Miami Green Homes


Design after COVID 19. How the virus may affect architectural design for the home – Part II: work, friends, and family

There is no doubt that the “after” will bring with it some changes and lasting adjustments. After looking at how the home needs to adapt for our personal use, what changes may be needed for work from home and visiting friends and family?

In the home – Part II:

The first part of this question is relatively easy: “Remote work from home” now includes some area with a computer setup that has a reasonably clear background for video calls and conferences. Few homes are designed with an extra room or space with this function in mind, so there is another change that will be forthcoming for future design. A home office or home office nook will be a feature that will be standard in post COVID-19 residential design. Even for professions that do not need this setup for their basic livelihood, the feature is sure to become a standard, much like the entry foyer noted in the related post, in the home Part I. Beyond work, this area can be used for a new type of happy hour, remote classrooms and other social interactions. But what about multiple people working or learning from home in the same schedule? To create a home office space for each family member is not feasible, so creative partitions with sound isolation may be the answer.

Built-In Home Office Ideas by Paul Raff Studio

Integrated Home Office Design

Creating an office nook can present a solution to carve out space in an easy arrangement and configuration to shield from view and sound. Similar to an open studio setup, multiple stations may be created in this fashion. Designating an existing room, where possible, allows for more functional use and setup but may be especially challenging for renovations and existing homes that look to adapt. After all, most homes were not designed with a spare room for future use adaption in mind, a concept that will likely change in new design thinking – adaptability!

work nook
Front Entry to the Left, Office Nook to the Right

The challenge with creating a small space or using an existing room within the home however, lies with the psychological burnout, that is showing up in many workers already who are being “on” all the time. The kitchen becomes the breakroom to fill up on coffee, the living room reminds of the chores that are typically left for the end of the workday and the school books on the dining table remind of homework and classes that need attending to. The 8-hour workday stretched to 10 hours, to 12 hours, and blends with the home life. The workday itself is now part of the design challenge.

A better design solution is to revisit the home office space as a separate structure that allows for a mini commute, by taking a few steps into the office and when at lunch or at the end of the day returning to the home. Planning and zoning codes will need to change and adapt, to allow for this to happen. Auxiliary structures are already allowed under most zoning codes, but property size may restrict this function due to requirements for building separation, connectivity, and setbacks.

Let’s return to the design opportunity of the home office as a separate structure: Former site design program choices such as pool cabanas, covered BBQs, granny flats, or storage sheds now present the opportunity to create the at-home office studio instead. The design should be complete with a kitchenette to include the coffee maker, sink and a small refrigerator, etc. as well as a bathroom. This function can be accommodated within a fairly small footprint, 10’x 12’ to start. If more space is available, multiple stations for all members of the family, as well as a meeting area or miniature conference room may complete the layout.

Garden office ideas – garden office pods and garden office sheds ...

The work from home studio would likely be connected to the home with an open covered walkway and allow for independent direct access for clients and visitors from the outside. The home office transforms into a true work from home set up, and at the end of the day, the commute also reduces the carbon footprint!

Prefabricated design solutions provide a great opportunity for quick installation, rather than lengthy construction, as these spaces have urgent need. Design options are growing in this industry, including modern solutions, like the Coodo.

coodo

What about friends and family? The Home office studio ideally should not become the weekend hangout to maintain a dis-association form the work week. Instead, the transition into the home for visitors should start at the foyer, as noted for the personal use in Part I. Just like for our own use, this space will function as a transitional area that allows for an initial disinfecting and reduction of the viral load that comes into the home. Removing shoes should become standard as is already common practice in many cultures around the world. The focus now, however, is on minimizing the introduction of foreign particles. An integrated shoe storage compartment in the foyer will facilitate this process. Hand sanitizing stations and even a small sink may be items that are incorporated into the design. The latter will most certainly be part of the mudroom transitional space on larger homes that feature a garage. This access point, however, is unlikely to be used for friends and family.

