Monday, March 25, 2013

Casual, Comfy, Craftsman Living Room

I L.O.V.E our living room. Which is a good thing considering we spend probably 80% of our waking time at home in this room. I set out to have a living room that felt relaxed, comfortable, inviting but still have some structure. I knew from the start of planning our home that I wanted the living room to have a "beachy feel". Actually that is a lie, I wanted my future living room to be "beachy" since I was 10 years old and designing my future home in the SIMS.
There are a few things we would still like to do with the space but it's well on its way. I have always felt a room, or a home for that matter is never "done". A home is always evolving to fit the needs of the family and needs to grow and change. I think this room wont be close to done until our children are older and not trying to rip everything off the shelves.
Here is the photo tour of our living room...
This is the view of the living room when you come down the stairs. Every morning I get the walk down the stairs and see this cheerful room. The fireplace is a great focal point and we love the built in shelves on either side.
As you walk in the front door entry way and turn slightly to the left you will see the living room. Beyond that towards the right is our apple green dining room.

This is one of my favorite photos of the living room. The sun light was perfect and because Nolan was down for a nap, the room the very clean. Also, my favorite daytime cooking show "The Chew" was on, it was a good day

A closer look of the fireplace. We have approximately 12 inches of space around the fireplace insert that is tiled. Having 12 inches around allowed for minimal waste with the tiles and I felt the scale was right. We picked a very inexpensive ($2 a sq ft) in green/blue glass squares.

You can see the moulding details around the fireplace surround. All the shelves and trim are white painted MDF. We of course stuck with the craftsman look for the fireplace.

Our couch is from a furniture company called Fenton Home furnishings in Frankenmuth and Fenton, MI. The brand is Palliser and the model is called "Jura". We love it. It has clean lines, is comfortable and one weird bonus, it has a ridge along the back the is the perfect size to set a drink on. I'm not sure if that is a wise place for a cup, but I do it anyway.

With a comfy couch, you need a place to put your feet up. We lucked into this glass and distressed wood coffee table at World Market for $199. Because of the distressed wood finish, it is very baby friendly and doesn't show chew marks!

The coffee table has a drawer inside that you can put anything you want! We chose to put our wedding album, Nolan's baby book and a birthday card for Kyle that I made when Nolan was a month old. Eventually we could have mementos from family vacations, photos and so much more! -I sound like an infomercial for this table.

My view while sitting on the couch. Pretty perfect if you ask me.
The right side shelf. A few wicker baskets with baby items and a large sturdy basket on the floor for baby toys

The bottom shelf has been striped of all fun, decorative items now that Mr. Nolan is crawling and on the move. We tried to keep all the items on the bookshelves meaningful. The trio of photos on the top are from the Red wood forest where my cousin was married. There is also a photo from the day Nolan was born and a photo book that guests signed at our wedding.  A few good books and 2 storage boxes from IKEA and done.

Another look at the fireplace. The fireplace has an electric insert (we are an electric only house, no propane or natural gas). We have been very glad this is electric with a crawling baby around, since it is not wood or gas, we don't have to worry about any parts or flames for him to be hurt by.
The logs are molded and can not come apart and the fireplace can only be turned on with a switch on the wall and is is not hot to the touch. We can enjoy the look of the fireplace and not have to worry about the baby, or gate it off.
These photos have a special place in our hearts. We purchased these 4 paintings on our honeymoon in Bermuda hoping that they would one day have a place in our home. We bought 4 RIBBA frames from IKEA and pop em' in. It took a little time to secure them to the wall and keep the same size around the frames. 

I feel like any art is great to hang in our home, but especially meaningful art. These paintings will be hanging up for many, many years
Mr. Nolan would like to demonstrate the baby friendly nature or the living room and more specifically the coffee table. Yes, someone is teething.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Choosing Geothermal

Guest Post from Kyle:

How much does it cost to run your house on geothermal? That’s a great question, a difficult question at that. Most companies tell you that you will save average 30-70% on your current heating and cooling bills.
While we were saving up for our house we spent a few years living in a 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment of about 950 square feet. It was a 2nd story south-west facing unit, making for some hot summers and breezy winters.
We were fortunate enough to get some of the heat from the unit below us in the winter. Using a programmable thermostat, we would let the unit get down to 58 degrees before the heat would kick in. We kept the unit on a 4 degree setback. During the evenings when we were home, the unit was set to 62 degrees and 58 degrees during the day while we were away. Blankets and sweatpants were quite common in those days. During the summer using a 7 degree setback we would leave the unit at 85 degrees during the day and 78 at night.
Water use was normal for a 2 person household.  Daily showering and 1 or 2 dishwasher loads each week. We lived near family and would do laundry often at a relative’s rather than pay the $3 per load.

For the two years that we lived there our average cost for heating/cooling, water, and electric was around $83 per month or about $1,000 annually. Which, wasn’t terrible but we had to spent about $20-25 each year plus a few hours to seal up all of the openings around the unit to help cut down on heat loss during the winter.
For our house we had kicked around the idea of doing a propane furnace (natural gas not available) with an a/c unit. Then we remembered our frugal heating/cooling methods from the apartment living and thought that we likely be too cost focused that we wouldn’t keep the house at a comfortable temperature. We quickly threw that idea out the window and moved on to geothermal.

Our house is much better insulated than that old apartment unit but is also larger. Total conditioned space at our house is about 2,100 square feet. We opted for forced air rather than radiant heat. We have the house set to stay between 70- 73 degrees year round. In the winter the house stays at 70 degrees (no setbacks) and 72-73 in the summer (1 degree setback), making for a comfortable temperature year round. We also have a heat recovery ventilator that constantly brings fresh air in the house.
Below are a few pictures of our loop field.

Loop trench with pipes laid. About 5-6 feet deep.

Trench making the shape of a "J" in the yard. Goes out from the house about 350 feet.

This is the view from the road during the digging of the loop field. The loop goes out from our house and heads towards the road and then curves back slightly.

Piping showing 2 going out and 2 on the return.

We utilize a two 50 gallon water heater setup. One is wired and heated at about 120 degrees with the other one being a preheat tank. During the summer and winter months when the geo unit runs more frequently heating the preheat tank to a max of 150 degrees. This makes for plenty of “free”hot water being available during these months.

With having a baby, our house is occupied 24 hours a day as little Nolan is watched at home. We also have the pleasure of doing about 5 loads of laundry a week as we elected to do cloth diapering.
For us, geo was the best choice and we haven’t had to spend much time worrying about how much our utilities would cost from month to month. One year cost of operating our house on 100% electricity was about $130 per month or about $1,600 annually. Monthly kWh usage ranged from a high of 1,736 in the middle of winter to a low of 596 during this past summer.

Additional pros of geo are that electric rates are fairly consistent compared to propane or other fuel choices. During the summer months there is a higher tiered rate for electric use over 600 kWh (only 1 month during the summer exceeded 600 kWh).
This definitely ended up being the right choice for us. We haven’t had any second thoughts about going with geo. If you’re thinking about geothermal for your house it’s good to ask around of other people who have had geo installed and learn their results. If there’s anything we can help with please feel free to ask.