Author Archives: Selse1946

Want a Clear Decorating Conscience? Try Recycled Glass

Although glass was once a costly material used in very limited applications, today’s large-scale production systems are made glass a huge portion of our lives. Though its attractiveness is a welcome addition to the home, the negative side of this romance is that without recycling, glass goes right to the landfill once we’re finished with that. Though glass is inert and not directly hazardous to the planet, it stays in landfills indefinitely.

The good news is that glass is more recyclable — not only once, but on and on, without any degradation of the material. Consider a few of those ideas for bringing the sparkle of recycled glass in your residence.

West Elm

Recycled Glass Jug – $19

The fundamentals: Recycling reduces the amount of waste glass the demand for raw materials quarried in the landscape. Additionally, it uses 50 percent less energy to recycle glass than to create new glass out of sand, soda and lime.

Plus, the more cullett (crushed glass) used to create recycled glass, the lower the temperature the furnace should reach — and that prolongs the life of the furnace.

Programs: Recycled glass countertops have made it even simpler to incorporate recycled glass in the home. They come as 100% recycled glass as recycled glass combined with resin or concrete.

Recycled glass backsplashes, tiles, tableware, accessories and even processors (shown within a landscape) can all be used to create your home and backyard beautiful.

Woodmeister Master Builders

Experts: Recycled glass may be coloured and backlit, and may have various textured finishes implemented, so the design options are bountiful. More significant, there is an expansive glass recycling civilization in both the United Kingdom and the United States, which eliminates any need to buy recycled glass products from different countries if you live there; you won’t trash its green credentials with unnecessary transport.

Lindy Donnelly

Recycled glass is also durable. Glass is among the few substances that may be recycled infinitely with no losing strength, purity or quality; recycled glass products are as durable as the first glass.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

Disadvantages: There are very few disadvantages to recycled glass, with the exception of the high price of some products. Do your research — recycled glass tableware is usually fairly priced, but recycled glass construction materials can get expensive.

Latera Architectural Surfaces / Dorado Stone

Considerations: Glass chip-based products rely upon concrete or a resin-binding material. The recycled content of those mixed work surfaces ranges from 70 to 85 percent.

Environmentally it requires a lot of energy to extract the raw materials and produce the cement. Resin, generally, is a petrochemical product derived from a nonrenewable resource (unless it’s formulated from plant-based sources). For concrete, look for combinations. But, transport costs for this thick material can be large, both environmentally and financially.

Shannon Malone

Upcycling: In the United Kingdom we import more brown and green glass than we can recycle, so we send green crushed glass back to Portugal for recycling. Since coloured glass has to be separated out of clear glass in the recycling process, think about upcycling those wine bottles intact — like this light fixture that is innovative.

More: Your lead to an ecofriendly kitchen

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Design It Like a Man: Tips for Single Guys Planning a Bedroom

I’m always interested in gender differences in regards to design. Being a man, I’m especially on the lookout for styles that appeal to masculine tastes. But essentially it’s a means with no end, as it’s hopeless — and impractical — to lump all men into a category of style. Everybody differs.

However there are a few similarities that tend to span the spectrum of what men want — and which differ in women’s preferences — when it comes to design. (These similarities are easier to spot with single men, because the style is unadulterated by someone else.) One is the way we talk about and describe design.


Nicole Hollis, an interior designer in San Francisco, has discovered that men usually adopt a very special vocabulary when describing what they want. Chat almost consistently turns to automotive design — nice leather, hand-crafted wood, unique sewing, polished metals. Feeling, color and texture gleaned from fine artwork are referred to as well, and so is technology design, such as the sleek and minimalist expression of this iPad.

If you’re one man seeking to design, say, a bedroom or if you’re designing a bedroom for one man — there are a number of things that you’ll want to consider. To get your creative juices flowing, try to think about this ideal hotel room you’ve stayed in. “Lots of men travel for company, and their only introduction to luxury spaces has been in hotels, so their requests tend to mimic people,” Hollis says.

It is a good place to start. Hotel suites are inclined to be calm, have great beds and also have minimalist design that discusses efficiency, practicality and performance — all hallmarks which form what many will call masculine design.

Here a bedroom designed by Hollis for a travel bachelor in the fund industry recalls European hotel suites in which he remained on business trips. A suede headboard, custom made European oak bed and white cowhide rug soften the clean, minimalist design. Practical luggage racks in the close of the bed provide a place for your homeowner’s suitcases.

Shirley Meisels

Interior designer Shirley Meisels claims the sleekness that men seek ought to be softened just a bit, a strategy she took when designing this Toronto bachelor pad. “A home has softer touches,” she says. “The bedroom should be a soft place to land in the end of a long moment. Add cushions, something and a blanket comfortable and cozy. That’s what makes a house a home.”

Chair: Design Within Reach; bed: custom; carpeting: Elte

Frances Bailey

Strategies for Single Guys Designing a Bedroom

stressing your lifestyle.
An interior designer will almost always begin a job with an interview to get at the source of how you live. Do you travel a lot? Work a night shift? Do you require blackout curtains? See TV in bed? Turn on the information in the morning? This will dictate the layout and put focus on significant elements within the room, such as splurging on a top-of-the-line mattress as opposed to built-in audiovisual equipment.

