Saturday, September 12th, 2015

1 lamp, 2 lamp, pink lamp, gray lamp

Alphabeta Pendant SelectionCustomizable Pendants!

Alphabeta is a new double shaded pendant line that lets you pick the color & shape of the shades. A nice selection of color and modern profile options means there are gazillions of combinations for a unique fixture.

Maybe not a gazillion, but close (10 billion+ actually): There are 8 unique shade shapes, each having 3 color options.

It’s designed to shine up as well as down, so you’ve got 2 bulbs.

Luca Nichetto designed them for Hem, a unique online source for designs that inspire.

I’m a sucker for simple elegance, & these scratch the itch. Check them out:

alphabeta Pendant couch

Party at the dinner table:

alphabeta Dining

And the ultimate simplicity, black and white!

alphabeta White

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Thanks, Houzz! Also: Summer wrap up notes

We were awarded 2 new badges from Houzz today: An Influencer badge and a Recommended badge.

The Influencer badge is given to pros whose advice and knowledgeable posts are most appreciated by the Houzz community, while the Recommended badge goes only to the top-rated pros on Houzz.

Remodeling and Home Design  Remodeling and Home Design


Summer 2015 wrap up

It’s been hoppin’, kids. We’ll be shooting some of our completed projects over the summer in the next couple of weeks & posting to our gallery page over at the Besh website.   In the meantime, here are some progress shots.

Green. Literally and in principle!

This is an awesome net zero home going up in West Chapel Hill. The house was designed by architect Arielle Schechter and is being built by Newphire Construction. We’re so happy & lucky to be working with such top notch folks. There’s a lot to talk about with this house, from solar roof panels to our CA emission compliant Besh cabinets going in as we speak. More to come.

Exterior progress


Another Greenie. (It’s exterior wrap, not the actual color of the house. :)

This project is in the middle of nowhere in central NC. Also a high efficiency project, designed by architect Jay Fulkerson, and also built by Newphire. We’ll be putting in Besh cabinets with a custom low VOC gray stain in the kitchen. Here’s a quick exterior:



Here’s a chunk of the columns that will go in next to the framing.


And here are a couple of shots of the doors & panels on the drying rack in the shop after staining:





Garage storage

Yup, Besh works in garages too. We installed these in a VRBO house complete with locks so the owner’s tools don’t walk out with the renters. Lots of work going on there that day, hence the partial picture.




And lots of other things like drunk design shenanigans:


learning guitar to take short breaks from crazy work:



4 leggers. Always.


Gator. Best black lab ever.


Otto being Otto on National Dog Day.


Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

New product alert: Urban Cultivator

Urban Cultivator indoor growing applianceIndoor gardening has a new option

The folks at Urban Cultivator in Vancouver BC have come up with a way for indoor gardening to happen year round. Those without a container gardening option or an in ground garden should take a look at this thing. And it even comes with different options on top for a cutting surface.

It fits nicely in the same space an undercounter fridge or your dishwasher needs! I could see this in my own kitchen, especially for lettuces. The window for growing lettuce in the Southern is so limited because it gets too hot too quickly. How great would it be to reach in & grab enough for a salad at dinner or a sandwich?

The downside of container gardening

We were looking at container gardening this year but may forego that for a UC. Pretty enticing when the prospect of 95* and 80% humidity is staring us in the face. Not to mention no control over amount of sunlight needed, reaching agreeable placement with the HOA agree to “unsightly” containers. *eye roll*

Transit cost savings

20% of North America’s energy bill comes from transporting food. We can help offset that by growing our own food as locally as it gets: where you eat it.


What to grow in an Urban Cultivator

Looking forward to giving it a try & will report findings!

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Filling the chasm

Market demand: good quality modern cabinets that don’t clear your bank account

Good news – the choice is no longer between the ultra low (cost and quality) end and the ultra high end!

Chasm no more

For folks who want something a step or two up from IKEA, but don’t want the cost or hassle with either fully custom or non US products, Besh is the answer.

It’s here, it’s real, it’s US made, and in 2014 we did projects with it like this:

Besh kitchen

And this:

Besh kitchen



Besh has a simplified menu of 4 door styles:

Besh door styles


They can be finished with paint, vinyl, or stain. You can even pick what glass option you want, from textured to opaque to clear. And you can finish it off with dividers and organizers to your heart’s content.

Modular means flexible. And responsible.

It’s even got an option to swap your fronts or the cabinet interior components. Just opt in & pick when you want to swap. How cool is that?


