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Monday, July 7, 2014


upcycled home decor – wine barrel lights

wine barrel ring and stave chandelier

These handmade lighting fixtures are created from the upcycled components of old wine barrels, aged and stained by years of storing some of California’s finest vino.
wine barrel ring light
Artist Michael Weiss and his band of California artisans create hundreds of products, pieces of furniture and home decor items from reclaimed grapevines, vintage wine barrels and other recycled and natural materials. Basic materials used in the making of these lighting fixtures: wine barrels, wine barrel rings, chain, wine barrel rings, wine barrel staves and a heavy dose of fine craftsmanship.

wine barrel stave light

You can find these lights (beginning at $80) and dozens of other handcrafted artisan items at the Wine Country Craftsman shop.

related: more eclectic home decor items featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Monday, June 30, 2014

out of the ashes comes light – reclaimed wood light sculpture

reclaimed wood lamp top

California based designer and artist, Paul Foeckler, creates illuminated sculptures that utilize light to reveal the elemental form and physical character of reclaimed wood. The piece, pictured above and below, is created from a piece of reclaimed Incense Cedar that was found in the remains and ashes of a forest fire a few years ago in the Angeles National Forest.

reclaimed wood lamp

Horizontal shafts of lights are revealed through suspended layers created out of what was once a solid chunk of cedar. An internal light reveals a center knot and the character, grain and texture of the original wood. The piece is mounted on a handmade and waxed natural steel base with felt bottom for a scratch-free surface and is connected via a 6 foot woven black cloth cord. This minimalist, natural sculpture is available for $400 from Split Grain

related: more eco-friendly home decorating ideas from The Alternative Consumer

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Top Tips to Make Your Conservatory More Eco-Friendly

Ahh, the British summertime … you can almost wear a t-shirt outdoors without freezing to death.

We’re joking, of course, but the capricious nature of Dear Old Blighty’s weather can make picketing the Met Office an agreeable idea. Admittedly, much of this unpredictability stems from climate change, with the Met Office’s chief scientist admitting the UK had recently seen its “most exceptional period of rainfall in 248 years”. Yep, it seems the weather is set to carry on spoiling our summer barbecues and putting paid to our t-shirt suntans unless attitudes towards energy efficiency in the home begin to change.

Sunlounge glass conservatory

Considering the often disagreeable climate then, it’s no surprise conservatories are the latest must have addition for the discerning homeowner, with over 200,000 new structures popping up each year. But before you rush out to Conservatories R Us clutching a sodden clump of £50 notes and a thirst for additional living space, the energy efficiency requirements must first be considered ….

sunlounge conservatory

Heating and Cooling
We all know the Earth revolves around the sun (don’t we?). As such, it should be fairly obvious that where your conservatory is placed will determine your heating and cooling needs.

This is important because of the amount of energy you’ll potentially use – and its effect on the environment. Interestingly, 28 per cent of the UK’s CO2 output comes from the energy we consume in our homes, but erecting a conservatory can actually SLASH your emissions. How? Because your conservatory offers protection from the cold during the winter months, playing its part in keeping the rest of the home warm and negating the need to fiddle with the thermostat.

Importantly, if your conservatory faces south, it’s going to get pretty warm in there. This isn’t all bad, though, as the heat from the conservatory will also warm up the interior of your property. For this to work effectively, the conservatory and the main part of your home must have doors separating them, and vents and blinds in place to stop it becoming unbearably hot.

Edwardian glass conservatory

Glass, Blinds and Vents
Of course, no conservatory is complete without glass – but, for the eco-friendly among us, any old glass simply won’t do. Instead, it’s important to opt for glass replete with a low U-Factor, as this type of glazing offers much higher levels of energy efficiency. Not only that, it will help keep your conservatory cool during particularly warm periods, which means your costly air conditioning unit can continue gathering dust in the garage.

As far as blinds go, you can choose from roller or vertical, with both options helping to reduce the amount of sunlight seeping in, allowing you to control the temperature of the room.

Finally, it’s vital your conservatory is kitted out with vents and louvers to let fresh air into the space, lest you choke on your own sense of self satisfaction at your eco-friendly ways …

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Reclaimed Wood Furniture: Timber With Multiple Benefits

reclaimed wood stacking tables

In the past few years, reclaimed wood furniture has become increasingly popular across a diverse range of consumers, but why? What would lead prospective buyers to invest their hard-earned money in second-hand wood, when they could buy new for a similar price? There are three main explanations, each of which is listed below.

reclaimed wood dining set
With the reality of climate change now widely accepted into the public consciousness, environmental issues are paramount, which is one reason that reclaimed wood furniture is becoming so popular. Reclaimed wood furniture is made from wood that would otherwise have found its way to landfill (the source of the materials ranges from old railways sleepers to dilapidated barns to bridges). By not sending this timber to landfill, the results are two-fold – firstly, these great pieces of wood won’t be taking up precious cubic yards of landfill space. Secondly, the timber won’t be exposed to other types of hazardous waste in landfill, some of which can react with the wood to create methane gas, hurrying on the effects of climate change.

reclaimed wood table

Being that the woods used to create this furniture are sourced primarily from massive structures such as bridges and buildings – structures that were reliant on incredibly resilient timber – the tables made from them tend to be far stronger and much more durable than anything you’d be able to buy new within the same price bracket. So, before you ‘invest’ in the latest Swedish chip-board construction, think about the longevity you’d get from a reclaimed hard wood piece of furniture instead.

reclaimed wood credenza reclaimed wood sideboard

Though many will attribute their purchasing of this furniture to profound environmental concerns, the main draw for a lot of people is its unique appearance. Reclaimed wood affects a rustic old-world ruggedness that simply isn’t re-creatable. Many of the minor imperfections in the timber are often left as they are, which adds even more to its aesthetic appeal. Finally, this wood has a real life history, often dating back more than 100 years. In some cases, it may have been a part of an important structure or landmark. This history is retained right here in the form of these exquisite pieces.

Justified Popularity
At first, it may seem reasonable to question why someone would choose furniture made from recycled materials instead of buying new. Given the many benefits listed here though, it’s easy to understand why reclaimed wood furniture, such as the pieces from Trade Furniture, is so popular.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

handmade salvaged catalpa wood bench

salvaged catalpa wood bench

A rustic bench that speaks of the outdoors and a rugged mountain lifestyle … Woodstock, NY-based, Gray Works Design creates these benches (above and below) from salvaged catalpa wood recovered from one of our favorite places – their local Catkill Mountains area.

handmade catlapa wood bench

These handsome indoor/outdoor benches are handmade to order. Gray Works crafts their furniture almost exclusively from sustainably harvested, local hardwoods. Pieces are finished with natural, organic finishes – like the linseed oil used on this piece. Each bench is unique and OOAK. The one pictured above costs roughly $2,000. (And no, that’s not me pictured above.)

Incorporating salvaged, or found wood, in new furniture pieces captures the character and charm of old growth trees, whilst preserving living trees.

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

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