Do not be covetous. Just how long do you plan to live independently? Occasionally it isn’t a matter of if somebody else will move in but when. This goes for men and women. If you’re designing a space, you might want to consider how it will accommodate a different individual and his or her style. Should you include a mirror? More cupboard space? A place for a hair dryer and curling iron in the bathroom? Will the colours, textures and furnishings appeal to other people or just your personal tastes?

Pillows: Ralph Lauren Home

Mauricio Nava Design, LLC

Stick with neutral colours. Guys tend to feel more comfortable using a palette of white, gray and black. Think about adding color with a bit of artwork or an accessory rather than a big, splashy red wall or bright bedding. And be sure to balance out the neutrals. “Dark and grey can be very harsh for a bedroom, so I try to make it feel cozier,” Meisels says. “To soften I present natural materials such as linen, wool and natural stone.”

Mirrors, nightstands, Amelia bed, lamps, carpet: Top Fashion Home

Chicago Luxury Beds

Do not skimp on the mattress. Many men travel a lot for work and aren’t home very much. Possessing a calm and serene bedroom and, most significant, a comfortable bed to come home to ought to be a top priority. OK, you might not want to drop $32,000 for a queen-size mattress like this Hastens, but you get the idea. Invest on your sleep, bro.

Frances Bailey

Contemplate your audiovisual equipment. Meisels has a lot of requests to incorporate technology into men’ bedroom designs. But having a TV and gaming consoles on your bedroom can disrupt sleep, so be certain these devices can easily be put away when it’s bedtime.

TV cabinets, built in wall systems and screens that drop down from the ceiling are all worth considering.

Benning Design Construction

Display your own stuff. Hollis notes in her experience, men tend to amass more things than girls — surfboards, vintage guitars, stereo equipment and old cameras — and they always want to display them. Think about the things you collect and how you are going to want to incorporate them in your design.


Follow function. Guys want a place for all. We want the plugs right from the bedside table to our phones and devices. We want a spot for the remote right on the nightstand, and we want big dressers and closet systems for our garments.

Learn where your apparatus will go and be certain you have a place for them. “If I tell a man, ‘This is where you set your shoes,’ that is where he’ll put his shoes forever,” Hollis says. “They enjoy that programming in the house so that they do not have to consider organizing”

Hollis made this space for a young physician. He works night shifts and needed a dark distance suitable for sleeping through the day. Floor-to-ceiling curtains, a dark brown sisal carpet and warm wood do the job.

Carpet: Stark Carpet; curtains: Martin Kobus; dresser: Restoration Hardware; pendant lights: Leucos; bed: custom

Photo by Ben Mayorga

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Know Your House: What Makes a Floor Structure

Once the foundation, or substructure, of a home is set up, the next step is to create the superstructure: floors, walls and roof. Among all of the available building materials, wood is the most commonly utilized in North America, so that is where we’ll start.

Why Wood?

Wood is a top building material for several reasons. One is heritage: Historically, North America was inhabited, and old-growth forests were abundant throughout the united states. Wood is also easily processed into posts, beams, floor joists, roof rafters and other elements of a house’s construction. Furthermore, while a skilled carpenter can work wonders with wood, it’s possible for a beginner to build a small house of wood.

The great innovation in wood framing came about from the early 19th century with the industrialization of North America. Harvesting trees became more efficient, as did processing the trees into dimensional lumber that could be used for framing. Sawmills big and small sprouted up wherever there was a woods and a way to transport the felled trees, such as a waterway.

Together with the mass production of framing timber was the development of mass-produced nails. No longer hand forged onsite or nearby, nails became common and inexpensive. Between the mass production of dimensional lumber and nails, the wood-frame construction became ubiquitous, and the legendary magician with a hammer in hand, tool belt filled with nails and possibly one in his mouth, became the symbol of American home building.

Here are the basics of how carpenters build the first stage of a home’s aboveground construction: the floor.

AIA, Bud Dietrich

Elements of a Wood-Framed Floor

Start degree, true and square. After the concrete foundation is complete and has cured (dried and hardened nicely), a builder can start the floor construction. This starts with applying a sill sealer to the peak of the foundation. The sill sealer is a thin, compressible material that gives an air barrier between the wood frame and the concrete foundation.

The sill sealer helps create an energy-efficient building by closing the gaps between both rough and uneven concrete foundation and a wood sill plate — typically a 2-by-6 pressure treated to resist bugs, moisture and damage caused by the elements.

It is important that the sill plate be treated this way, as its proximity to the ground makes it particularly vulnerable to rust. In fact, in most older houses the sill plate has rotted away, causing the actual exterior walls to settle in order that cracks show up from the interior finishes. The sill plate could be replaced, but that is not a cheap operation.

The sill plate is tied down to the foundation with anchor bolts. These bolts become inserted into the concrete foundation wall and have threaded ends. Once the sill plate is put and leveled, nuts have been screwed to the anchor bolts, and all is locked down.

AIA, Bud Dietrich

Floor joists and open programs. Once the sill plate is down, you are able to install the floor joists. These are ordinarily 2-by-6, 2-by-8, 2-by-10 or 2-by-12 pieces of timber. The dimensions used will depend on the span (how far between supports) that the joist should travel. A commonly used size is 2-by-10, which may span about 15 feet.

An alternate to “2-by” (dimensional lumber) floor joists is truss joists. These are particularly helpful for spans of 18 feet or more.

Always check with the local building department prior to doing any dwelling construction, as the code changes by area. By way of example, some building departments require that homes built with long span joists have a fire suppression system installed. That’s something that you’ll absolutely need to understand prior to budgeting your project.

