Author Archive

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

Carpet Over Radiant Floor Heating System?

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

Yes, carpet works very well over a radiant floor heating system. In fact, almost any flooring material may be installed over a radiant floor. The key to installing wall-to-wall carpet is using the proper padding material. Radiant floor systems work best with slab foam rubber carpet pad. SFRP is a superior carpet pad, providing a better “feel” than standard carpet pads and transferring heat exceptionally well.

Interested in radiant heating? Check out Warmboard.

Italian Village Warms withs First Winter Sunrise in 800 Years

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Viganella is an Italian alpine village where between Nov 11 and Feb 2 the sun does not rise above the mountains.

Christoph at anArchitecture blog posts news that the village has installed a large motorized mirror that tracks the sun and reflects sunlight down to the village.

The sun coming up everyday…living well!

New F.A.R. Zoning may Allow BIGGER Houses

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

In a strange twist to the trend of further restriction on Westchester zoning codes, the Town of Spring Valley has proposed to increase the floor area ratios (FAR) for single and multi-family residences.

Yes, I know…Spring Valley is on the “far side” of the river in Rockland County, but…

The proposal, if approved, will increase the town’s FAR limits from 30 percent to 55 percent. The change is in response to the neighboring town, Ramapo, increasing its FAR to 90% for one small zoning district bordering Spring Valley.

Although it may feel like every town in the Tri-State Area is restricting property owners’ rights to suffocating limits (and this may be true for Westchester…I don’t know), I just wanted to highlight some that are bucking the trend.

Hardware for the Holidays

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

Door knobs are some of the few pieces in your home that visitors actually touch. A well crafted, solid cast door knob can instantly tell a visitor that your home is well built throughout.

The Nanz Company crafts some of the most beautiful hardware in the world. The above lead crystal knob is hand cast and polished using the same techniques and manufacturers that were being used in the 1880s.

If you can’t find what you want in the online catalog (and I would be surprised if you don’t), they can also fabricate custom built-to-order pieces.

All Nanz hardware is hand-crafted in their factory located in Brooklyn, NY. Their uptown Manhattan showroom is located at 213 East 59th Street and is open to the public from 9 to 6.

North Castle Proposes New Residential Zoning Standards

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

The Town of North Castle is proposing legislation that will add several new residential development standards including,

“(1) floor area ratio (FAR) controls, (2) gross land coverage (impervious surface) limitations, (3) a maximum exterior wall height limit, (4) environmental subtractions and (5) minimum contiguous buildable area requirements.”

“The basic purposes of these new residential development standards include protecting community character…”

Read the complete text on the North Castle website.

Viking “Ultra-Premium” Oven

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Viking Range has introduced a new line of “Ultra-Premium Premiere” ovens. In addition to a full list of ultra-premium features, the Premieres come with an ultra-cool TimePiece clock.

Living Well in Westchester

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Eating dinner in our dining room with my wife and children. I think that might be my favorite part of our newly renovated house in Chappaqua.

We added a new second floor design studio for Annmarie and space for a new kitchen (temporary cabinets are serving us well while we again save our pennies for the kitchen of our dreams). We renovated the bathroom, converted the basement into a playroom for the kids and expanded the obsolete 6’x8’ dining room.

Our stucco cottage in the woods of Hardscrabble was built as a nine hundred square foot summer retreat for a Manhattan physician and his family. The New Castle building department dates the house to 1934. Used during summer weekends, the original house had a minimal kitchen and no need for a dining room.

Annmarie and I bought the house in the summer of 1997 from its second owner. For nine years we lived with the original kitchen and ate our meals on a card table set with a tablecloth in the corner of our living room. This situation was fine for a young newlywed couple, but became a bit crowded as our family slowly grew to eleven (two boys, two dogs and five cats).

In August of 2005 we moved out of the house and in with Annmarie’s parents. Today we are back in Chappaqua and almost finished with the project (except for the kitchen). A few doors need to be cased and we have plans to install paneling on the dining room walls within the next few weeks.

It is great to be home. Annmarie has a great place to work. The boys each have their own bedroom, and even though the kitchen is temporary, it works so much better than the original space (the 1934 kitchen was so small, we had to locate the refrigerator down a flight of stairs in the basement). The insulated walls and new windows are doing a great job of keeping us warm during cold December nights.

The warmth. The convenience. The architecture. Our stucco cottage in the woods is more than we ever imagined. We are very blessed. But more than any of that which I may see or touch, most of all, I love sitting down in our new dining room for a warm meal with Annmarie and my boys. For me, that’s what “Living Well in Westchester” is all about.

Be cool…quietly.

Friday, December 8th, 2006

UNICO systemLast week, John Whalen and I trekked into Manhattan from our Pleasantville studio to visit the Center for Architecture. AIA New York was hosting a continuing education seminar on Small Duct High Velocity (SDHV) heating and air conditioning systems.

SDHV systems have been around for years, but have had a bad reputation for being very noisy. The conditioned air is delivered into a space through small diameter ducts at about 2000 feet per minute. Conventional HVAC systems perform that same task at about 500 feet per minute. That concentrated high speed air, in older SDHV systems, had a habit of whistling an annoying tune.

The UNICO System has solved that problem at both ends of their small ducts. The air handling units are designed to isolate noise and vibration. In addition, their uniquely designed supply tubes are lined with sound-dampening, spun-bond nylon, providing quiet comfort.

In addition to being whisper quiet, other advantages to the system are:

John likes the system so much, he is planning to install it in the house he is building with his brothers in Montauk.

How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change the World?

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

The September issue of Fast Company magazine has a great article on compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).

“…if every one of 110 million American households bought just one ice-cream-cone bulb, took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.”