Rethinking The Details Of That Cozy Retreat

Rethinking The Details Of That Cozy Retreat

Integrating a safe and eco-friendly fireplace into your design.


MHC eco friendly fireplace webIf you watch HGTV regularly or constantly browsing Pintrest, you will undoubtedly see the trend of adding fireplaces (sometimes in the most unique places) into the design of new builds and remodels. Who doesn’t love the idea of a cozy warm fireplace in their home? Although we recognize that most of the appeal is in the ambience itself, to keep our commitment to provide sustainable innovative solutions, we usually try to steer our clients away from installing wood-burning units.


In general there are no true eco-friendly fireplaces that burn wood or gas. Even though some companies manufacture high-efficiency, wood-burning fireplaces (those that feature a firebox separated from the interior of the home by a sheet of ceramic, heat resistant glass), if they are not maintained regularly and specifically, they lose their efficiency and their particulate rates begin to climb.


If the ultimate goal is to create a cozy fireplace ambiance, we recommend an electric or white (light) gas option. Along with the help of Entero Design, we installed this beautiful white gas fireplace into the design of a recent remodel in Bellevue (see photo above). This particular fireplace is from ecosmartfire.com, that offers a premium range of ethanol fireplaces and electric fires that comes in many colors, styles and finishes to perfectly accompany the look and feel of your home.


Click here to see more living spaces we have completed over the years and let us know if we can help you integrate a safe and eco-friendly fireplace into your upcoming design.


If you already have an existing fireplace in your home that you use regularly, especially for heat, here a few tips on eco-friendly ways to use your wood burning fireplace:
  • Always burn seasoned firewood. Using dry firewood greatly reduces the particulate matter that is released into the indoor and outdoor environment.
  • Burn hardwood trees. Hardwoods burn hotter, longer, and cleaner than softwoods.
  • Avoid a smoldering fire. A smoldering fire yields a lot of smoke and releases hazardous particulate matter into the indoor and outdoor air.
  • Keep your chimney clean and in good working condition.
Using Salvaged Materials To Create A Unique Charm

Using Salvaged Materials To Create A Unique Charm

And, lessening the impact on the environment and your wallet!

Salvaged Materials Kitchen CabinetsSalvaged or reclaimed materials are building materials that have been recycled specifically for reuse. Some people conjure up images of dumpster diving – and while they could be from dumpsters (Doug has been known to pull materials out of dumpsters for reuse), most are building materials that were carefully deconstructed from or home or building and one way to greatly lighten your remodel’s carbon impact. Not only does the reuse of materials lessen the overall impact on the planet, it also can lessen the impact on your wallet while also adding unique character that is hard (and sometimes impossible) to replicate.

Mighty House Construction is a huge proponent of using salvaged materials and finishes. We encourage clients to check out the warehouses at Second Use and like businesses during the early planning stages of their projects.

Often you can find salvaged cabinets, lighting, windows, doors, and fixtures (to just name a few) for up to 50 percent less than buying new – like these cabinets in Doug and Laura’s own kitchen (pictured above). Sure sometimes there are additional costs to making the salvaged materials work in your home (like Doug had to build two upper cabinets to infill), but often there is still a cost savings plus now we get to tell a fun story about our kitchen. (Ask us later!)

The trick with utilizing salvaged materials is that you either let the materials dictate the design or find materials that will fit or can be modified to work with your design. Then you begin the hunt for what will work and start collecting your items. Similar to shopping for that perfect prom dress or tux from a used clothing store, committed hunting usually will lead to some great finds! Like this gem of a counter and backsplash (pictured below) one client found awhile ago planning ahead for the ADU she knew she wanted to build.

Reach out to us anytime if you have ideas of unique ways to used salvaged materials in your project or if you have some items you’d like to use just to update your existing space. No project is too big or too small.

Summer Smoke Season is Upon Us

Summer Smoke Season is Upon Us

Indoor Air Quality - Wild Fire SeasonThings you can do to reduce your family’s exposure to smoke.

