Miami Green Homes


How to Improve Home Office Decor

The world just lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, and many workplaces across South Florida and the rest of the U.S. have restructured as hybrid workplaces, where some people work from home and some work from the office, or completely remote workplaces — where everyone at the company works from home. People who are now working from a home office may want to ensure that the space they give themselves to work helps enable their productivity, focus, and comfort.

One way to make sure a home office enables their best performance is to focus on the decor. The decor of a space can greatly influence how they feel, and by incorporating different decor touches and changes, they can feel certain they’re spending their days in a place that makes them feel inspired.

Here are some home office decor tips that anyone can tackle on their own.

Consider Lighting Fixtures

How an office is lit makes a huge difference in how energized a worker feels there. A professional wants to make sure they have enough light to see their work clearly even on cloudy days or at night. An office should have a mixture of overhead lights and lamps on work surfaces. To infuse style into the space, a creative overhead fixture, such as a chandelier, provides plenty of light and also adds interest.

Pick a Great Chair

A home office chair matters because a person working will sit in it a lot. A chair must provide lumbar support and not leave anyone with a backache. However, many people don’t want a clunky rolling office chair in their space, since it’s not necessarily aesthetically pleasing or in line with the decor in the rest of their home. Luckily, there are some beautiful ergonomic chairs available that enable work without pain and also look beautiful in a space. Research stylish ergonomic chairs, then pick one that fits with a home’s style and also will feel great to sit in all day.

Don’t Forget the Walls

The walls of a room can have a significant impact on the way a space feels. Don’t just leave a home office’s walls white. Decorate them in a way that feels fun but also inspiring. Studies have shown that the color green helps people prolong their focus. So consider painting walls a fun green color or even choose a stylish green wallpaper to give a space life and help get more done. 

Let Sebastian Eilert Architecture Help you Redo Your Office

For anyone who doesn’t want to tackle a home office redecoration project on their own, or think they could benefit from the guidance of a professional, reach out to Sebastian Eilert Architecture. Our sustainable and ecologically responsible design firm also handles interior design projects in South Florida homes. Reach out to us via email to set up a consultation or call 786.556.3118. We can give our initial thoughts about how to improve a home office, and then we can get started ensuring a client’s home office is a place that’s beautiful — and really helps them work.



Eco-Friendly Home Spring Cleaning Tips 

Spring officially began on March 20, 2022, and the seasons are changing. The arrival of spring means it’s time for homeowners to do a spring cleaning. Spring cleaning can help declutter spaces and make them feel healthy and airy as we head into the warmest part of the year. If a homeowner cares about the environment and wants to ensure they live in a way that has minimal environmental impact, one step they can take this year is doing an eco-friendly spring cleaning process.

To learn more about what an eco-friendly spring cleaning process entails, read our guide below. These green spring cleaning tips will ensure that the cleaning process simply benefits a home and the loved ones who spend time there, with as little negative impact on the planet as possible.

Clean Blinds and Curtains

There’s no doubt South Florida homes get a lot of sunshine — so much so that many people choose to power their homes with solar energy. In the spring and summer, the sun can be so hot it can significantly heat up any home, causing the people who live there to use more energy from air conditioning. To stop this from happening, people may want to keep their blinds and curtains closed during the day. Make sure blinds are dusted and dirt-free for the spring, so when they’re pulled down they don’t let debris into the air. Take down curtains and give them a good wash. That way they won’t only be dust- and dirt-free when using them to block out the sun, they’ll also look fresh and wrinkle-free, too.

Scrub With Cloth Towels

Forget paper towels for this spring cleaning. When people clean surfaces in their bathrooms, kitchens, and beyond, they should avoid using paper towels to rinse and wipe off cleaning products or soap. Instead, South Florida residents can commit to using only reusable and washable cloth towels. 

Ditch the Chemicals

It may take some research based on a home’s complete cleaning needs, but people should ditch the chemical cleaners as they freshen up their space for springtime, and choose only natural cleaning products. Lemon juice can be a powerful cleaning agent for removing stains and rust, and baking soda also works to remove dirt, grime, and stains. White vinegar is a powerful agent for disinfecting surfaces, and essential oils can help sanitize spaces and make them smell fresh and invigorating. By not using harsh cleaning chemicals, homeowners can minimize damage to the environment as the chemicals spread in the air or get flushed down the drain.

Do You Want a Design Refresh For Spring? Call Sebastian Eilert Architecture

For South Florida residents who want to do more than just a spring cleaning to refresh their home this season, there’s always the option of redecorating or even renovating a space. Get in touch with Sebastian Eilert Architecture. Our company specializes in sustainable and ecologically responsible design, and Sebastian himself has been named one of the most influential sustainable designers in the world. Reach out today via phone or email for a consultation with Sebastian. We help homeowners have a space that feels clean, fresh, and good for the planet through every season. You can reach us at 786.556.3118.