Once the initial shedding has been completed more spacious furniture arrangements to allow for groups to maintain a small degree of physical distancing will influence future designs to create overall larger spaces. The need to fill these rooms with a lot of furniture should be balanced with the function and anticipation of people other than the immediate family. If the in-laws visit frequently or the home is the go-to spot for the crew to watch the game, keep it open and spacious.

powder room

Foyer with Powder Room

Already a popular design feature, the powder room will become an important post-COVIT element for families that have frequent visitors. The private bathrooms need to remain just that – private to avoid contamination. The solution is to provide a half-bathroom near the general living areas. Depending on the layout and adjacent functions, this room may expand to include a shower if connecting to the outside or other uses of the home and yard. The powder room should include a small changing area, think mini locker room, that double serves as guest storage and is large enough to comfortably allow for a change of clothes. Ideally, the location is in close proximity to the foyer as well.

Lastly, the space every party always ends up at. The kitchen! Already a focal point in the home for daily use, this is the spot that inevitably any group ends up at some point. To avoid close quarters, the center island, already a popular feature in larger homes will become the single most important post-COVIT-19 design feature. An accessible island without a cooktop or sink provides an excellent workstation during normal use, easily extends to include informal seating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and maintains good physical distance for gatherings – the larger the counter, the better.

SEA_SAKA-4664

Oversized Kitchen Island with Integrated lower seating counter – classic design style

Inspired to adapt your space or design your new homes yet?

www.SebastianEilert.com



Design after COVID 19. How the virus may affect architectural design for the home, Part I

There is no doubt that the “after” will bring with it some changes and lasting adjustments. After looking at how the office and office culture are likely affected, what do changes to the home may look like?

In the home – Part I:

“Shelter in place” and “remote work from home” are certainly familiar terms these days. But how does this cozy space need to change to continue to be the safe haven we all seek? The answer is linked to our daily use of familiar areas and activities.

Let’s start with the approach. Coming from the outside world; work, shopping, exercise, etc. into the home in South Florida its likely done by car. If you are lucky to have a garage, that will be the point of first contact. Otherwise, the front door will serve as this space. Technology is already widely available to assist with remote unlocking and opening, so the touchless entry is already safe and will likely expand into a standard feature. Materials used for hardware will also change to reflect easy cleaning and disinfecting. More apps are likely to make the transition from the approach into the house easy, sensor-based, and even remote.

The next space is the actual entrance. South Florida rarely features a true foyer as commonly found in northern regions. The main reason for this architecturally speaking is the lack of need to keep the cold out and shed all clothing relating to severe or unpleasant weather. This too will change by design. No longer concerned only with air condition leaking to the outside, the entrance vestibule or foyer will find its way into the updated post COVIT-19 designed home. This can be new or retrofit to create the buffer needed to bring items from the outside into the home and transition out of protective clothing as well as provide a first layer for viral shedding and reduced transmittal of possible contaminants. Doormats, filters, and UV cabinets for certain clothing may look futuristic but are likely to be integrated here with new materials and will take up some of this space.

mudroom

Mudroom transition from the garage into the house.

In more spacious homes this room may also be added as an interface between the garage and the house. Already a popular feature in new home design, the mud-room – a transitional space between garage and kitchen or pantry – no longer will be used for backpacks, school supplies, and large shopping trips only. It will now include a disinfection station and for front line workers, may include a disposable section, similar to a sharps or biohazard removal container setup.

Once inside the home, personal interactions will also be guided by hands-free decisions and upgrades. Appliances, light control, sound systems, faucets, showers, etc., are already integrating these features. More is sure to come, combing voice and motion activation. Think about your favorite Spaceship Enterprise stage setup…

Rain Shower Set System 20" x 14" with Touch Panel Smart Mixer and Remote Controlled LED - VAVALA Vavala FLUXURIE.COM

Free access – modern voice-command controlled shower

Lounging in the living area, working in the designated home station (look for part II B on more for this feature), or getting the well-deserved shut-eye are areas of personal use that should not change a great deal from current design preferences. The 2 most impacted areas are the bathroom and the kitchen. Following a typical daily routine, the first step once rolling out of bed, having told the alarm to stop ringing, would be the use of the toilet. Touch unavoidable by sitting down, but “clean-up” is changing. Besides the paranoia of purchasing toilet paper, there is no real need for this ancient relic in the post COVIT design. Paperless cleansing toilet seats do not just eliminate the need for paper, but will also reduce the need for touch; flushing voice active as well.

