Condo Blues

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Would You Choose: A Conservatory or a Sunroom?

I hate that summer is leaving because I will miss drinking coffee on my patio in the morning and enjoying the warmer summer sun. I am really going to miss the fresh herbs growing on my patio during the summer too. A UK friend suggested that I build a conservatory.

“A sunroom?” I asked.

“No”, he said, “a conservatory. You have conservatories in America, don’t you?”

In my mind, a home conservatory is very English and sunroom is more American because most of the people I know have sunrooms instead of conservatories. Although to be fair, a conservatory can be sunroom but not all sunrooms can be conservatories.

Confused yet?

I was until I did a little research.

It turns out that the difference between a sunroom and a conservatory is that a conservatory is a room with glass walls and a glass roof. When I lived in Miami, we called them Florida Rooms.

This is a conservatory. It has a glass roof.

A sunroom is a room with glass walls and a solid roof. There are DIY conservatories just as there are DIY sunrooms. You can make both of them into a four-season room with the right insulating windows, which is very important for me because I have winter. I’m told that the conservatory’s glass roof also lets more light into the room than a solid sunroom’s roof during overcast or winter days, a plus in my book as long as the material can withstand an Ohio winter, which I’m sure it can. UK folks, do any of you have any experience with this?

Since a conservatory has a see through roof, you can use a conservatory as a greenhouse. I remember one house in Florida that had a swimming pool in a conservatory. Very cool.

With our fascination with multitasking and demanding things do double duty (when was the last time you just made a telephone call on a cell phone?) it seems like there would be more people adding conservatories to their houses as sunrooms and greenhouses instead of a standard one use sunroom. Price wise the DIY options look fairly equal.

The thought of growing fresh herbs year round and enjoying my coffee on the patio year around makes me a lean toward conservatory over sunroom. And while I’m dreaming I’ll take the style with a little dormer too. What about you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Repurposed Dog Bowl Wall Art

After I painted the kitchen, I started putting artwork back on the walls for my family’s enjoyment. One family member didn’t have anything to look at when he was eating his dinner.

What about me? *Sigh*

I decided to make Blitzkrieg some doggie wall art.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ceiling Fans with Lights, Energy Efficient Yes. Stylish? Yeah or Nay?

Ceiling fans are an inexpensive way to cool and heat (by running the blades in reverse during the winter) your home. I had a ceiling fan and an attic fan in my old rental and between the two, they kept the place cool during the summer until the temperature climbed into the humid 90’s.

Too bad that ceiling fan with lights was from 1976 and for as well as it cooled our apartment, it didn’t do it with any sort of style. I can do ceiling fans. I can do lights. I cannot do ceiling fan and light combos. Can. Not. Do. Ick.

I recently got a very nice email from Del Mar Designs. She wrote:

“I’ve read how much you loathe ceiling fans with lights. My company Del Mar Designs offers a wide selection of decorative ceiling fans that are also energy efficient.

I have put together a few of our most popular energy efficient decorative ceiling fans with lights and was wondering if you found them appealing?”
Well. Gosh, now I feel like a heel because I have a constant reader and I’ve knocked what she does for a living. What’s the harm in taking a look?

10 Stylish Ceiling Fans with Lights

The Monte Carlo Vectra Titanium Flush Mount Fan with  Light  is a flush mount which would be great for someone who has low ceilings like me. This one’s not too bad with the light and fan combination but I lean more towards the model without the light.

The Minka Aire F518-ORB Concept II Bronze Flush Mount with Light is another flush mount in Bronze, which is very hot this year in fixtures. I like the old timey ice cream parlor look.

Quorum Colton Oiled Bronze Ceiling Fan with Light is a fan I think it would look best on a mid to high ceiling. Again, it reminds me of an old timey ice cream parlor look, which is a plus because my favorite local ice shop has ceiling fans similar to these but without lights.

The Hunter Fanaway Brushed Chrome Ceiling Fan changed my mind. If I were to choose any fan with a light for my house, it would be this one. I like the retro modern design. I especially like that the fan blade stay hidden until you turn on the fan. The only downside to this fan is that the blades aren’t reversible for winter. However, that wouldn’t be such an issue for me because I’d put this fan in my computer room to cool down the room with the big computers that act like space heaters.


I’ve seen the Hunter Sonic Brushed Nickel Energy Star Ceiling Fan with Light  in real life. A friend had it installed in her living room with the cathedral ceiling of  her condo. It worked with the retro 50’s vibe she had going on in her kitchen and living room.

I dig the Quorum Bronx Satin Nickel Ceiling Fan with Light. It is similar to the Hunter Sonic but I keep came coming back to it because it’s retro, it’s modern, and the blades remind me of an airplane propeller. Like.

I had to include this piece of eye candy. The Casablanca Chandelier Oil-Rubbed Bronze Uplight Ceiling Fan with Light is rustic elegance. The candles are actually electric powered flames so there’s no worry of fire hazard or changing the candles. Spendy, but it would look great in a lodge setting or in a room with a pitched ceiling like say, my bedroom.

I think I’m becoming a convert. Is it me, or is this crow tasting pretty good?

