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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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Are Wireless Christmas Lights in Our Future?


Aura wireless christmas light

File this under: holiday home décor goes wireless. When putting up your Christmas tree the most time-consuming step is stringing the lights. Unless you have a fake tree already strung, traditional lights require several steps. Strings have to be: tested, fixed, plugged-in, hidden and woven over the entire tree. The eRing Kickstarter project (it used to be called Aura) is saying farewell to wired lights and hello to wireless. The designers of eRing are offering us the first ever wireless Christmas tree lighting system and their project will be featured on Kickstarter until January 18th. If it becomes a reality, starting next year, wired lights may become a thing of the past.

Here’s how the eRing system works. To light the tree, simply lay down a (supplied) base ring, plug it in and hang your light-up ornaments anywhere. The wireless lights are completely encased in a glass, or plastic, sphere-shaped ornament. The idea is more holiday magic then holiday décor; here are the Pros for the everyday consumer and pros for the alternative one.

smart phone control

Everyday Pros:

  • Lights cannot short circuit or spark
  • Lights give off little to zero heat unlike traditional light bulbs
  • Lights are LED’s, and use less power than traditional lights
  • Greatly reduces risk of fire, if not completely eliminating it
  • Option for smart phone control (image above)

Alternative Pros:

  • eRing wireless lights last up to 20 years and one system can light up to 100 ornament lights
  • Being wire free means less materials and less materials means less waste
  • You’re using less plastic. Traditional string lights have plastic coating on the wires, plastic plugs and plastic holders for the bulbs.
  • The wireless lights are on a PCB, printed circuit board, which is recyclable.

wireless lighting ornament

The whole thing works using wireless power transfer via resonant inductive coupling. The base ring contains a coil, electricity flows through the coil and (more…)

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

green furniture: handmade mid century modern


moderncre8ve walnut table

Artisanal furniture maker and designer, Chris Williams, and his company Moderncre8ve create sweet, mid-century handcrafted furniture that’s evocative of some of our favorite 1950′s Heywood Wakefield pieces.

moderncre8ve walnut table

Most of the furniture pieces (pictured above and below) are created from FSC-certified black walnut and made to order. No filler, plywood or veneers found here – the furniture is made of solid, high quality walnut. Many pieces are finished with Danish oil and beeswax. Love the simple lines and craftsman construction.

moderncre8ve dresser

moderncre8ve walnut coffee table

The clean, modern pieces are handmade in the company’s Cleveland, Ohio workshop and sold via Chris’s Etsy shop.

moderncre8ve coffee table

related: more eco-friendly furniture featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

eco art: reclaimed pallet wood wall hanging


reclaimed pallet wood wall hanging

Bring a little rustic charm into your home with an eco-friendly wall hanging made of reclaimed wood (above and below). North Carolina-based woodworking artist Jason McNeill makes a handsome array of handcrafted furniture and art primarily from reclaimed pallet wood.

eco art reclaimed pallet wood wall hanging

McNeill often paints a lovely tree and accompanying text on his pieces. Most of the work is fully customizable – with the color of the stain and hand painting customized to match the buyer’s decor. The 60″x 34″ wall hanging is perfect for a dining room or living room wall. Each tree is unique. $400 @ Indian Beach Wayfarers

By purchasing furniture and art made from reclaimed wood you can help preserve living trees, while capturing the character and charm often inherent in reclaimed wood.

related: more eco-friendly home decor items featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Go Green Indoors


green home

The environmentally friendly green movement has taken off, and it’s no longer just for cleaning products, cars and personal care products. In fact, it has become a popular topic among professional and do-it-yourself interior decorators. Many use home design software to realize their vision. Some people work tirelessly to ensure that every aspect of their indoor environment is ecologically friendly. Others incorporate a sustainable table here, a green rug there. Whether you desire to make green decorating your personal mission or just your hobby with the help of an interior design tool, there are simple ways to incorporate green décor into your furnishings to satisfy both your sense of style and Mother Nature.

Going Green Underfoot
Because traditional wall-to-wall carpeting can trap toxic outdoor chemicals and allergens deposited via your shoes or furry friends, many people are turning to eco-friendly flooring. Options come in all styles and price ranges. Sustainable flooring is typically very durable and sometimes made of recycled materials. There are four popular options: hardwood, cork, bamboo and tile.

When shopping for hardwood floors, look for products that bear the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal. It ensures that the wood has been produced in a forest with regenerated trees, among other factors. Cork offers elasticity, which makes it very comfortable for walking and standing. In addition, cork is fire-resistant and hypoallergenic. Bamboo floors are water resistant and also detract bugs and mildew. For a more colorful look, tile floors made of recycled glass are a great option.

Seeing Green
Going green on the walls used to mean sacrificing style and quality. That’s no longer the case. Many manufacturers now offer eco-friendly paint that boasts durability and superior coverage, plus a rainbow of options. The key is, these paints do not have damaging solvents and harmful chemicals. How do you know which paint is safe for your home and health? Be sure the items you purchase have low or no VOC in the colorant and in the paint. You can try on paint colors with an interior design tool, available on many websites, for example, Digital Decorator.

If wallpaper is more your style, you’re in luck. Wall coverings have come a long way in both look and application, and many options are available for non-PVC products. PVC is a dangerous toxin that can leech into the air. Look for wallpapers that are fully vinyl-free and made with water-based inks on organic cotton fabric.

