Couple converts $7,000 Joshua Tree cabin into a sophisticated desert oasis

April 19, 2018 by  
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When Kathrin and Brian Smirke decided to buy an abandoned property in the desert landscape of Joshua Tree for $7,000, they knew that they had a massive undertaking on their hands. The old cabin , which dated back to 1957, had been left rotting in the desert for years. But with a lot of vision and hard work, the ambitious duo converted the 480-square-foot homestead into a beautiful desert oasis. The couple chronicled the massive renovation project they lovingly call “The Shack Attack” on their blog, We Are in Our Element . The poor state of the structure meant gutting the interior down to the base boards to start fresh. Over a period of two years, the couple revamped the cabin into a beautiful desert home. “We spent over a year planning, demolishing, building, planning again, building, and then finally decorating this little gem,” Kathrin explains. “What makes this home special is that we did a lot of the work ourselves, including the design, complete demolition, framing, plumbing, trim electrical, and we even built a lot of the interior fixtures and art.” Related: Stunning Lucid Stead Cabin Reflects the Colors and Movements of the Mojave Desert The process was quite detailed, with the Smirkes focused on reducing the project’s footprint at every turn. They also had to deal with several building restrictions included in the sale of the property, namely not being allowed to increase the square footage of the structure. Nevertheless, they were determined to fit a comfortable living room, kitchen, full bathroom, and bedroom that would accommodate a king-size bed into the compact space . Using various reclaimed materials, they converted the space into a light-filled home. Large sliding glass doors in the entrance and the bedroom open the interior up to incredible views as well as an abundance of natural light. Additionally, they managed to salvage some materials from the original building – Brian created a few decorative pieces by repurposing timber from the original structure. In the kitchen, Kathrin and Brian formed and poured the concrete countertops themselves and made the floating shelves out of leftover clear pine and plywood. At the back of the home is a compact sleeping area that fits a comfortable king-size platform bed. Again, multiple windows in the room add a light and airy touch to the small space. To take full advantage of the desert landscape , the couple put a lot of work into creating a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. A large covered porch offers stunning views. But, without a doubt, the heart of the project is the outdoor bathtub, an old water trough painted white. Surrounded by a wooden deck, this is the ultimate space for relaxing while the desert sun sets. The Shack Attack is available to rent via Airbnb throughout the year. + We Are in Our Element Via Dwell Images via We Are in Our Element

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Couple converts $7,000 Joshua Tree cabin into a sophisticated desert oasis

This couple turned an old RV into a five-person home for just $3,000

April 5, 2018 by  
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Renovating an old RV is no easy feat, but ambitious couples are taking on the challenge with some seriously incredible results. When sky-high rental prices in California forced Ashley and Dino Petrone to look for alternative housing options for their family, they decided to convert a 2003 Cougar Keystone camper into one very sophisticated living space. Although it’s a mere 180 square feet, their new home is spacious enough for their large family and includes a beautiful interior design. Even more surprising, the family spent just $11,000 to create the tiny home of their dreams. The Petrones sold their five-bedroom house with hopes of building their dream home on land they purchased in Ventura, California. However, they needed a place to live while they built it. Soaring rental prices in California forced the couple to look for an alternative living situation; they solved this problem by purchasing a dilapidated Keystone camper for $8,000 and spending just $3,000 to renovate it, proving once again that brilliant home design doesn’t have to be expensive. Related: Family of five moves from a 2,100-square-foot-house to a beautifully renovated school bus After purchasing the camper, they gutted the entire rundown interior, saving absolutely nothing. “The state of the RV was old and blue and dirty. The curtains were horrible and huge and the whole feeling just felt dark,” explained Ashley. They kicked off the renovation by ripping out the camper’s carpet and replacing it with beautiful pale timber flooring. They took down the original wallpaper in the camper and replaced with it chic wooden trim. They also replaced all of the old kitchen cabinetry, as well as the built-in furniture, which took up too much space. An Ikea desktop was custom cut for the new kitchen in order to make the space as efficient as possible. Once the camper’s shell had been renovated, the family began to add custom furniture and storage solutions that would help avoid clutter. The living space is light and airy, with an abundance of natural light . The family’s sleeping quarters take up the opposite sides of the camper, with the parents in the master bedroom at one end and the kids in triple bunk beds at the opposite end. Throughout the space, the decoration is minimal, but sophisticated – the Petrones found most of the items at garage sales or discount stores. The family posts updates on their fabulous RV conversion on their website, Arrows and Bow , as well as on their Instagram page . + Arrows and Bow Via Dwell Photographs courtesy of Arrows and Bow

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This couple turned an old RV into a five-person home for just $3,000