I wanted to feature the Quorum Jellyfish Chrome Ceiling Fan with Light  because it’s design is nothing like I’ve seen before. I like the blade shape and the cables. I’m not too sure of the light, it’s an odd shape that reminds me of a jellyfish which is cool but also reminds me a bust line because my mind goes to there sometimes. What do you think? (Besides the whole I make inappropriate analogies thing. I know that already.)

I kept coming back to the Emerson Highpointe Brushed Steel Ceiling Fan with Light too. I like the cable detail although I’m not sure if the blade design is sparse/simple = good or sparse/simple = bland. What are your thoughts?

The Minka Aire Gauguin Bahama Beige is an Outdoor Ceiling Fan with Light but I’m including it because I like the blade design and the Bahama feel.  If they had an indoor version, I’d consider adding it to a room for a tropical vibe. Come February, I’m usually dying for anything that reminds me of summer, my favorite season. It makes me want to pour a nice tall glass of something and stick a paper umbrella in my drink.

I begrudgingly admit that ceiling fan with light designs have thankfully come a long way from the traditional white 1976 style fan with lights that was in my last apartment. If you notice, most of the lights I like either fan is subtle or the light is subtle because that is probably what I would go with if I bought a fan with a light for my own home

What do you think? Are you a ceiling fan person? Do you give ceiling fan with lights the thumbs up or the thumbs down?

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Disclaimer: I was not paid to mention any of these fan in this post and opinions are my own. I thought you should know that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Painted My Kitchen with No VOC Paint

For 6 years, Husband and I have been going around and around about what color to paint the kitchen. Since he is the Head Cook he wanted a say in how I decorated “His Domain.” I guess I can give him that. I’m also fine with him calling the kitchen His Domain. Heck, he can call it Shirley for all I care as long as he cooks my dinner!

Being a green blogger, I’m supposed to automatically choose a low or no VOC (volatile organic compound) paint to improve the indoor air quality for the health of my family. However, I had a lot of questions and concerns if a low or no VOC paint job would last. Turns out, my concerns were not such a big deal. I found out that we painted our bedroom six years ago with a paint that qualifies as a low VOC paint, even thought the company doesn’t advertise it that way. The bedroom paint job has held up over time but as for a low VOC paint, it SMELLED just as much as the mistint of conventional paint I bought from the Habitat Restore to paint the laundry room.

Since that stinky low VOC paint job held up over time, I was ready to take a chance on a no VOC paint. Hopefully, with less stink.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Baking Soda Deodorant FAIL

Have you heard that some people use baking soda as deodorant? It’s a great way to avoid parabens and aluminum chlorohydrate if you’re concerned about that. Think of all the money you'd save too!

I was hesistant at first. The one time I tried an environmentally friendly stick deodorant it gave me a rash under my arms. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

I’ve always had a problem with finding a deodorant that works for me, most leave me wiffy at the end of the day, especially roll on deodorant. I have better luck with solid stick deodorant but even then only two brands work for me.

I found a roll on deodorant in the back of the linen closet during a clean out. I was out of my full of parben and aluminum chlorohydrate stick deodorant. Since I am trying to green my health and beauty aids, I figured I would use the roll on and a homemade version together (in the case of stinky failure) applied with a powder-puff. After I went through the roll on I would transition to just baking soda.

I tried three different baking soda and homemade deodorant combinations. I tried each experiment for a month. I didn’t do much in the way of heavy sweaty work or working out. It was spring so it was not hot outside either.
  • I applied the roll on and used that for a few days alone. By the end of the day, I detected a faint body odor at the end of the day. FAIL.
  • I mixed equal parts cornstarch and baking soda. I used it with and without the roll on. My pits felt gritty and detected a faint body odor at the end of the day. FAIL.
  • I tried using baking soda only. I used it with and without the roll on. I my pits were not gritty but I detected a faint body odor at the end of the day. FAIL.

Home made deodorant?


I consulted my friends from the Green Moms Carnival. These women are brilliant. I figure someone in this group has either had an experience close to mine or found a way to make it work without the stink. From our unscientific and funny discussion, it seems that successfully using baking soda and various homemade deodorants  depends on the individual’s body chemistry.

My body chemistry said, "Stinky. Please pass the parbens" at the end of the day.

I’m back to the one parben laden, aluminum chlorohydrate filled stick deodorant that keeps me from stinking. I'm not very happy about that but I am happy that I'm not stinky at the end of the day. I think my family and friends prefer me that way too.

For a different take on baking soda as deodorant, check out Beth’s experience at Fake Plastic Fish.

Have you tried baking soda as deodorant? What was your experience?

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Coolest Castle Tree House from Repurposed Wood

Who says eco has to be ugly? Check out the three story tree house Kalleen from A Second Street’s Dad built her children. It’s the Coolest. Tree House. Ever!

A castle, with two slides, a sandbox, and a rock-climbing wall!
Photo courtesy of A Second Street.

Kalleen’s father spent all summer building this tree house for this grandchildren. Almost all of the materials are used. Reclaimed wood for the “sides”, he purchased 2 slides from the classifieds, and used an old satellite dish as the roof.

There’s sandbox on the bottom level and insulation in the walls to keep the building cool during the summer – smart move. He finished it out by reusing paneling for the interior walls.

Check out the detailing. The “masonry” is actually wood cut to simulate individual stone. Love!

I wonder if it’s big enough for grownups to play in it too?

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