Gregg and I were married in California on September 13, 2008. Ther were many New Yorkers in attendance. We are so happy for the News out of New York State this weekend. We applaud Governor Cuomo for Championing the cause. Gregg and I, to be very honest with you,  are not totally sure of the state of our marriage in California. We believe it to be a valid marriage even as  Propostion 8 is still be fought  in the courts. The marriages that were made that summer were not declared invalid, nor have they tried to forcibily divorce us, yet.  New York has always been a champion of civil rights and frankly the “shit show” that has occured in California needs to be resolved soon. Let’s look to New York for inspiration and leadership. Meanwhile follow the Prop 8 Trial Tracker put up by the Courage Campaign. I Love New York!

Stylish and Sustainable Bicycles

The desire for the perfect summertime bike, complete with a comfy seat and a wicker basket is a  yearly fetish that breezes in with Summer just  as the perfect pair of boots blows in with the Fall.  Over the past ten years, I have acquired several “fixer- upper” bikes from  yard sales.  Visions of  grandeur  accompanied every one, a “simple” paint job here, and cute little basket there. (..some new tires, brakes..) Let’s just say, my husband was never thrilled with my  “rescue projects” that  never served a purpose beyond invading space in the garage.  After 10 years together, he possibly thinks I do not even know how to ride one.

my fix
Because we just moved back into the bike- friendly neighborhood where I lived for fifteen years and where my main mode of transportation was my trusty two-wheeler, I can feel an itch for that perfect summer–cycle beginning to kick in. Top that with a probable resolution for fitting exercise into my busy schedule. The high cost of gas.  The environmental benefits…. and I think it is time to satisfy that nagging itch.

design story, public bike, colorful, rides smooth, dream ride, comfort, basket, seat

But, how to decide on what bike? There are so many beauties out there these days.

Design Story just featured the Public bike.  An urban bike that “rides like butter” and includes all the options like baskets, bags and bells.  They are great- looking bikes with  colors to suit everyone.  They seem to be inspired by the bikes John and Gregg used to get around Paris last summer.

velib, paris, biking in paris, france

And then there is this bright and cheery Abuela 3 Speed  we spotted at Cb2 last week during our furniture shopping extravaganza. It has “Summer”  written all over it.

bamboo bike,bicycle, bamboo, vintage, indonesian, classic, cruiser, fun, concept bicycles, fold up, space saving, travel, friendly, lightweight, high tech, cutting edge, ersabikes, nathan durflinger,design,summer, cb2, outdoors, exercise, basket, eco-friendly, sustainable,

Did you know that Urban Outfitters now has a Bike Shop?  I just designed my custom bike (or 5) here.  With four bike styles and an array of color choices from the frame all the way to the bell, you can get as outrageous as you like for under $500.

urban outfitters, bikes, custom, fun colors, endless possibilites

Another dreamy-cycle of mine is the bamboo bike.  I passed one up at a local vintage shop for under $200, and kick myself every year as the cycle hunt begins. would-a, could-a, should-a.

bamboo bike,bicycle, bamboo, vintage, indonesian, classic, cruiser, fun, summer, outdoors, exercise, basket, eco-friendly, sustainable,

But then, maybe this is what I have been waiting for.  For some reason Angelina Jolie comes to mind.

If you like the sustainable, eco-friendly bamboo idea, but are more advanced in your riding skills, check out Fashioncraz top 5 Bamboo Bicycles.

For those who do not like to ride alone, this eco-friendly tandem bicycle is sure to turn some heads.


bamboo bike,bicycle, bamboo, vintage, indonesian, classic, cruiser, fun, concept bicycles, fold up, space saving, travel, friendly, lightweight, high tech, cutting edge, ersabikes, nathan durflinger,design,summer, outdoors, exercise, basket, eco-friendly, sustainable,

On the more cutting edge note, there are these Concept Bicycles called Versabikes – A Nathan Durflinger Design.

bamboo bike,bicycle, bamboo, vintage, indonesian, classic, cruiser, fun, concept bicycles, fold up, space saving, travel, friendly, lightweight, high tech, cutting edge, ersabikes, nathan durflinger,design,summer, outdoors, exercise, basket, eco-friendly, sustainable,

More great bicycles from HabitusLiving including these unusual designs..VANMOOF.  Gary Galego’s Carbonwood.  Jelly Bean Bike


Top Image credit, catbagan, via Flikr

A Match Made in Hollywood: Billy Haines and Joan Crawford

William “Billy” Haines was what we like to call a triple threat: He could act, he could dance, and he could…decorate? That last skill came in handy when MGM caught wind of Haines’ having a boyfriend and quickly wanted to find Haines a bride for publicity purposes; when he refused, he was fired. Performance career over, Haines opened a decorating business and brought high style to Hollywood homes for nearly 50 years.  Among many of his famous clients was Joan Crawford, a frequent costar and lifelong friend.