Clean air in the home is crucial for the health and well-being of our families. To combat smoke particles finding their way in through tiny cracks and crevices in walls and windows, and to minimize your chances of breathing viral particles and standing smoke we have come up with a few suggested approaches:

  • Attaching furnace filters to box fans.
  • Window fans blowing outward to expel stale or polluted air.
  • Avoid unconditioned spaces.
  • Improve central air filtration.
  • Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air WITH the right filtration (that is a whole science on it’s own!)
  • Wear a mask, yes even in your home or vehicle.
  • Air purifiers work by creating finer and finer filters.
  • Whole house ventilation and air cleaning.
  • Avoid activities that create more fine particles indoors, like:
  1. Using gas, propane or wood-burning stoves and furnaces.
  2. Spraying aerosol products.
  3. Frying or broiling food.
  4. Burning candles or incense.
  5. Vacuuming, unless you use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

We are happy to consult with you on what installed or stand-alone solutions might be best for your home.

Growing in the Green Belt

Growing in the Green Belt

Picture of Blue Home with Trees behind it.

Mighty House Construction and ming | architecture and design present Growing in the Green Belt for the 2021 NW Green Home Tour.

When we met this family of four (Mom, Dad, Daughter, and Son), they were living in chosen simplicity in a small 2-bedroom/1-bath home, less than 1000 sq ft. As the kids were growing, they knew it was time to expand, and they assembled a project team who they could trust to guide them through the process and who understood their minimalist approach – Grace Huang of ming| architecture and design and Mighty House Construction.

The family was concerned about maintaining a small visual impact in the neighborhood and keeping within a limited budget. There was great effort to design the new second floor to feel like it had been there a long time and will continue to be around a longtime. A lower roof height and vaulted ceilings reduced the overall height yet didn’t reduce the amount of usable floor space.

The new 720-sq-ft second floor contains 3 bedrooms and 1 bath. The new bath is designed with privacy details to allow the entire family to use the room at one time. The parents intentionally avoided the typical primary bedroom/bath suite – this saved both resources and space. The former first-floor bedrooms became multipurpose spaces –one became the stairs, laundry room and pantry; and the other became a flex room that serves as den, office, online school classroom, crafts space, or guest room. The new covered back deck provides a year-round outdoor space and greater connection to the yard and green space beyond.

Green features include:

A ductless mini-split heat pump replaced the gas furnace on the main floor. Ductless heating and cooling systems are two-way heat pumps that transfer heat between outdoor and indoor air by compressing and expanding refrigerant. The Dept of Energy reports that heat pumps produce up to 4x the energy they consume.

Infrared radiant heat ceiling panels and cove heaters by Mighty Energy Solutions provide heat on the 2nd floor. Infrared radiant heaters utilize the same physical properties that warm the earth from the sun (minus UV radiation). Panels are heated by infrared coils which radiates energy down —heating the objects in the room inc. the floor, furniture, and people. The heated objects radiate heat out, warming the space faster and longer with very little electricity. This contributes to healthy indoor air quality by not circulating dust/pollutants and they require need zero maintenance.

WhisperGreen Exhaust Fans in the new laundry and bathroom help regulate humidity.One contributor to unhealthy air quality can be buildup of moisture and potential growth of mold and mildew. These fans operate automatically until moisture levels are normal and are a great option for bathrooms and laundry rooms, where moisture is generated in a home.

Two pairs of Lunos HRV’s (heat recovery ventilators) in the bedrooms bring in fresh air and exhaust stale air, while pre-heating the incoming air with heat from the exhaust air. These units are quiet, communicate wirelessly to work in tandem, filter the incoming air, and are a great way to save energy.

An exterior tankless water heater saves space and a dual flush toilet reduces water use.

Marmoleum was used in the kitchen and the new bathroom. Marmoleum is a natural linoleum made from linseed oil and mixed with other natural products on a jute backing. It is also naturally resistant to bacterial growth, making it an extremely hygienic flooring choice.

