Glass Block

Berkeley has a hippie mentality reputation even more than San Franciscans, but boy, those wonderful crunchy granola folks can have some great ideas for reuse!

I was visiting a friend, who is also my bookkeeper, and she had found an awesome reuse solution for glass blocks! Yes, that stuff that was used in the 80's, instead of windows and walls, which provide privacy and solar heat in homes and offices all over the Bay Area. It's so simple, I'm surprised that I haven't come across it on Pintrest yet. She had one 10" block halved to make a leak free planter for her succulents. Perfect for a desk in need of a little freshly made oxygen.

What Size Tile Should I use?

Should the tile on shower walls be bigger than bathroom floor tiles?

There are no real rules regarding tile sizes. Ultimately, the tile on the floor should be less slippery, and if you do a standard drain in the shower you will have fewer cuts if you use something that is 4" or smaller. Linear drains have really opened up the possibility of using larger tiles on the shower floor because you can now slope the floor in one direction instead of from all four corners.
As far as aesthetics, go with your gut. When you are looking at tiles in the showrooms and on displays and even on Houzz, do some comparisons to see what you ultimately like. For instance, if you are doing a traditional bathroom, do you like a smaller "octagon and dot" or a "basket weave" pattern on the floor with a rectangular "subway tile" on the walls? Or do you prefer a larger square tile on the floor set in a diagonal pattern with the subway tile instead?

Berkeley Traditional Universal Design (small 9x7 Bathroom)  Photography by Treve Johnson

Berkeley Traditional Universal Design (small 9x7 Bathroom)

Photography by Treve Johnson

Helpful hint: for a small bathroom, try to avoid using a tile that is approximately 12" x 12". Whether you are conscious of it or not, it is a size we are all accustom to; for example most of us look at and hold 8.5 x 11 paper daily and it is almost the same size, it becomes easy to tell and feel if a room is small. I recommend using larger tiles like 12" x 24", 18" x 18" or smaller tiles like the "basket-weave" pattern in this small bathroom in Berkeley or even simply having the 12" x 12" tile installed on a diagonal or off-set in a "cobblestone" pattern. 

Savvy Thermostats

Piggybacking on last week's thoughts, I realize that I forgot to mention thermostats.

ecobee interfaces with your mobile technology

ecobee interfaces with your mobile technology

How do smoke detectors and thermostats relate? By their manufacturer. The same home owners living in San Francisco, no they're not paranoid, needed an alternate solution to the Google owned Nest thermostat. Something with a simple, well designed, user friendly interface that they could not only program but also monitor, pause and resume while on vacation. Who doesn't want to come home to a warm home after a ski week without paying a PG&E bill to match? 

Ecobee has come out with two great solutions, the Smart and Smart Si thermostats and they have a new App "Home IQ" in beta so that you can see your personal savings and energy usage. Their controls a digital interface, small profile and can interact with your iStuff, phone, computer etc. it can learn your patterns and desired home temperatures without reporting back to big G so that they can determine the best time to send you which advertising.

Welcome Home!

Sleep Safety

No matter where you live, whether its San Francisco, Alameda, or Berkeley, one code requirement remains the same. Smoke detectors are required inside and outside of each bedroom. Its not that the building inspectors really want to checkout your whole house, it is a safety precaution. Even if you are "just remodeling a kitchen or small bathroom" it is something that all building departments are responsible for. Its a good thing, big brother is actually looking out for your best interest for a change. Does this mean that you need to re-wire your entire house to put in a fancy hardwired system that alerts the fire department? In most cases, no. Requirements of that kind are usually reserved for new construction or when a certain percentage of your home is being worked on.

So what are your options? You could run to the hardware store and purchase the lowest costing model off the shelf, or you could go to the Mac Store and drool over the Apple computers and iStuff to buy a Nest model with its sleek design. The drawback to the Nest is that it is now a Google owned company and they have been able to turn its sensing features into more personal anylitics for their marketing strategies. I have done some research recently because my Apple employed clients are anti-Google-tracking, especially when it comes to your coming and going in your home just because you wake in the night to use the toilet. 

First Alert Photoelectric Smoke and CO Combo Alarm with Voice PC900V

First Alert Photoelectric Smoke and CO Combo Alarm with Voice PC900V

You may be aware of the concerns about carbon monoxide during sleeping hours too. This is because its presence will actually cause drowsiness  and if you are already asleep you are not very likely to notice any difference in your ability to take in the required oxygen to continue to breath. So how can you keep your newly remodeled home less cluttered without sacrificing your safety? First Alert has a wonderful, clean and simple combination detector that is photo sensitive to detecting smoke and has an active voice. Its the  PC900V, it will tell you which alarm is going off with words, it will also tell you when its battery is getting low so that you don't end up taking it down in the middle of the night and never returning it to its post. Its affordable too, you can buy it directly from their website or in most local hardware stores like Ace.

Now you can sleep safely in style without the concerns of the big G knowing even more about your hourly habits.     Nighty night!