Category Archives: Trends

Green Living – Can History and Sustainability Live in Harmony?

With my practice located in San Diego’s Northpark neighborhood, one of the most common objections I hear to the sustainable movement relates to the integration of sustainable features into historic architecture.

I get the impression that a vast majority of the owners of these vintage Craftsman bungalows and late Victorian manses just aren’t aware of the plethora of options available to them.  In a round about kind of way, I can’t blame them for two simple reasons – There are a ton of sustainable options and they’re usually geared to newer homes in more contemporary styles.

Side note: I was talking to a vendor about adding a new window in my bathroom.  He suggested I replace ALL of my 100 year old wood frame casement windows (with their original glass I might add) with all new “state of the art” vinyl windows. I immediately hung up.

Anyway, the whole idea is that sustainability is a viable option for the owners of historic homes as well.  Even better, there are a slew of methods available that do not take away from the aesthetics of the original home, can meet State Department requirements (should your home be on the National Register), and can actually make your historic property more efficient than even new homes built today with Green principals in mind.

As an example, I ran across (via the great Mark Johnson over at Green Builder Magazine) a great example of just how far one can go.  Pay close attention because if you didn’t know this home was a prime example of energy efficiency, you’d have had no clue quite simply because from the outside (and even from the inside) it looks like nothing more than a 110 year old farmhouse.

You know what they say – the greenest house is the one already standing.

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Bathrooms. Thank Goodness We Don’t Have Outhouses.

So listen… I think by now you guys know me all too well.

Pajamas.  Check.  Au Lit Fine Linens (if you don’t know who then click here) feather pillow.  Check.  Glass of warm milk on the nightstand.  Check…. that is if you substitute milk for Hendricks.

If you’ve guessed that today is Wednesday on the Bloggie then you’re correct.  And I’m ignoring you and letting one of the great Salt Lake designers take the reign. 

Oh yeah.  Some design coming to you straight from the state that brought you the Sundance Film Festival.  And Chick-Fil-A.  I think.  I’m not fact checking that one.

So without further adieu…. Take it away April!

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I am thrilled to be Brandon’s guest blogger on the Bloggie today.  I hope my post will be worthy of all that makes the Bloggie one of my top favorite blogs (edit: I did not pay her to say that.  Boy Scout’s Honor). Brandon is an extremely talented designer but it is his honest realness in the way he expresses himself that completely inspires me…keeps me entertained and has endeared him to me.


I have decided to discuss the somewhat taboo topic of the bathroom… possibly because I haven’t dared to be so bold on my own blog yet

When it comes to designing the bathroom we always put function first. We have too. The bathroom was invented for some very specific functions which have evolved over the years…thank goodness! I am so glad that we don’t have outhouses to tromp out to in the middle of the night, or that I have to fill my tub up in the kitchen from a kettle hanging over a fireplace with a curtain…or not, hanging over the doorway.  How did people do that anyway?

The great thing about this whole functional process is that there are people/plumbers who already have that part under control, so as long as things are per code, nothing leaks, your cold water is on the right and your hot on the left, toilets flush properly, you probably don’t think too much about it.  Truth is I know more about such things then I really want to, so I prefer to focus a bit more on the aesthetics of the bath.


If you spend any time at all in the bathroom you understand the value of having the bath be attractive as possible. If you put makeup on, blow dry and/or hot iron your hair, bathe children, potty train said children or shave…you’re putting in some time. These functions also require your bathroom to be organized. This is a bit too complex to cover since we all have different needs in this area…for organization you probably want to hire a professional…a designer who will help you tackle the specifics.


I learned a few years ago that long hot baths with a bevy of lit candles, bath salts, Tori Amos, Dido and even sometimes Sarah Brightman playing in the background was the best way for me to unwind after a stressful week. That is when I fell in love with the real beauty of the bathroom.  You can hide a multitude of sins in candle light which can make most any bathroom seem magical, but here are some of my favorite ways to make a statement in your bathrooms design, sans the candles.