The handsome Billy Haines takes a respite on a chaise longue designed by Haines.

Billy’s good friend Joan Crawford poses in different rooms of her Hollywood home which Haines decorated. Gorgeous!

Joan Crawford, a timeless beauty.

Billy Haines’  influence is still present today with the popularity of Hollywood Mid-Century style. Here are a few images of John and Gregg’s home in Montecito, CA.

The couch in their glamourous living room is a Billy Haines original! Small world!

John and Gregg’s peaceful courtyard evokes simple Hollywood elegance.

billy haines, william Haines, furniture desgn, commision, jack Warner, Warner Stidios, 1930's

Haines has designed some great modern classics such as The Elbow Chair,  and the sofa commisioned in the 1930’s for Jack Warner.  Ironically, the home featured above was owned prior to John and Gregg by another famed Jack Warner of the architecture firm, The Warner Group.

To learn more about Billy Haines, pick up a copy of this wonderful book which features Billy and Joan on the cover!

Our New Airport Terminal in Santa Barbara has a Channing Peake Mural!

Photo: Santa Barbara Historical Society

At first, nearly everyone’s response is ‘What?  Why does tiny Santa Barbara need a new airport terminal?’  I mean really, it is a small town, and the original terminal from 1942 is one of California’s treasures of aviation.  Quaintness personified.  Not particularly modern, but quaint.  Being members of the ‘airport community’ because we own a Beechcraft Bonanza,  and it’s our home airport, we are naturally fascinated with what’s happening at our home airport.  What we were mostly unaware of were the deficiencies in the existing 7000 square foot terminal building.  For example, there were no bathrooms in the gate area, and the baggage claim was outside.  So what.  What we also did not know is that it was bursting at the seams due to increased TSA requirements and increased traffic flow by more than 30% in the past 10 years.

So we have been following the new 60,000 square foot terminal building with curiosity and, as we are designers and builders, intrigue as to how the architecture would come together.  It was heartening to watch the structure take shape over the past couple of years and see the local architectural vernacular incorporated into the design.  That is when we started, albeit begrudgingly at first, to get excited about the change!

Channing Peake Mural at the Santa Barbara Airport

On a practical level, it will be nice to have a more efficient place to check in, breeze through security and to board aircraft through a jetway.  In addition, to have a nice facility as our town’s ‘Ambassador’ will be a bonus, but when we found out that the structure was slated to be LEED Silver and would qualify for LEED Gold status, we were especially pleased about these efforts in sustainability.  The architecture has been considerate of local artisans, and with our own appreciation of Channing Peake, arguably one of the greatest 20th Century artists of Santa Barbara  and a great California Cubist, Modernist and Muralist, we were happy to learn that a large mural of Peakes’ was installed and graces a  wall on the departures level at the top of the Escalator.

The Gala grand opening was a fun and exciting event for us.  John (right) and I were photographed in front of a vintage United Airlines DC-3 with our friend Marni Blau and her new Jimmy Choos. Not in Jimmy Choos, is our good friend and John’s first flight instructor Andrea Read owner of Spitfire Aviation.


Earth Friendly Father’s Day Gift Ideas

With Father’s day right around the corner I have taken it upon myself to do some research so that I could supply  you with some great gift ideas for your Dad as well as the Earth!

If you want to treat your Dad to a spa day, but he doesn’t have the time to go, bring the spa to him. Kiehl’s has great all natural products for men that will surely transport him to a peaceful place. Better yet, he can use them every day! A great beauty product is definitely the gift that keeps on giving.

If you  want to pamper your Dad even more, how about a luxurious robe made from an all natural, sustainable material? Check out this plush robe made out of bamboo. Look at the smile this guy has;  now that is how every Father should look on his day!

If your Dad is more into cool new gadgets, help him protect his iPhone and/or  iPad with a case made from sustainable materials!

Also a great place to shop for Dad is Etsy, where you can find great one of a kind, handmade pieces. If you end up getting Dad something from Etsy  I guarantee you that it will be unique. Check out these vintage lighter cufflinks. Buying vintage is a great way to recycle!

