Floors are important. We walk on them barefoot, design around them, and sometimes even eat off of them. But only closely regarding the five seconds rule. You always see the classic wooden floors, modern concrete floors, and timeless tiled floors—but are there more out there? You better believe it. Here are just a few eye-popping flooring choices that you could treat your toes to.

Engima.

Photo courtesy of: http://www.dwell.com

 

A clean floor design with an infusion of technology. Inspired by the Morse Code with its multitude of strategically placed raised tiles, this home design element is for the detail- and secret message-orientated. in three colors—intense ivory, total white, and golden dark—and three sizes, you can find this Italian product at Monocibec.

Favorite Jeans. Your favorite pair of old, washed-out jeans always holds a special place in your heart. Giving them up is just too hard to do, and now you can enjoy the look of a worn-in pair of jeans on your living room floor. FLOR offers Favorite Jeans, a rug option reminiscent of your old jeans—complete with denim stitching and available in Denim Blue, Black Label, Overdyed, Faded Black, Vintage, Green Jeans, and Khaki. At $8.99 a square, you can have your favorite pair of old jeans back at almost the price you paid.

Cork. Using the waste from cork bottle stops, Habitus has created a line of quirky cork floor mosaics. For $15, you can get a square foot of the cork flooring—this is the equivalent of 20 cork circles. Whether your looking for something waterproof, stainable, durable, insulating, or even soundproof, cork is the flooring material for you. Hey, it’s even really awesome for the environment.

Photo courtesy of: dwell.com

 

 

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I received the best virtual Christmas greeting today on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of: doyouhaveissues.blogspot.com

Some people may just look at this and laugh, but it really made me think. With ridiculously designed modern homes becoming “greener,” everyone thinks of the positive aspects of this architectural transformation. But let’s take a trip to the other side, the one that no one really thinks about–Unless you’re Ronald Reagan and think that environmental conservation is a waste of time and money. These nonbelievers may be adding years to their lives by not following the norm. Allow me to address these negativities, and turn them around.

Indoor air quality. Sure, we’re taking care of the environment with these homes by sealing our creations as tight as a jar of pickles, but is breathing in the air we tainted with our “eco-friendly” building materials a good thing? According to Healthy Holistic Living, some of the recycled building materials we worship so much are actually volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are toxic to humans. Studies have also been conducted proving that in the last 20 years, the 70 percent increase in childhood asthma patients has been caused by poor indoor air quality. The solution? Make sure that the building materials, and furnishings, you utilize in your home don’t contain VOCs and invest in an air filtration system.

Radiant light. Switching over to energy efficient fluorescent bulbs for your lighting fixtures is seen as one of the most basic green transitions. While the general reputation of this move may seem smart and reputable, take heed. These bulbs are known to emit more radiation than regular bulbs. You can take or leave this factoid, but constant exposure to radiation can cause severe health problems such as cancer. What to do? Use as much natural light as you possible can. Inhabitat, a wealth of online green movement information, discusses the affects a lack of Vitamin D and UVB (ultraviolet light) can do to a person—prepare for depression, immune problems, diabetes, and cancer. Keep on eye out for new developments on LED light choices, while not yet popular on the market, new advances are being made to make them more home friendly.

Cost conundrum. Money is always an issue when it comes to creating an environmental utopia. Yes, finding materials that are green and won’t kill you with harmful chemicals and radiation can be expensive. But, keep in mind the reasons why you’re making this lifestyle change. Of course, the main point is to better Mama Earth, but another advantage is the long-term savings you make in being energy efficient. Spend a little money now, save a lot later.


A few weeks into my life as a Drake student, I heard about this mystical place where old was made new. The West End Architectural Salvage in downtown Des Moines does just this–and after one year as a resident, I finally made my first voyage into the four floors of salvaged goods. And it was wonderful.

