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Casa Neverlandia

With all the chatter about Michael Jackson’s death, old and new tours of his Neverland Ranch have been all over TV, but MJ’s whimsical wonderland isn’t this country’s only take on Peter Pan’s classic fantasy island. Natural Home Magazine surfaced another “Neverland” that they found in Austin, Texas. This one — dubbed Casa Neverlandia — is much more compact than MJ’s sprawling pad (no train station or zoo here!), but its eco-elements, including solar panels, rainwater collection, salvaged material and more, and unusual style are definitely worth checking out.


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air conditioning unit

Photo courtesy of Drizzten/Flickr

Temperatures almost hit 90 degrees in NYC on Friday, and I finally had to turn on the AC — the first time for the year. Being a greenie, I’m reluctant to expend the extra electricity when I’ve got two perfectly fine ceiling fans and a tabletop fan, but my new apartment is on the top floor of big, old house and that means it gets really stuffy, really quickly.

Summer cooling has been the topic of the week over at D-Hap’s sister blog, — we’ve had some info for doing your own summer energy audit, tips for reducing the heat from appliances and more. But I have to admit that when I finally hit my AC’s “On” button (set to “energy saver” mode), I actually had a more troubling thought: “Man, this window unit is unsightly!”


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This is not your grandparents’ mobile home. I know firsthand because my grandparents lived in a mobile home (which they customized themselves) atop a quiet, tree-covered hill in East Tennessee for decades. I loved romping around that house as a child. Clayton Homes’ i-house arguably the most innovative manufactured home to hit the industry is a home that I could see myself romping around in as an adult. The i-house is smart, custom built to the buyer’s specifications and about as green as you can get, especially at this price point, starting at $74,000. And then there’s the design: modern, clean and downright cool. A few highlights:


All images courtesy of Clayton Homes

More about Green Living in the i-house including more photos

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Earlier this week, Design Happens blogger Kristine Brabson asked: “Where will green pre-fab go now?” She was responding to the news that architect Michelle Kaufmann, a leader and innovator in the green living movement, is “closing up shop.” Despite forging forward and having more than 100 clients anxious to build, the dream of making green design accessible to the masses proved to be too difficult in this economy for a small company.

Enter Clayton Homes, leading home builder, with more than 1.5 million homes built since the company was founded in 1934. It makes sense that Clayton would take the leap into pre-fab, sustainable design; the company produces manufactured and modular homes. How does $93,000+ for a two-bedroom, one-bath home sound for a sleek, eco-friendly home with plenty of amenities?


This is a 2-bedroom, 2-bath model with a starting price of $108,000. Image courtesy of Clayton Homes.

More about the i-house

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Michelle Kaufmann House
Sad news hit the eco-design community this week. Renowned architect, design maven and green prefab pioneer Michelle Kaufmann announced that she was closing up shop — a casualty of the bad housing market and economy.

Kaufmann has been a major figure in the latest prefab movement (in case you’re not familiar with pre-fab, check out this background info from Dwell Magazine). She was finding innovative ways to transform out-of-the-box (but still dreamy!) homes into sustainable, practical solutions. Her model homes — especially the Glidehouse, mkSolaire, mkLotus and Sunset Breezehouse — were all breathtaking in their clean lines, simplicity and eco-friendliness.


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… HGTV Green Home and who will be Green with envy? Only time will tell.

I can’t take credit for that line. A friend shared it with me and I think it’s a hoot! Read More»

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I’ve written here before about eco-friendly design and products. If you liked that stuff, I wanted to give a little shout-out to my other pet project,, a sister blog to Design Happens that’s covering all things green for your home and garden.

Yeah, I know you might be tired of hearing “go green” or “save the planet” or might wonder what you can really do. But even the little things count — and a few basic changes can benefit you and your family. The ideas we’re pulling together over at Ecologue are all about helping you find your right shade of green — the one that fits your life today and every day. This is simple, practical living.

Read More »

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Have you heard that we’re searching for the next Super Fan? Yep — someone who loves HGTV, who has personality plus and can blog and vlog endlessly about HGTV Dream and Green Homes. Read More»

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Living Wall Garden
A vertical garden plot tops my list of planting to-dos this spring — not only because they’re attention-getting and verdant, but because the squirrels in my backyard love to dig up my plants. A simple, mounted wall planter will keep things green and out of reach.


