wedding inspiration

: : I promise you that the blog will not be turned into a wedding blog as we start to plan our upcoming wedding in Sweden. but I just wanted to share my current favorite wedding blog
.once wed. They have so many beautiful inspiring real wedding photos. above are some of my absolute favorites. enjoy!

happy weekend!


: : love these .ork posters. my friend .erica. just reminded me of them today. I would love to buy one but haven't been able to find .Brookline. on the Boston poster (that's where we live) and unless it's on that poster, I ain't buyin' it. .Brookline. is one central puzzlepiece of Boston for sure. Maybe I'll get the thumping heart instead for Dr. Iz to put up around our house. Maybe I can even learn a thing or two about the heart.

How to Not Save Energy in your House

I have been a big proponent of what I call "common sense green". I hate to see people do things for the sake of being green - but are not really green at all. Anyway I came across some useful information on the fine homebuilding blog regarding some green "myths". The article identifies a number of common strategies that do not necessarily save you much energy. Those include the following:
  1. furnace tune ups
  2. sizing furnace correctly (not oversizing)
  3. basement duct sealing
  4. floor insulation
  5. caulking and weatherstripping
  6. window replacements
  7. tankless gas water heaters
  8. cooling your attic
  9. changing furnace filters monthly
  10. opening your refrigerator quickly
  11. using drapes to insulate windows
You should read the entire article if you want further information. See the following link:

more dos visits

: : love this photo from the new .dos visit.
Happy weekend!

House Plans by Ron Brenner Architects and Simply Elegant Home Designs

I told you big news was coming. Here is a copy of the press release.

Simply Elegant Offers House Plans Designed by Ron Brenner Architects.
Nationally recognized residential design firm is offering selected designs.
Marine on St.Croix, MN –
Simply Elegant Home Designs, LLC; is announcing a new marketing agreement with Ron Brenner of Stillwater, Minnesota. Initially six house plans designed by Ron Brenner will be offered for sale exclusively through Simply Elegant at
Brenner, President of Ron Brenner Architects; brings over 25 years experience designing single and multi-family residences, community facilities and performing residential development planning. His home designs have been featured in numerous publications. He had this to offer:
“The residential construction industry has changed quite a bit over the last 10 years. We have always worked with clients that care a lot about design. It is natural for people to desire living in a home that is a unique reflection of their own tastes. But increasingly our clients are also looking for more. They want a floor plan that feels spacious but is not oversized. They want a home that is energy efficient and environmentally more conscious. They want a smart and efficient design that meets all of their needs without breaking the bank. In order to achieve all of these goals we have worked closely with client and builder to create highly functional, unique and beautiful designs that are also reasonably economical to construct. We have learned much over the past 10 years, and our new relationship with Simply Elegant Home Designs offers a way for us spread some of that knowledge. It allows us to offer high quality residential design to a wider segment of the general population; and we hope that makes a small difference in our world.”
Ron Brenner’s work has been described as having a “casual elegance”. Strong building forms combined with clean and simple detailing and appropriate but restrained ornamentation give their designs a distinct aesthetic. Their home designs clearly pay respect to the past but move it forward with open space planning and modern convenience. The result is a home that is inviting, comfortable, functional and beautiful but not fussy.
Simply Elegant Home Designs offers pre-designed home plans that are creative, simple, elegant, unique and green to individuals, builders and developers. Their goal is to provide the most discriminating home designs available and to be the most service oriented organization in the pre-designed house plans business. They can be reached at or 877-380-9470.

Big News on House Plans From Simply Elegant Home Designs

Simply Elegant Home Designs has some big news coming.

Ron Brenner, President of Simply Elegant says "This is going to be bigger than sliced bread. Bigger than the wheel. Well maybe I am going too far; but at least it will be bigger than the Segway"

Stay tuned; a formal announcement will be made soon.

hint above

wallpaper oasis

: : love these brilliantly styled photos for Swedish .Decor Maison. new wallpaper line .oas.
via .emma's blog.

Simply Elegant Home Designs is on Facebook

Simply Elegant Home Designs is now up and running on Facebook. We see this as just another way for folks to find us and stay updated on the latest information. It's also a great way to communicate with each other. You can see our facebook page at the following link:
please check us out and fan us.