A nicely framed mirror over the sink can give the bathroom a complete look. The mirror becomes a focal point where otherwise it sort of disappears. Yes, it is more of an investment than having the mirror glued to the wall but it is worth every penny. It doesn’t have to be ornate either. Details, even simple ones can make a big difference.


Think outside the box here. It doesn’t have to be a wood frame. Tile creates a myriad of color and textural possibilities that wood just can’t so mix it up a bit.


You can even use a combination of both, surrounding the framed mirror with tile so it looks as though the mirror is hanging on a tiled wall (not as expensive as tiling the whole wall which I have done) or even creating a higher back-splash and placing the mirror part-way in as is shown here.


That brings me to one of my favorite decorative treatments and that is back-splashes. I typically like to use materials that aren’t as commonly seen and used, such as this black glass mixed with black mother of pearl covered tile in a herringbone pattern as shown here.


It is pricy I will admit but there is nothing quite like a well designed tile shower and tile tub surround with a few decorative liners or dots in metal or glass. I honestly never get tired of laying out and designing new versions of these.


A tile wainscot with a few decorative tile borders is the perfect way to add personality to those tiny half baths that are really nothing more than a closet with a few plumbing fixtures. These are the bathrooms that all you have room to do is put a mirror over the pedestal sink and a painting over the toilet. Can you say sparse? This is usually the bathroom your visiting guests use, so do something to make it memorable and interesting.


Paint of course is a way to make a statement, but you will want to consider the amount of lighting you have before going too bold. I personally prefer the guest baths, half baths and power rooms in the bolder colors as long as they are bigger and lit well enough to handle it. This is not a place to be feeling claustrophobic.

One of my favorite ways to give a smaller bathroom some wow factor is using wallpaper as an accent wall. Busy, bold wallpaper in a small bath can be over powering but wallpaper is an inexpensive way to add some character, if it is used correctly. Opt to use softer tones and go less bold in those smaller areas.


Here is a before and after of my own mothers bathroom she let me help her update a few years back. I am not sure who originally picked the pistachio color with the wallpaper border and I about died when my mother told me she wanted another border…thank goodness I couldn’t find any…here was my compromise.

This bathroom does not have any widows so it was dependent on the light over the vanity. We upgraded it to a three light with 60 watt bulbs and lightened the wall color considerably, and the room that once felt like a leprechaun’s cave now is the best place in the house for putting on makeup and plucking your eyebrows.


Decorative and natural lighting can make a huge impact on the bath as well as stylish plumbing fixtures that fit in with the look of the room. Look at choices that have some personality even something unexpected. Like the Canyon faucet I am storing from HANSA that is going in my next guest bathroom.

This isn’t everything that goes into a great looking bathroom not by a long shot, but it is something to chew on. Thank you Brandon for this great opportunity. You are the best!

So Isn’t April awesome?  And not just because she saved me having to write a post this morning.  And we hit our 1000 word minimum.  Yippee!  If you want to find out more about April and AE Design, you can find her on her blog Inspired to Create ByOr if you live in the Salt Lake Area, you can read her column in the Examiner.

All Images courtesy the Author.  D.Coop was not compensated for this post.  Unless you could love and best wishes. Though she did win my photo so maybe I paid her for the post.  Wait a minute….

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Gentlemint – It’s like Pinterest for Boys

Warning – I’ve already had a gimlet this evening.

So you guys should know me by now as being kind of an internet whore.  By internet, I mean this shiny silver box on my desk that Al Gore claims to have invented.  By whore I mean…. well never mind.  Ever since I moved my office to the back of my house I’ve realized that there is now a 1.26 hour window of time that I can’t stare at my computer screen. Or at the very least, the 27 inches of my Mac become one very small 4×4 inch box in the lower left hand corner.  See the problem with natural light is that it comes through windows and as a result, my computer screen doesn’t fare so well.

And I’m too lazy to close the shades.

So what’s a gimlet drinking boy to do at 3pm when the sun dis-allows him to work?  The answer is quite simple.  Use the laptop in the bedroom (hereby known as “The Computer Used for Porn”) to surf the web and mingle around the other blogs.

So I did.

And I found a gem.