104% of Portugal’s electricity consumption in March came from renewable energy

April 5, 2018 by  
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March was a good month for renewable energy in Portugal . The country’s monthly clean energy production exceeded demand, according to a report from the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association (APREN) and the Sustainable Earth System Association (ZERO). And this likely won’t be the last time Portugal obtains so much power via clean sources; the report said, “Last month’s achievement is an example of what will happen more frequently in the near future.” APREN, citing data via power grid operator REN , said mainland Portugal’s electricity consumption was 4,647 gigawatt-hours (GWh). In March, there were 4,812 GWh of renewable electricity produced, accounting for 103.6 percent of electricity consumption. It wasn’t a completely clean month —  Reuters  said fossil fuel plants complemented the supply during short periods, but those periods “were nevertheless fully compensated by others of greater renewable production,” according to APREN’s report. Related: This German village generates 500% more energy than it needs Wind and hydropower accounted for 42 and 55 percent, respectively, of the monthly consumption. Portugal’s adoption of renewable energy allowed the nation to avoid 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions . The average daily wholesale market price dropped to 39.75 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh), compared against the price of 43.94 euros per MWh during the same period the previous year. The report said, “…it is expected that by 2040 the production of renewable electricity will be able to guarantee, in a cost-effective way, the total annual electricity consumption of mainland Portugal. However, it will eventually be necessary, here and then, the use of natural gas power plants, aggregated to interconnections and storage.” IFLScience said Portugal aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. While this recent milestone is exciting, Portugal, home to around 10.3 million people, isn’t large; for comparison, Beijing’s population is more than double that at around 21.7 million people . + Portuguese Renewable Energy Association Via Reuters and IFLScience Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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104% of Portugal’s electricity consumption in March came from renewable energy

Meet the Monocabin, a tiny home rental mere steps from the Aegean Sea

March 15, 2018 by  
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Milan-based Mandalaki Design Studio has created the gorgeous all-white Monocabin – a prototype for micro-living rentals located on the Greek island of Rhodes. At just over 270 square feet, this micro-home is made out of modular concrete panels and inspired by the island’s traditional architecture – which is simple, clean and cozy. This miniature piece of Greek holiday heaven, which is just steps away from the Aegean Sea, can currently be rented on Airbnb . The Monocabin’s modular concrete panels give the structure a traditional yet modern feel. The interior space, with a “hidden” bedroom and compact kitchen and living area, is simple but elegant. The walls, as well as most of the furnishings, are completely white, exuding an ethereal character. Related: Cool micro studio in Budapest makes the most out of 344 square feet Large and small windows located in every room provide plenty of natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting. Additionally, Mandalaki’s own solar-powered lights are featured within the project. Outside, the cabin offers a beautiful open-air terrace that pulls double duty as a lounge area where guests can dine al fresco, under trees that provide plenty of shade. The courtyard is open and uncluttered, again paying homage to the simplicity that defines the island’s architecture. According to the architects, the cabins were inspired by idea that the island’s laid-back, minimalist lifestyle could be transported to other parts of the world via architecture. “The dream was to build a livable and modular design object we could place anywhere in the world sharing our design philosophy,” says George Kolliopoulos, co-founder and designer at Mandalaki. “And the story had to begin in Rhodes, my home island.” + Mandalaki Design Studio Via The Spaces Photographs via Mandalaki Design Studio

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Meet the Monocabin, a tiny home rental mere steps from the Aegean Sea

Ryan Zinke claims wind energy contributes to global warming

March 15, 2018 by  
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Wind turbines kill up to 750,000 birds every year, according to Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. There’s one problem with that figure: it’s grossly overstated. Zinke also condemned wind power for its carbon footprint — which he said is significant. Zinke said he is “pro- energy across the board” at the CERAWeek energy industry event recently — but slammed wind power, according to EcoWatch . He said production and transportation of turbines contributes to global warming , but TIME said he overstated the case — especially when compared against other energy sources. They said scientists estimate that during the life cycle of a wind turbine, the typical plant produces “between .02 and .04 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. Even at the high end, that’s less than three percent of the emissions from coal -generated electricity and less than seven percent of the emissions from natural gas -generated electricity.” Related: New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears And it is true that wind turbines kill birds, but not as many as Zinke claimed. Take it from the National Audubon Society : director of renewable energy Garry George said wind turbines kill between 140,000 to 328,000 birds per year. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service , which is part of Zinke’s department, has a chart on “Top Common Human-caused Threats to Birds” in the United States with the median/average estimated figure for collisions with wind turbines at 328,000. Meanwhile, cats kill an estimated 1.85 billion birds, building glass 676.5 million birds, and oil pits 750,000 birds. (Those are the median/average estimated figures; see the minimum to maximum ranges on the chart here .) Zinke told his audience of people from oil-producing countries and energy companies, “Interior should not be in the business of being an adversary. We should be in the business of being a partner.” Vox sees it differently. In their view, Trump’s interior secretary spent his first year in the position selling off the rights to America’s public lands . Via TIME and EcoWatch Images via American Public Power Association on Unsplash and Wikimedia Commons