The Psychological Benefits of Filling a Home With Plants

For any homeowner who has gone through the process of decorating their South Florida home, there’s a good chance they’ve picked out furniture, accent pieces, and interior design elements they love. However, one decor element they shouldn’t overlook as they fill up their space is plants. Plants can create a serene, pulled-together home decor aesthetic. But they not only enhance the way a home looks, they can also enhance the homeowner’s quality of life.

Research has shown time and again that filling up a home with plants has numerous health benefits — they even clean the air. However, along with their physical health benefits, plants can also improve mental health. Simply by bringing some greenery into a space, homeowners can actually improve their overall mental and emotional wellness.

It makes sense to fill a home with plants. Here are just a few psychological benefits of houseplants and how spending time around them might help change someone’s life. 

Boosted Mood

Houseplants have been proven to decrease depression in people and boost their mood so they feel better. A study by Urban Forestry and Urban Greeningshows 74% of study participants experienced increased emotional wellbeing and less stress when houseplants were incorporated into their environment. So fill a home with plants, and a home can become an even happier place than it already is.

Decreased Anxiety

Experts know that spending time around plants helps to decrease anxiety. That’s because greenery can engage the senses in ways that a space usually doesn’t. Plants are beautiful to look at, and they often smell good and give people unfamiliar textures to feel, as well. Having all these sensory experiences provided by plants can help increase mindfulness and bring homeowners to the present moment. This is a great way to decrease anyone’s anxiety and help them stay focused and in the present, rather than worrying about the past or future.

Improved Attention Span

House plants can improve a person’s attention span. In fact, a study in The Journal of Environmental Psychology showed that plants in a workspace can decrease mental fatigue and improve people’s ability to stay working on a task. Plus, having plants in a home can boost someone’s ability to focus. It may be especially valuable today since, post-COVID 19 pandemic, more people than ever work from home. For a homeowner who wants something to help them stay on task while they work, enhancing a workspace or home office (in particular) with plants is a good idea. A window can also provide a view of outdoor plants.

Want a Home to Fill with Plants? Work with Sebastian Eilert Architecture

Ready to start filling a home with plants or design and build a new home that can be filled with plants when it’s finished?  Contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture for assistance. We are committed to sustainable and ecologically responsible design, and Sebastian is recognized as one of the thirty most influential sustainable design architects in the world. Sebastian Eilert Architecture can handle anyone’s architectural and interior design project needs. Learn more about our work by visiting www.SebastianEilert.com. Get in touch at Sebastian@SebastianEilert.comor 786.556.3118.



One Rendering Challenge 2022: Competition Winners Announced! – Architizer Journal

Amazing rendering work images.

The Winners of the 3rd Annual One Rendering Challenge depict dramatic evolutions of architecture over time.
— Read on architizer.com/blog/competitions/one-rendering-challenge-2022-competition-winners-announced/



Plant derived plastic option!


Buzz Off: Plants That Naturally Repel Insects

There’s a lot to love about living in South Florida—the weather is excellent year-round, it’s a culturally diverse place, restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world and there’s plenty to do and see. There are a few things that may be not so great—that excellent weather is occasionally interrupted by hurricanes, for instance.

While you can’t do much about those, another occasional South Florida menace can be dealt with easily and beautifully. Insects love our climate as much as we do—there are over 12,500 species here—and everything from flying insects like mosquitoes, bees and wasps to creepy crawlies like beetles, earwigs and mantids can make spending time outdoors less than pleasant. The following plants are all perfect for our climate and excel at repelling the kind of insects we commonly have to deal with here.

Citronella

This plant is so good at repelling insects that its oil is commonly used in candles to give mosquitoes the buzz off. It’s also an attractive planting, growing in tall clumps typically five to six feet in height. It makes an excellent ground cover but also grows well in pots, providing it has full sun and good drainage.

Pitcher Plant

This one doesn’t repel insects so much as do away with them. It has a lot of exotic appeal … at least for anyone who isn’t too squeamish. Pitcher plants are the product of millions of years of evolution and are pretty amazing. They not only attract insects with scents that are irresistible to the little pests, but when the inquisitive bugs come calling, they’re in for a nasty surprise. They fall into the bulbous base, where they’re dissolved and digested by the carnivorous plant.