You can thank my friend over at Modern Sauce. (Be sure to stop by and pet her kitty…. or stroke her ego.  Probably the same thing)

Oh right.  The Gem.  Now I know the boys out there have been screaming bloody murder because women took to Pinterest like the last pair of holey nylons on the legs of an unshaven drag queen.  And of course, when boys aren’t happy, they’re passive aggressively so. And really we can’t have the boys mad because then who the hell would kill the spiders? Not me.  I don’t want spider legs caught in the embossed pattern on the bottom of my Louis Vuitton slip-ons.  Or my cheap outlet store Converse for that matter.

Enter Gentlemint

According to the American Mustache Institute (if this a real school I know a few hipsters that would so apply!), Gentlemint is “one of the more manly websites on the planet”. I can’t disagree.  After perusing a few pages of manly pins, I have realized that it could only be more perfect if there were a pin of Sophia Loren making out with Brigitte Bardot.  It’s ammo.  And guns.  And knives. Sprinkled with men’s fashion (even they know when to let in the gay quotent) and mustaches.  And I even saw a photo of a stainless steel kitchen.

It appears to be a relatively new site run by two men who smoke cigars (probably the good cubans… the cigars.  Not the men) and were tired of their wives (or girlfriends… probably girlfriends since they are still allowed to smoke cigars) Facebooking whatever crock pot recipe or scrapbooking idea or fuzzy unicorn they’d found on Pinterest.

Just for good measure…. I thought I’d give you a little taste of just what you’d find on Gentlemint…. Cool right?

Guys guys.  I know you’re rushing to log in but it’s still in beta.  You’ll need to wait.  According to their blog it doesn’t sound like it’ll be much longer.

The question is…. can I be a Tastemaker on the ground floor?

First Floor: Telephones, Gents ready-made suits, shirts, socks, ties, hats…..

(I will personally send a $5.00 Starbucks gift card to the first person who can tell me what TV show that lyric is from…..)

D.Coop was not compensated for this post.

Images via: D.Coop, Wanken, Steven Whildish, Smithsonian

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Affordable, high end tile? You betcha says Filmore Clark!

It’s Wednesday. 

I think, dear reader, you already know what that means.  You’re probably right.  In fact if you guessed “he’s still sleeping and probably hung over from one too many gimlets and the fumes from painting his office black and in fact he probably will have one leg hanging over the side of the bed and drool marks on the pillow” then you’re dead on.  I practice a special religion where Wednesday is my sabbath!

So with all that being said I’ve decided to hand the reins of my blog over to the venerable Lee Nicholson of super acclaimed West Hollywood tile showroom Filmore Clark.  She’s a dear friend and I kid you not her showroom makes me want to max a credit card (or three) on tile goodness. Yeah.  Seriously.

If you’re in West Hollywood (or Santa Monica, Pasadena, Long Beach or anywhere within a ten mile radius of West Hollywood) stop in her showroom and say hi.  Make sure you bring a treat for Gladys.

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A Tile for Every Budget

– Lee Nicholson

Designing a new home or a smaller remodel can be frustrating. It is a lesson in patience and making difficult choices. Tile should be fun.  It should be like the jewelry in your room.

I enjoy a challenge. Hearing “Well, I don’t really have a budget for tile” does not dissuade me from helping a client design a bath or kitchen they will love.  If money were not the object it would be easy, right?

It may seem unlikely to most but one really can find well priced and beautiful tile to fit almost any budget. Don’t shy away from the perceived “high end” showrooms. Engage the design associate in a real conversation and you just might find something spectacular for your project.

Enjoy the search!

Surprise!  Following are a few tile choices that are surprisingly affordable and add quite a punch per dollar spent.

BlueSlide engraved tiles at 6×6, custom glazed from a pallet of over 25 colors.  Use as a border mixed with solid color tile and voila!  A great focal point in a shower or backsplash

Retail $36.00 per square foot

ClayHaus has a unique and extensive pallet of colors.  Sizes range from 1×4, 2×4 and 4×4.

