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Rethinking Sustainable Design with WELL®

As winter approaches and we prepare ourselves for the -30c weather, I can’t help but think about how much time we spend inside during the winter months. Research states that we spend on average 90% of our time indoors, and if you are like me and not a fan of the cold, that percentage is most likely even higher!

In the last two years there has been a growing interest in how the interior environment impacts our health and well-being. This growing movement in healthy building has began to broaden our thinking on what sustainable design really means.

Looking beyond environmental sustainability, the WELL Building Standard® (WELL) is the latest building standard and performance rating system which focuses on human health and biological sustainability. It places people at the heart of design by focusing on seven health and wellness concepts;  air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.

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To be honest, I am not overly excited about yet another rating system for interior design projects, but I am excited about the evidence-based design research that is behind the WELL standard and what this will bring to interior design.

For example, take a look at the Well Living Lab, a research facility that monitors the impact of the interior environment on human health and wellness. This lab is designed to be modular so that the walls, floors, ceilings, lighting, etc can easily be reconfigured into an office or residential setting as required. With the placement of several sensors throughout the space, researchers are able to monitor the participants and investigate how their mental and physical well-being are directly affected by the materials, lights, sounds, smells, and other interior elements within. Check out the concept video below.

Their research aims to utilize this interior space to answer questions such as, “what if your walls and ceiling could actually eliminate VOCs, so you breathe easier?” Or, “what if the right light was a better morning “pick me up” than a cup of coffee?” The outcome will provide interior designers with a set of design principles and concrete data that can be used to create healthier interior spaces for people to work, live, and play.

It’s exciting stuff, and I look forward to reading all about the results!

Janine

Janine Signature Photo

Sources:

http://www.wellcertified.com/well

http://welllivinglab.com

http://www.wired.com/2015/10/mayo-clinic-modeled-new-lab-stuffy-office/

 

Smart Sustainable Structures

Structures? Yes, I said structures. There’s yet another ‘S’ to our story. At S3 we don’t like being bored, so we’re constantly adding to our repertoire of services. In our last blog post, Elaina introduced our Lighting Design Department. Today I’ll be unveiling S3 Design Build.

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Smart & sustainable is our mantra at S3. However, our ideas and designs are only relevant if they actually come to fruition. Finding sustainably focused builders can prove to be challenging. It’s at the junction where ideas meet reality that projects can fall off the rails, or take a different turn.

So our team began the journey of seeking out like-minded builders and trades of all sorts. I’m happy to say we’ve found a number of kindred spirits. And wouldn’t you know it, one individual in particular became a regular face around the S3 office. He’s a burly, bearded character with an excitement about sustainable structures that’s comparable to a kid on Christmas morning. Let me introduce Sean. Sean has been in the building industry for 15 years and currently works as a site superintendent for a large commercial construction company. For the past 18 months we’ve been strategizing, planning and dreaming about what a sustainable design / build / development company could look like and I’m thrilled to say it looks pretty awesome.

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What will be our focus?

You guessed it… Smart, Sustainable Structures.

What does that mean?

  • Looking at alternative building materials and how they can be used in practical, energy efficient and cost effective ways.
  • Working with conventional materials in new ways to achieve greater energy efficiency.
  • Designing with climate, site orientation, practicality and aesthetic interest at the forefront, not as an afterthought.
  • Not trying to compete in the conventional market, but creating a new market.

Why does this get us excited?

Because all of us at S3 dream about living, working and playing in environments that are unique, smart and cool… and we believe that there are people beyond us who share this dream also.

What’s up and coming?

Shipping containers anyone???

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Stay tuned for an upcoming blog to find out more.

Tracy

Tracy Signature Photo

Ron Finley is a Gardening Gangsta!

As we are stuck in our winter “wonderland”, I find myself daydreaming of spring, summer, and my renovation plans for my home. The 1st goal for spring will be to build a fence for my backyard and create a private oasis where I can enjoy the sun and relax in the great outdoors.  The push for the fence is also due to my desire to add a fury friend to our family!

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As I think about the layout which will include a small grassed area, a garden, and a patio, I’m reminded of a fantastic speaker I had the pleasure of listening to at Greenbuild this past November, Ron Finley.

In his own words, is a Gardening Gangsta! He describes gardening as sexy and has dreams of community rejuvenation through developing edible gardens. Ron’s first project was driven by the lack of fresh produce in his neighborhood. What was the next best thing (or perhaps just the BEST thing? He set forth to build his first garden on the curbside of his home.  This action got him into trouble with his local authorities, but through perseverance and collaboration with other environmentalists he was able to continue his efforts to create edible gardens in the desert spaces of his community.