Whatever you end up getting for your Father, make sure to include a note letting him know how much he means to you! I know that my and my sister’s cards are always my Dad’s favorite part!

Our Road to a LEED Platinum Home

Gregg and I decided to build a green and sustainable home as our latest project. We chose to use the LEED for Homes program to guide us and ultimately certify that we had achieved our goals and built a sustainable and

highly energy efficient luxury home near the beach in Montecito. We wanted the home to be as close to “net zero” as possible. First of all, LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a green building certification system. LEED was developed under the auspices of USGBC, US Green Building Council.

Our luxury beach home, with FSC-certified ipe siding.

We are proud to announce that we have successfully passed our final inspections for attaining LEED Platinum Certification. Our LEED Green Rater will now submit our file to Davis Energy Group, our LEED for HOMES Provider for final verification prior to USGBC certifying our projects as LEED Platinum. This achievement happened because of the stellar team we assemble to guide us through the process from the onset of the design of this home. Our process was a follows:

1. Understand the LEED requirements and establish a goal for energy efficiency and level of LEED certification that we felt we could achieve.

2. Hire a planning expert with a sustainable design background.

3. Hire a Green Rater to guide the team through the sometime daunting LEED checklist while developing the design of the home and site.

4. Get everybody on the design team on board and aligned with our goals including Landscape Architect, Structural Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, and our Architectural team….and of course the Builder.

5+. Design, Build, and Document, Document, Document all along the way. It seems a daunting task, but with the right team, and a methodical process and a determination not to fail, suddenly we were there.

Patsy Stadelman our land use planning and LEED consultant with “The Notebook.”

The method by which the LEED standards are tested and verified was interesting to eveybody on the team. One of the major components of a sustainable home is its energy efficiency. Our HERS Rater did the testing of the mechanical and solar photovoltaic systems of the house to ensure that we were meeting all of the energy effiecieny criteria within the allowed tolerances and that the ventilation system was functioning correctly. HERS means Home Energy Rating System. The following photos show what that testing process looks like.

The Blower Door Test determines how airtight the house is.

Shellie Collier, our Green Rater and Kevin Rasmussen,

our HERS Rater testing the air flow rate of the bathroom exhaust fans.

Our goal was at least 50 cfm (cubic feet per minute). We passed with flying colors!

Kevin Rasmussen and Tom Burt, our solar installer verifying that the solar photovoltaic system was installed and is performing properly. It does which means we’re also eligible for a rebate through California’s New Homes Solar Partnership. Better yet, we’re already selling electricity back to the grid!

Building a sustainable home is not just about the building itself, it’s also about responsibly developing the rest of the property too. We incorporated lots of features into the design of the site to save and reuse water by using drought tolerant plants, installing green roofs (see previous post), routing all of the runoff from the roofs to an on-site rainwater cistern, and installing a high-efficiency irrigation system with a rain sensor.

Drought Tolerant Live Roof or Green Roof

This 5000 gallon cistern will collect rainwater from the roofs which will be reused for irrigation.

Inside the house we selected high efficiency water fixtures to minimize water use and Energy Star appliances and LED lighting to minimize energy use. We also selected products with low or no VOCs to make the home a healthy environment in which to live. For example, we chose no VOC paint and used ultra-low VOC glues and adhesives to secure the floor and selected cabinetry that contained no added urea formaldehyde (NAUF). Urea formaldehyde has been found to emit formaldehyde gasses and are commonly used in plastic furniture, new carpeting, and many other plastics or vinyl materials as well as in pressed woods such as particle board. These items typically emit more of the gases the newer they are and can cause health problems.

We chose exotic zebra wood cabinetry because we loved the look, but make sure it was FSC-certified and contained NAUF.

All of the exterior and interior surface mounted light fixtures are LED and all of the pendant lights in the house will have LED bulbs.

LED Lighting for LEED Platinum Home

Through it all, with the help of Marborg Industries, we were able to divert 89% of our construction waste from the landfill.

We couldn’t have done it without a great team committed to sustainability and excited about being a true leader in the luxury home building industry.

John Cole, LEED AP ,our Construction Site Superintendent and LEED team leader on site. Patsy Stadelman, Planner and LEED consultant who coordinated the entire process for all of the consultants; Shellie Collier, LEED Green Rater and Gregg Wilson, my partner and Builder.


Best of Houzz 2014 - Design
This professional's portfolio was voted most popular by the Houzz community.
Awarded on January 30, 2014