By Rebecca Orlov
One of our favorite small-space tips is to “go vertical,” using wall space to add style and dimension to a room. Now that it’s officially summer, we thought we’d take this idea outside and freshen up a small balcony or patio with a dose of DIY. Vertical gardens, which started popping up in the design world a few years ago, allow you to add some color and natural texture to your space without sacrificing valuable patio real estate.
Here are three easy, affordable projects that will allow you to create a vertical garden with your own personal design stamp.
High-gloss paint makes art and textiles pop. Photograph by Angie Seckinger, courtesy Sally Steponkus Interiors.
Tangerine Tango and haute herringbone and classic chevron, oh my! In the world of interior design, where what was hot yesterday is out today, trying to keep your home in style can be overwhelming—which is why more and more customers are turning to interior designers to discover the hottest trends. They are the experts after all, and can help determine when to follow trends and when to stick with classic, timeless designs.
We recently talked with five local designers to find out their picks for the most popular design trends of 2011 and how you can incorporate them into your own home for 2012. Here are their decorating dos and don’ts for the new year.
But that’s what just arrived in the mail from Sandy Spring Builders, a Bethesda-based homebuilder founded in 1982. The flashy six-by-six-inch plastic invite is lettered with blue writing and has an opaque green border. The postage: a cool $1.61.
So just what event entails this caliber of crafty PR genius? A Hollywood movie premiere, you ask? No. The opening of a fancy new restaurant by a Michelin-star-studded chef? Wrong again. It’s for the launch of the Bradley Green Home, Sandy Spring’s LEED-certified model home which, according to the invitation, offers “sustainable luxury in half the time”—a 6,300-square-foot ecofriendly home constructed in under 16 weeks.
Now correct us if we’re wrong, but last time we checked plastic wasn’t particularly biodegradable. So unless we recycle this (which we plan to), or unless it’s secretly made of the same magical material as Sweetgreen’s biodegradable “plastic” spoons, this tiny invitation would sit in a landfill for, oh, the next 100 years.
In the words of the wise sage Alanis Morissette: “Isn’t it . . . a little too ironic?”
The Alliance to Save Energy projects that the average American household will
spend $2,160 on home energy costs in 2010.
“The average house is about 40 years old,” says Doris Iklé of CMC Energy Services
in Bethesda. “That house was built when codes were laxer and when energy was
cheaper. They’re not as efficient as houses that are built today.”
DC’s Department of the Environment offers free energy audits to single-family home owners. Home owners who complete energy-efficient renovations—adding insulation, upgrading air conditioning and heating systems—this year (or did so last year) can benefit from tax credits. Homeowners in Montgomery County can also apply for up to $250 in tax credits.
Read the complete article to find out more about other incentives and ways to prevent energy loss.
This card table and four matching chairs are $165 in Sterling. The seller says the set is vintage, made in the 1940s. The table top is covered in a dry-lacquered fabric and has a painted Chinese dragon. The Asian motif continues on the chairs, which are painted green and feature gold and blue Asian designs. The chairs and table fold up for easy storage.
Other good finds:
• Dining table with seven newly reupholstered chairs for $300.
• Corner curio cabinet with shelf and cabinet space for $300.
• Brown leather couch for $950; matching club chair with ottoman for $850.
• A pair of black lacquered sidetables with two drawers and brass pulls for $225.
Green features include:
• Desks made from recycled materials
• Insulation made of recycled cotton
• Low mercury lighting with motion sensors that turn lights on and off
• Energy Star appliances
• Concrete floors with nontoxic sealants
But perhaps the coolest feature is the flat-screen TV in the lounge where employees play Guitar Hero.
“The staff is really excited,” says company president Christine Delucchi. “They take pride in their space, and it translates when they’re working with clients.” A future project on Delucchi’s wish list is a green rooftop garden, a clean and relaxing place away from the office. “It would be like a zen, meditation room—a quiet place for people to go.”
What do you think? Would working in a beautiful office like this make you more productive?
Check out our full slideshow of Delucchi's office below.
The company only uses cleaning products that are certified by the nonprofit Green Seal. “Most of our cleaning products are hydrogen peroxide-based and are hospital quality,” says LaVoy. Many are also unscented, so don’t be alarmed if the “fresh and clean” smell is absent after the crew leaves.
A typical cleaning costs between $100 and $130 and takes a little more than an hour. Green Clean offers services in Maryland, DC, and Virginia and does a lot of business for new mothers: “We’ve had many people call us from the hospital and say they are having a baby today and would like us to clean their home.”
Green Clean’s office uses recycled paper, soy-based ink, and powers itself with solar and wind power. Crew members wear uniforms made of organic cotton and soy-based dies. The company also tracks the carbon emissions of its vehicles and offsets them by donating money to organizations like Planktose, which releases carbon-eating plankton into the ocean.
Want to clean green on your own? MOM’s (My Organic Market) and Whole Foods Market sell green cleaning products. LaVoy says most need time to work; spray several items, he says, then go back and wipe them down.
Many local governments collect and recycle trees in early January. If you use a private trash service, call and ask to have your tree picked up. If you live in DC, set your tree out wherever your trash is usually collected between January 2 and 19, and the Department of Public Works will recycle it for you. More details here.
If you miss the dates for local government pick up, you can buy a chipper from a hardware store and grind your own mulch. If that’s too pricey—chippers are priced as much as $500 at Home Depot—there are also commercial and government-run pickup sites. Plug your Zip code into the Earth911 Web site to find nearby tree-recycling services.
The home’s energy-efficient features include a green roof, which absorbs 70 percent of storm-water runoff, a geothermal heating system, and several energy-efficient appliances including a drawer refrigerator and convection microwave oven.
“The Green House” at the National Building Museum is an exhibit with a mission. Through photographs, drawings, and a life-size replica of an ecologically friendly home, the exhibit introduces visitors to the world of green design and architecture.