled and you have to run the gauntlet to reach the receptionist desk at the end. Hello down there!

modern office source unknown

Perfection!  A small approachable desk with a rolling chair where the receptionist could actually stand and greet your guests is ideal. I can imagine a lap top there that can quickly close when clients come in the door. The healthy plant is a nice touch that represents life and vitality.

Now test your office by entering the front door as if you’ve never been there. Then make the simple changes necessary to keep your clients, and even increase the number of clients, coming through your front door. Stay tuned for more easy ways to make your office as impressive as your business.  Use the tools below to share it on. Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration to empower your life.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Top 5 Timeless Exterior Design Picks

As you begin to plan projects for the new year, let me wish you nature outside your window and shelter that inspires you.  This year let’s say buh bye to ordinary and embrace exterior design elements that are timeless, top notch performers, always in style, and often overlooked.

James Hardie

Fiber cement siding panels are a durable modern blend of cement, cellulose fiber, and sand. You often see horizontal fiber cement siding that mimics traditional wood siding yet the full sheets are rarely used. These panels handle water, heat, cold, and ultra violet radiation with style and a brilliant array of colors.

Metal siding 2 the opendoorstudioblogspotdotcomGalvanized steel is a unique choice for building siding. The numerous benefits include durability, low maintenance, resistance to ants, termites, mold, and mildew.

Armadillo summer houseTile is available in the most delicious styles and sizes up to five feet by ten feet.  It is durable, color fast, fire and frost resistant. The possibilities to make your design statement are endless.

studio 804 shou sugi ban 1Shou sugi ban is an ancient method of charring Japanese cypress. The burning process makes the wood resistant to fire, pests, and rot. The stunning natural characteristics of the wood are exaggerated to create a durable material of exceptional beauty.

Corten steel sidingAnd my all time favorite material….Cor-Ten steel. Also known generically as weathering steel, its specific alloys produce a stable rust layer that becomes a protective coating. It’s durability in appropriate applications is unmatched, and its patina improves with age.

Share these low maintenance exterior siding beauties with your friends…pass it on!

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise