Design & Décor

Glass backsplash adds just the right color and dimension In a perfect world, you would remodel your master bathroom all at once, making every selection in advance to ensure all components of the finished product complement each other. In reality, remodeling in stages is sometimes forced upon us. In this case, the latest addition of a recycled glass countertop, new vanity, mirrored cabinets and sink were supposed to mark the completion of this bathroom overhaul. But there was something noticeably missing. The counter area needed a backsplash for a finished look that pulled the whole room together.

Repurposed wood, certified dimensional tile and natural, zero-VOC finishes position new Cincinnati bar for lasting attention Architects and designers know that designing the perfect bar means creating a unique atmosphere for respite and escape. It must invite, perhaps with warm, dimly lit nooks perfectly suited for comfortable conversation.  It must have an attention-getting focal point, and logical pathways that help customers find their way through the building. Now add to that a requirement for a natural aesthetic that uses building materials that are better for people and the planet. For the design-build team coordinated by Core One Resources in Cincinnati, OH, this meant reusing floor joists for interior woodwork and wall paneling, restoring salvageable wood floors, laying environmentally certified tile and finishing new and old wood floors with odorless, Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)-free natural oil. No, the architect explains, this was not done to seek tax abatements through Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) certification. No certification was sought. Is it possible that today’s green building standards have become common practice for the creators of this new, downtown Sixth Street bar, who simply see environmental considerations as the right thing to do?

Why didn’t you mention reclaimed trees in your reclaimed wood article? Q. Your article, The Truth about Reclaimed Wood, did a good job demonstrating that a number of mainstream companies make reclaimed flooring from deconstructed barns and other buildings. But you didn’t mention flooring made from trees that are removed to make way for development. Companies that make lumber from trees that have to be cut down also help produce wood products without cutting down trees that can keep growing and helping the planet. Please let your visitors and people who want to build LEED-certified homes know that this option exists. A. Making flooring, mantels and other items from trees that have to be removed for a variety of reasons is a very cool idea. This type of salvaging, however, does not qualify for reclaimed wood credit under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Only wood salvaged from old structures counts toward LEED’s Resource Reuse Credit.

Demand is growing, and it’s readily available at a flooring store near you It’s a fact: Reclaimed hardwood is now mainstream. You don’t have to search it out through a specialty retailer. Just ask Ben Cochran, whose northwest Virginia company has been making floors from deconstructed buildings since 1978. “Everything we use in our reclaimed products is structurally salvaged from barns, factories and other buildings that are being removed to make way for new developments,” says Cochran, outside sales manager for the company his father started. “It’s been that way for more than 25 years.” Cochran Lumber’s flooring is one of four reclaimed flooring brands that are readily available through many hardwood flooring companies.

Experience and training of flooring installation crew should never be a question mark for consumers We talk about product quality. We talk about price, which in today’s economy means we bypass some higher-quality products. But except in the instance of installing Marmoleum from Forbo, we have not talked much about installer training. States like Oregon that have mandatory contractor licensing, which means continuing education credits that include some training in flooring installation, might tout their efforts to protect consumers. Some manufacturers, like Forbo, also require that their sheet products be installed by a contractor the company has certified in order for the product warranty to be valid. But flooring distributors – that stock and supply products to flooring dealers – and the dealers themselves are not doing a reputable job unless they routinely provide training for flooring installers, says Victoria Haugen, marketing manager for Wanke Cascade, a Forbo distributor, headquartered in Portland, OR.

Cork, sustainable hardwood, oil and low-VOC finishes top list in homeowner’s meticulous selections Cork flooring upstairs. Hardwood with an oil finish downstairs. Stained Red Oak, from Indiana forests considered sustainable by Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association, reaches from the spacious foyer and into the dining room. It changes to a basket weave pattern in the family room. Lorinn Williams of Indian Hill, OH, began planning this home two years ago. Her 12-year-old daughter encouraged her to select as many “green” products as she could.

Proper kitchen design includes hidden collection bin for food waste that prevents clutter and odor Dishwasher on the right, compost collection bin on the left, or maybe on either side of the sink in the center island – hidden in the counter top. It’s one of the latest trends in kitchen design as the number of people who compost their food waste increases. No one wants to see or smell a container of food scraps sitting out in plain view, or crammed into the cabinet under the sink. Nor is it always convenient to take scraps immediately outside to the composter. So, the kitchen designer you need will have an air-tight compost collection bin hidden in the counter top.

The story of rugs from Mekizodesigns “Most of the blogs I find become more of an information regurgitation, and I am guilty of that myself,” Melanie Munden, founder of Mekizodesigns, tells me from the start. “We are selling flooring, after all,” she says. “But for me, I am interested in the story of how something began. What inspired me, and who or what is the latest trend in color for fashion trends and textiles for the home.” It only took about 30 seconds for me to figure out that Melanie is an artist, and that this touches everything she does. Her new silk and wool rugs have standalone appeal. But I now want to know the story of how this began.

Linoleum appeal has moved beyond health benefits to include one-of-a-kind designs Vinyl lovers take note: Green-minded Portland residents remodeling kitchens and bathrooms are resoundingly choosing Marmoleum floors. Unlike vinyl, this is all-natural linoleum made primarily from linseed oil. While it traditionally has been sought by the chemically sensitive or those concerned about indoor-air quality, it is now also being sought for its fashion statement, says Sam Snow, owner of EcoFloors in Portland, OR. “It’s an excellent choice for high-use areas because of its durability, lower maintenance and its style options are almost endless,” he says. “In addition, it’s 100-percent natural, antistatic, antibacterial and comfortable underfoot.”

Why do you harp on Indoor Air Quality Certifications? Q. If cork flooring is a natural material, why do you put so much emphasis on whether the manufacturer has gotten the flooring certified through chemical emissions testing? A. There are many natural flooring products on the market. But very few of them are made without chemicals and additives. Cork flooring is beautifully natural and sustainable. But it cannot be made without some extra ingredients – like adhesive. After wine bottle stoppers are punched out of the bark of the Cork Oak Trees in and around Portugal, cork that will be made into flooring is ground up, mixed with pigments, and adhesive. Fortunately, cork producers in the Mediterranean region are known for their attention to environmentally sound adhesives and additives. Once the sheets of cork are produced, more materials are introduced. If the cork will be used for engineered flooring, which is made in layers, the core of the floor with be HDF (High Density Fiber Board). And if the flooring – engineered or solid – will be prefinished, anything from a simple water-based polyurethane to a proprietary aluminum oxide or ceramic finish, to a high-tech nano finish, will be applied to the surface.