AIA, Bud Dietrich

A platform built to last. Next a plywood subfloor is laid atop the joists.

Usually 3/4 inch thick and in sheets that measure 4 by 8 feet, a plywood subfloor should be glued and screwed to the underlying joists. This can not be stressed too much, as there are many squeaky floors and tiled floors that develop cracks brought on by a subfloor that was not securely fastened to the joists. In fact, the squeaky floors that exist in older houses are the consequence of subfloors generated from 1-inch boards that have come loose in the joists, making them squeak when stress is put on.

Now’s plywood subfloor material includes a tongue and groove arrangement. The constant membrane shaped by installing the tongue of a single sheet into the groove of the adjacent sheet assists from the overall structural performance and wearability of these subfloors.

A well-installed subfloor will make a big difference over the long run, as the actual floor finish — be it wood, tile or something else — will develop fewer flaws.

More in Know Your Own House: What Makes Up a Home’s Foundation

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Tell Us: Do You Understand How to Live With Your Parents?

Last Evening I checked out two mistresses of Humor, Sarah Chalke and Elizabeth Perkins, in ABC’s new sitcom How to Live With Your Children (To the Rest of Your Life). It made me wonder how I could make it work when I needed to move back in with my folks or shelter them here in my house.

So many economic factors during the past few years have led to higher numbers of nuclear and nonnuclear family members residing together; it’s become the new standard.

So let’s : Are you sharing your home with your adult children, or have older family members moved? How is it moving?

Share your best advice and strategies you have picked up during the experience in the Comments section below. If you’ve got a fantastic design tip related to multigenerational living, please share a photograph of it too; your story or idea might be used in an upcoming featured ideabook.

On day one, this is pretty much exactly how coming to dwell in your childhood bedroom can feel. It’s kind of fun to find your journal from sixth grade, but after that it can be a big adjustment.

Can you live at home following your 20th birthday? What was the obstacle? How did you get settled?

How to Live With Your Children (To the Rest of Your Life), which airs after Modern Family on Wednesday nights, centers around Polly, played by Chalke, also contains her daughter, her stepfather, her mom, her ex and her single bestie.

Used to having the house to themselves, her parents have a tendency to overshare. “TMI” is not a part of the vocabularies.

Whether you moved back in with your parents or they moved in with you, how did you establish boundaries and manage to have any privacy or time to yourself?

Polly’s wacky parents reside for Oscar night; they believe it is an official holiday. They also believe that anything could happen on Oscar night, and it will. One benefit of these multigenerational housing situations is that you have so much extra time together.

Tell us : What were the best things that came out of your multigenerational housemate situation? Which household activities became enjoyable? What opportunities did you have to make memories during the time you lived?

More: How to Generate an Extra-Full Nest Work Happily

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The Ability of Plywood All Around the Home

Before we begin talking about plywood, it can help to know what plywood substituted. Though wood has been with us forever, contemporary plywood has existed for less than 200 decades, and its omnipresence is quite recent. Now we deck the roof, sheath the walls and build cabinets. It was not long ago, however, that all of these tasks were performed by linking individual boards side by side into a larger piece of timber, or simply by nailing them alongside one another. Though the nostalgia for salvaged timber has revived interest in these types of boards and techniques, there are many benefits to using plywood instead.

Ashley Anthony Studio

Types of Plywood

There are many different kinds of plywood, but this ideabook focuses on the forms at your regional home center, and that you may use for DIY projects around the home.

Plywood is used for virtually everything now. For example, in this photo there’s likely plywood below the hardwood flooring (likely a tongue and groove subfloor plywood), and probably plywood below the exterior wall siding. The furniture piece pictured is made from solid wood planks, attached side by side where the boards are bigger. But most cabinets nowadays could be made from smooth hardwood plywood.

Buckminster Green LLC


If you think about plywood, you likely think about a sheet of CDX. CDX plywood includes a “C” side, a “D” side and an “X” side. “X” signifies the glue could be subjected to the elements for a little while until it falls apart. Plywood is made by gluing many thin layers of timber (veneers) together. The wood grain of each layer runs perpendicular to the past, which lessens the wood’s tendency to divide.

You’ll find four different levels of plywood: A, B,C and D. Remembering the gap between the grades is simple — it is just like school. When it has earned an A grade, it is free from imperfections. A D grade does not mean it is useless — it is fine to face in the home or cover with shingles.

Plywood can work for all kinds of tasks, and the grade makes a big difference. CDX plywood is good for demanding structure, but you wouldn’t wish to construct a cabinet with it. A nice piece of birch plywood with an A-grade face could work fine to sheath your shed, but it is expensive, and you would be paying for caliber that you do not need, because the sheet will probably be covered with siding.

Buckminster Green LLC

Structural Benefits

You can see three different sheet goods utilized in the construction of these new houses in Philadelphia. The yellow sheets are exterior gypsum, used to make a fire-resistant barrier between houses. The bays’ faces are sheathed in oriented strand board, or OSB (more about this later). CDX plywood is anywhere except to the faces of the bays. Return a hundred decades and the facade of the building might have been sheathed in 1-by-8 planks, or whatever width the lumberyard had that day.

Here’s a thought experiment: Take four parts of lumber and nail them in a square. Now push the square from 1 side. Will it stay square? No, it will change to a rhombus. Now cover this square with individual boards. Will this keep the square square? It is not much of the advancement. If you nail the planks diagonally this helps, but it is nothing like putting one sheet of wood within the whole square — it wouldn’t budge. In a nutshell, explains the structural benefit of being able to use a single piece of plywood.

