ALL POSTS IN Green Living

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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:

ihouse_bedroom4001

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?

ihouseweb

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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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, Ecologue.com, 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.

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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, Ecologue.com, 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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For many of us, Domino Magazine was a design bible. I have kept every issue of Domino in the past two years and I find myself going back into old issues for inspiration on a weekly basis. Domino billed itself as a shopping magazine — some said it was a shelter magazine — but I felt like it was a lifestyle magazine.

It was one of the first publications to make the Green Movement chic. It brought me into celebrity homes without making me feel bad about my home. Domino made me feel like I was part of a secret tribe of strong, stylish, independent women.

I know it’s borderline lame to mourn the loss of a magazine, but I’m really sad about the death of Domino. Based solely on the uproar in the design blogosphere, many other people are floating in my boat.

Here in the programming department of HGTV, we always chat about our desire to be featured on the “10 Things That Make Me Happy” page of Domino.

So, in honor of my favorite fallen monthly mag, I present you with “The Ten Things That Make Me Happy: Design Happens Edition.”

Who: Lindsey Weidhorn
Where: New York, NY
What: Program Development, HGTV

My Bike

I was riding a vintage Schwinn for the longest time until it just gave out on me. This summer, I was at Governors Island and they were selling off all of the rental bikes because the season had ended. If you live in NYC, go to Governors Island on the last weekend that it is open and buy yourself one of these bikes. They retail for $300. Governors Island sells them for $75. I bought the bike, took it to my bike shop and got hand breaks and some speeders added on for only $35. Now I ride my brand new vintage inspired beach cruiser to and from work every day. It totally beats sitting on the subway in the mornings!

Personal Calling Cards from Crane & Co.

When I meet someone at a non-work related event I give them one of my personal calling cards. You can go to Finestationary.com and design your own unique calling card. I designed the one above using the Crane & Co. cards, but they have lots of fun and funky options all over the site that vary in price and style. I don’t want to meet someone on a personal level and give them my business card. It just devalues the exchange. Business cards are for business contacts, so why not have cards for personal contacts? I hate meeting someone new and standing there awkwardly while they type your number into their cell phone. These cards are such a fun and classy way to pass your info along.

Laura Mercier Creme Brulee Body Cream

This cream is expensive but TRUST ME…once you buy it, you’ll never spend money on perfume again. This cream smells like warm vanilla and it makes your skin feel like butter. You can buy it at Sephora.

Frye Cowboy Boots

I like to think of myself as an urban cowgirl (my bike is my horse). I bought these boots 5 years ago. I wear them at least twice a week and they are still in great condition. They’ve only gotten better with age. They take a boring all black outfit and give it a fun twist. They are impeccably designed and absurdly comfortable.

My Polaroid Camera

Ever since they announced the end of Polaroid film I have been buying packs like it’s my job. I love my Polaroid camera. I love how authentic and in the moment a Polaroid picture feels. I’m not a camera snob, but no digital image will ever feel as good as a Polaroid picture. Also, a Polaroid camera is a great conversation starter. I have an entire wall in my apartment devoted to my Polaroid pictures. When people come over to my place they spend the first 20 minutes staring at the wall.

Cashmere Herringbone Throw

Toastis one of my favorite stores. Unfortunately they are only in the UK but they do have an online store to make up for that. Toast specializes in comfort. This deeply soft, pure cashmere throw is from Scotland. If I am in my apartment, I have this blanket wrapped around me. It is the softest most amazing blanket in the history of blankets.

Apples to Apples

This is one of my favorite party games. If you’re entertaining and some of your guests don’t know each other, this game is a great icebreaker. This game will have you and your friends on the floor laughing.

Notting Hill

I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy…Asking him to love me. My heart breaks every time I watch that scene. Notting Hill is my “trapped on a desert island with only one movie” movie.

Diptyque Feu de Bois (Firewood) Candle

I know this is extravagant. $65 for a candle, in a recession is insane. I get it, but I’m addicted. When I was a kid, my mother would make a fire every winter night. The crackling and the smell of wood burning always makes me feel at home when it is cold out. Wood burning, for me, is the smell of winter with my family. Here in Manhattan one out of every zillion people are lucky enough to have a working wood burning fire place. I am not one of those lucky people. So I buy this candle. It smells like winter and it lasts forever. You can get it on Amazon.

Crumbs Cupcakes

Here’s a little secret about the HGTV programming team…We LOVE CUPCAKES! It’s insane. We eat cupcakes all the time. We have been known to schedule “Cupcake Meetings” on our calendars on exceptionally busy days to lift spirits. Lately we have been getting Magnolia Cupcakes, but Crumbs is still, hands-down, our favorite cupcake spot. They have the craziest flavors, cupcakes you couldn’t even dream of. My personal favorite…The Fluffernutter Cupcake. Vanilla cake, marshmallow butter cream filling, vanilla frosting mixed with Peanutbutter and drizzled with white chocolate.

I know I’m not alone in always wanting to be in Domino’s “10 Things That Make Me Happy.” So, in the spirit of Domino Magazine…What Makes YOU happy?

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On winter weekends, I’m usually stuck inside the house cleaning (ugh, chores) or reading a book. I thought I might get more creative with my time and try some crafts.

Since I don’t have the fully stocked craft room (you should see my stepmother’s — Martha would be proud!), I plan to start with some simple recycled crafts — that is, projects that use old or found objects and transforms them into something else. This way I likely have materials on hand or can go collect them from the thrift store or friends (budget-friendly!).