Marigolds

Many people might already have a pot or two of marigolds already planted on a patio or balcony and may not even be aware that these plants are excellent at repelling mosquitos. If you don’t already have some of these, they’re a gorgeous addition to your outside environment and can even be kept indoors. You’ll want to position these by doors or any windows that you might leave open to keep the biting pests out of your environment—and off your skin.

Lemongrass

This is a fun one—not only is it a beautiful addition to outside landscaping, but it smells lovely and can even make an excellent addition to your spice cabinet. Lemongrass can be used not only in Asian cuisine but is excellent in soup, salads and is perfect with many kinds of fish. It also contains citronella oil, so it has the same insect repelling qualities.

Lavender

This bushy, beautiful plant smells so good that many people will trim it and hang it in bunches near the entry points of their home, so visitors are greeted by the lovely scent. It doesn’t just smell and look good—it repels insects. Everything from mosquitoes to fleas can’t stand the stuff and making sachets of the flowers and leaving them in bureau drawers or hung in closets will keep moths from eating holes in your favorite sweaters.

Living Well Outside

Planting any of these botanical wonders will not only beautify your surroundings but also keep them insect-free. Most of them smell lovely, as well—and what smells good to us smells horrible to many of the insects that can ruin an otherwise pleasant evening outside.



Passive House Design Principles for New or Existing Homes

Passive House Design began in the 1970s as a response to the energy crisis and increased awareness of climate change. Based on incorporating principles intended to reduce energy needs for heating and cooling, this type of construction can be found all over the world and can be applied to anything from single-family homes to larger buildings. Here are some of the more accessible principles to incorporate.

Continuous, High-Quality Insulation

Perhaps the easiest passive house principle to include in existing structures, the concepts behind continuous and high-quality insulation are chiefly concerned with keeping heat or cooling inside the home and providing an energy barrier between external sources of energy transfer. The effectiveness of insulation is rated by its R-Value—the higher, the better.

When using cavity insulation, the framing material can still transmit energy through a process called thermal bridging. Thermal bridging detracts from energy efficiency and is especially problematic when metal framing is used. Continuous insulation, the more efficient system, can counteract this effect. It refers to a single continuous layer of insulation wrapping an entire structure.

Airtight Construction

While insulation helps guard against losing the energy needed to heat or cool interior spaces, it can’t do its job if the structure it’s installed in is leaking air. Airtight construction ensures direct air transfer, minimizing the amount of heating or cooling needed. Every home has necessary design elements like drains and vents that penetrate roofing or exterior walls and windows and doors must be fitted with adequate sealing (like gaskets or caulk) to avoid unintended energy loss.

Solar Heating and Shading

An ancient design principle, examples can be found in early architecture all over the world. Capturing the sun’s light for heating or blocking it to provide cooler interiors can be as easy as installing larger windows in an appropriate location or planting a tree outdoors to shield parts of a house from direct sun. Deciduous trees work well for this, as they’ll block the sun’s light in the hot summer months, but after losing leaves in late autumn, they will allow it through in the winter months.

Energy Recovery

An airtight house requires ventilation to bring in fresh air and vent CO2, moisture and built-up pollutants. This venting means air exchange, representing energy losses in heating or cooling air taken into a structure. A heat recovering ventilator continuously replaces stale air with fresh air without mixing the air streams, resulting in significant energy retention, sometimes as high as seventy-five percent.

Have a Passive House Project in Mind?

If you’re thinking of remodeling or redesigning an existing structure to incorporate passive house principles or would like to pursue a new construction project, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture for assistance. Committed to sustainable and ecologically responsible design, Sebastian is recognized as one of the thirty most influential sustainable design architects in the world, he is also available for consultation via email or phone.



Four Tips for Eco-Friendly Bathroom Cleaning

Most of us look at cleaning as a chore—especially true for bathrooms, as tight corners, grout and our hot and humid South Florida climate make for challenging work. Mold and mildew love heat and humidity, so there’s always grime to get rid of. If you’re environmentally conscious, this becomes doubly unpleasant because so many cleaning products contain harsh chemicals like ammonia, chlorine and formaldehyde. It’s terrible for your mood, bad for your health and bad for the planet. So, what can you do about it?

Green Cleaning

With these four simple tips, you can make cleaning the bathroom eco-friendly, more manageable and quicker. These techniques won’t require any more elbow grease than you’re used to and shouldn’t require a trip to the store. It may be surprising how well you can clean with vinegar and water, but both are potent solvents in their own right—and when combined, they’re even better.

1. Shine Up

Here’s a great example of how powerful white vinegar and water can be together. Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix and get to work cleaning reflective surfaces like mirrors, countertops and faucets. Spray on the vinegar and water mix, wait a few minutes and wipe clean. A baking soda paste can be applied before spraying for especially grimy situations.