Touchless Toilet Seat Covers : Toilet Seat covers

The bathroom sink will also be touchless or voice-activated and will likely include some UV lighting to further incorporate disinfecting. This is more important upon the noted return to the home above, but will become a standard feature in the near future. Next is the shower, again simple already in place solutions for turning on/off, regulating temperature and pressure. Accessibility is likely to be the big winner not just though incorporating commands, but also by the increase in space to avoid tight areas more likely to touch someone or something, think shower curtains, versus a nice roll-in shower.

IMG_0628

Doorless shower access. Enlarged shower for easy access

On to the kitchen: The kitchen counter is already typically a biohazard, no matter how well it is maintained. We use it daily and materials will change to be both user friendly and sanitary. Microbial cutting surfaces and disinfectant under cabinet light are good choices. The fridge, appliances, and cooktops all will be retrofitted with voice commands and contribute to the touchless function of the kitchen space. Eating will hopefully still be manual !

10 Best Under Cabinet LED Lighting - (2020 Reviews & Guide)

With this increase in technology, reliable power and data will become paramount. An increased energy demand can be offset with photovoltaic systems and supported by other renewable energy resources. A designated server space will also find its way int the post COVID designed home, maybe with a pantry or otherwise near the kitchen for easy access.

With so many integrated features to make one s life better, how do we now interact with others inside the home? Look for part II about the family group, friends and family visiting, and the work at home environment.

Sebastian Eilert, AIA

PS: Side note about the daily routine. A great read I found is “A Million Years In A Day” by Greg Jenner, following the history of many of the daily routines and chores done in the home.



Design highlights. The Kitchen:

Kitchens are the number one request when looking to improve an existing home and are a vital key feature of any new design. New home projects allow to create kitchens as a feature of the overall style and are comparatively easy to design to the liking of the client.

viola-062

L-shape kitchen with recessed refrigerator – design by Sebastian Eilert Architecture. More images from this project can be found HERE.

The larger challenge can be found in renovations and additions. In existing home projects, the kitchen typically represents the largest cost item, and the choice between working within the existing area versus potentially relocating the entire thing, is a first and important step to consider. A simple upgrade of finishes rarely is a viable option to bring an outdated kitchen to modern standards. Moving and removing walls to allow for an expansion typically require new plumbing and electrical work. Next are the selection of cabinet and countertop style and color. Styles are primarily defined by the doors and drawer faces as well as support legs, if applicable. Classic shaker, simplified shaker and smooth are some of the most popular choices. Look for our previous post on countertop options beyond the typical Granite.

As for the kitchen itself, the most common are L-shaped, island style, alley or a combination of them. Laying out a kitchen there are a couple of items to consider. In the design world we refer to the “kitchen triangle” as the relation between the refrigerator, the sink and the cooktop or stove; the 3 key items in preparing meals. These items want to relate in such a way that items can be moved, prepared and cooked without having to cross path with other users or long distances. Accidents happen, but when the sink and cooktop are at opposite ends, the probability increases for slips, drips and spills. Other items such as dishwasher, microwave, cleaning utensils and garbage, including separate recycling options, must also be located with thought. A kitchen is as much about looks as it is about function.

triangles

typical triangle relations for sink, cooktop and refrigerator.

In the design layout the next choices are whether to have an inward or outward facing kitchen. This depends on the user. Some users like to do their cooking in private and then turn around to entertain. Others prefer to see outward to keep a command center while preparing meals and more. Next, there is the question of incorporated seating; a wonderful functioning option. While the 80’s boasted raised bars to have family and guests peek into the kitchen, modern design is more likely to feature either a larger integrated seating area or a slightly lowered included section of the counter or island at table height.

santos%2006_3184

kitchen with island and lowered seating/eating counter. glass and Quartz countertops – design by Sebastian Eilert Architectrure. More images from this project can be found HERE.