NYC blackout 2003

: : the NYC blackout was 6 years ago today. I wonder how much we learned from it. we are still so incredibly dependent on electricity and oil. when will we change our habits?

but that day seemed magical. I almost wish I could have been there. as long as I wasn't stuck on a subway train. but seeing the city quiet, without lights, the streets flooded with people...must have been incredible and eyeopening.

photos from .here.

Light Emitting Wallpaper

Jonas Samson, an interior designer from the Netherlands has created a new kind of wallpaper that is also a light source. The paper has a light emitting layer within that accomodates LED's. The product, which appears to not yet be for sale is touted as being "green". This is due to the efficiency of the LED lighting. I cannot find pricing, but word is extremely expensive - so in my mind that's not necessarily green. Nevertheless this is an interesting idea with lots of possibilities.


: : here are some more vacation photos, but this time, they're all from .hotel aiguaclara. in Begur, Spain. One of the most amazing hotels we've ever stayed at. Joan and Clara moved from Barcelona to Begur to settle down with their new family. They spent 9 years renovating a beautiful 5 story building in the center of Begur. The building has strong Cuban influences, and they tried to restore all the original detailing, including the beautiful colorful tile floors. Every detail in their hotel has been chosen with care, from the pebbles in the bathroom floor, to the chandeliers, to the collection of design furniture and details spread throughout the house. The rooms are cool, elegant, stylish and each very unique. I've never felt more welcomed at a hotel, .aiguaclara. truly feels like a home away from home. We spent hours lounging in the restaurant area, the reading room with a self serve bar, the downstairs lounge and their outdoor patio. It was the perfect place to stay and the perfect location.

Each day we'd pack our beach bags, Clara would stick an umbrella under our arm and make sure we had everything we needed, and then we'd be off. Setting out to explore a new beach every day, 6 beaches within 2 km of Begur. Back at the hotel at night, we'd stroll the 500 meters up to the town square and choose from one of the many great restaurants.

I would highly recommend a stay at hotel Aiguaclara! I hope these pictures have inspired you. There are also beautiful photos on their website of each room. .here.

click on images to view them larger

Green House Plans - Keep it Simple!

I recently ran across an article at that discussed some of the potential drawbacks when you specify highly complex appliances / equipment for your home. This might include items such as heat-recovery ventilators, ground source heat pumps, solar hot water systems, photovoltaics, etc. Some of the drawbacks to this type of equipment may include:
  • Higher up front costs - long payback periods
  • Need for proper commissioning (this means you need to make sure the equipment gets installed and adjusted precisely - or it will not work properly). If not installed and adjusted properly it can actually lead to higher energy costs.
  • Need for ongoing maintenance / adjustment which leads to higher maintenance costs. If not maintained properly it can also lead to higher energy costs.
In general the more sophisticated the equipment the more potential headaches. I have seen other studies that compared the energy use of LEED buildings vs. their non-LEED counterparts. Guess what? - the non-LEED buildings were just as energy efficient as the LEED ones.

So the moral of the story is to keep things simple. Favor envelope improvements and good passive design techniques (see my posting: top 10 green things to do) over sophisticated appliances / equipment.

Click the following for the full Green Building Advisor article: SIMPLICITY VERSUS COMPLEXITY

The Inspector

Do you think you are really smart about house construction? How about my home builder friends out there? How about you building code officials? Fine Homebuilding has a little game that you can play that will test your knowledge. It is called "The Inspector". They present you with a photograph of a construction site and ask you to identify the code mistakes. You get points for correctly identifying the mistakes - and take points away for the wrong answers. Sound easy? Click the link and give it a try. The Inspector.

: : finally, here is the first batch of vacation photos. we spent a week going from one little seaside town to another along the north east coast of Spain, called Costa Brava. We saw Cadaques, Begur, Tamariu, Sa Riera and Sa Tuna. It was the most wonderful vacation! We must have made it there right before the summer rush, because none of the beaches or towns were crowded. We loved each place we went to. We weren't even able to pick a favorite because each place was special in it's own way. We wish we could have spent a week in each town. Above you see Tamariu, town of Begur, good beach reading and Sa Tuna beach.
above are photos of Cadaques, Tamariu, breakfast on the balcony at Sa Tuna Hotel, and lovely bougainvillea in Cadaques.

there will be more photos of both Spain and Sweden coming soon....
.click on images to see them larger.