5 reasons architects are worth the money to redo your home

Came across this article in Popular Mechanics by Joseph Truini: 5 Reasons Architects Are Worth the Money to Redo Your Home If you’re like most homeowners, you probably dream of one day completing a major home-remodeling project. And I’m not talking about retiling a tub here. This is the once-in-a-lifetime renovation—the kind that dramatically changes how you live, energizes the entire household, and makes all the neighbors really jealous. Perhaps your dream is to build a two-story addition with a family room below and a master bedroom and bath above. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to expand the kitchen and install French doors leading to a wraparound deck. Regardless of what your dream entails, all major remodeling projects can benefit from the expert design help of an experienced, licensed architect. I know what you’re thinking: Architects are way too expensive and only necessary when building multimillion-dollar homes—and last week’s economic roller coaster isn’t helping any. The truth is, architects are well worth the extra cost on large remodeling jobs because with thoughtful evaluation and design, they can meet—and often exceed—your expectations. In fact, depending on the size or complexity of the remodeling, calling in an architect might be the only way to get the project off the ground, and to ensure your dream comes true. Here’s why you consider taking the plunge if you’re gung ho about a large-scale redux on the house.
Read More

old audels, new audels, no audels

I came across this great blog by a builder, Tedd Benson, who still refers to old builder handbooks in his own work, and his precise description of their decline over time… Old Audels, New Audels, No Audels One of those seminal events was the discovery of a volume of books known back then as “The carpenter’s bible.” When I came to New England, I discovered that my carpentry apprenticeship in Colorado wasn’t a good calling card. In fact, “Colorado carpenter” was a common phrase used by East Coast builders as a contemptuous epithet to describe any hack with poor skills and a bad attitude. …. One of the first indications that New England builders were different was their sense of pride about their profession. Those guys liked being carpenters and were challenged by its demands. They cared. And they had skills. I knew I had a lot to learn and asked them if they had any ideas about how I might do some off-work hours learning. There was a quick answer: “Just get a copy of the old Audels and start reading.” It turned out the “old Audels” was a four volume set that had been out of print for about 20 years at that time. I would have to search old bookstores to find it. In the meantime, one of my workmates brought a set in for me to see what the fuss was about. I turned to the first page of the first volume and what I read I had a big affect on me. It still does.
Read More

biodesign walk

Lowell Young and his wife Christie have lived in California’s Napa Valley for over 40 years. Mr. Young taught high school biology for nearly 40 years before he retired. The class that evolved into Biodesign was a creative, collaborative project where the roles of teacher and student were often reversed. It was well known by the students that although Mr. Young represented the physical nature of the class, Christie’s silent spiritual guidance was often felt in their classroom circles, as well as along the many miles of trails they walked. The Biodesign class may be the only one of its kind taught in a public high school in the country.
Read More

musical architecture

wall that plays music when it rains

A group of artists by the names André Tempel, Christoph Roßner and Annette Paul have kitted out a wall in Germany with funnels.

Called the Neustadt Kunsthofpassage Funnel Wall, the façade of inter-connecting funnels and water spouts allow the water to flow through them, creating a wide variety of sounds.

The bright blue exterior also makes the building a lot more cheerful, adding to its novelty.”

true sustainability

Genius of Biome

This is what true sustainability is really about…

One image from an elegant report that clearly and graphically describes the nature and use of bimimicry

“intended to inspire exploration of how nature can inform or influence place-based design processes and solutions.”

prepared by Biomimicry 3.8 and HOK Group, Inc

Also check out a previous entry on biomimicry




the pretty good house: balancing cost and energy performance in a house

Finding the right balance between construction cost and energy performance POSTED ON FEB 6 2012 BY MICHAEL MAINES “Energy Star. LEED. Passivhaus. There are many programs with different metrics for determining how green your home is. But what elements of green building are important to you when designing and building a home? This was the topic recently at our building science discussion group… There are issues with any “official” program — many in the green building world believe that Energy Star requirements don’t go far enough; LEED is comprehensive but expensive to administer, run by a private company, and it seems to be possible to get around true sustainability in the pursuit of points; Passivhaus is the gold standard for energy use, but puts no weight on other aspects of green building, some consider it too extreme, and it is currently embroiled in political in-fighting. So, along the lines of Sarah Susanka’s “Not So Big House,” Kolbert asks the group, “What would a Pretty Good House look like?”
Read More