Lastly, there is the question of storage. When possible, a pantry is a great option to house food and other products. Installing a counter in the pantry also allows to get some smaller appliances off the main kitchen counter while keeping them in close proximity for use.

Whatever your choice, work with your design professional to create your dream kitchen. It is after all the heart of the home.



Countertops and such…

No kitchen is complete without the proper countertop. From the recent increase of kitchen renovations in my practice, I like to share some of my favorite counter tops and also shed some light on the most commonly used materials and their properties.

A few years ago I came across this neat breakdown of the most typical materials:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is looking at items such as heat retention, damage to surface and stain damage. The reviews are in line with my own observations, so I have to agree with the provided breakdown. Indeed Soapstone, crowned the winner by the author of the comparison, is also my favorite. It is a soft stone, very easy to maintain and quite durable. It also is not prone to chipping and does not retain heat, which makes it great for a kitchen with active children. The downside of Soapstone? The cost and the color. The stone comes in dark shades, black to green. The cost is also about $45-$75, which makes it at par or even more costly than the all popular Granite. The upside, there is US Soapstone available out of Vermont…

I have used the stone as a contrast to white cabinets and colorful backsplashes very successfully.

Soapstone Countertops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A material absent from the list are some of the newer composite materials that frequently contain recycled content and thus make them a great option for projects seeking LEED or other green building certification. I have been partial to a product called CesarStone and have used it, which contains 30% recycled content or more, in a number of projects. The clients have been satisfied across the board. One of the benefits of these man-made materials is that they tend to have a excellent color spectrum and particle options (how large and what kind of chips you can see).

Ceasarstone Countertop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what material should you choose for your kitchen renovation? My recommendation is to make a list of the most important features and then consider the color and feel of the kitchen as a whole… it will rule out some of the options. The final decision will probably also consider cost.

 

Ready to get started on your kitchen upgrade? Call SEA today…



The South Florida kitchen

The kitchen is in many cases the main space of the house and there is great opportunity to create a true masterpiece. The kitchen offers a number of sustainable opportunities, probably more than any other room in the house.

To start lets separate outdoor and indoor kitchens. This post will focus more on indoor kitchens. Part II, will be posted at a later date.

Since energy use is one of the quickest ways to make decisions about starting a project and generally have the fastest payback and the most incentives, let’s start with this topic. There are of course the appliances used in the kitchen. Look for Energy Star appliances to start. If you want to go more high-end, carefully investigate that energy uses and benefits of your selected equipment. The choices are plenty.

New Open Kitchen

Stove: efficient cook tops are available but to really go green, go with gas. Many say that it not just saves energy but also cooks better. It certainly cooks faster in many instances. Consider a combination steam oven for your baking needs. These machines are a bit more versed and also use less energy than conventional ovens.

When using your oven, forfeit the pre heat time and also turn the oven off a few minutes before your dish is done. The heat will not escape at a noticeable rate until you open the door, saving you energy before and after…

Dishwasher: if you have a large household, the water savings justify using this neat machine rather than hand wash. The magic number is 3 or more people living in your household. There are many great models that will not just save you energy, but also save you water. My favorite brand is Miele.

Fixtures: get the low flow fixture for your kitchen that has a moveable multifunction head rather than 2 separate units for fixed and flexible use. Again, I recommend to look for the German manufacturers. There are many stunning designs that have a flow rate of 1.8 gallons or less. You can also save energy by not running your hot water to the kitchen, depending on the layout of the house. If it is a long run, consider just adding a small on demand unit to the kitchen sink.