First off, let me define “salvage” for those who aren’t familiar with the term. “Salvage” pertains to goods or properties that have been saved from damage or destruction. Old things that some people may consider trash. Trash because of chipped paint, rusty hinges, “utdatedness,” missing glass, or just plain different. Keep it coming wasters, because I’m loving your trash, and even paying money for it.

Not only do these things look cool in a vintage-y way, but they are also extremely versatile. The possibilities are endless when it comes to bringing a new addition to a room with something old. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for.

Frames. Find a stripped down wooden frame and turn it into a mirror. Paint it and make your own masterpiece. Hang it on the wall as-is. At West End, it was hard not to trip over the overwhelming amount of salvaged wood pieces brimming with artistic potential. People buy “vintage” mirrors with wooden frames for four times the price you’ll find at a salvage store–and you don’t even have to work with sandpaper to get the look.

Door knockers. Forget doorbells. Door knockers bring a Victorian look to your area. With so many different designs, it’s fun to mix-and-match various styles to create your own wall art. Take some plywood and arrange your slew of knockers on the wood and secure them down. Mess around with entirely different materials–wood, metal, even plastic. Knock (ha!) your guests out with your artistic flair.

Light fixtures. This is an easy one, but is overlooked because of one fault with a specific piece. So what if the lamp shade is dirty? Find another one to replace it with or get out your paint/fabric and make it your own. A crack in the body? Call it character. Not the right color, but you love the shape? Glue tiles in the color of your choice on the body.

Next time you pass that old looking building with odds-and-ends busting out the doors, don’t scoff and think, “Trash.” Think, “Cheap and easy way to look really awesome.”


Previously, you read how to use some everyday kitchen products to enlighten your home, office, dorm—wherever you find yourself spending time throughout the day. For you clean freaks that can’t just do a quick rub down, I’m going to introduce you to some cleaning recipes that will blow your mind.

Furniture polish. Grab some olive oil and vinegar (or lemon juice) and you are well on your way to revitalizing grandma’s old rocking chair. Depending on how much you’ll need, combine three parts olive oil with every one part vinegar or lemon juice. Mix, scrub, wipe—you’re ready for the Antiques Roadshow.

General purpose cleaner. Combine three tablespoons of washing soda with a quart of water and you have yourself a clean anything-and-everything formula. Washing soda can also be used in place of laundry detergent. Clean that orange juice spill and get some laundry done all in one fluid movement.

Washing soda laundry detergent; photo courtesy of: savingnaturally.com

Borax—master of clean. Borax—a white/grey salt—can be used for a variety of your household cleaning needs. Mix it with baking soda and you have a killer sink cleaner that will protect your porcelain. Take two ounces of Borax and two cups of water to create a cleanser for walls and other problem areas. You can even add it to your washing soda laundry detergent for an extra clean ingredient.

Keep in mind that cleaning cheaper and naturally takes time. These remedies won’t work as quickly as store-bought alternatives, but start incorporating them into your routine. You’ll be surprised with the results.


Being “all natural” can mean a lot of things—eating only organic foods, planting trees, or unfortunately for some, skipping the shower. All natural doesn’t have to be such an extreme jump, and now it’s possible to combine fashion, technology, and wood. Yup, wood.

Photo courtesy of: treehugger.com

Vers Audio offers hip alternatives ways to display and protect your iPhone.  All products are made with a choice of cherry wood, walnut wood, or bamboo. Steel pin enforced, and lined with a scratch-resistant material, Vers promises longevity with your new case. “Wood is also surprisingly tough and renewable as well – simply the ideal material for a case,” their website, versaudio.com, boasts.  Two designs are available, both including openings for a headphone jack and a charging port. With the good comes the ugly, and there are some aspects of this product that are less-than-perfect.

iPhones and are dropped all of the time, much to the owner’s horror and demise. We all know the horrifying feeling of dropping a hundred dollars on a new phone and then decreasing its value by 50 percent when we drop it on our way out of the store. Drop your toy with a wooden case on it, and you may find a chip, or a hard-to-miss crack within a few days.  This product is also not for the heavy pocket user. The design may be innovative and intriguing, but it’s also bulky. Guys, you may have a chance with your larger-than-life cargo pockets, but ladies, there’s no hope with your non-existent, etched-on skinny jean pockets. Not a chance.