2. Shower Power

The same mixture as above can be used to clean glass shower doors, but there’s an even better method. Soapy residue or the minerals in hard water can make cleaning glass shower doors dingy and hazy—and challenging to clean unless you know this trick. Pour straight white vinegar into a spray bottle and heat it in the microwave for a minute or so. Immediately spray the heated vinegar on your shower door (or really, any glass surface). Let it stand for about fifteen minutes, then wipe it away with something non0abrasive, like a soft cotton rag.

3. Rub-a-Dub Tub

Baking soda makes another appearance here and the vinegar/water mix with baking soda works well when cleaning tubs—but may require a little extra effort. To avoid breaking a sweat, combine a couple of tablespoons of baking soda with liquid dish detergent or Castile soap and generously apply this mixture to the sides and bottom of your tub. It’s great for cleaning grout, too, because you can use a toothbrush to get in there. Please don’t use an abrasive scrubber for the tub, as it might scratch the surfaces.

4. Last But Not Least: The Dreaded Toilet

Here’s one chore that’s almost universally regarded with dread: cleaning the toilet. It’s no one’s favorite task, but it has to be done (and you can always wash up afterward). That 50/50 vinegar and water mix comes in handy again here, but for extra cleaning power, you can add lemon juice or any essential oils you might have on hand, such as tea tree or lavender. Spray the surfaces to be cleaned with the vinegar and water mixture, then apply the baking soda with a sponge or toilet brush. Let it sit for ten or fifteen minutes, then scrub it off with a brush.

Cleaner and Greener

You don’t need to rely on cleaners with harsh chemicals and getting them out of your routine (and out of your house!) is better not only for your health but also for the health of the planet. Solutions that are good for the environment are also good for us and when you can feel good about chores like cleaning the bathroom, they’re easier to get through.



Top Five Plants That Clean Indoor Air

Plants can do much more than help bring color and life to a home’s interior. They’re a great addition to any room, are more sustainable than cut flowers and offer us a way to bring nature indoors. Though there are plenty of aesthetic reasons to include plants in a home redesign, there are practical ones, too.

We usually assume our indoor air is clean, but harsh or dangerous chemicals can often contaminate it from cleaning products, mold and pollen and volatile organic gasses that leach out of indoor materials like flooring and upholstery. We spend around 90 percent of our time indoors and the concentrations of some pollutants can be as much as two to five times higher than levels found outdoors.

There’s good news, though—house plants are an affordable, effective way to clean your indoor air and act as a natural filter to many kinds of pollution. Having ample greenery indoors also helps you sleep better, helps your immune system be more robust and can even help your ability to concentrate. Here are the top five plants that can help clean your indoor air.

1. Philodendron

There are many different plants in this genus, including the trend-setting large-leafed monstera. These plants were shown to be one of the best at reducing air pollution and purifying indoor air. They’re especially effective at removing formaldehyde, which can accumulate as building materials and home furnishings outgas over time. Perfect for our South Florida climate, these can be kept outdoors as well, but keep children and pets from eating the leaves, though, as they can be toxic.

2. Snake Plant

This household succulent will help filter indoor air in surprisingly effective ways. It’s not only excellent at eliminating toxins like benzene and formaldehyde, it’s one of only a few plants capable of converting carbon dioxide into oxygen without direct sunlight. This makes it ideal for bedrooms or rooms with low natural light access.

3. Areca Palm

This small, cluster-forming palm is one of the most efficient air purifiers and a native of Madagascar, giving it an exotic appeal. It’s a natural air cooler and scrubs indoor air of dangerous chemicals like acetone, toluene and xylene, which can accumulate due to the use of nail polish, certain detergents, some wooden furniture and even cosmetic products.

4. Spider Plant

This little wonder is a beautiful addition to your indoor spaces and is extremely easy to grow. It’s surprisingly effective at removing ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde and xylene, found in some cleaning products and furniture upholstery. One study found that it could remove as much as ninety percent of toxins found in indoor air in just two days.

5. Aloe Vera

Not only does this plant produce a naturally anti-bacterial gel inside its spiky leaves, but it also acts as an effective, natural air purifier. It’s excellent at removing toxic chemicals from indoor air, including benzene and formaldehyde, often present in cleaning products.

Breathe Easier With Sustainable Design

If you’re interested in other ways to make your indoor spaces greener, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to discuss design elements you can incorporate in new or existing buildings. Reachable by email or phone as well, Sebastian is recognized as one of the thirty most influential sustainable design architects in the world and is proud to be US Green Building Council accredited.



City Trees and Soil Are Sucking More Carbon Out of the Atmosphere Than We Thought