more than just curb appeal

March 7, 2013 Street Smarts The homes and communities that sell aim for more than just curb appeal. Marianne Cusato What’s an easy way to add value to a development of new homes? Build homes that create great places, where cars share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists, and where streets become gathering spaces. Creating a great place is easier that you might think. It starts with two basic design moves. First, design homes that play well with others. Start by pushing the garage back behind the face of the house. This sends a clear message: here, the car is secondary to people. Add a full-depth porch to allow residents to engage with their neighbors. And keep rooflines uncluttered to ensure that the design stays simple. All of these decisions work in concert with each other to create a streetscape where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Second, build sidewalks and plant street trees. Not only will both of these provide a protected place for pedestrians to feel safe walking, they also translate to real value. A recent study at the U.S. Forest Service in Portland, Ore., found that street trees can add close to $9,000 to the price of a home.
Read More

enrich...simplify...contain...3 elements key to good house design

what do we mean by enrich…simplify…contain

while not the only important elements of good house design, these three concepts seemed to best express what Scarlett Architects focuses on in the design of every project. Following is a summary of what we believe is important:

3 elements key to good house design


Meaning, connection, cultural and symbolic associations expressed in home’s personality

Nature integrated at many levels, indoor/outdoor connections, sustainability, exhibit materials best qualities—oiled woods, unpolished stone, 100% wool carpet

Handicraft as well as technology, hand-drawn sketches and plans add human dimension to the design process—illustrating architectural character—while integrating house technology accommodates modern lifestyle; internet ports; flat-screen plasma television; built-in sound system; central vacuum; gas-fireplaces; air-conditioning…


Make day-to-day life easier by orchestrating activities and directing traffic flow

Reduce stress by streamlining choice complexity during the design and building process, and in the simplicity of design in the finished home

Smaller building footprint with same or better functionality and appearance

Curb appeal, assistance with architectural choices for the exterior to best express personal and regional design aesthetics and implied social status


A place for everything, all belongings having their own separate, accessible, organized and efficiently labeled (or otherwise signified) spaces… think mud room, front entry, kitchen, family room, playroom, kids rooms.

Custom space planning and generic storage based on in-depth of understanding of space needs gathered through questionnaires, interviews and design reviews.

Lower cost achieved by structuring spaces to allow multi-tasking—dining room as library, family room as Thanksgiving dining area, guest room as home office…

Designing for real needs versus mindlessly accepting generalized or popular design assumptions. Is the double sink better than extra counter space in master bath? Will a Jacuzzi tub get enough use to justify the square footage and expense? Is the kitchen triangle working for your needs?…)

resale value: remodeling cost vs return

New England breakdown by renovation and addition types “For the first time in six years, the overall average cost-value ratio has improved, reaching 60.6%. Cost-recouped percentages were up for all 35 projects in the survey, a complete turnaround from the 2011–12 report, when percentages dropped in all but three projects, some precipitously. For the third year running, lower construction costs had a strong influence on the improved market picture, although stabilizing resale values also played an important role. Construction costs had risen rapidly between 2005 and 2007, then at a diminishing rate through the early part of the recent recession, while resale value remained fairly stable… When costs finally dropped in 2010–11, it was by a whopping 10.4%, but resale values slid even more (15.8%)… [and in 2013] another big drop (6.0%) in construction costs…
Read More

lighting innovation hue

hue personal wireless lighting Light you can control from your smart device. When it comes to wireless lights, hue is about as smart as it gets. To get started, just download the free app to your smart phone or tablet. … you can use the app to control your wireless bulbs. The LED technology inside every hue wireless LED bulb is a little bit special. That’s because it can display different tones of white light – from warm yellow white to vibrant blue white. Of course, it can also recreate any color in the spectrum. Naturally. And they couldn’t be easier to install. Just pick the lights or lamps you want to give the hue makeover and screw the wireless bulbs in. Then turn the light switch on, so there’s electricity running to the bulb, and you’re all done. It really is that simple. PAINT WITH LIGHT
Read More

