August 27, 2012

Guest Post: Water-Saving Fixtures - What to Look For

Thanks to 3 Mountains Plumbing, in Portland, Oregon for this informative guest post!

The term water saving is no longer synonymous with “no pressure” or “personally inefficient.” As
advancing technologies make eco-consciousness an increasingly integral part of life, water-saving
bathroom fixtures can now reduce your environmental impact – and your utility bills – without
sacrificing comfort or convenience. The latest advances in water-efficient plumbing are not only highly
functional but beautiful when it counts.

The next time you’re in the market for water-saving fixtures, keep the following in mind:

Low-Flow Toilets

The toilets of yesterday flushed up to 5 gallons of water, but that changed in the 1990s when models
were designed to flush no more than 1.6 gallons of water. The first generations of low-flow toilets were
ineffective, however, much to consumer disappointment.

Today’s low-flow toilets employ new design features to help reduce friction and help waste make its
way out of the bowl. Such features include glazed trapways; 3-inch flush valves; and in some cases
pressurized air in the tank to help enhance the force of the water moving into the bowl. When shopping
for a low-flow toilet, look for one that has a dual-flush option, which allows you to control the amount
of water you flush based on the type of waste. Today’s standard low-flow toilet has a 1.28-gallon-per-
flush rating, and the dual flush ratings go as low as .6 gallons per flush for the ‘liquid only’ option. With
the right low-flow toilet, you can save up to $100 per year in utility costs.

Programmable Showers

A revolution in plumbing, programmable showers allow you to set your ideal water temperature,
delivery method and flow level. This prevents you from wasting water as you adjust the valves to find
the perfect temperature. When shopping for a programmable shower, look for one that’s backed by a
state or national green building standards code and allows you to save multiple user presets.

Flow-Optimized Faucet Aerators (and Shower Heads)

The latest flow-optimized faucet aerators help save water without sacrificing pressure. The air that’s
injected into the flow of water reduces the flow rate from 2.2 gallons per minute to 1.5 gallons per
minute, while maintaining optimal pressure. Depending on the aerating model you purchase, you can
cut back on your water use from a single bathroom tap by up to 32 percent.

The good news for homeowners is that a luxury bathroom no longer has to be a wasteful one. Consult
your local plumber about the latest water-saving bathroom fixtures to learn which would work best in
your home.

 3 Mountains Plumbing, servicing all of the Portland metro area, is a fully licensed and bonded plumbing contractor that specializes in Service Plumbing and Remodeling Plumbing for homes and businesses. 

August 14, 2012

TV Wall and a Floating Shelf

I confess, we are one of those couples whose dining table is their coffee table.  We have a real dining room, with a wonderful dining table, but we never eat there.    We eat in front of the TV.  Though it's not ideal, after a long day of work, sometimes all you really want is to sit together, with no need for conversation.  Because of this, I was really sick of staring at everything around the TV - which included the cheap TV stand I bought years ago when I got my studio apartment (sans doors, as they had fallen off after all the moving around), as well as tons of cords for the speaker / tv / media system.  So,when most women ask for jewelry and clothing etc for their birthdays, I asked that we spend time remodeling this wall.  The project began in March, and we finally finished enough to post pics this past weekend.

I hated the previous setup so much that I didn't even take before photos, so instead I'll show you a photo from our last holiday party, where the ugly TV cabinet is in the background of all my super friends in their fun "recycled" holiday attire.

The ugly cabinet went straight to the curb (where we can always count on someone to come by to pick up old stuff).  

I drew everything exactly as I wanted it on SketchUp, and my wonderful husband did the rest. 

He spent hours researching the right components, and then more hours in the attic running the necessary cables from the TV location to the new component location (above the basement stairs).  He also cut new speakers into the wall per my dimensions.  (And would you believe the holes were correct and required no drywall patching?!?)

The main glitch was actually the install of the floating shelf.  Our first attempt didn't work.  We did some more research, and figured out a different approach, which worked perfectly.

While still looking for a center channel speaker (trying to find something that's not just boring, boxy, and black) as well as some decorative accessories for the shelf, we're close enough to done so I wanted to share.

And for those of you who might want to know more about hanging the floating shelf, here's what we did:

The shelf has a 1" hollow space in the back.

My husband used wood-glue to glue (2) 1/2" pieces of wood together for cleats.  Then he used a pocket-hole jig to pre-drill holes.

Used a stud-finder to make sure we were drilling into something solid.

Mounted the first cleat on the wall.

Note the line above (drawn before cleat was mounted) to keep cleat level.

Used the level for the remaining cleats (starting with outside first and working our way in).  I was asked to point out that the level was standing upright for actual leveling... here he was just using it for the straight edge.

Once the cleats were installed, the shelf slid perfectly into place!

August 9, 2012

Compost and Kitchen Design

Since I don't really have the extra space in my yard for composting, I was excited to hear that Salt Lake City now allows compost items in the yard waste bins.  Which got me thinking about compost bins in the kitchen...

There are several ways to store compost scraps in the kitchen, some more basic, and others pretty complex.

Countertop Containers
The best compost-specific containers will have a filter and some sort of ventilation.  These are 2 of my favorites:

Or you could go cheap and make your own, especially if it's just going to be stored in the cabinet under the sink

In-Counter Compost Storage
Both Rev-a-Shelf and Blanco make a built-in countertop compost pail.  

Drawer Compost Bins

image from gardenweb

Base Pull-Out Bins
Since these tend to be a little bigger, meaning you'll be tempted to empty them less frequently, it's especially important that they have lids.
image from gardenweb

Composting Machines
This machine by Nature Mill has 2 chambers.  Add your scraps to the top chamber, and the unit will mix, heat, and aerate the waste, then transfer it to the bottom tray, where you pull it out - it's ready to use as compost in less than 2 weeks.

This unit doesn't seem to be available yet, but the concept is intriguing so I thought I'd share.  According to Apartment Therapy, this device dries and pulverizes food waste into a non-smelly powder.

August 3, 2012

Kitchens & Brass

I'm giggling to myself about this title because I used to work at a tiny little kitchen design studio for about a year during college - I had forgotten about it until I decided to do a post about brass hardware in kitchens, as this place was called Kitchens & Brass.  So, in homage to that short time in that little studio, I've titled this post "Kitchens & Brass."

Anyway, it's taken me a while to warm up to the resurgence of brass, but now that I've seen it in modern settings, I'm loving it.  Brass is back, but in a VERY different way... with subtler tones and sleek modern lines.  I stumbled across the above photo while flipping through my dwell magazine the other day, I can't get enough of it.  Brass with white and natural wood... the brass warms up this kitchen in a way that polished chrome or stainless steel couldn't do.  And it adds a little touch of formality, but in a non-stuffy way.

A few more examples of brass in modern(ish) kitchens:
from cococozy

A common element, and what makes it all work, is the whites and grays in these spaces.  Come to think of it, I may have just the client for this combination... 

What do you all think?