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In the snow, ‘it feels like we’re floating on this white sea.’
Elegant as it is, the home isn’t exactly simple.
“Whatever time of day you approach … the house presents itself as multiple layers that dissolve into the site and one another,” reads the listing for the $1.95 million home.
The intrigue continues indoors: When the 14-foot-wide doors on the two bedrooms are slid open, “the rooms appear across the courtyard as stage sets, or dioramas,” said Philip Gefter, a former page-one photo editor for The New York Times. He built the house in 2004 with his partner, Richard Press, an architecture major and director of the documentary “Bill Cunningham New York.”
When the bedroom doors are closed, they reveal a wide bookcase.
Despite the brutal East Coast winter, Gefter said radiant heat has kept the home at 70 degrees, and with all the snow, “it feels like we’re floating on this white sea.”
Coming from New York City, they did have to adjust to the lack of curtains. There are tracks for hanging some, but Gefter and Press prefer the in-nature feel — and no one has intruded.
“Most people don’t even know the house is here,” Gefter said.
The home is listed by Jen Harvey, Russ Stein and Tim Lovett of Berkshire Property Agents.
Photos by Jen Harvey. Published by Melissa Allison on Zillow Blog.
It’s been a rough month for Lumber Liquidators: Reports of unsafe formaldehyde levels in its Chinese-made wood flooring have shaken home owners and builders alike.
Lumber Liquidators claims the dangers are overstated and the cancer-causing chemical is safely contained by lamination. Others remain skeptical, saying a layer of plastic might not be enough to hold back dangerous fumes and leaching.
Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring chemical, so there’s a little of it almost everywhere. Flooring manufacturers use it as an adhesive in composite wood products like plywood—found in “all-wood” engineered flooring—and the particleboard or fiberboard at the core of laminate flooring. It’s also in countless unrelated materials like synthetic fabrics, some shampoos, and even certain cosmetics. It’s all over our homes. State, federal, and international standards seek to limit how much is used, but products made by the uninformed or unscrupulous can slip through the cracks.
All American-made composite flooring is certified safe by various accredited third-party inspectors certified by the International Accreditation Service and the California Air Resources Board, said Kip Howlett, president of the Hardwood Plywood & Veneer Association. And so is the majority of overseas-manufactured wood. But it’s also possible to get away from formaldehyde altogether—though the price of doing so can come in dollars and inconvenience. You can’t just drive down to the strip-mall hardware store and pick up a load of cheap flooring—going formaldehyde-free requires research. Good news: We’ve done some for you.
This is what most people think of as hardwood floors: freshly cut wood planks from recently felled timber. It’s beautiful, classic, rustic, or refined, depending on how it’s stained and treated. Some manufacturers, like Georgia-based USFloors, use advanced staining techniques to make their boards look and age like antique wood.
Is it safe? With no gluing needed, there’s zero-added formaldehyde.
Should I feel guilty using it? Maybe. Anyone who has ever walked through a lush forest into a bleak clear-cut site knows the ugly side of logging, and there are plenty of gory videos of rainforests coming down. But a lot depends on geography.
Common North American woods are generally harvested where loggers are bound by U.S. timber industry regulations. Some companies, like Florida-based Goodwin Company, are going an extra step, harvesting only lightning-damaged trees.
Around the world, however, environmentally irresponsible logging has made some of the really amazing old-world hardwood an ethical challenge. Many people in the industry will steer customers away from products logged overseas, especially from South America and China. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species closely monitors sales of some mahogany, rosewood, and other hardwoods that are now plantation-grown because of their scarcity in the wild. If questions about black-market shenanigans ever haunt your flooring purchases, check with the Forest Stewardship Council, which monitors proper forest management and chain of custody issues.
