Sunday, February 27, 2011


Decisions are being made! woohoo! Kyle and I have been spending every weekend at different flooring showrooms around the Lansing area. We've been learning about all the varieties they have to offer, from Berber to Mohawk smart strand and engineered to solid hardwood.

We are having mostly wood floors on the main level and mostly carpet upstairs where the bedrooms are. We are aiming for a dark wood with wide planks (around 5 inch wide).

Above is a sample of reclaimed engineered wood flooring by Mohawk in Maple. We love the character with the knots and little "defects". This particular piece is called a hand scraped and has ridges and purposeful imperfections throughout.

We also like a solid hardwood Asian walnut in dark stain that we saw at American Flooring. The staff there was very knowledgeable and gave great suggestions.
Check them out in the Lansing area at:

We are going to be pretty boring when it comes to the bedroom carpets. We are going with a neutral beige (the safe choice) for all the bedrooms. We love Mohawk Smartstrand. It is a greener options because it is uses less energy to produce than a nylon carpet and it is made from corn sugar. Bonus: this carpet is extremely stain resistant.

check out:

The verdict is still out on what we will go with for the Laundry room and main level bathroom. We originally were looking at ceramic and porcelain tile for the areas. Now we are considering a less expensive alternative that looks like Travertine tile but it is a vinyl. The cost is considerably less than real tile and it feels room temperature to the touch (no cold feet in the bathroom!)
Below is a vinyl tile made to look like Travertine (shown in Cashmere), it will cost between 2-3 bucks a square foot and comes in a glue down form or click together. Going with the locking together tiles will also save on labor costs.

The master bathroom will be the tricky one for us. We will need tile on the floor in the bathroom as well as the walls and floor in the walk in shower. I am tired of making safe choices that are timeless, so I think this will be the room we get a little creative with floor coverings.

Two very good friends of ours (Michael and Corey) redid their bathroom by using a regular 1 foot by 1 foot tile but cut them down the center. They then staggered them in a brick pattern and it turned out beautifully! I have always admired the modern sleek look they created.

This photo is a good representation of what we would like to do with the walk in master shower. We love the rectangular brown tiles and crisp grout lines.

Now we are awaiting bids from different contractors and flooring companies to see who will win! I am most excited for the wood flooring. With the style of our home the wide plank will fit in well but having such a dark stain will give it a more modern feel.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Green Things we are Doing

• Energy efficient appliances. (Home appliances account for about 18% of a typical home energy bill).

• Low flow faucets. Putting an aerator on household faucets and cut your annual water consumption by 50%

• Low or zero VOC paint.

• Low flow or dual flush toilets: The first flush usually uses 0.8 gallons of water and the other for a larger flush (often 1.6 gallons). These can save you as much as 68% of the water used by a traditional toilet

• All lights with CFL’s (these use about 2/3 of the energy as incandescent light bulbs and bonus: these CFL’s last about 10 times longer than incandescent)

• Geothermal heating and cooling with a forced air system. This is also used to supplement our water heater. (Bonus: tax incentives of up to 30% of the cost of the geothermal)

• Low E windows. These windows have a thin coating to reduce UV rays and save on heating and cooling costs

• We are leaving much of the landscape as is. We will let the wildflowers and grasses remain untouched. Up nearest to the house will be mowed to keep animals from nesting close to the house. (Bonus: many deer cross through our land and keeping the tall grasses gives them a reason to keep visiting)

• Building within 20 miles of our jobs and shopping.

• Have major electronics on a switch so that we can shut of even the standby power when we are not home or asleep. A power strip is one easy way to push one switch as a whole area can be turned off

• Low VOC carpets made with recycled materials

• Air ducts are all sealed tightly to keep all the warmth in and the cold out

• Using electronics that are energy star certified. Newer LCD and plasma TV’s use approximately 1/3 of the energy of older “tube” televisions.

• Composite wood decking

• High efficiency furnace

• Use of Suntubes in rooms that lack windows such as closets. These tubes come down through the roof and allow natural sunlight to filter in.

• Rain water harvesting. These large containers go underneath the downspout and collect water that runs off the roof. This container can be connected to a hose and used to water plants

There are so many ways to start small eco-friendly projects in your own home or your new home! Check out  for many green ideas.

How our Green Home works

Probably the greenest thing we are doing for our new home is the shell of the home itself. We are not using traditional stick framing for our house; instead we are using SIP’s. SIP stands for Structurally Insulated panels. These panels are basically a sandwich of OSB (Oriented Strand Board) then a layer of Polystyrene foam core (for insulation) then a second layer of OSB. This type of system is energy efficient, cost effective and very strong.

SIP’s are prefabricated off site and brought in sections. These panels save time and money during construction. This also saves on material costs because there is very little material waste. Another great thing about SIP's are that they go up very fast, sometimes in only a few days!

Our home will use 6 5/8” SIP’s for the walls and 10” SIP’s for the roof system. Using SIP’s for the roof system allows much more usable space in the upper level of our home. Which means high vaulted ceilings in the second story. We decided not to go with ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) which are like SIP's for your foundation. We instead elected to go with a slightly more cost effective route of having poured concrete (which is more energy efficient than a concrete block foundation). We will have a 2" layer of ridged polystyrene insulation that goes on the outside of the concrete and below the basement concrete floor.

This is how all the individual pieces of SIP have all come together.

To learn more about how SIP's work check out:

This site also has a list of general contractors that work with SIP's if you are interested in more information or possibly building a SIP home.