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My daughter’s teacher is desperate for sun. The kids have been trapped inside for weeks due to rain. With rain, it seems you have too much or too little. If only you could save up the rain and then use the excess to water your plants and yard later. If you have a rain barrel, you can do exactly that. The Madison Rain Barrel is really pretty, and can inconspicuously fit into your landscape design. It is made of all-weather polyethylene, and connects quickly to any existing downspout. The barrel collects up to 40 gallons of water for use later via a convenient spigot. This barrel has a integrated planter on top, with a water-minder to provide that plant with the right amount of water. The Madison Rain Barrel is priced around $300.

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I really enjoyed reading the chronicles of the High Point Furniture Market from my fellow editors, Chelsey and Leslie. (I’m jealous you guys met Angelo – he’s so cool.) I love seeing the unusual stuff in Leslie’s vlogs (I sooooo want the crazy-cool diva lounger. If it had built-in speakers and magic fingers it would be perfect!)

Thought I’d share some of my favorite unique/artistic furniture pieces – stuff I really don’t think you’d see at High Point. Check out this line of ultra-fun, Dr. Seuss-like furniture from Straight Line Designs.
Check out more of my favorite pieces»

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Happy Earth Day, everyone! I have to share my latest obsession, which not only will add some major style to your laundry room, but is also great for the earth.

The Kelly Green Electrolux washer and dryer are more energy-efficient and use less water. Of course, I have to admit a big part of my love for these appliances is the gorgeous color, inspired by Mrs. Kelly Ripa herself.

Don’t miss all our incredible eco-friendly ideas at the HGTV Green Home. Plus, you can enter to win the gorgeous home located in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

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The first day of spring was Friday. Here in NYC it snowed. That being said, the two days preceding the snow were beautiful. I am SO excited for spring. I love checking out amazing gardens in and around the city. So, until the weather catches up with the season, I get my fill of spring by looking at beautiful pictures of gardens. I print these pictures out and I put them around my desk and immediately, I’ve got a sunny disposition.

No matter where you live, you can find amazing gardens. Even here in the urban jungle that is NYC there are amazing gardens. Two of my favorite places to go to soak in the greenery: Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Governors Island. Also, this summer here in NYC we have a special new space to enjoy, The Highline. It’s a huge planted park that is built on the old raised railroad tracks that run along the west side of the city. I was lucky enough to take a private tour of the work in progress, and I can honestly say that it’s breathtaking!

What kind of gardens do you love? How are you hyping up for spring? Check out more brilliant landscape designs at Knibb Designs!

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Hello, Spring! How I’ve missed you!

Planting season is revving up now, and as the old adage goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” I can’t say I’m looking forward to rainy weather, but there are some advantages. This year I’m looking into creating a rain barrel system to collect that rainwater run-off and reuse it for the garden (saves money and is conservation-minded).

A coworker has a similar goal and posed a good question: “How should I decorate my barrels?” Those big old drums can be quite industrial looking and don’t always meld well with your yard’s natural splendor. I was doing some research on our sister site,, on creating a rain barrel system and found this clever idea from eco-designer Michelle Kaufmann:

Rain Barrel

Basically, she masks her drum with the plants she’s hoping to water. You just need wire to wrap the barrel with and then some fast-growing, viny plants. Soon enough your rain barrel will be integrated into the landscape. (Check out her how-to video for more info.)

As for my coworker, he decided to let his son get creative with finger painting — it’ll definitely have a personal touch.

Do you have any other ideas for prettying up a rain barrel system?

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Ready to change the world? Make an eco-friendly fashion statement with our Change the World Tee.

A portion of the proceeds benefit our non-profit partners the National Trust for Historic Preservation, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), and Rebuilding Together. You can designate all of the portion to go to one particular partner or divide it evenly among all three.

Plus, receive a free HGTV gift with purchase while supplies last and free ground shipping!

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Alabama Home
In these penny-pinching days, the idea of building, rebuilding or just renovating your house yourself sounds mighty appealing — and finding ways to save on materials is even better. Last year, I met Robyn Griggs Lawrence, the editor of Natural Home Magazine, at a video shoot, and she told me all about this home she’d discovered in rural Alabama.

The family, the Bakers, had hand built their 1,100-square-foot, cabin-style abode almost entirely from salvaged materials. Now, I don’t mean old mismatched shingles or carpet scraps. But rather, the homeowners took five years to collect leftover tin, wood and other materials from at least 75 different sources (it helps that the husband was a contractor). The home has elements from old barns, sheds and even an old church — plus some locally sourced slate.


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