Buckminster Green LLC

If you’ve ever pushed a screw to a plank without predrilling a pit first, you know that inserting a wedge into wood makes it split across the grain. All plywood accomplishes this, because the timber grain of each layer is different compared to past.

But what if, instead of gluing together massive sheets of wood at right angles, you glued together tiny pieces of timber at all different angles? You would get a similar effect whilst using small wood pieces which could otherwise become waste. The consequence of this process is either OSB plywood, or oriented strand board. OSB is less expensive than CDX, and under the right conditions performs well.

Buckminster Green LLC

I have seen CDX plywood and OSB get rained on if delays happen and roofs and siding are not installed. The CDX buckles in areas but usually holds up. The OSB turns to mush substantially faster. Once the glues begin to break down, you’re left with little pieces of timber.

The merchandise shown here is the Zip System from Huber; it has a weather-resistant barrier applied to OSB. Green is for the walls; brownish is for the roof. This saves you the step of stapling a barrier up such as Tyvek after installing the plywood. Once the seams are taped, you have a continuous air barrier. Compare it to the previous boards nailed up with a lot of openings for air to blow through, and you can see how the current building techniques can save you energy.

Buckminster Green LLC


recently focus has turned into the glues in plywood, and what fumes the item is off-gassing to our houses when used indoors. To decrease harmful VOCs, search for plywood with glues which have no added urea-formaldehyde.

The plywood used in the construction of the cabinets in this image goes one step farther. The doors, shelves and cabinet boxes are all made from bamboo plywood. Bamboo is a grass that grows quickly, also it is a sustainable substitute for timber from trees. Sustainability is all in the details, however, so do your homework to be sure the life-cycle costs of the product are really less than the product which you are replacing.

In addition, there are plywoods made from sorghum and wheat germ. The look of these alternate plywood products is part of the allure.

Nic Darling


Plywood is overly helpful to end up just cladding buildings and becoming covered up from other building materials. It has many uses indoors, also. This plywood is used to make a exceptional railing for the stairs. If you take into consideration the labor saved by employing large, strong, straight sheets of timber in building products, plywood is an economical solution to many issues. You are limited only by your imagination.

Hint: Make Certain to use the Ideal thickness. Plywood that is 3/4 inch is quite rigid and good for walking on shelving etc.. If you are applying a layer of plywood over another surface and you simply need a smooth surface — say that a luan plywood underlayment for flooring — 1/4 inch will do just fine.

Sylvia Elizondo Interior Design

OK, so now you’re heading into the shop to purchase plywood for your next job. Here are a few suggestions:
When it is for beneath your floor or roof, it should be tongue and groove plywood, where the boards associate along with puzzle pieces for firmness at the seams. I told you to purchase 3/4 inch but you might show up to the lumber yard and see 23/32 inch. Bring a tape measure or calculator and get the closest to the dimensions you want. Contractors talk about 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch, but you’ll also see 7/16 inch, 15/32 inch and all types of different fractions.

If you are building something such as garage shelving that does not have to be ideal, but should be somewhat free of imperfections, get a 3/4-inch B or C plywood.

If you are planning to create cabinets or an interior project where the surface of the plywood will be seen, I suggest having a wood plywood, such as a birch plywood which has a smooth A-grade face. Hardwood plywood may be stained in addition to painted, and will end in a nice finished product.There are many beautiful forests which may be applied as the surface veneer into a plywood made primarily from less expensive woods. Let your imagination go crazy and make a statement. The Mesopotamians initially created plywood by gluing wood together if there was not enough about. In modern times we do not have to waste wood either, and plywood brings with it enough other benefits to make it a win-win situation.

Next: See what you can do with drywall

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Southeast Gardener's May Checklist

May brings the conclusion of pine pollen as well as the unofficial start of summer with all the long Memorial Day weekend. Allow the prime gardening period begin. Here is what you can do from the Southeast garden.

More regional gardening manuals

The Carter Rohrer Co..

Admire blooming trees and shrubs. May is blossom period for southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). These flowers give so much, and we will need to do so little to them in return. I love to pluck a magnolia blossom and float it in a bowl of water near where I read or enjoy the garden at the end of the day. It lasts but a day, but what a day it’s.

The Endless Summer hydrangea is the first hydrangea to blossom new and old expansion, together with the ability to rebloom all summer long. I planted my Endless Summer in 2005. To encourage reblooming, cut the blossoms for drying or to put in vases to get a brand new arrangement. This may also encourage the plant to set new buds.

Prune rhododendrons and azaleas right after flowering.

The Todd Group

Enjoy abundant rose blossoms. Roses are in full swing right now. Let the roses flesh out; prune less in May so that they grow taller. This is good advice for your two or three cuttings. Then you are able to prune at will, remembering to cut the subsequent five leaflets at a angle.

Expert Pruning Secrets for Exquisite Roses

Roses are heavy feeders — in terms of both food and water. Fertilize once a month and then provide each rose approximately 5 gallons of water each week (or about 1 inch per week). Water in the morning, at the base of the plant to help discourage black spot.

The New York Botanical Garden

Cherish blooming iris. Oh, the irises are blooming their heads off. As soon as they bloom, cut the flower stalks to clean up the plant. Recently I cut for a buddy. She took a whiff and realized, for the first time, that bearded irises have a beautiful scent — making them pleasurable indoors too.

