Diva Design Diary

By Holly Peterson

Diva Design Diary is about bringing the latest interior design trends and tips to our existing clients, as well as future clients...enjoy!

Vegan Queen Handbags

By Holly Peterson

I know this has NOTHING to do with interior design, as my most recent posts have been completely off-topic, and shopping for handbags is probably not the best way to start off the New Year...BUT, I must tell you about this fabulous find!!!
Not many eco things say “money” – even if they cost a whole lot of it. But with Vegan Queen’s new unisex duffle, even the most die-hard LV fan wouldn’t mind joining team green. The bag is made from 100% eco leather (cotton and synthetic micro-fiber), vegetal leather (Brazilian rubber-tree sap mounted on cotton), and organic cotton terry lining. It is also recyclable so you don’t have to spend hours listing it on Ebay when it's time to part with it. Although, I don't see why you would.

Get yours now at veganqueen.com

2009 New Year's Resolutions: Make Green a Habit

By Holly Peterson

What does the year of 2009 hold for you??? I'm all about New Year's Resolutions and thought I'd share a few (if you're working toward a "green" New Year that is)...

Yep, that's right! Here are some New Year's Resolutions to help you to Make Green a Habit in 2009!

  • Run a Fully Loaded Dishwasher-Cost: $0
    If you have a dishwasher, use it. Running a fully loaded dishwasher—without pre-rinsing the dishes—can use a third less water than washing the dishes by hand, saving up to ten to twenty gallons of water a day. Simply scrape large pieces of food off of your dishes and let the dishwasher handle the rest. And by using the air-dry setting (instead of heat-dry), you will consume half the amount of electricity without spending a dime.
  • Lower the Temp in Your Fridge-Cost: $0
    As one of the biggest appliances in your kitchen, the refrigerator is also one of the most power hungry, accounting for 10 to 15 percent of the average home energy bill each month. Get your fridge running in tip-top shape. First, set the refrigerator thermostat to maintain a temperature between 38 and 42-degrees (F). This temperature will protect your food from spoiling while saving electricity. Twice a year, clean the condenser coil at the back of your fridge. Condenser coils tend to get dusty, making them less efficient.
  • STOP Buying Bottled Water-Cost: $14.98 for aluminum water bottle
    Did you know that it takes 26 bottles of water to produce the plastic container for a one-liter bottle of water, and that doing so pollutes 25 liters of groundwater? Don’t leave a trail of plastic water bottles in your wake! Stop buying bottled water. Use reusable water bottles instead made from materials like stainless steel or aluminum that are not likely to degrade over time. If you choose a plastic water bottle, check the number on the bottom first: Plastics numbered 3, 6, and 7 could pose a health threat to you, so look for plastics numbered 1, 2, 4, or 5.
  • Switch to Reusable Towels-Cost: $6.95
    No matter how you look at it, paper towels create waste. During your next trip to the grocery store, buy some reusable microfiber towels, which grip dirt and dust like a magnet, even when they get wet. When you are finished with them, toss the towels in the wash and reuse them again and again. They are even great for countertops and mirrors. When you absolutely have to use disposable towels, look for recycled products. If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (seventy sheets) with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.
  • Turn Down Your Thermostat-Cost: $0
    Electric power plants are the country's largest industrial source of the pollutants that cause global warming. By snuggling under a blanket on the couch on a snowy winter night instead of turning up the heat, or enjoying the breeze from a fan in the height of summer instead of turning up the air conditioning, you can save pounds of pollution, as well as some money off your utility bills. Set your thermostat in winter to 68-degrees F (20 C) or less during the daytime and 55-degrees F (13 C) before going to sleep or when you are away for the day. And during the summer, set thermostats to 78-degrees F (26 C) or more.
  • STOP Receiving Unwanted Catalogs-Cost: $0
    Each year, 19 billion catalogs are mailed to American consumers. All those catalogs require more than 53 million trees and 56 billion gallons of wastewater to produce -- and many of us don't even know how we got on so many mailing lists! So grab that stack of catalogs piling up on your coffee table and clear out the clutter. Visit CatalogChoice.org to put a stop to unwanted catalogs. Within 10 weeks, your mailbox will be empty of unwanted catalogs. A less cluttered mailbox means less pollution, less waste, and less of the pollution that cause global warming.
  • Switch to Recycled Toilet Paper-Cost: $2.96 for 4-pack, 260 sheets