Saving Green
Rather than purchasing all of your home furnishings and fixtures new, why not consider buying second-hand finds? This technique is easy on the environment and your wallet. Shopping vintage avoids a double hit on the great outdoors, cuts down on overconsumption and helps landfills. Suddenly, a couch can have two or more lives, mirrors can be repurposed to suit your taste and counter-tops can be re-imagined to coincide with your décor. When you think recycle, not replace, the options are nearly limitless. Garage sales, online auction sites and vintage stores are brimming with interesting, eclectic finds. If you plan to refinish furniture, look for environmentally friendly products that are water-based and free of toxins.

By incorporating a little green into your style you’ll improve your home’s air quality and reduce the negative impact that your furnishings have on the environment. It’s the most sensible, responsible kind of style, and you can watch it come to life with the help of home design software. Just put your imagination to work.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Eco-Friendly Flooring Options for Modern Homes


floor polished concrete

At one point in time, if someone mentioned the term “eco-friendly” in connection with flooring, many people would frown. While the use of eco-friendly materials is good for the environment, many people would avoid using it as flooring due to its unattractiveness. Luckily, modern design and technology is creating beautiful flooring that not only looks great, but is great for the environment. Here are a few eco-friendly, flooring options that will accent a modern home.

Cork
Cork is one of the newer types of flooring. It is made from the bark of the cork oak tree and harvested in a manner that does not involve cutting down the tree. Cork is a versatile material. It can be painted or stained to match any décor. This type of flooring is also fire retardant, naturally repels insects and is antimicrobial.

Bamboo
Even though bamboo has the properties of wood, it is really a grass. What makes bamboo a great alternative to wood is the fact that it has a faster regrowth rate and it does not require pesticides or fertilizers to grow. Bamboo flooring is easy to maintain and install. The variety of tones and grain patterns increases the ability to customize the flooring. The best part about choosing bamboo is the fact that is looks great with in any setting.

Natural Stone Flooring
There are many benefits to using natural stone flooring. It is durable, has a long lifespan and recyclable. Natural stone flooring is made from sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rock. Because no stone is the same, this environmentally-friendly flooring will add a unique and natural look to a room. Other characteristics that make stone flooring a great choice, it is easy to care for and looks better as it ages.

alfresco polished concrete

Polished Concrete
Polished concrete floors are another popular, eco-friendly flooring choice. The concrete used is usually the sub flooring of the home or business. What makes the flooring a sustainable option is the fact that it does not use natural resources to produce and creates very little waste. Concrete also has the ability to absorb heat and keep the environment cool during the summer, reducing the need to rely on energy. Concrete polishing can create a variety of decorative effects and it can be tinted to meet any design specification. Polished concrete floors are durable, easily cleaned and does not need to be replaced.

Linoleum
Linoleum is comprised of biodegradable materials that include linseed oil, cork flour and limestone. This hypoallergenic flooring is water resistant, fire retardant and easy to clean. The long-lasting floor is available in a variety of colors and is coated to ensure that it lasts a long time. At one point of time, linoleum fell of favor. However, many designers are choosing to use this flooring.

Using eco-friendly flooring options does not mean sacrificing aesthetics to save the environment. There are several types of natural flooring available, each with their own attributes. Whether you are interested in concrete polishing or want a unique cork flooring, there is environmentally-friendly flooring that will increase the aesthetics wherever they are installed.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Window Treatments: Staying Green and Keeping Bills Down


vertical blinds light filtering

The term “window treatment” may sound a little scientific – and certainly not something that you’d associate with textiles which were once solely regarded as decoration. However, we now live in a society where staying green is on the tip of everyone’s tongue and as such, making wise window treatment decisions are crucial.

If you haven’t deciphered the term just yet, we’re basically referring to blinds and drapes. Most of us usually decide on a product based upon aesthetics, but if you can follow certain tips with your blinds and curtains you can cut your heating, and possibly cooling, costs considerably. We’ll now take a look at just how you can achieve this.

reflective blinds

Consider reflective blinds
One of the recent advancements within the blinds industry is reflective products. These have been devised especially to combat the effects of energy loss and experts believe that they can do this to a mammoth 45%. They can block sunlight from entering, whilst “insulating” a room when winter arrives.

As such, if you haven’t yet purchased your window treatment, this could be something worth considering.

Always hang curtains as close to the window as possible
This is one of the more simple tips we will cover and it solely revolves around the position in which you install your curtains. Allowing them to hang as close to the window as possible will save considerable amounts of energy, simply because you are minimizing the heat exchange potential. If you can also make them overhang so they are touching the windowsill, you will again be able to stop as much heat escaping from the room when the temperature drops.

vertical blinds

Use the blinds’ flexibility to your advantage
One of the reasons why blinds have become more popular over the last few years is there versatility. It doesn’t matter whether you opt for a modern, motorized solution, or standard vertical blinds, they still offer more flexibility than curtains.

Therefore, it’s at this point that you should be using this to your advantage. Alter the position of the slats and create a balance between allowing sufficient sunlight and heat into the room, in accordance with the temperature at the time.

Keeping your curtains closed can be fashionable
We’re by no means suggesting that you should live permanently in the dark, but there can be occasions when keeping your curtains closed can prove to be a godsend from an energy perspective.

During the hot months, it should go without saying that keeping your curtains closed is going to block a lot of heat coming in. In fact, if we look at this from a statistical viewpoint, it’s understood that you can minimize this heat by 33%.

Alternatively, during the cold months, the opposite can occur. By drawing the curtains at this period of the year you can stop heat escaping, with experts suggesting that this can prevent heat loss up to 10%. Both margins are significant, over the course of a year at least, and can make a great impact to your energy bills.

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