Cut the flower stalks of daffodils. Try to dismiss the leaves because the plants naturally die back.

Troy Rhone Garden Design

Plant annuals. With frosts behind us, you are able to plant annuals with jealousy. Visit public gardens to see the number available for planting in our region. The JC Raulston Arboretum is a All-American Selection (AAS) display backyard, exhibiting the most recent selection winners.

Direct sow zinnia seed at periods to have cut flowers through frost.

Gardening with Confidence®

Plant tender summer bulbs. It’s now safe to transplant the amaryllis you grew during the winter. It will not likely blossom again this year but should do this next year.

Now that the soil has warmed (be sure it’s at 60 degrees Fahrenheit), plant caladium bulbs or caladiums potted and already in foliage. They like it warm and may be ruined by cool weather, but not just a frost. They are also large collars, so you will want to water and fertilize them consistently during the growing season.

In fact, any tender summertime bulb, such as cannas, dahlias, ginger lilies and tuberoses, can be planted now.

Earth Mama Landscape Design

Grow edibles. With all the last frost of the season, it is now time to plant berries, basil, peppers, cucumbers and other tender annuals.

Gardening with Confidence®

Plant an herb garden. If not for you, then to the backyard friends. Black Tiger Swallowtail butterfly larvae love parsley and fennel. Let those green worms consume all of it.

May within my backyard is peak lavender blossom time. Every May I’m reminded of why I develop lavender; it may appear ratty several months of this year. When it flowers, cut back and form it.

Gardening with Confidence®

Discover distinct wisteria. May isn’t the ideal time for planting perennials, but they’re frequently accessible. If your plan is to plant, be prepared to pamper them nicely. Perennials need more watering to help them get established.

Seeing Chinese wisteria from the wild brings a sense of wonder. Yes, the color and flowers cascading down from the trees are beautiful, but they aren’t assumed to be there. Think twice as planting one.

Rather, think about the rich purple flowers of American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’); it blooms a little later the Chinese species.

Gardening with Confidence®

Insert a container garden. Every home area has room for container gardens. Locate some fabulous pots and fill them with anything you fancy. Know the amount of sunlight you get and if.

It matters when you choose your plants. Containers are inclined to dry out quicker, so container gardens will need to be watered more often. This water tends to cause nutrients to leach out, so plants will benefit in the application of a quick-release fertilizer.

Gardening with Confidence®

Top-dress your garden beds with mulch. Keep your gardens trendy, less thirsty and reduce the number of weeds. I can write volumes about the benefits of mulch. I believe in the ability of mulch.

For my roses, I use mini nuggets, but for my continuing gardens, I used composted leaf mulch. Picking up a load of mulch informs me how important it’s to be sure lawn waste is separated from trash. Yard waste not only is good stuff once it’s composted, but also the conservation practice is in everone’s best interest.

Fertilize sustainably. To encourage flowering, use a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in calcium.

Fertilizer’s three chief components are nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, or NPK.
10-10-10 signifies there’s an equal ratio N, P and K. Hydrangeas like a low N and a high P; hence a blend of 10-40-10 are ideal.My general rule of thumb to remember what the numbers mean would be to start with the first number and apply from the cover of the plant to the bottom. As such, N is for its green, P is to get the blossom and K is to get the root or up and down and all around.

To refresh your comprehension of pH, it refers to the acidity of the soil and can be quantified by the amount of hydrogen ions within the soil. It’s a logarithmic scale based on the ability of 10. As such, a pH of 6 is 10 times more acidic than pH of 7. Thus, just a little change in pH may make a big difference.
A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH lower compared to 7 is acidic. A ph higher than 7 is alkaline. Most plants like a pH between 6.5 and 7. Hydrangeas like it more acidic than most plants.

More regional gardening manuals

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Basement of the Week: By Dumping Earth to Family Zone in Minnesota

After years of this single father being on his own, his basement turned into a dumping ground for unloved furniture and old toys. However, if he and his kids started making plans for his fiancée to maneuver in, it was time to revamp the space to accommodate movie nights, board games and other family activities.

The fashion-forward couple was looking for something more than the typical contemporary basement. Despite having a small space to work with, the family stuck by their desire for a big sectional that everybody could cozy up on together and watch TV or warm by the fireplace. This basically dictated the layout and forced designers Ammar Steven Alshash and Bethany Gale to get creative with smartly chosen furniture, contrasting textures and scales, and layout tricks which made the space feel bigger. He topped the basement with new, classy decor that’s subtle industrial touches to get a contemporary yet comfortable feel.

Basement at a Glance
Location: Edina, Minnesota (suburb of Minneapolis)
Size: 400 square feet
Budget: Around$10,000 for furniture and $10,000 for finishes (carpet, tile etc.)

Dwelling Designs

AFTER: A large sectional sofa was the family’s number-one, nonnegotiable request. “They wanted to cozy up on a sectional, which needed to fit everyone and permit them the choice to choose TV or the fireplace without even shifting,” Alshash says.

Sectional: habit, Della Robbia; carpeting: Specific Carpets; floor lamps: Global Views; end tables: Arteriors; cloths during: Osborne & Little, Romo and Garret Leather

Before Photo

The customers wanted to eliminate any sign of the basement as it was. “They were tired of their basement being a dumping ground, and they were hoping to utilize the space to bring everybody together,” says Alshash.