What’s it cost? True hardwood planks can be expensive, hence the popularity of cheap, easy, composite wood products. On the low end, Home Depot and other big-box shops have cherry, oak, and maple available from about $4.50 a square foot up to around $8. It’s important to check with the salesperson that the product you’re buying is solidly the same wood all the way through. Descriptions can be very tricky, with different stores having different names for the same product. On the higher end, all-wood flooring can run $20 a square foot or more, depending on how the boards are customized.
Reclaimed wood is the opposite of freshly cut timber. These are disused, discarded, or long-forgotten boards and logs just waiting for someone to salvage, denail, and resaw them into flooring. Reclaimers take wood from old fences, 19th-century warehouses, and abandoned barns, leaving nothing to waste.
Goodwin Company, for example, is pulling stunning, 1,000-year-old cypress trees from riverbeds and creating gorgeous flooring. Virginia-based Mountain Lumber Co. uses its website to ask owners of old barns to sell it their wood. New Jersey–basedEcoTimber makes flooring from old orchard trees that no longer produce fruit.
Is it safe? Reclaimed wood can come as whole boards or as the beautiful top layer of engineered flooring. The driving ethos behind companies involved in reclaimed wood makes the use of nasty chemicals highly unlikely. Goodwin, Mountain Lumber, and EcoTimber use nonformaldehyde glues in their engineered flooring.
Should I feel guilty using it? Not at all! With the dirty work having been done long ago, ecology-minded buyers can enjoy this wood’s backstory with a clear conscience. And while some reclaimed-wood companies also dabble in new hardwood, they source domestically and sustainably.
“We don’t take anything out of a rainforest, so no monkeys are being killed on our watch,” said Mountain Lumber sales manager Debra Russell. The reclaimed wood community is so tight that Russell doesn’t even mind naming her worthy, ethical competitors: In addition to Goodwin, she likes Pioneer Millworks, Elmwood Reclaimed Timber, and Olde Wood Limited. “We all do things the right way,” she said.
What’s it cost? The knots and century-old nail holes in these boards make them one of a kind and labor-intensive to clean and prepare. But for many, the look is worth the cost: about $5 to $20 (or more) per square foot, depending on the grain, custom cuts, and finishes.
This is where layers of less-than-beautiful wood—usually plywood—are topped with a layer of nice-looking wood. In an industry with many different names for the same product, some companies will call their pulp-core laminate flooring “engineered wood.” It is important to know the difference. One is all wood and the other is not.
Is it safe? It can be. There are two ways to make engineered flooring without adding formaldehyde, Howlett said. One is by using polyvinyl acetate, which is best known as wood glue, carpenter’s glue, or the Elmer’s glue you used in school. It first came about in 1912 and is pretty much ubiquitous.
The second is a bit more exotic: It’s based on how mussels attach themselves to sea rocks. Developed by Oregon State University scientist Kaichang Li, who observed that the mollusks emit a special protein that gives them an extremely strong yet flexible hold even in the roughest of tides, this formaldehyde-free adhesive, made from soy proteins, is used by Columbia Forest Products in its engineered-wood flooring. The EPA liked it so much that, in 2007, it gave Li and Columbia the Presidential Green Chemistry Award. Columbia sells its formaldehyde-free wood to Mohawk Flooring, which is sometimes carried by Lowe’s and Home Depot as a special order.
Should I feel guilty using it? It depends on two things: what’s on top and what’s underneath. If your floors are a layer of rare teak logged by forest poachers in a Burmese jungle over a layer of formaldehyde-soaked plywood, you might have, uh, ethical issues. The watchdog group Green Building Supply advises being alert to “greenwashing,” where a thin veneer (pun intended) of environmental sensitivity covers an otherwise ecologically unsound product.
What’s it cost? The range is generally from $2 to about $8 a square foot, depending on a lot of variables, including how much is being purchased. Some discount sites go much lower, and one-of-a-kind flooring from reclaimed or rare lumber can go for $11 a square foot and up.
Hard and flexible, bamboo is technically a grass but makes really great “hardwood” floors. Like mowing a lawn, cutting bamboo for harvest doesn’t kill the plant, which can regrow 65 feet in less than four years.