    Believe it or not, switching to recycled toilet paper can change the world. If every household in the United States bought just one four-pack of 260-sheet recycled bath tissue, instead of the typical tissue made from virgin fiber, it would eliminate 60,600 pounds of chlorine pollution, preserve 356 million gallons (1.35 billion liters) of fresh water, and save nearly 1 million trees. And the best news is that a four-pack of recycled toilet paper costs about the same as a four-pack of conventional toilet paper.
  • Check for Leaks in Your Toilet-Cost: $0
    Most of us would be surprised to find out that one in every five toilets leak, and since the leaks are usually silent, you probably have no idea if your toilet is leaking. A leaking toilet can waste anywhere between 30 and 500 gallons of water every day, so any leak should be repaired. To see if your toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the dye shows up in the toilet bowl after 15 minutes or so, the toilet has a leak. Leaking is usually caused by an old or poorly fit flapper valve, which can be replaced by any amateur DIY-er!
  • Wash Your Clothes in Cooler Water-Cost: $0
    Did you know that only 10 percent of the energy used by a typical washing machine powers the motor? About 90 percent of the energy is used to heat the water, and most clothes will come clean in cold water. So switch your washing machine’s temperature setting. For heavily soiled clothing, change it from hot to warm, but otherwise try to wash and rinse most of your clothing in cold water.
  • Switch to Natural Washing Powders-Cost: $10.25 for one 112-oz box
    Many detergents today are made to clean clothes just as effectively in cooler water temperatures. Choose detergents and other laundry products that are plant-based, concentrated, and biodegradable.
  • Dry Your Clothes Wisely-Cost: $0
    The second biggest household energy user, after the refrigerator, is the clothes dryer. Over-drying your clothes can end up costing you money as well. An electric dryer operating an extra 15 minutes a load can cost you up to $34 a year in wasted energy; a gas dryer, $21 a year. When using the dryer, clear the lint filter after each load and dry only full loads of clothes. Dry heavy fabrics separately from lighter ones, and don’t add wet clothing in the middle of the drying cycle. And remember that hanging clothing outside in the sun and air to dry is the most energy-efficient method—or use a folding indoor rack all year long.
  • Air Our Your Dry Cleaning (or skip it all together)-Cost: $0
    Until recently, almost all dry cleaners used a cancer-causing chemical called perchloroethylene, also known as Perc or TCE. Traces of this toxic chemical remain on your clothes after dry cleaning and will evaporate into the air in your car or home. If you have to use a traditional dry cleaner, take your dry cleaning out of the plastic and air it outside or near a window before hanging it in your cupboard. To avoid the need for dry cleaning at all, make customer care a part of your clothing purchase decisions and choose fabrics that don't require dry cleaning at all.
  • Check Your Tire Pressure-Cost: $0
    Increase your gas mileage by checking your tire pressure. More than a quarter of all cars and nearly one-third of all SUVs, vans, and pickups have under-inflated tires, according to a survey by the Department of Transportation. If every American kept his or her tires properly inflated, we could save 2.8 billion gallons (10.6 billion liters) of gasoline a year—and help curb global warming pollution—so inflate the tires on your car or truck and continue to do so once a month or as necessary.
  • Get a Reusable Shopping Bag-Cost: $1 Do you opt for paper or plastic when at the grocery store? Neither is a good choice. Twelve million barrels of oil were used to make the 88.5 billion plastic bags consumed in the United States last year. And it takes four times more energy to make paper bags. The best choice is reusable shopping bags made of cotton, nylon, or durable mesh-like plastic. Put a few reusable shopping bags in your car so you have them handy on your next shopping trip. And if you happen to forget your reusable bag (as we all do!), choose paper if you will recycle it or plastic if you will reuse or recycle it.
  • Recycle-Cost: $0
    For every trash can of waste you put outside for the trash collector, about 70 trash cans of waste are used in order to create that trash. To reduce the amount of waste you produce, buy products in returnable and recyclable containers and recycle as much as you can. The energy saved from recycling a single aluminum can will operate a television for three hours! If your community doesn’t provide containers for recycling, designate a bin in your garage for recyclables to make it easy for you and your family to recycle things like the newspaper and aluminum cans.