Before Photo

The area wasn’t a good use of space.

Dwelling Designs

AFTER: Alshash used the stairs as an chance to put in a strong textural contrast via this metallic wall covering, which looks like galvanized aluminum.

“The background just lays out that industrial vibe, in a sense creating a small fantasy for a contemporary way of life, without overwhelming the distance,” he says.

Seat: habit, Dwelling Designs; wall covering: Romo

Dwelling Designs

“The couple discovered an art piece from CB2 and stated they wanted something like it, but on steroids,” Alshash says. He tracked down the artist of this CB2 piece, Jordan Carlyle, and commissioned him to put this edgy work for the space.

“My group and I always attempted to fool the eye with various overscale pieces which were blended in height,” Alshash says. “The sectional and floor lamps, by way of instance, have big footprints but sit low, which makes the space seem bigger than it is.”

Before Photo

BEFORE: The fireplace didn’t have much presence in the old basement.

Dwelling Designs

AFTER: It got a big facelift with a brand new ceramic tile surround and tall sculptures which give it a bigger, more contemporary presence. Its scale stands up to that of the TV display that is adjacent.

Dwelling Designs

A poured concrete countertop furthers what Alshash dubs “a subconscious industrial atmosphere.” The long horizontal line it generates also helps deceive the eye into believing the distance is bigger.

Bar stools: Calligaris; sconces: Jonathan Adler

Before Photo

BEFORE: This small area off the primary space was the ideal size to get a banquette.

Dwelling Designs

AFTER: For an extra gathering option, the customers wanted the family friendliness of a booth at T.G.I. Friday’s but with a more complicated style. This area serves as a good spot for board games.

Fitting in everything the customers desired and producing the stripes and scales work was quite rewarding for Alshash. “At the end I was in love with the layout and how it all came together. I am a better designer today after working with these customers,” he says.

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Kitchen of the Week: From Style Mishmash to Streamlined Farmhouse

Having lived remodels this farmhouse had little of the kitchen left. The new owners tore through the mishmash of styles and gave the kitchen a brand new start. Architect Robert Ross used vibrant colors and natural materials to make a modern farmhouse look. A new compact layout makes for plenty of storage but keeps the major walkway into the living room clear.

Kitchen in a Glance
Location: Boulder County, Colorado
Size: 204 square feet
Remodel time: two months

Fieldwork Architecture

Two miniature windows previously supplied the sole natural light sources within this kitchen. Ross added one additional window and additional task lighting.

Among the kitchen’s remodels caused the huge overhead wood beam. Even though the homeowners installed a steel beam from the ceiling and could’ve removed it, its character was loved by them.

Stools: Onda Stool; sink: Fireclay Farmer’s sink; faucet: Hansgrohe

Fieldwork Architecture

Surprisingly, this boldly colored kitchen originally started out as an all-neutral design. The clients considered cream-colored cabinetry initially, but in the long run they switched to a vibrant palette. Blue panel details and hardware help break up the all-yellow cabinets and blend in with the glazed ceramic backsplash.

Cooktop: GE Profile; toaster: KitchenAid; hood: Wolf; wall paint: habit

Fieldwork Architecture

Like the rest of the 19th-century home, the kitchen features low ceilings, restricting space for tall cabinets, upper cabinetry and open shelving. Extra-deep cabinetry plus a new pantry space compensate for missing space.

Storage takes up a lot of space within this kitchen, therefore Ross installed wings onto the staircase that could fold down if necessary, making it easier to move around. This feature accommodates the major walkway and into the living room.

Fieldwork Architecture

The new kitchen has the exact same general design as the original kitchen, but Ross removed a few unnecessary things for better storage. A little gas fireplace after sat at the refrigerator’s corner place. Since it was rarely used, Ross eliminated it to open the entire wall to get pantry space.

Refrigerator: Icon, Electrolux

Fieldwork Architecture

Stone and quartz countertops felt too cold for this farmhouse, therefore the clients opted for butcher block. End-grain bamboo provides a more modern touch.

Cabinetry: Hanley Woodworks; cupboard paint: habit

More: Paint selections and much more ways to work with yellow in the kitchen

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Cliff May Homeowners Lead How Long Beach

Doug and Rochelle Kramer were ready to design their own dream midcentury residence. Realtors who specialize in selling and reviving Cliff May homes in Southern California, they knew precisely what they wanted. However, what they got was a bank-owned house using a swampy pool, outdated appliances and light fittings, an army of ants and a four-sided fireplace covered in crazy materials.

After taking the opportunity to fix up this 1953 home, the couple filled the house with midcentury stone, designing a room that contributes their Cliff May tract by example and exemplifies that the greatest in midcentury design and indoor-outdoor living.

at a Glance
Who lives here: Doug and Rochelle Kramer and their feline, Eddie
Location: Cliff May Rancho tract, Long Beach, California
Size: 1,950 square feet; 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, home office-study
That’s interesting: This home has been featured in the 2008 book Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

The excellent room has two sitting areas bisected by a fireplace. The couple considers that side the casual family room, where they enjoy unwinding while viewing TV.

The neutral sofa and rug floor a Noguchi coffee table and vivid orange Modernicachair.

Rug: Dubai Vanilla, MAT; sofa: habit, David Galindo; paint: Sea Pine, Benjamin Moore

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

A wall of windows allows natural light into the living space. The glass divider is typical of houses in this region — the hallway behind it contributes to the master bedroom.