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More important than his efforts is the impact he has made on his community. He has become a leader and educator of guerilla gardening by teaching the youth of the community about ways to cultivate, harvest, and maintain a healthy & nutritious garden.

Now that IS sexy!

So what am I going to take from his lessons?

1)      Find enjoyment in cultivating an edible landscape

2)     Share my success with my neighbors, friends & family

3)     Create a space that inspires others to do the same

I also have a very small space to achieve my entire plan so here are a couple of ideas that I’m going to implement to achieve my backyard oasis.

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Hanging Herb Garden

Reusing tin cans & planting a variety of herbs. I like how this idea let’s you use vertical space to gain more garden space.

Re-purposing the existing fence

We have a very small fence that exists right now. My plan is to reuse the boards to build my new outdoor sectional.  I love the image below which uses old palettes to achieve the same goal. My biggest hurdle will be learning how to manage the skill saw.

Create Seclusion & Wayfinding

Use tall trees & scrubs around the perimeter of the yard so I feel completely enclosed in my green space. Use different floor materials to create transitions between each section of the backyard

Now I just have to wait for the snow to melt!

Carrie

Carrie Signature Photo

Merry Christmas + Happy New Year { 2013 }

Just here to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

2013 has been a great year here in the office:

  • Our new website was launched in November www.s3interiordesign.com
  • We all traveled to Greenbuild in Philadelphia to discover the best ways to design more sustainably
  • We’ve worked with some amazing clients and have helped them realize their dream spaces
  • We had another successful summer of Show Homes (16 homes) for the Parade of Homes
  • Elaina got engaged and will be getting married next Christmas 2014!
  • Tracy  passed her NCIDQ exam and is now officially a Professional Interior Designer!
  • Annie bought a new house! We’re still waiting on the house warming party…
  • Carrie has discovered a great love of fitness training (to complement her already outstanding cheer coaching talents)!
  • …and best of all, we are all still happy & healthy, ready to take on another great year together

S3 Christmas Card 2013

We hope you stay tuned to our blog for some great topics and chats in 2014.

All the best to you, our wonderful readers, clients, friends & family. Happy Christmas!

Tracy & the S3 girls (Elaina, Carrie & Annie)

Tracy Signature Photo

basement design

Renovating this Spring or Summer? Start planning today!

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Has winter already got you thinking of renovating when the snow melts? Well, I’m here to tell you that NOW is the best time to get started on the planning process. But, I bet you’re asking yourself…

Where do you start?  What do you need?  Who do you contact?

I’ve been working in the industry for many years now and I can tell you, without a doubt, planning ahead of time is not only suggested, it’s a necessity!

Here are the steps that I think you should take when starting a renovation project:

1. Start planning early: 

Depending on the size of your project, expect to spend 2-8 months in the planning stages. This may seem long, but it’s well worth the effort.  A poorly planned project will end up costing more time & money (not to mention frustration) in the long run.

2. Create a list of needs and wants:

The more decisive you are about your spatial needs, your aesthetic style and your budget, the more accurately the professionals you enlist can do their jobs. As the designer on your project, I truly want to hear from you. I want to know how you want to function in your space, how you want others to function in your space and, ultimately, how you want the space to make you feel. In the end, it’s all about the experience!

3. Enlist the help of professionals:

Interior Designers | Architects | Contractors | Builders | Electricians | Plumbers | Etc

The list goes on… Hiring a professional will be the best thing you’ll ever do! Bold statement, but it’s true. They can assist you with putting your dreams into visual form, making your dream into a reality.  At our office, Elaina, Annie, Carrie and I are qualified to do everything from the space planning to the final finishing touches. It is up to you, our clients, to decide how much or how little assistance you need. Getting everyone involved right from the beginning allows for problems to be solved before they even begin.

Please see our Design Services on our How We Do It page. 

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Renovating will have its challenges, it ALWAYS does (remember it’s humans you’re dealing with). However, if you allow yourself enough time to plan your project; if you hire competent, honest and hardworking people; and if you keep a positive attitude with the end goal in mind, the results are well worth it!

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So, if you’re looking to renovate that kitchen, that basement, or really anything else, come Spring or Summer, call the S3 Team today to get started on the planning.

We’d love to help you out!

Tracy

Tracy Signature Photo