Cool Beans

By Holly Peterson

Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans
There are cranberry beans, yellow eye beans, midnight beans, lima, pinto, garbanzo…ooh, and don’t forget dem pebble beans. Of all the types that you eat in your chilies, salads, and soups, how many of them can you trace the origins of? Well, all of them if you get your supply from Rancho Gordo. Obsessed with food from the “New World,” the site is stocked with 20 to 30 types of beans that are indigenous to North and South America. The genetically-pure legumes are grown in limited quantities to ensure freshness. And, because they are fresher, you don’t have to soak them as long and they taste hardier. Many of these beans are also on the verge of extinction (losing out to the commercial kidneys and favas) and our consumption helps keep them around. Plus, haven't you heard?
Beans, beans are good for your heart. So eat up.

Order your share today at RanchoGordo.com

Ho! Ho! Ho!

By Holly Peterson

Christmas time is here,
Happiness and cheer,
Fun for all that children call,
Their favorite time of the year.

Snowflakes in the air,
Carols everywhere,
Olden times and ancient rhymes,
Of love and dreams to share.

Sleigh bells in the air,
Beauty everywhere,
Yuletide by the fireside,
And joyful memories there.

Christmas time is here,
We'll be drawing near,
Oh, that we could always see,
Such spirit through the year,
Oh, that we could always see,
Such spirit through the year...

Merry Christmas to You and Your Family!!!
Warm regards,
Design Diva

Fight the POWER!

By Holly Peterson

Phantom power haunts you as your appliances sleep. Depending on the type of device, it can suck up approximately 10% of your electricity bill. One option is to unplug everything that is not in use. But that answer requires not being lazy and causes minor back pain from crawling under tight spaces, and endless knee and elbow banging against sharp corners and edges. An easy alternative comes in the form of the Belkin Conserve Energy-Saving Surge Protector. The strip comes with a remote control that completely controls the flow of energy coming in and out of the appliances plugged into it. Two “Always On” outlets remain on the strip for items that, well, always need to be on (like phones and routers). Place the remote near your keys or lights and never forget to switch off your appliances again. It makes sense – more sense than fighting power you can’t even see.

Power down at catalog belkin.com


By Holly Peterson

The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year. It is: a) annoying, and b) a massive contributor to deforestation and your individual carbon footprint. For $41, 41pounds.org will contact between 20 to 30 direct mail companies and stop the majority of bulk mail that comes to your home. The service lasts for five years so it’s really just $8.20 per year. That’s a pretty cheap price tag for sanity and an intact mailbox. Plus, more than a third of the sign-up fee goes to the charity of your choice. Save: time, trees, the planet, and your overused paper shredder.

Take the weight off today at 41pounds.org

Storage for your little ones!

By Holly Peterson

Everyone could use a little more space – the understatement of the century if you have kids. Luckily, with the brilliant colors and modular stackability of Stella Stackables, you don’t have to sacrifice design for functionality. Each piece is hand made from 100 percent recycled wood and finished with non-toxic, VOC-free paint. The company is also a member of 1% For the Planet and donates, well, 1 percent of their annual sales to environmental organizations worldwide. Beautiful, whimsical designs that strive to protect our children and our planet – now that’s a chic organization solution that any growing household can use.
They have other great options for children's furniture too!