Lamps: vintage, Inretrospect; side tables: Email; credenza: teak, vintage, eBay

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

The Kramers’ house remains true to open-concept midcentury design; the fireplace in the great room creates two separate living spaces while maintaining flow. “I will see the pool, pool, living area, dining area and kitchen all at one time, but it is not too open,” Rochelle says. “There is just enough separation of room to feel defined nevertheless still connected.”

White armchairs: 1940s-inspired, Twentieth; java table, eBay; pub rug: Tokyo White, MAT; seat: Case Study Museum Bench, Modernica; floors: moderate brown hard maple, Lauzon

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

Each of the fireplace’s four sides originally was coated in another material — stone, drywall, tile and mirror. The Kramers stripped it all off and started from scratch.

Searching for a material that would balance out the smooth interior surfaces and the jagged stone out by the pool, Doug and Rochelle determined on this limestone from Thompson Building Materials. The double-sided fireplace is now the great room’s focal point.

Planter: Bullet, Hip Haven

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

A curated mix of accent pieces — like the glassware, artwork and ceramics on this dining area credenza — add character to the very simple house’s blank lines.

Credenza: Sussex, Design Within Reach; ceramics: Teardrop and Oval bud vases, Klein Reid; glassware: HomeGoods; artwork: vintage, Deja Vu

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

The couple is really a driving force in bringing this closely knit Cliff May community collectively. They frequently host progressive dinner parties in the neighborhood. Rochelle also opened a neighborhood message board that now has close to 400 members, who post about everything from lost dogs to garage sales to builder referrals.

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

Embracing their love of modern design and the architectural characteristics of their home — like the low, pitched roof and exposed beams — made the Kramers’ design choices easier. Each room makes use of one material or colour, rather than mixing different components.

Dining table: Baron, Calligaris; dining chairs: Globus, Design Within Reach; pendant: Nelson Saucer, Modernica

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

The Cloud Couch from Modernica anchors the main living area. The curve of the coffee table perfectly complements the lines of the sofa, topped off by a round vase and bubble ground lamp.

The couple settled on Gingersnaps by Benjamin Moore for the living room’s main wall with the help of colour adviser Nancy Epstein.

Coffee table: eBay; pub rug: Tokyo White, MAT; floors: moderate brown hard maple, Lauzon; floor lamp: Cigar Lotus, Modernica; wall art: vintage, Long Beach Antique Market

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

A solid wall of windows and French doors conducts the length of the entire residence, making the interior feel like an extension of their outdoor space.

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

Unlike in several midcentury houses, this updated kitchen includes ample storage and cabinet space without compromising on windows and natural lighting. But kitchens built in the ’50s frequently had dual wall-mounted ovens, and this one was true to form. One oven has been swapped out for a more modern appliance — a microwave.

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

The kitchen has been the center of every home in the 1950s. Due to the improvements and expansions completed on the house from the prior owners, the generally small galley kitchen has become more spacious.

Clean surfaces keep with the modern design of the home. The backsplash adds a touch of color against the neutral canvas of their cabinetry and countertops.

Countertops: Cinder, Caesarstone; backsplash: prism glass mosaic, source unknown

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

Playful kitchen fittings are carefully curated to accent the blue backsplash and white cabinetry. The countertop stove allows for storage underneath.

Salt and pepper shakers: Birds, Jonathan Adler

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

The outside and indoor spaces flow flawlessly together in design and style.

Planters: Bullet, Hip Haven

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

When the couple moved, the pool has been “a shallow swamp,” in accordance with Rochelle. The couple restored the attractiveness and character of the original rock surrounding what they affectionately call the Flintstone Pool or Kramer Lagoon.

The lack of a true front door is a distinctive marker of Cliff May homes. Instead, a collection of French doors surrounds the perimeter of the house, making multiple entry points for authentic indoor-outdoor living.

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

The couple fought with finding the ideal exterior color but finally landed on this calm gray-blue, which complements the pool and landscape.

Rochelle’s notion of gardening is utilizing low-maintenance plants, like succulents, followed by pebbles, stones and also a touch of grass to soften things up.

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

Situated off the main courtyard and pool area, the master suite also has a solid wall of French doors.

Lamps: vintage, Deja Vu; shovel on dresser: Home Goods

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

Because of the expansion function, the master suite is a lot larger than just one in a normal Cliff May home. The pitched roof and exposed white beams improve the open feeling.

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

Eddie, the couple’s cat, makes an appearance to sunbathe. An heirloom teddy bear sits on a wing chair gifted by friends and fellow Cliff May homeowners Josh and Jen Amstone.

Curtains: Gate Jade, Robert Allen cloth; painting: vintage, Deja Vu; wall covering: Juicy Jute in Espresso, Phillip Jeffries; dressers: teak, vintage, Deja Vu; chair: Adrian Pearsall for Craft Associates

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

The master bath and big walk-in cupboard lie through a set of louvered doors. Unlike many homes built at the exact same time, Cliff May homes comprised master suites with attached baths.

The television in this bedroom is concealed from the hall. A vintage wall sconce brightens up this chocolate-colored corner of the space.

Bed frame with attached nightstands: Meubles Mobican Furniture; sconce: Anemone Wall Light, Robert Abbey

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

The master bath formerly had all-black fixtures, and there was no shower, only a tub. The Kramers redesigned the toilet in neutral and crisp colors, with both a shower and bathtub.