Is it safe? Generally, yes. San Francisco–based Smith & Fong is using the formaldehyde-free soy protein to create its bamboo-based product, Plyboo. Great formaldehyde-free bamboo flooring is also available from EcoTimber and USFloors.
Should I fee guilty using it? Absolutely not. Ecologically sound bamboo harvesting has become a sustainable industry in many areas, replacing destructive logging. Companies like Smith & Fong are dedicated not only to toxin-free products but also to humanitarian causes in Haiti and Sichuan, China, and exploring how bamboo can help those and other areas hard hit by natural disaster.
What does it cost? Bamboo floors generally range from about $2 to $8 a square foot. Lower prices are out there, but the product may not be up to snuff. Young bamboo tends to be less durable than older plants.
Best known as a wine stopper, cork is another interesting wood-flooring option. Cork tiles are formaldehyde-free, highly resilient, easy to clean, reduce room noise, and even deter termites.
Quebec-based DuroDesign offers 54 colors and six patterns of cork flooring, all sustainably harvested and LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. There are a lot of other cork-flooring companies out there, including USFloors, NYC-based Globus Cork, and many big-box stores.
Is it safe? Yes. Cork flooring is about as free of formaldehyde as anything can get.
Should I feel guilty about using it? No. Rather than cutting down cork trees, skilled craftsmen remove layers of bark, which grows back fairly quickly. Harvesters say the trees actually benefit from the process as it vastly increases their lifespan.
What’s it cost? Favored by in-the-know architects and designers, the cork flooring sells for about $6 to $7 a square foot.
Published by Mat Probasco on realtor.com.
Natural wood tones, iconic accessories and sleek furnishings take a home’s interior from dated to Space Age.
Designing for a family sometimes requires quite a bit of compromise. However, it doesn’t have to mean compromising on style. Take, for example, this Rancho Murieta, CA home, purchased by a homeowner with an eye for design and a minimalist style.
While the existing space was very organic — featuring established evergreens out large picture windows — its color and finishes were quite warm-toned and beige.
The design challenge was transforming a traditional home into a mid-century modern marvel on a budget. Here’s how it turned out.
The renovation started with floors and walls. Since mid-century interiors are all about organic style and ease of living, it made sense to celebrate natural wood tones through flooring while incorporating grey hues via wall color. The ceiling was refreshed with a coat of white paint and, due to budget, the white wood blinds were left in place to control light and privacy. Large picture windows frame the tree-lined view outside.
Two area rugs created interest, texture and warmth. The main living room rug pulls all the colors of the space together while anchoring a simplified seating area. The rug’s pattern reflects an Eames-like geometry in a complementary citrus-toned palette. A more neutral rug frames out the dining area while providing softness underfoot.
Classic mid-century lighting pumps up a room’s drama. Although its forms are sculptural enough to double as art, function remains paramount. In this space, they’ve become design motifs all their own.
An iconic arc lamp provides mobility and versatility to the living area. It is on a dimmer to support a variety of living room activities.
An unexpected crystal chandelier provides a bit of sparkle in the dining room. Putting the chandelier on a dimmer helps modify the ambience as day turns to night.
Mid-century style is unique in that it’s largely driven by innovative mass-produced furniture and accents. Perhaps no other period produced the same volume of household-name artists and designers, including George Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and dozens more. Their singular furnishings and accents drive and define the look.
Sleek versions of classic designs use specific fabrics and finishes, such as colorful block patterns and wood with glass, to complete the look.
The art and accessories
Amazing mid-century modern designer George Nelson designed many of the most iconic pieces from the era, from sofas to pendant lights, benches to clocks. Playful, museum-worthy and functional, the clocks specifically have wonderful style and personality, always adding a big dash of fun to any design. Several of them create a gallery over the dining room sideboard.
Project and photos by Kerrie Kelly Design Lab.
Published by Kerrie Kelly on Zillow Blog.