Get organized at qcollectionjunior.com

O Christmas Tree

By Holly Peterson

The Cardboard Christmas Tree

Some families had real trees. Others had plastic ones. All were decked with a menagerie of plastic ornaments. And that was Christmas. These days, getting a tree is more perplexing than figuring out which college to go to. We all love the scent of pine. But somehow, hacking down a real tree and subjecting it to hot lights feels a little mean. Artificial trees are reusable but then you are dealing with chemicals and plastics that are around forever. So, nix the tree thing all together? Maybe not. This year, consider getting a tree made from 100% recycled cardboard instead. It may not be as lush but think of it as a three-foot blank canvas that you can decorate to your heart's content (read: excellent keep-kid-busy project). Plus, for every tree sold, The Cardboard Christmas Tree (fancy official name) contributes to the Arbor Day Foundation’s reforestation program, Trees for America. Traditions and rituals are great. But they are even better when they offer help instead of sacrifice.

If it's not to late... Start trimming at thecardboardtree.com

Speaking of countertops... Granite is SAFE!

By Holly Peterson

Study Reveals No Health Hazard From Granite, MIA Contends
In what it called the "most comprehensive scientific study of health threats from granite countertops" ever conducted, results did not find a single stone slab that poses a health risk, while quantities of radon and radiation emitted by stones included in the analysis all fell well below average background levels commonly found in the U.S., the Marble Institute of America said last month.

The Cleveland, OH-based MIA, which has disputed claims at granite emits potential unhealthy levels of radon, announced the results of the study last month. According to the association, scientists conducted more than 400 tests of 115 different varieties of granite countertops, including stones cited in media reports as being potentially problematic. The stones tested, said the MIA, include types of granite that comprise approximately 80% of the annual U.S. market share for granite countertops.

The study found that not one stone slab contributed to radon levels that even reached the average U.S. outdoor radon concentration of 0.4 picocuries per liter - one-tenth the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency level for remedial action within a home, the MIA said. The stone slabs found to emit at higher levels - though still well below average outdoor background levels - represent a tiny share of the U.S. market for granite countertops, less than 1% of sales, the association noted.

Countertop Trends: Nature & Personlization

By Holly Peterson

Today's multi-purpose kitchens and bathrooms demand products that can meet a wide variety of design and functional needs - while still offering the ability to create uniquely personalized spaces. Fortunately, today's countertop manufacturers are up to the challenge, offering a plethora of beautiful and durable material options that can work singularly or in conjunction to create a nearly endless array of design choices.

Mother Nature continues to inspire some of the hottest trends, with soothing colors, rich textures and earth-friendly options all the rage. Value-priced offerings are also hot, and now come in a wider array of upscale design options than ever before.

Below are some of the hottest trends in countertops right now:

Nature-inspired colors, patterns and materials remain hot countertops picks, with both natural stone and stone-look products popular choices. Earthy color palettes and soft neutrals are in high demand, though a bold splash of color on an island can also be a great choice for adding visual drama.

  • The green trend, initially seen more in cabinets and appliances, is now gaining ground in the countertop market; if your clients love all things green, look for recycled glass countertops or other materials with recycled content, as well as locally sourced stone.
  • As the kitchen increasingly evolves into a multi-purpose space, you'll see more mixing and matching of countertop materials - including natural and engineered stone, wood, glass and laminate. This creates enhanced design opportunities and increases functional value, while allowing even budget-conscious homeowners to enjoy the benefits of upscale materials and a personalized look.
  • Whether the countertop acts as a stunning focal point or a more subtle design element, the flat look is out. Rather, today's hottest countertop materials feature depth, directional movement and plenty of textural interest.
  • Upscale countertop materials are increasingly showing up in other areas of the home, including outdoor kitchens, wet bars, home offices and garage work spots, creating a whole new market for these products.