Cork flooring was used in the new bedrooms. As cork is bark, it is a rapidly renewable resource, a great sound and thermal insulator, anti-static, hypo-allergic, impermeable, and fire retardant.

No VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints were used in the project, ensuring the highest indoor air quality.

The south facing roof was kept clear of roof penetrations to maximize solar access for future solar panels.

Products such as Kebony decking, fiber cement siding, and Ceasarstone quartz countertops were selected for durability and low maintenance.

MHC and 2nd Use Present: Salvaged Cabinets 101 with Doug.

Thinking about starting a kitchen remodel this year? Salvaged cabinets are one of the most popular ways to incorporate reclaimed materials into a remodel. Like most salvaged material, working with salvaged cabinets presents many rewards, as well as a few challenges.
Join Doug Elfline of Mighty House Construction to gain an understanding of how to shop for salvaged cabinets, prevent common installation mistakes, identify the different types and parts of cabinets, and determine what type of cabinets are the best fit for your project. This is a taped workshop that was presented live via Zoom on Saturday, February 27th, 2021. This workshop was presented by:
Second Use Building Materials – https://www.seconduse.com/
Mighty House Construction – https://mightyhouseconstruction.com/
For information on how to shop reuse for your design – 0:30. 1:12:30 General design terms – 2:00 Kitchen remodels with salvaged cabinets examples – 4:30 Info on painting cabinets – 11:20 Staining – 29:20 Info on installing cabinets – 16:30, 36:20 Info on creating kitchen islands – 33:45 Info on unique countertop integration – 44:15, 52:55 Info on cabinet hardware: hinges & drawer glides – 47:45, 1:02:30 Tips on shopping for Cabinets at Second Use – 1:15:20

Breathing Cleaned Air

Breathing Cleaned Air

I relish filling my lungs with Northwest air. I can taste how clean and different our air is from rest parts of the world every time I leave our region. The new summer smoke season makes me appreciate when I can really fill my lungs with the good stuff. Especially during COVID, air awareness has become a greater consideration in rooms and buildings; cross breezes are mapped to minimize sharing your breath with others and we anxiously take a deep breath of unmasked air as soon as we are in our safe zones.

And the summer smoke season really brought home (literally and figuratively) the importance clean air in our homes as the smoke particles found their way in through the tiny cracks and crevices in our walls and windows. What can you do to minimize your chances of breathing viral particles and standing smoke? There are many approaches, including:

  • Attaching furnace filters to box fans.
  • Window fans blowing outward to expel stale or polluted air.
  • Avoid unconditioned spaces.
  • Improve central air filtration.
  • Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air WITH the right filtration (that is a whole science on it’s own!)
  • Wear a mask, yes even in your home or vehicle.
  • And, of course, air purifiers.

While it is easy to see when you need to dust or sweep, it’s a lot harder to see when your air needs cleaning. Air purifiers work by creating finer and finer filters. Purification can be improved by conducting a static electrical charge. Purification efficiency is measured in MERVs, a higher MERV rating means increased filtration from 1-16. Airborne viruses can be caught by any filter MERV 13 or greater.

Many of our design partners consider air quality in their design work and have seen an uptick in demand lately. One of them, Entero Design, has gone as far as to supply some great systems – such as one in which the air is filtered through a proprietary Coconut Carbon/Purafil media for a 99.26% efficiency, capturing particles of .3 microns and larger. The whisper quiet operation is Multi-Function, removing both gases and particles from air. Mighty House had one at our office that now (as that space is abandoned) is much appreciated at our home.

The New York Times Wirecutter article analyzed what they considered the Best Air Purifiers on the market.

Another option for more whole house ventilation and air cleaning is the Lunos HRV System. The system is composed of paired through-wall paired fan units with regenerative heat recovery cores. This captures heat from escaping air and puts it back into incoming air. These take a lot more forethought and finessing to install than a plug-in air purifier though also have a number of additional benefits too. Reach out to us to learn more.