501 Kitchen Remodel

This kitchen got a full upgrade, including new appliances, cabinets, counters, backsplash tile, and a custom fabricated plaster range hood. Design by Annabode.

 

Dearborn House Remodel

This deep energy retrofit started with gutting a 1960s house to add new wall and attic insulation and air sealing for maximized energy performance. We eliminated the natural gas line and transitioned to all electric heating and cooling and equipment and ERV, powered by rooftop solar panels. Other details include a new EPA certified fireplace insert, in-floor radiant heating, plastered walls and ceilings, a tadelakt shower, and integrated soapstone sink. We built a mudroom addition to connect the garage, laundry room, new back patio and expanded kitchen, and a detached outbuilding/barn for workouts and shop space. Design by Shelterbelt Architecture.

 

Spring Gulch ADU

This detached father-in-law suite features solar power, plaster walls, custom carpentry, and a large double garage with dog shower below. We used a sheathingless wall system that incorporated smart air barrier with cellulose insulation.

Berthoud Studio

A new build of a detached studio/work space with its own kitchen and bathroom. This structure was oriented to the sun for passive heating in the winter, air sealed with smart vapor open membranes, insulated with Havelock sheep’s wool, and includes an ERV for increased indoor air quality. We built with our clients’ chemical sensitivities in mind, and all materials went through a thorough vetting system to eliminate indoor pollutants.

 

West Highland Kitchen

This sweet west Denver bugalow needed a little more light and newer kitchen storage. We took advantage of the extra space gained by opening a wall. The design incorporates a peninsula shaped concrete kitchen counter and frameless, European-style alder cabinets. Plaster finishes on walls and ceilings and a newly refinished hardwood floor round out the space.

Talavera Bathroom Remodel

For this master bathroom and walk in closet remodel, we first moved some walls to create a more functional space and bring in more light. The bold colors are inspired by handmade Mexican Talavera tiles. We incorporated these handmade tiles into the vanity backsplash. Adding cherry woodwork and bronze fixtures completed the old world feel. For a splash of fun, a golden-yellow ceiling plaster brightens the space and adds a modern touch. The smooth olive tadelakt shower is a centerpiece.

 

Our ongoing COVID-19 response

Thanks for checking in! Like many other small businesses around the country and the world, Living Craft is actively working to move forward with our operations during the Coronavirus pandemic.

We chose to close down our site operations early in the pandemic because we decided that we wanted to do as much as possible to slow the spread of the virus. Limiting exposure for ourselves, our clients, and our suppliers in order to flatten the curve are our best routes to alleviate the pain that this virus is causing to our communities and to medical professionals.

As an essential business in the state of Colorado, we are working on off-site operations, including our design services and project development and planning. We are still accepting new client inquiries and can aid you in your home project planning needs through videoconferencing and other remote communication methods.

Additionally, we are continuing our on-site work. In order for essential work to continue, we are putting safety protocols and training procedures into place which will allow us and our employees to navigate the challenges of staying safe and limiting our exposure while making progress on our projects. We strive to comply with social distancing guidelines and have implemented additional disinfection practices. For more information, we will be posting samples of our working protocols and job site checklists as we develop them.

As an added precaution, we are offering our employees extra paid sick leave in order to provide them with flexibility and to encourage them to stay home if they have any symptoms or possible exposure to the virus.

We hope that you are all staying safe and healthy during this challenging time.

Victory

This small garage conversion in North Park hill needed a facelift. We insulated, air sealed, updated the electrical and built a custom desk with cabinets below and shelving above. Closing off an old front door and replacing it with an energy efficient window also made the room feel more homey and spacious. Bamboo flooring and Limestrong plasters complement the deep blue poured concrete desk surface.

A Beyond Green Approach to Remodeling

When I interned at an organic farm in Moab, they called themselves Beyond Organic. In addition to meeting all the standards for USDA organic certification, they also took the extra time and care to be good stewards of the land and soil. They did this by soil testing and adding natural amendments, planting cover crops and using crop rotation practices, and using other tools for increasing biodiversity and supporting pollinators like companion planting and crop rotation.