Our sister site, Ecologue.com, has a whole section devoted to crafty recycling projects culled from here, DIYNetwork.com and some other sites. I’ve long been eying this cushy bath rug that’s made from old t-shirts knotted into a plastic netted mat:

But Ecologue.com isn’t the only site with good ideas. Craftbits.com has a list of recycled crafts — most of them are smaller trinkets. Also made from old fabric scraps, this wreath is a little Christmas-y for February, but I have some old black, white and red scarves that could mod this idea up:

Another favorite online design destination, Design*Sponge always finds cool ideas to feature in their DIY section. This wall art re-uses old pant hangers and vintage papers in a cool way (you’ve gotta love that Dwight Shrute bobblehead doll too!):

Also on Design*Sponge, I love, love, love these mini terrariums, which you can give away as party favors (I’m a sucker for plants):

Another favorite browsing spot is Craftgossip.com, which culls the web for new ideas and spotlights their favorites. These googley-eyed thumb tacks are really cheeky; I bet I’d get a few smiles out of my coworkers if I dress up my bulletin board with them:

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I love spending my Sundays going to open houses, even though I’m not currently in the market to buy a new home. Why? Because I love looking for design inspiration in other peoples’ homes.

This week I stumbled upon a very unusual open house…and I can’t stop thinking about it. It was a prefab home – and it was what I’d call Pre-Fabulous! It wasn’t your typical image of a mobile home…because it was contemporary, energy efficient, and ultra-hip!

When I got home I started searching online to see if I had stumbled upon a diamond in the rough, or whether this was a new trend in prefab housing…the second is definitely the truth. I stumbled upon a great website called zenkaya.com, which really whetted my appetite, and then later found Method Homes, which got me equally excited.

Zenkaya prefabulous home

Zenkaya prefabulous home

Best of all, many of these prefab beauties are green and use only a fraction of the energy of a typical home. Plus, many of them are even LEED certified.

If you haven’t checked one out lately, I’d highly recommend you go-online – or open house hunting in your neighborhood – to check out the latest and greatest. This is especially true if you’re a fan of mid-century modern architecture. It certainly opened my eyes to a whole big prefabricated world!

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If you’re a makeover show aficionado, you know there are two things you can expect designers to do: ditch the ceiling fan (or at least upgrade to a nicer one) and re-skin an outdated fireplace (the horrors of brass!).

Well, with temps dipping into the teens and snow falling outside here in the Northeast, a ceiling fan isn’t on my mind today, but fireplaces definitely are. My rental doesn’t have a cozy hearth (sigh), but to battle my mid-winter doldrums, I decided to scope out some heartwarming inspirations here on the HGTV site and Rate My Space (click on the images to see the gallery/articles):

And one outdoor idea for our (lucky) pals in warmer climes:

Of course, the greenie in me wants to remind you that a fireplace isn’t always very eco-friendly. But if you like the luxury, be mindful of your fuel. Whenever I hijack a pal’s hearth, I use Duraflame, a pressed log made with renewable, non-toxic wax and wood scraps (sawdust and shavings), or Java-Logs, the coffee firelog. Both burn longer than traditional wood, too.

And here are some ideas from our sister site, Ecologue.com, about greening up your fireplace. Plus, a chic-and-simple homemade fire pit, perfect for when the temperatures start rising again.

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Candle Holder

One of my top eco-friendly, online shopping destinations is The Nest Store. I browse it every few weeks to see what new home accessories and products are in stock. One perennial favorite is this cool tealight candle holder from eco-designer Robin Wilson.

Wilson reuses leftover building materials and waste products to create her unique furniture and accessories. These contemporary candle holders are made from an eco-friendly concrete that’s created with the fly ash from industrial smokestacks; leftover concrete gets redirected to local recycling centers. Thanks to the sturdy material, these candle holders would work well indoors or out (added bonus: they’re on sale now).

If you have time, browse around the site for other modern design pieces, all made from unusual or sustainable materials.

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Buying books might not be the greenest things you can do (unless you’re reading them online or on that new handy Kindle), but sometimes a good design book can’t be passed up.

I received a few bookstore gift certificates this Christmas. Rather than load up on the latest fiction releases, which I can just get from the library or trade for from friends, I thought I’d look into some green design-minded books — ones that can both share new ideas but also dress up my coffee table. I love leafing through photo-filled books or design magazines on lazy Sundays. They help inspire visitors and help me subtly brag about my impeccable taste (if I may say so myself).

Some goods ones I’m looking into:


Sustainable Living: 25 International Examples
by Dominique Gauzin-Muller
This definitely looks like an aspirational collection. Full of photos, this book spotlights 25 eco-friendly homes from 18 countries around the world — some in rural settings, others in urban areas, which is a nice mix to show how green can apply to wherever you are.

ecoDesign
ecoDesign: the Sourcebook
by Alastair Fuad-Luke
I’ve seen this one on lots of best-of green design lists. While it is a few years old now (published in 2006), it covers the basics for greening up the different parts of your home and choosing smarter design.


The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture
by Alanna Stang
Domino‘s review wins me over and sums it up well: “a well-designed book about well-designed homes.” Published in 2005, this book spotlights 35 homes in 15 countries with lush photos, drawings and info on their “greenness.”

And, of course, if you’re looking to see green dream homes regularly, Natural Home Magazine features unusual and more-typical eco-friendly homes in every issue. HGTV’s sister site Ecologue has a few of their favorites too.

Does anyone else have recommendations? What is your favorite design book?

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