Retail $25.00 to $34.00 per square foot

Kaleidoscope glass mosaics can be used as an overall field or cut into borders for just a touch of pattern and color.  Mesh mounted sizes include 1×4, 1×6, 2×8 and several other size.

Retail $28.00 per square foot

By the way – all of the products shown above are made in the United States to your specifications to make the possibilities endless!

Filmore Clark

607 West Knoll Drive, West Hollywood California 90069

Web: www.filmoreclark.com    Twitter: @filmoreclark

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Brass Kicks Ass. At least that is what Chuck Norris says.

Brass, noun: Any of various metal alloys consisting mainly of copper and zinc.

Once upon a time, the 5th millenium BC to be exact, the Chinese (overachievers) stumbled upon this natural metallic material.  This material, a low composition of zinc and copper, was a distinctive golden color.  So golden and so rare that Plato determined Oreichalkos to be as valuable as gold itself.  He was a smart man.  I think he was anyway.  Someone told me he was and since he was probably a question on a test I took around two decades ago, let’s just assume he was.

Fast forward a few millenia later and by the 1st century, brass had soared in popularity. The Romans were pretty hot for it.  Later on (a few more years later… or so Wiki says) the Byzantines and the Nords and the Italians were all over Brass like a horny teenager at a pre-70’s Sophia Loren movie.  Seriously.  They were smelting and oxifying and fill-in-random-scientific-term-here at a crazy pace.  And then builders go a hold of it.  I don’t mean builders in 19th century English castles turning out seriously sexy Edwardian faucetry with brass as the main component.  And I certainly don’t mean any number of 1950’s and 1960’s quintessential designers applying the brass element to their still popular creations.

I mean builders in the late 80’s and 90’s.  Do you guys hear me?  It’s your fault!  So they took it and ran with it.  By this point, brass had gone through its puberty and was now just the awkward 35 year old with no kids and a separated marriage.  It was cheap and wound up on everyone’s cabinetry in middle America. (God I love metaphors).  Seriously, you builders almost ruined what Plato called a “Precious metal”.  Bastards.

Anyway…. Brass is back.  And it kicks Ass. Big Time.  Call it what you will if it makes you feel better – gold, antique bronze, that yellowish metal. It’s probably a harkening back to the golden metals of the 1960’s. Or it could be that we’re so into rescuing ancient architecture and there is just no way that blackened steel is going to work in the Loo of an Edwardian manse.  That is unless you’re Sting.  Or Madonna.  But we know blackened steel in a 19th century castle is faking it.  Like Madonna.

Whatever the reason, designers are craving the warm glow of unlacquered brass.  It was once nickel that was the rage.  Then stainless steel.  And hell, chrome showed up in there too.  But I think the general public is tired of all that silver.  Once the entire faucet aisle of Home Depot glistened with silvery blandness, it was time to make a switch.

Personally I’m loving brass right now.  It has a certain glow that exudes warmth.  It gleams of unpretentious-ness but screams “I’m different”.  Used in small amounts it changes an interior unlike any chrome/nickel/steel product ever can.

A tip?  Don’t over do it. Don’t go all crazy and plate every metallic element in your house brass.  Your house will look like you walked though the wrong aisle at the flea market.  Seriously, remember that Plato and the Romans thought of Brass as a metal not unlike Gold.  Use it sparingly but use it in unexpected ways.  Seat backs are one (see the Klismos seat backs above).

And keep in mind that color is important!  Later cheap brass has that horrible jaundiced yellow tinge. We hate that.  My mother had a brass baker’s rack in that color and I’m still telling my therapist about it.  Go for warmer tones.  Look for brass with higher copper contents and of course, that heavenly reddish undertone.

Did you know there are approximately 22 different types of Brass? Including one called Prince Rupert.

Anyway…. don’t listen to the nay sayers.  Are you looking for something a little different?  A little out of the norm?  A little less “I shopped for all my fixtures in a box the size of Rhode Island”? Then try out some brass. I kid you not you’ll love it.

Repeat after me – “Brass Kicks Ass!”

This has been a public service announcement.

Images via: Inspired Design, Lindsey Adelman, Bijou and Boheme, La Dolce Vita, Tracery Interiors

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