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Ryan Zinke claims wind energy contributes to global warming

This French art collective is building the world’s largest hanging garden

March 15, 2018 by  
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French art collective Les Machines de L’ile is embarking on plans to build the world’s largest hanging garden – which will be on the scale of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Nantes-based design team is currently working on what they are calling The Heron’s Tree – a massive interactive garden that will span more than 160 feet in diameter and 114 feet high. The “mechanical menagerie” will invite guests to climb the labyrinth-like branches and ride one of two mechanical herons on flights that provide a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding Loire Valley. The Heron’s Tree, which is currently under construction on the banks of the Loire Valley, is actually the third part of a massive artistic endeavor called the Island’s Machines, which the artists began back in 2007. Inspired by the works of Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci, the artistic project includes The Grand Elephant and the Machine Gallery, as well as the Carousel of Sea Worlds. The concept revolves around a mechanical collection of giant wild animals that roam around the world’s landscape. The project will include a large steel tree, weighing about 1,500 tons and spanning 165 feet wide. Twenty-two wide branches will be built as walkways that will be accessible from a helix staircase inside the tree trunk. Jutting out from the trunk at various heights, visitors can explore the tree’s many greenery-lined paths, which create a lush ecosystem of hanging vegetation . Related: Calatrava’s Dubai observation tower resembles the Hanging Gardens of Babylon About 115 feet above the tree top, there will be two platforms where visitors can climb aboard two massive herons. The herons will take the passengers on a circular ride soaring over of the large tree, providing a stunning 360-degree view of the Loire Valley. Created by artists Francois Delaroziere and Piere Orefice, the interactive art installation will be located on the banks of the Loire River – a significant location for the artists. “Inspired by the worlds of Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci, it is an unprecedented artistic project. After the Grand Elephant and the Machine Gallery in 2007, the Carousel of the Sea Worlds in 2012, the Heron’s Tree is the third phase of the Island’s Machines. Coming out of the minds of François Delaroziere and Pierre Orefice, it will be located along the banks of the Loire River, a few meters away from the house Jules Verne spent his teenage years in and where Jean-Jacques Audubon grew up and drew his first herons.” The Heron’s Tree is the latest phase in the art ambitious project, which is scheduled for completion in 2022. The 35 million euro project is being funding partially by public funds, but the artistic team behind the project is seeking additional funding through a Kickstarter campaign . + Les Machines de L’ile Via This is Colossal Images via Les Machines de L’ile

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This French art collective is building the world’s largest hanging garden

90% of bottled water contains microplastics, according to a new study

March 15, 2018 by  
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If you thought you were safe drinking bottled water, think again. The Guardian reports that a new study commissioned by Orb Media has found microplastics in 90 percent of 259 bottles of water tested. Surveying several brands in nine different countries, scientists from the State University of New York in Fredonia told the paper some of the bottles contained twice as many plastic particles as tap water they had previously studied . To highlight the particles in any given sample, the scientists used Nile red dye that sticks to plastic, though The Guardian makes a point of noting that the study has not been published in a peer reviewed journal. That said, the technique’s developer, University of East Anglia scientist Dr Andrew Mayes, told the paper that he was satisfied the study had been conducted carefully, in the way he would have done in his own lab. Here is a list of all the brands Orb Media said were tested in the study: Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Epura (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestle? Pure Life (Nestle?), San Pellegrino (Nestle?) and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group). Of the 259 bottles of water tested, only 17 were plastic-free. The rest contained bits of polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Related: Plastic fibers found in 80 percent of tap water samples from five continents Nestle? was not satisfied with the method used to test the water, telling CBC News using Nile red dye could “generate false positives”. How ingesting plastics affects humans is still not 100 percent certain as this is an emergent field of study, according to the National Institutes of Health. Still, they note in a 2017 report , “If inhaled or ingested, microplastics may accumulate and exert localized particle toxicity by inducing or enhancing an immune response. Chemical toxicity could occur due to the localized leaching of component monomers, endogenous additives, and adsorbed environmental pollutants. Chronic exposure is anticipated to be of greater concern due to the accumulative effect that could occur.” + Orb Media Report Via The Guardian , CBC News Images via DepositPhotos 1 , 2

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90% of bottled water contains microplastics, according to a new study