If you’re looking for a new way to show off your iPhone, don’t use your pockets to store your phone, and have nimble fingers capable of catching any phone fumble, then the Vers Audio iPhone case is perfect for you. Vers will even plant 100 trees for every one tree used in production. Be trendy and save the planet—all for the nominal price of $39.99.


“Green” may be on the minds of many homeowners around the world, celebrities even, but what about the president?

Obama has recently released that he is planning on installing solar panels on the White House’s living quarters by Spring 2011. Solar panels function by collecting solar radiation from sunlight and converting it from heat energy to electricity. Solar panels are one of the most common methods of environmental conservation, and can now be applied to many different products, both conventional and not-so-standard.

The White House has been through various environmental regimes, and also housed some “anti-greeners” when it comes to Mother Earth, as well.

1977, a year of (solar) power. The White House incorporated solar panels into its design in 1977 to heat water, but down they came in 1986. President Jimmy Carter understood how serious the energy crisis was, and decided to take action by placing solar panels on the roof of the West Wing. Not only did Carter initiate a personal green movement, but he offered up a tax benefit for those who decided to follow in his footsteps.  So, why were these panels removed and why was the tax benefit ousted? Enter Raegan.

Reagan. President Reagan wasn’t a huge fan of solar energy in the first place, and decided that the West Wing’s solar panels had served their purpose. In 1986, the public’s mind was off of environmental issues and the price of energy was generally cheaper. One thing Reagan wasn’t against was recycling–these panels were used for the same purpose at Unity College. Unfortunately, the tax benefits that Carter had introduced to environmentally-minded homeowners were also dropped at this time.

Solar secrets. The National Park Service was not having this feeble-minded change. In 2002, they secretly placed a series of panels on their maintenance building on the White House’s grounds. These panels reportedly continue to heat the presidential pool.


This may be a common question when taking a look at some of these home design products. In a world where being quirky is the “normal” thing to do, finding the most out-of-place and innovative ways to decorate your abode is a full-time job. We have long passed the point where wall-attachable fish bowls are modern and beer bottle chandeliers are hip. Let’s take a look at some of the newest “in” things.

Europe, on your floor. Landcarpets have taken flight across the modern home stratosphere. Thirsty? Make your way through Africa before you grab that OJ. Designer Florian Pucher has made it possible to travel across a continent, all in the time it takes to walk to the refrigerator. His carpets are inspired by the aerial views of various land formations from a multitude of worldly places—specifically Europe, Africa, Netherlands, and the USA. In order to keep the design spot on, Pucher uses satellite imaging to create his carpets. Way to take walking space to a new extreme, Florian.

Bringin’ walls to life. Are you a nature-lover? Does the sound of a tree house vacation make you tingle with anticipation?

Photo courtesy of: woollypocket.com

Woollypocket gives you the opportunity to grow a garden, on your wall. Deemed “vertical gardens,” Woollypocket sells colorful custom-made pockets made from 100% recyclable materials to grow your favorite plants in. If vertical placement isn’t your thing, Woollypockets are also available in horizontal modules for your desk or kitchen table. Grab some soil and plant of your choice and you’re well on your way to housing a living wall.

 

Personal artwork, literally. Get ready to make some artwork that really gets to the core of a person. DNA 11 takes a cheek swab sample of your DNA and creates a visual masterpiece from your inner beauty. Order your DNA swab kit, choose your product size and color, send it in and they’ll take care of the rest. You can display up to four different DNA samples on one canvas. Starting at $199, you can showcase your own DNA art, or your dog’s.