Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Perfect Lights for Living Rooms

Perfect Lights for Living RoomsThe lights in living room should be both decorative and functional. The required lights must be selected with an aim to complement the room’s Decor too. It might be a tricky situation, but its important as living rooms reflects the lifestyle of the family, personality of the homeowner and also plays a key role to make guest feel warm and comfortable while making a style statement.

Nowadays Classic and contemporary ceiling lights are quite popular these days, blending in the traditional trends of the room, with elite decorations the room gives a rich feel. In a competitive world, astute developers will always look for a point of difference. Customized layouts, energy efficiency and other expected client advantages now have another winning attribute ranking alongside them – comprehensive home automation built into the bones of the residence.

The common traditional yellow bulbs are popular, and inexpensive, while the halogen bulbs are much brighter and almost seem to give natural light. The best ones are the Fluorescent bulbs, which are bright, requiring very low wattage being energy-efficient and also have a long life. The lamps for the room must be carefully chosen, as to combine the theme, suit the design and setting of the living rooms.

A contemporary life room can use steel lamps, while the classic living rooms can use lamps with bronze of wood body. The best choice would be the lamps with rotating shades that would allow you to direct the light and change the look and the feel of your living room on very instant basis.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Study finds Solar Panels increase Home Values

Study finds Solar Panels increase Home ValuesAll those homeowners who have been installing residential solar panels over the last decade may find it was a more practical decision than they thought. The electricity generated may have cost more than that coming from the local power company (half of which, nationwide, comes from burning coal), but if they choose to sell their homes, the price premium they will get for the solar system should let them recoup much of their original capital investment.

That is the conclusion of three researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who looked at home sales — both homes with photovoltaic systems and homes without — in California over an eight-and-a-half-year period ending in mid-2009. The abstract of their study states, “the analysis finds strong evidence that California homes with PV systems have sold for a premium over comparable homes without PV systems.

The premium ranged from $3.90 to $6.40 per watt of capacity, but tended most often to be about $5.50 per watt. This, the study said, “corresponds to a home sales price premium of approximately $17,000 for a relatively new 3,100-watt PV system (the average size of PV systems in the study).”

And the bottom line: “These average sales price premiums appear to be comparable to the investment that homeowners have made to install PV systems in California, which from 2001 through 2009 averaged approximately $5/watt.”

If the California findings can be extrapolated nationally, it would mean that the owners of 139,000 homes can collect a premium at resale time. For those who promote photovoltaic systems, it is a second line of defense against the argument (and reality) that the initial cost of installing the solar means using it for many years before the savings on electricity are enough to pay back the investment.

But there is a caveat. Homeowners who install solar on existing houses get nearly three times the premium of homeowners whose house came with solar panels. The study speculates about the reasons, suggesting that “new home builders may also gain value from PV as a market differentiator, and have therefore often tended to sell PV as a standard (as opposed to an optional) product on their homes and perhaps been willing to accept a lower premium in return for faster sales velocity.”

Residential solar installations have been growing at an average 51 percent rate annually for the last five years, according to Larry Sherwood, a consultant to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, a nonprofit group that works on helping interested parties navigate various legal, technical and economic aspects of renewable energy. As of 2010, the total capacity of these systems was 677 megawatts, he said. (His most recent report can be found here.)

And Jared Blanton, a spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association, reports that in 2010, the residential market was 30 percent of the national solar PV market, above the utility market (28 percent) but behind commercial installations (42 percent).

A news release on Thursday from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory said that over all, approximately 2,100 megawatts of grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems (residential and nonresidential) have been installed across the country, almost half of this total in California.

The growth in residential solar systems, of course, is taking place on a tiny base. About a tenth of a percent of all households have photovoltaic systems, and all solar systems combined — industrial and residential and everything else, as well as concentrated-solar plants in the California deserts — amount to about two-tenths of 1 percent of all renewable electricity in the country, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. Renewable electricity, in turn, makes up about 8 percent of the electricity used in this country. But the backers of solar power might talk about thousand-mile journeys beginning with a single step.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Martin Davidson, Sandy Davidson hope to sell home in West Hollywood Hills

Martin Davidson, Sandy Davidson hope to sell home in West Hollywood HillsDirector-writer Martin Davidson and his wife, residential and restaurant designer Sandy Davidson, have put their West Hollywood Hills home on the market at $1,995,000.

The 1940 house was designed for a sculptor, and the two-story living room served as a studio. The open-plan residence, with 1,864 square feet of living space, has a sky-lit dining room, a loft/bedroom, two offices with built-in furniture, a master bedroom suite and two bathrooms. A rounded deck with a mature tree in the middle leads to a lawn and swimming pool. There are panoramic views of the city and ocean.

This is the only house that the New York couple looked at when they arrived in L.A. They bought the property in 1975 for $120,000, according to public records. Their attraction to Art Deco and Midcentury modern inspired a remodel and renovations, including the streamline/modern built-in furniture.

Director Paul Mazursky shot the romantic comedy "Blume in Love" (1973) at the house. Davidson, 71, co-wrote and directed "Lords of Flatbush" (1974) and "Eddie and the Cruisers" (1983). Shirley Sherman and Lloyd Sherman of Westside Estate Agency, Malibu, are the listing agents.
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

In South Delhi, a Home for Three Generations

In South Delhi, a Home for Three GenerationsFrom the moment they decided to build a house on a wide dusty street lined with eucalyptus trees in this teeming city of about 17 million people, Manit and Sonali Rastogi knew it would have to meet the needs of not only six different people, but three different generations.