Student ditches cramped dorm to live large in a self-built tiny house

February 15, 2018 by  
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Although tiny home living may not be for everyone, there is one group who is certainly taking advantage of the minimal living trend – college students. Instead of paying thousands of dollars to stay in a cramped, closet-like dorm room, one ambitious college student named Bradley took his living situation into his own hands by building his own 230-square-feet abode, aptly named Rolling Quarters. After spending a year paying for on campus housing, Bradley decided it was time to build his own home, something that would give him his own personal space and designed to his taste. “Right out of high school I went and paid a year’s worth of rent and decided that wasn’t for me,” he said in an interview with Living Big In A Tiny House . “So I moved back home to save some money and pay for it all in cash to build it.” Related: Two college students build a tiny home for under $500 After purchasing a 27-foot-long trailer, he looked to Craigslist to find materials he could repurpose into his new home. A few things like the vinyl siding were bought new, but the total price of the project came in just under $15,000. Bradley’s self-built tiny home on wheels is just 230 square feet, but packs a large punch in terms of living space. The entrance of the home is through a lovely wooden deck with two rocking chairs set up to enjoy the surrounding wooded lot. The interior space has a comfy, cabin-like atmosphere with wooden flooring and wood-planked ceiling. The living space, which is air-conditioned, is at the heart of the home, with a medium sized pull-out sofa and tv, and a small nook for a desk. The kitchen, although compact, is incredibly efficient and conceals a number of space-saving and storage features. Additional storage is tucked under the stairs that lead up to the sleeping loft. Although Bradley now lives off campus, that doesn’t mean that his social life was affected. In fact, the ambitious student has had up to 25 guests in his home and even occasionally rents out Rolling Quarters on Airbnb . + Rolling Quarters Instagram Via Apartment Therapy Images via Rolling Quarters Instagram and Airbnb. Video via Living Big in a Tiny House Just 25 people hanging out comfortably in a tiny house. #saystheguywiththelofttohimself #tinyhouse #bradthebuilder #thow #tinyhouseonwheels #diythow #tinyhousemovement #diytinyhouse #minimalist #minimalism A post shared by Rolling Quarters Tiny House (@rolling_quarters_tinyhouse) on Oct 7, 2017 at 7:37am PDT

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Student ditches cramped dorm to live large in a self-built tiny house

The gorgeous Roadhaus RV soaks up sunlight with a glass-enclosed roof

November 23, 2017 by  
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From the Wyoming-based company Wheelhaus comes the amazing Roadhaus – a tiny house/RV hybrid that measures 10.5 feet wide and 38 feet long, but feels a lot larger. Wheelhaus wrapped the roof of the wedge-shaped home in glass, so the interior is open, airy and gets plenty of sunlight – something many small houses lack. The Roadhaus wedge, which comes with a price tag of $76,000, is certified as an RV, meaning it can be towed and parked in any RV park or campground. Its compact size of only 400 square feet provides the option of traveling the world in this beautiful tiny home on wheels. Related: Solar-powered Tesla Tiny House hits the road in Australia The little wedge is filled with some seriously smooth design features, namely the use of glass to open up the interior space. The living area, as well as the rest of the home, is flooded with natural light thanks to a spectacular raised roof that is part glass and part wood panels. In fact, the strip of wood panels that run the length of the home seems to float over the interior space. The tiny home has a comfy living room on one side and a bedroom with sufficient space for a queen-sized bed on the other. The kitchen is a beautiful space-efficient design with a sink and small stovetop, and plenty of crafty storage options. A gleaming bathroom is covered in silver tiles, adding a touch of bright modernity to the home. The entrance to the home is completely wrapped in glass, including the large door that leads out to a wooden deck jutting out from the interior. + Wheelhaus Via Treehugger Images via Wheelhaus

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The gorgeous Roadhaus RV soaks up sunlight with a glass-enclosed roof

Stunning shipping container home can be yours for $125k

November 22, 2017 by  
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Architect and builder Ty Kelly wanted to disconnect from the stresses of city life in Seattle – so he built an incredible shipping container home deep in the picturesque Montana plains. The 720-square-foot home is made from plenty of reclaimed materials , and it’s currently on the market for $125,000 . The one-bedroom, one-bath home is a true example of shipping container design done right. The home design is a sophisticated blend of wood and glass. Partially clad in wooden planking on the exterior, the house has an all-glass wall that provides natural light into the interior as well as gorgeous views of the rugged Montana landscape. Further embedding the home into its stunning surroundings is the wooden flooring that extends the length of the home onto an open-air deck on the exterior. Related: You can now buy tiny shipping container homes on Amazon Although the design of the home is quite contemporary, Kelly used quite a bit of reclaimed materials in the construction. The redwood flooring and wall panels are made out of reclaimed wood, as well as the kitchen’s butcher block counters, which were made out of leftover lumber from another project. On the interior, the living space, although quite compact, is incredibly comfortable. The kitchen has a wood stove as well as the typical modern conveniences such as a dishwasher and washer and dryer. The home’s bathroom layout, however, is quite a different story. The home comes complete with an outdoor shower on the side deck that lets the homeowners truly get back to nature. Via Dwell Photos via Zillow  

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Stunning shipping container home can be yours for $125k

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