Lighting: If you can’t stand the heat… exactly. Lighting can contribute substantially to the heat load in the kitchen. Here more than in any other room in the house, use cool lighting. The CCT – Correlated Color Temperature level indicated the “blue” appearance of LED lights. Typical car lights are about 4000. You may want to go with a 3500 in the kitchen; still bright but a bit warmer. 3000 is generally recommended for living and bedrooms, you can use the brighter light in the kitchen. LED lights are the preferred choice for me. More on LED lights here.

Hollywood Condo kitchen

Layout: remodeling your kitchen is a great way to improve some of the natural features your space has to offer as well as improve on the flow and use for this space. There is the general consideration of the “kitchen triangle”; the use of stove, sink and refrigerator. If you have space, I recommend the integration of a center island. This is where your designer really makes a difference, so call me to set up an appointment to upgrade YOUR kitchen.

Materials: a kitchen must be warm and user-friendly as well as easy to clean. Countertops, cabinetry and flooring are the main players for the kitchen. There a number of recycled content counters available, so leave the granite top behind; try some recycled glass, reclaimed wood or pressed recycled paper…

For the floor, choose large component tiles (24 x 24 or larger to minimize grout lines) or solid surfaces like polished concrete. Wood replacements are generally not recommended for the kitchen, as this is the space that is likely cleaned most frequent.

For the cabinets, go with FSC wood, or ensure that a composite board is Urea Formaldehyde free! Your carpenter can and should verify this information!

And finally to the best of South Florida: year round vegetation! This means that you can grow your on herbs and even some veggies year round, and it also means that composting is an easy must…

…more to come in future posts; including the South Florida Outdoor kitchen.

If you like to get started on your own kitchen renovation, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture today:

786.556.3118 Sebastian@SebastianEilert.com

www.SebastianEilert.com

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Alcaraz – Arango kitchen & Florida room upgrade – Coral Gables

Pending but a few details, this project is complete and in working order… working well indeed. The project is a green renovation of the existing kitchen, breakfast area and family room into a contemporary masterpiece with a strong focus on sustainable features.

The project started off with German kitchen cabinets from Akzent-Miami, www.Akzent-Miami.com, lead by Christina Raidt. These cabinets are formaldehyde free MDF, glass and Melamin. A perfect non toxic base in a very stylish design. The layout took out the original very small, dark and enclosed kitchen to remove all walls and connect the three spaces into one large open space with the kitchens master, owner Eva Alcaraz-Arango, at its heart.

The stove was placed in the very center and provides the focus of the kitchen. Keeping in line with the correct kitchen use triangle, refrigerator, sink and stove are arranged in a function focused constellation. The new cabinets provide plenty of storage from both sides on the lower counter side and full height on the back wall. Here we also find durable high end appliances and a smart integration of small appliances into the design: a central storage unit with a overhead door to quickly hide the little gadgets when company is present. The low counter, containing recycled glass from Trend USA, www.TrendGroup-USA.com, held in white is easy to clean and provides a sleek foundation that ties the areas together. The low water use, energy efficient dish washer is tucked under the counter and blends in well. Over to the side is an even lover glass top that serves as the new breakfast area. More storage, in the form of a floating cabinet provides the focal point for this side of the space. A few accent lights from Artemide, www.artemide.us, give a hint of color and pick up the subtle tones from the cabinet glass. These lights illuminate the breakfast table and also provide accents along the wall and corridor that is connecting the east and west side. The remaining lights are LED recess for energy efficiency. All lights are installed on dimmers for lighting level control.

The Florida room features a custom build cabinet to house all toys, appliances, books and the bar. The design was inspired by the floor plan of the kitchen, to unconsciously connect the entrie space. Windward Associates , www.WindwardAssociates.net, provided the work. Another notable feature is the reclaimed wood floor that was salvaged from the original layout and installed along the corridor. The new slate floor is a worm, soft stone that in its dark color roots the project into place.

Final touches were provided with Sherwin Williams Harmony paint to ensure another non toxic component of this project. Overall the strong focus on usability, functionality and sustainability were all achieved in this wonderful new kitchen. Presto!

 

Design. Consult. Educate.

Sebastian Eilert Architecture, www.SebastianEilert.com

 

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