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Monday, September 15, 2014

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Creative DIY: fun ideas for giving new life to old pianos


upcycled piano fountain

Old pianos that have become family room eye sores can present an over-sized disposal challenge. Before you send old Betsy to the basement, sell her to strangers at a garage sale, or a make a strenuous trip to the local landfill, there may be another, more fun solution. If you’re handy with power tools and have a little vision you can transform your old beat-up piano into a new piece of furniture for your home or garden. There are many (more…)

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sustainable Furniture: Handcrafted Designer Mirrors


handmade maple mirror yellow blue

I love the elegant lines of these handmade mirrors created by furniture maker and craftsman, David Hurwitz. Hurwitz utilizes hand carving and traditional methods of furniture construction and joinery to create pieces with modern flourishes and contemporary style.

designer maple mirror

The craftsman uses only FSC Certified woods like cherry and maple in these museum-quality lyrical pieces. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo and certification is (more…)

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Stylishly Recycled: A New Life for Old Planes


Motoart DC9 coffee-table

When in the market for green furniture, many people often feel they need to compromise on design. Not all green furniture is created equally and some of it is less than stylish. Although, as you’ll probably agree, with material such as bamboo, pieces can be both beautiful and sustainable. You can also create green furniture from materials that often wind up in the dump. Old airplanes that are forgotten and sit around in airplane boneyards are an example of a material that can be given a specatacular second life.

C-119-Rudder table

Recycled airplane furniture was popularized by innovative companies like Moto Art, founded in 2002. Since then, other early designers that first turned the retired air planes into treasure other providers of similar goods like Relicta Design House and SkyART have blossomed. These, and others like them, offer chic furniture made from airplane parts that are collected from airplane bone yards. So, what’s involved in this transformation process? (more…)

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Monday, September 8, 2014

HomeKit: The Technologically Ecosystematic Home from Apple


Apple HomeKit

Apple recently filed a patent application for an all-encompassing home automation system that promises to turn your home into a subconscious extension of yourself. Imagine your coffeemaker brewing a fresh cup in the morning, the clothes washer spinning into life, and your television tuned to your favorite news channel simply by opening an app on your iOS or Android device, and even before you get out of bed! And yes, Apple plans to accommodate Android, other non-Apple devices, third-party app developers and several partnered corporations. (more…)

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Hidden “Green Home” by VASHO Architects


RD House VASHO

The environmentally conscious designers at the Chilean architecture firm, VASHO, and like-minded consumers have gotten together to stray from the trend of overly consumptive family homes and are integrating the environment into building design to a degree not seen since Frank Lloyd Wright retired his pencil and square. (more…)

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

12 story Delta passive house by studio505


Delta passive house highrise

Innovative Australian architectural and design firm, studio505, is the creative force behind an exciting new project being developed for their client, Grocon LTD. Plans have begun for a 10-to 12-story “Passive House” apartment building currently called Delta. The green building is designed to be carbon neutral and built entirely from engineered timber on the former site of the Carlton Brewery in Melbourne. (more…)

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Friday, August 15, 2014

The Future of Green Vehicles


electric car charging Some look back at car history with rose-colored glasses, but looking forward offers a greener perspective. Without doubt, the future of cars comes framed with a more environmental conscience. Here’s a glimpse into what the future of fuel-efficient, energy-saving cars has in store.

One out of Two Cars Will Be a Hybrid by 2040
According to Exxon Mobile, by 2040 one out of every two cars will likely fall under the hybrid or alternative fuel category. That’s a startling contrast compared to today’s estimated one percent hybrid ownership.

Since the automobile world agreed to upping gas mileage requirements in 2011, predictions lean toward increased hybrid sales. That’s not to say oil won’t stay the top supplier, but certainly many buyers will consider the savings as those mileage standards increase. President Obama’s administration set off to double average fuel efficiency by 2025, translating to around 54 miles per gallon (MPG). As natural gas, wind, nuclear power, and battery technologies improve and become more popular, you can certainly expect more green cars on the streets.

Expect Good Looks and Good Gas Mileage

honda hybrid

Hybrid and green vehicles often earn a bad reputation for neglecting style. However, many of the top brands in cars, from the commercial, affordable brands to luxury and sports names, already create models that bridge the gap between pedestrian and sophisticated. Not surprisingly, many families benefit from these widened hybrid choices, since initial models neglected storage and family transporting capabilities. Now, among the top twelve KBB family cars listed, many offer a hybrid version, such as the roomy and classic 2014 Honda Accord, priced just below $30,000.

Still, people with all lifestyles and car preferences look at a future of green options. Concept electrical cars for possible future release include BMW’s Concept ActiveE, which runs on battery-power and essentially mimics the BMW 1 Series Coupe in styling, and Audi’s sleek, fast, battery-powered coupe, the e-tron for luxury lovers. On the other hand, more practical models include the Hyundai’s plug-in Blue-Will Concept vehicle, which largely inspired the Sonata hybrid and offers aerodynamics, original stylistic choices, and solar panels. Another, the Volkswagen New Compact Coupe Concept model offers European appeal and sporty performance for a hybrid engine. As hybrids gain favor on the market, prices will decline, but even now models offer a reasonable MSRP with savings in the long-run.

The Rise of Supercapacitors

supercapacitor Toyota graphic
While new, spiffy, green brand Tesla operates with the lithium-ion battery and major brands opt for the NiMH battery, they don’t completely solve the environmental impact issue. Yet, lithium-ion definitely offers a major improvement over NiMH, with zero heavy metals or metal toxins and huge potential in capacity and costs.

But supercapacitors, or hypercapacitors, truly have developers’ attention. These electricity storers do not have memory like batteries, meaning unlimited charging without any degradation. Plus, they charge and discharge far quicker than batteries, offering benefits for drivers at charging stations. The current issue lies in power. But certainly universities like MIT and the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ team believe their Electrical Energy Storage Units (EESU) approach the solution. Once power storage reaches that of chemical batteries, and the cost comes down to a realistic consumer range, these supercapacitors will likely takeover the green car movement.

Introducing Energy Storing Panels
One special advancement occurring in the green world is energy storing vehicle body panels. These panels store energy and charge faster than the aforementioned alternative car batteries. In addition, they take much of the heavy battery weight out of the equation, possibly reducing a car’s weight by fifteen percent. Volvo, the leader of this body panel research, is looking into polymer fiber and carbon resin panels that regenerate energy through braking or overnight plugging-in. Meanwhile, Toyota also started panel research, but geared toward capturing solar energy and storing it in a lightweight panel.

With powerful and attractive electric and hybrid models available already, the future of green vehicles is fast-approaching, with only more innovative and exciting ideas to come. Expect your family, friends, and co-workers to ditch the gas-guzzlers for an eco-friendly ride.

Electric car charging symbol via shutterstock.com

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

rustic modern: reclaimed wood chandeliers


reclaimed wood and edison bulb chandelier

Is your lair in need of a style statement? Need to shed a little light on the subject? Rustic modern? Vintage retro? Country chic? Perhaps a handcrafted chandelier is what you need. A little family business called, Born Again Wood Works – the brainchild of designers, craftspeople and married couple, Dustin and Amber Schumacher – has created a line of handcrafted chandeliers and lighting fixtures designed to transcend styles from retro to modern and back again. 

mason jar and reclaimed wood chandelier

The couple creates handmade chandeliers that are a compelling combination woodworking craftsmanship, reclaimed wood and an array of vintage and industrial lighting components. Many of Born Again’s designs feature wooden canopies, Edison bulbs and (more…)

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