Multi-generational households were once quite common in India, but the tradition has faded somewhat among the upper class as the country has modernized, especially in families concerned about the messy squabbles that might arise over varying lifestyles.

But the Rastogis, the co-founders of the architectural firm Morphogenesis, wanted to mix the best of both worlds — maintaining their independence and a degree of privacy while having their children, ages 12 and 15, grow up around their grandparents.

The three generations of Rastogis — the couple, their children and Mr. Rastogi’s parents — now live in a 15,594-square-foot house on three levels in Panchsheel Park, a well-heeled neighborhood of South Delhi. The building, which has a facade of limestone and Ipe wood, cost about $620,000 to build and was completed in December 2006.

The Rastogis say the living arrangement satisfies their needs. “Everybody really does need to have a space of their own and needs to interact at leisure and not just be in each other’s face the whole time,” said Ms. Rastogi, 43.

The couple designed the house to accommodate the three generations. As the grandparents, ages 72 and 68, become unable to climb the stairs, the house design will adapt to those needs. And while their young children enjoy having a small terrace next to their adjoining bedrooms — so they can spy on each other — they will likely demand more privacy in a few years. “This is our laboratory,” said Mr. Rastogi, 41. “And we’re living in our experiment.”

The Rastogis set out to design a home that would have shared intergenerational spaces like the family room, kitchen and dining areas, but also places to retreat when family members needed privacy. Then there are the shortcuts for the children — the wood-and-steel spiral staircase that quickly brings them down to their grandparents’ quarters on the lower level.

“The children form the link between the two generations most efficiently,” Ms. Rastogi said. “We realize that over a period of time, generations will age, so we have ensured that there is a direct quick shortcut method for the parents also to come up whenever they want.”

The house is entered through a huge black wrought iron gate, which is manned around the clock by a security guard. The house opens up into a foyer, which, in turn, leads to the kitchen and the rest of the house, including an indoor garden. The house, which they have fondly named N85 after its address, took 18 months to build.

The couple also designed the building to house their architectural firm, which is attached to the home but reached through a separate entrance. Mr. Rastogi said the couple is always is design mode and multitasking, and it was important for their house to reflect that concept.

“We were just not able to do all the multiplicity of things from where we were before,” he said. There are a couple of private pathways from their home to their busy ground-floor office, which is visited by as many as 100 people each day.

The house gets ample sunlight from its many large windows. But the ceiling is also dotted with circular skylights, which track the sun’s movement at different times of the day and focus the beam on an internal garden so that it gets sun naturally. And if they are in the mood for wide open sky, there is always the rooftop swimming pool, which attracts a wide range of wildlife — parrots, peacocks, monkeys and bats. “The bats play a game on the pool at twilight, coming and just touching the water and swooping off back into the air,” Ms. Rastogi said. “My son loves it.”
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Illumination paves the way for a funky living room

These days, if you want to keep up with the Joneses or even outdo them, then you must have some sort of hard hitting financial firepower – or plenty of creativity, of course. When it comes to taste in home furniture, that is a very subjective topic, but Hammacher might let you have a winner on your hands with the aptly named Illuminottoman. Gotta love the creative slant to its name, that’s for sure.

This weatherproof ottoman will be at home (no pun intended) indoors as well as outdoors, illuminating with a color-changing soft glow or a vibrant luminescence. With a grand total of 58 LEDs within the leg rest to produce green, white, red, blue, yellow, purple, or light blue hues, you can always make full use of the included remote control to adjust the brightness to three different levels.

The more settled among you might want the ottoman to cast a constant glow in one color, while others might opt for transitioning seamlessly through the hues, or have it flash quickly in each shade if you’re throwing a party. With a 3-hour timer and a rechargeable battery that delivers up to eight hours of light after a six-hour charge, your party will be the most colorful on the block. The Illuminottoman can be yours for $149.95, so getting a bunch of these ain’t gonna come cheap, either.
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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tiny classroom furniture in primary schools is a health hazard for teachers

A survey has shown that two-thirds of workers in primary school and early years have received treatment for back and joint problems as a result of working in child-sized environments. More than two-thirds of those taking part in the survey had taken time off because of work related joint or back pain.

The study of more than 700 teachers found that lifting children, working at child-height computers and desks as well as standing all day was contributing to their ills. One teacher said she had to lie down on the floor at break time and others had left to teach older, taller pupils.

The research, whose findings were revealed in the Times Educational Supplement, was carried out by Lorna Taylor, a physiotherapist, and the Voice union for education. They believe a teacher will spend an average of 20,000 hours sitting on furniture designed for children over a 30-year career.

Ms Taylor said: "There's an attitude that it's part of the job – they accept back pain and take painkillers to keep going. "It's taboo to complain. People don't want to be seen as whingeing or letting their team down. I don't know who's been planning these classrooms, but no one's thought about this issue properly."Philip Parkin, general secretary of Voice, said: "Primary and early-years settings are naturally designed for children, but more thought needs to go into the needs of the adults who there, too."

He said that every workplace was legally obliged to have a reporting system for injuries and that teachers should let someone know about any aches and pains. "If these were people working in county hall or any office, these issues would be taken seriously or not happen in the first place."
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