Countertop: Nougat, Caesarstone; tile: Gres Cemento, Neutra, CasaMood; cabinets: custom, Estrada’s Cabinet Designs

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

The pendant over the brand new tub helps establish the mood in this relaxing bath. The timber front to the tub makes it blend seamlessly with the rest of the bathroom cabinetry.

Tub deck: Nougat, Caesarstone; tile: Firenze Nicar, Porcelanosa; light fixture: Possini Sphere Pendant, Eurostyle Lighting

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

In the back of the house, Doug’s home office exudes midcentury warmth, connected to the lush greenery outside by a wall of windows. The neutral paint colour and jute wall covering complement the vintage teak furniture and make the room feel cozy and manly.

Coffee table: teak, vintage, Xcape; sofa: Room & Board; lamps: vintage, eBay; finish tables: teak, vintage, Xcape

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

Here, Doug and Rochelle Kramer relax in their everyday family room.

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Ethereal Glow in a Chic Montreal Penthouse

This 1920s art deco building in Montreal has taken on a new, contemporary twist, thanks to designer Julie Charbonneau. She originally purchased its penthouse as a showroom where she could flirt with fresh fashions in design. But if a fire burnt down her Toronto home last year, she moved herself and her daughter briefly to Montreal to wait out the rebuilding process. The spacious and bright attic has been home for today, and it embraces Charbonneau’s French design with fresh, high-contrast lines.

at a Glance
Who lives here: Julie Charbonneau along with her 8-year-old daughter, Alexia
Size: 3,250 square feet; two bedrooms, two bathrooms
That’s intriguing: This building once housed a printing firm.

Esther Hershcovich

Charbonneau maintained the structure as accurate to the original state as possible, including brick walls and the concrete columns. Following an unsuccessful attempt to salvage the first wooden floors, she replaced them with a budget-friendly white epoxy.

Charbonneau made this table. Its diameter that is 7-foot fits up to 10 chairs. The natural lines of the Bocci lighting fixture match the area’s industrial advantage.

Light fixture: Triede Design; dining chairs: Avant-Scène

Esther Hershcovich

The open layout is created for entertaining many guests. The lighting may be controlled to various mood settings in an iPad, courtesy of AVI Design.

Floor lamp: Tolomeo, Michele De Lucchi for Artemide

Esther Hershcovich

Oversize arched windows are the pinnacle of architectural interest in Charbonneau’s home. She opted to accentuate them by leaving them discovered in the primary living space.

Esther Hershcovich

An oversize shag rug helps to define the seating area. This space, with its own swivel chairs facing the dramatic custom wood media centre, is Charbonneau’s favorite spot in the home. She says, “It’s a wicked sound system, also.”

Gray swivel chairs: Triede Design

Esther Hershcovich

When guests come in, they visit this formal sitting area, with its Rauschenberg paintings, custom tiled chairs and wine collection on decorated glass shelves.

Esther Hershcovich

The foyer includes two charcoal drawings, part of Robert Longo’s “Men in the Cities” body of work. An upholstered leather bench helps make a gracious entry and offers a seat for pulling on boots before heading outside to the snow.

Floors: Saraceno Granite; paint: Chelsea Gray, Benjamin Moore

Esther Hershcovich

A tall coat closet made of rosewood sits in the foyer, also. “The idea was to not show the hinges,” says Charbonneau.

Esther Hershcovich

The kitchen strategy included an island with granite counters that were white. When Charbonneau was advised the bit of oil wouldn’t fit within her building’s elevator, then she covered half of the island. “Sometimes a battle brings out the best,” she says.

A wall has been brought forward just enough to put in a line of accent lighting to her cooking area.

Esther Hershcovich

A skylight and overhead spotlights make the glossy kitchen look extra bright. The kitchen also includes two dishwashers with pullout freezer drawers flush with the cabinetry.

Rosewood doorways beyond the kitchen match exactly the foyer’s coat closet design. These lead to Charbonneau’s daughter’s bedroom. The door on the right leads to the master suite.

Esther Hershcovich

Charbonneau made her master bedroom with light colours and luscious fabrics.

Esther Hershcovich

The upholstered headboard is custom designed to include a background for the two nightstands.

Table lamps: Flos; portrait: David Drebin

Esther Hershcovich

A large portrait by Martin Rondeau, a Montreal artist, hangs over a freestanding tub in the master bath.

Esther Hershcovich

His-and-her wall-mounted vanities face a walk in shower in the master bath. The spacious frosted glass door leads to the toilet.

Esther Hershcovich

Charbonneau designed daughter Alexia’s room with an extra twin bed for a visitor. A Paul Beliveau painting hangs on a custom wall-to-wall headboard.

Esther Hershcovich

An Egg Chair overlooking downtown Montreal sits in the corner of Alexia’s room.

Esther Hershcovich

Off the foyer, another bath ties in with the rest of the house with a rich, dark rosewood vanity and wood-lined wall.

Esther Hershcovich

A massive shower opens up the room and contrasts with the dramatic vanity.

Esther Hershcovich

The primary living room includes a view of St. Patrick’s Basilica, just a couple of steps away from her building’s front door.

Esther Hershcovich

Julie Charbonneau snuggles with Alexia on among her favorite swivel chairs. While both are living here just briefly, Charbonneau is likely to build a rooftop patio adjacent.

Show us your creative penthouse!

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