Inspired by that, I like to think of our company as Beyond Green Building. Of course, we support the goals of the green building movement, but we are also also striving to stay on the cutting edge of new developments and research. Incorporating these new ideas can lead to the creation of an even better home, with a lower impact on the environment. Especially with remodel and retrofit jobs, we believe we can do better with more natural and healthy options. So, we like to look at an existing building holistically, first taking the data from an energy audit and materials testing, and then applying our knowledge and techniques to design the most green and healthy building we can.

Just by choosing to keep an existing structure, rather than demolishing it, you’re off to a great start. The greenest buildings are the ones we already have, because then you don’t have the initial carbon emissions costs of tearing down and moving the old building materials to a dump. With creative remodeling and potentially an addition, an old home can have a new life and all those useful materials are kept out of the waste stream.

Once a remodel has begun, there are many strategies we can turn to in order to take it Beyond Green. One is using carbon sequestering insulation materials like straw, hemp, cellulose, recycled denim, and wool. This helps offset climate change which would otherwise be exacerbated by the building industry. We also choose interior finishes that are VOC free to improve indoor air quality from the start. Additionally, using advanced air sealing membranes, efficient mechanical systems, and the use of a service cavity for utilities can turn an older leaky home into one that is air tight. That way we aren’t letting unwanted air move through small holes in the wall assembly where it can create condensation points and eventually lead to mold. Whole house continuous ventilation systems, which are quickly becoming a requirement for new buildings, can also drastically improve indoor air quality in older, remodeled homes.

A Living Craft designed remodel is meant to last for beyond the life of an individual, with means not only choosing systems that create a more durable home, but also using finishes and materials that are timeless. Plaster and wood finishes can be varied to meet the modern styles of today, but also have been used in homes for thousands of years, so they have better staying power in a fast moving design field.

We are constantly looking to keep ourselves up to date on the knowledge and new ideas in green and natural building and remodeling. Through this evolution, we hope to stay on the cutting edge and keep collaborating with other companies and individuals who have similar goals. It’s an exciting place to be!

The Importance of Energy Auditing

An energy audit is sort of like a physical check up for your home. This is especially important in the case of an older home which may have been built before the updated building code called for a certain level of insulation and air tightness. An energy audit is a great way to find out exactly which interventions will have the most impact on lowering your home’s energy usage and reducing heating and cooling losses.

Do you know where your home is losing the most energy?

To make the process even easier, Xcel Energy even has a program available to their customers for home energy audits, including options for rebates to offset the cost of the audit.

An energy audit is often the first step we recommend for our remodel clients. That way, we can be sure to design the project with all the data available. This allows us to meet budgetary needs while making the best choices to craft a more efficient home.

In addition to finding areas that lack insulation or have air leakage, energy auditors can point out aging mechanical systems which may be having a greater than necessary impact on energy bills and carbon emissions. Going all electrical with the mechanical systems in a home is one great way to plan for the future, as our energy grid becomes less dependent on fossil fuels. The auditor will recommend specific practices for sealing leaks and insulating, or suggest which systems to upgrade. We can help you decide which of these options will give you the best and healthiest home.

An example of some of the types of infrared images that the energy auditor will include in their report, tailored to your home.

With the data from an energy audit, together with Living Craft, you can choose which areas of your home to focus on, whether it’s air sealing in the attic, adding cellulose insulation, or upgrading an aging water heater or boiler. Once we’ve set up your home to be more efficient, we can then design interior renovations that will make it more beautiful and healthy.

For example, one client came to us with a bathroom remodel project. Since her bathroom tub was leaky, it had caused damage to the ceiling below, and obviously needed some work. After an energy audit, we were able to find out that the attic also needed air sealing and the bathroom fan wasn’t venting outdoors, but instead bringing humid air out of the bathroom and in to the attic. Since these are not ideal, we were able to reroute the bath fan vent, air seal and add insulation into the attic, and also give her an updated bathroom with a fully water sealed shower. Without the energy audit, she may have only acheived some of these objectives. She not only got a rebate from Xcel, she also saves money every month on her heating and cooling bills, and stays more comfortable year-round in her home.

The finished bathroom, with a bonus whole house efficiency upgrade.

So, if you have an older home that you are planning on upgrading or remodeling, be sure to get that energy audit before you start budgeting for other upgrades, because it is the quickest and simplest way to start saving money on energy bills. Even if the inside of your home doesn’t need any work, an energy audit can let you know where the weak spots in your building envelope are, without being intrusive. And if you need help interpreting the results and deciding which interventions to make, let us know!

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