Indoor Air Quality

A tight envelope may exacerbate indoor air quality problems, so what should you watch for? By Fernando Pages Ruiz Tightening a home’s building envelope can result in significant energy savings, but it can also choke off the air exchanged through the building shell, potentially contributing to the buildup of indoor air pollutants. Improving IAQ requires a systems approach…The prescriptive directions of Indoor airPLUS focus on seven general categories: moisture control, radon mitigation, pest management, HVAC best practices with whole house ventilation, proper combustion venting, specifying building materials with reduced chemical off-gassing potential, and home commissioning… a balance between proper ventilation and source control.
Read More

Seven secrets for building sustainable homes on a budget

Seven Affordable Construction Tips
Seven secrets for building sustainable homes on a budget.

By Jennifer Goodman
In the affordable housing sector, energy efficiency isn’t an add-on luxury—it’s a necessity that helps to keep the cost of homeownership within reach of low-income families, who spend 17 percent of their income on utility bills, says Matt Clark of Habitat for Humanity International. In comparison, middle-income families pay about 4 percent.

“Green building makes complete and utter sense for us,” he says.

Building pros in the affordable and for-profit sector gathered last week at the 2012 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo to pick up sustainable construction knowledge from the nonprofit, which builds 66,500 houses each year in the U.S. and abroad. Mike Haigh of the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity (HFH) provided these tips:

—Build small to keep costs down. Dallas Area HFH houses average 1,262 square feet, almost 700 square feet less than the national average.

—Don’t rely on technology to combat a problem that can be fixed with good design, such as blasting the air conditioning in a room with too much southern exposure.

—Place the HVAC system and hot water heater in a centrally located space to keep duct runs and piping short and eliminate air leakage. Dallas Area HFH places the hot water heater within 15 feet of all fixtures and specs duct runs of no more than 10 to 15 feet. “That way the air handler doesn’t have to work so hard to push air over a shorter distance,” Haigh said.

—Provide natural light whenever possible, especially in small, enclosed spaces. Find a way to squeeze a window into every room.

—Spec 36-inch-wide doorways and 42-inch-wide hallways for future aging-in-place needs. “That way it’s not a costly expense to figure out ways to make the house accessible,” he said.

—Rely on advanced framing techniques such as 24 inches o.c. framing, two-stud corners, ladder blocking, and engineered trusses to save money on lumber and maximize structural integrity. Haigh noted that “this takes a little extra time on the front end, but you save money on the construction and the buyer saves money on operating costs.”

—Tightly seal the entire building envelope, including an encapsulated attic, careful flashing, and premium energy-efficient windows.

By considering a few simple, inexpensive techniques builders can add to the energy and resource efficiency of their projects, Haigh concluded. “Call it what you want—common sense, feng shui, or building science,” he said. “In the long run it leads to a much better product.”


a new look for carpet tiles (it's green, too!)

“…green design can be both beautiful and functional.  That philosophy is certainly something we hold near and dear to our collective hearts at FLOR.”

what is flor?

A Responsible Choice

FLOR believes in a closed-loop product life cycle, which means we carefully consider our environmental-footprint in every step along the way: design, manufacturing, use, delivery and reclaiming old FLOR.

  • Design: FLOR is designed with the end in mind. Our 19.7-inch squares are beautiful, functional and recyclable.
  • Manufacturing: Our manufacturing processes are as energy-efficient as possible. We use renewable energy sources and technologies which help reduce our emissions and waste.
  • Use: FLOR’s modular, square format means that it is a flexible, practical and scalable design system.
  • Delivery: FLOR is efficiently packaged in easy-to-manage boxes delivered direct to your door.
  • Reclaiming: FLOR is designed to be taken apart so face fibers and backing materials can be recycled into new product through our Return & Recycle Program.

check out the new boston store:
236 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 585.9933