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.

Battling Those Lingering Fall Odors

Battling Those Lingering Fall Odors

Laundry Room - Growing In The Greenbelt RemodelWhether it is your stinky child or a wet dog, fall is the season of stink. As the weather turns colder and wetter we also have less opportunity to open our doors and windows or to air out stink before bringing it in. We recently learned about seemingly simple, healthy, and effective options for battling those lingering odors.

Ozone Laundry System. Ozone is often used in commercial laundry systems as a way to conserve energy and lower overall costs. by replacing hot water and reducing the need/desire to use chemicals. Ozone laundry systems create ozone by combining electricity and oxygen and then dissolves the ozone into the washing water. The oxidation process happens when the ozone water is mixed with organic or “dirty” materials in your laundry and works to kill bacteria, fungi and live viruses in your clothes. It appears that most ozone laundry systems may easily attach to existing washing machines.

Another chemical-free “ozone approach” to keeping your clothes and your home free from lingering odors are Closet Ionic Air Purifiers. They are small, hang in your closet, and use advanced plasma breeze technology to quietly remove odors with safe, natural ozone.

Both of these “smell removing” options are seem safe for you, safe for the environment, affordable, and easy to install.

Speaking of stink… Most people know by now that many laundry detergents don’t completely biodegrade and they contaminate rivers, oceans, and our water supplies, with toxic heavy metals – not to mention their heavy contribution to plastic pollution on a daily basis. Obviously people need to wash their clothes, so we have some simple ideas that can keep your clothes clean and lessen your carbon footprint.

Make the switch away from liquid detergent and pods. These products are usually at least 50% water (an expensive commodity to transport) and may contain toxic chemicals. Choosing powder detergents in cardboard containers (or in bulk in your reused container), is two steps up from the liquid because you tend to use less, save on the added water, and the cardboard packaging is easier to recycle. However, the packing is still very bulky and costly to transport. A third step forward would be to select one of the number of safe and healthy environmentally friendly detergents on the market today that feature zero (or little) plastic packaging with detergent sheets. Google “detergent sheets reviews” and you will find many happy customers.

Let’s not confuse detergent sheets with dryer sheets…just ditch the dryer sheets altogether or use dryer balls or reusable sheets if you must use something.

Let us know if you have other ways you try to keep your home sport stink free or if you try these solutions, we’d love to hear what you think.

Finding the sweet spot between budget – aesthetics – and function

Finding the sweet spot between budget – aesthetics – and function

Bathroom in Magnolia remodelIf you have seen or heard Laura give a presentation, you’ve heard her talk about how Mighty House is skillful at finding the sweet spot between budget – aesthetics – and function and that you do not necessarily need a radical change to make a radical shift in how you live, play, and grow in your home. However, as she says, sometimes you do! Here are two examples in a bathroom remodel.
 
The first is a bathroom in Magnolia (pictured below) that already had a great layout for the most part but the finishes were worn out and in some places starting to fail. Certainly there were updates to the layout that *could* have been made, but the function of the space was solid and the cost of moving things around substantial. Not spending money on systems and structure changes gave them flexibility to make the finish choices to modernize their primary bathroom. And we kept the tub – it is huge and would have been painful and expensive to replace, plus it was still in great shape and worked perfectly. To do so, took some finessing of the new fixtures with the old holes, but knowing the right trades partners gave it a seamless finish.
 

In the realm of “sometimes you do need radical change to make a radical shift” was this bathroom remodel in Madrona (pictured below). The layout was odd, awkward, and not functional. We were able to leave the toilet in the same location (off to the left of the new shower), though the rest really had to shift in order to have substantially more functional – and more lovely – space.

Carlson Bathroom Remodel - Before Carlson Bathroom Remodel - After
 
Click here to see more bathroom remodels we have completed over the years and let us know if we can help you decide what level of remodel is right for you and yours.
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.

Getting Back to Normal

Getting Back to Normal

As we draw closer to summer and the Seattle weather reminds us all the reason that we all live here — the gorgeous and abundant natural environment and community. We are excited to see our community work so hard to get the region opened up again. And while we are jubilant about being able to hug and actually see the smiles of our friends and family again, the re-opening also is a little nerve-wrecking… Seeing the crowds collect at sporting events (especially indoors!) fills us with a sense of concern. Being in confined places unmasked has us uneasy. Time will help us all move forward – together.
We have also made some positive strides toward impacting our climate. So much more to discover about socializing in this new reality.
In a similar vein, we think it will be a bit before figuring out to best live, play, and grow (and maybe work or school!) in our homes is still shaking itself out. Sure there was an immediate need; though now people are getting to make decisions about which path forward is the right path for their family and how that is reflects in their housing needs. The knee-jerk reactions of spring 2020 are giving way to future-proof planning. Tough conversations for most of us with most everyone I know is having them (including Doug and myself!)
And while we can’t make the decisions for you, we are here to help to answer questions, consult with you, or give you referrals to partners to help you gather the information you need to move your housing thoughts forward.