Swappable Fronts & Guts

Get the kitchen designed correctly. Then invest in a cabinet system where the boxes stay put & the fronts and insides can change. And in the process you keep it out of the landfill. THAT is worth investing in, we think.

Even if you don’t want to do the swap thing, you still win with a good looking & solid US made cabinet system. We’re ready when you are.

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Notes on starting our own cabinet line

toast2014 we hardly knew ye

No kidding. We started 2014 just like we have the past 7 years:

  • some installations in progress
  • some designs in progress
  • some products in development

Then, it changed. Good old Blue & Yellow *cough* IKEA *cough* announced 2014 as the end of their existing kitchen cabinet system.  Rather than deal with diminishing inventories & chasing missing parts all over 38 US store locations, I decided to suspend design & installation of IKEA kitchens in May. Our focus shifted 100% to our new line Besh®.

To my surprise (and delight), Besh® immediately became requested – from consumers, from other designers, commercial and residential alike. And that was only after a very small very local & very limited press release. Crazy!

I had no idea

My hunch was that there was indeed a market for a US made modern kitchen cabinet system that sat somewhere between big box stores and high end custom. What I didn’t know was what was involved with getting Besh® up & running. Everything from sourcing components I wanted to applying for logo & tagline trademarks. And that was the easy part.

There were also logistics, training crews, and backend software creation to make ordering easier. And getting the first few projects done with it to learn where to make things smoother, and to have a portfolio with it.

To 2015!

Here are a few things we plan to launch over the course of next year:

  • Besh® designer directory – for designers who want to spec Besh® cabinets on their projects
  • select retail display installations for meeting with clients by appointment
  • prototyping & bringing to market new cabinet front styles
  • bringing our sense of humor back into the fold with Besh®

We have had a BLAST with Besh® in 2014, and see no reason why 2015 should be any different, fun wise!

Monday, July 14th, 2014

We are here: Summer Break

We Are Here - summer 2014











Busy busy busy but still here but busy busy busy. Find us on twitter or Pinterest if you need an EcoMod fix. And occasionally we pen a blog post over at

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Formaldehyde: here’s the thing

Formaldehyde MoleculeIt’s everywhere! Remain calm.

Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring compound that is basically all around us in varying amounts, from the planet’s surface to its atmosphere and out into interstellar space. To learn more about it, here’s a link to the Wikipedia article:


It’s also used heavily in no-iron clothing material and is present in a LOT of the foods we eat:

It sounds like the trouble starts when it gets combined with other compounds to make resins & glues, which is why it has been regulated so closely in the last 10-15 years. There are innumerable other products it’s used to make as well, both inside & outside the construction industry.

Besh cabinets do use California compliant materials, which have the strictest regulations in the US, but does not use 100% formaldehyde free *anything*. You can read the consumer FAQ on the California Air Resources Board page at this link:  The short version is, there is no such thing as 100% formaldehyde free plywood.

All that being said, the best info I could find in response to health concerns is this one from Joel Hirschberg, Green Building Supply Center in Fairfield IA on the Green Home Guide:

From that response, basically, applying an encapsulated sealer is the best thing that can block formaldehyde outgassing.

The challenge with all the risk minimization is twofold:

1) Sensitivity levels vary from individual to individual, so a certain level may not affect one person as much as the next. And because formaldehyde is so ubiquitous, it’s difficult to isolate the source, even with an allergy patch test.
2) There is significant added cost for products that minimize outgassing, both in terms of labor (to apply multiple coats of AFM safecoat for example) and materials (specialty produced bamboo or other exotic woods, for example).

My guess is that outgassing is less of a concern in older homes because they aren’t as tightly enclosed as new ones.

Not a black & white easy answer, but there it is.

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Newsflash: NO IKEA Projects after May 30, 2014

Mark your calendars

Due to the impending rollout of IKEA’s new kitchen cabinet system in 2015, we will NOT take any new IKEA kitchen project requests after May 30, 2014. There will be NO exceptions to this cutoff date.

After May 30 all Ecomod projects will be done using Besh Cabinets exclusively.

Update: To read about why we are discontinuing our use of IKEA in our projects, this post explains more.

Friday, April 25th, 2014

New product alert! Level entry shower system

VIM Products - level entry shower system

From VIM Products, Inc.

I can NOT wait to use this product in a master bath I’m designing for some folks! Up until now, everyone has told me:

  • “You have to have 2″ difference in elevation to slope a shower floor to drain correctly.”
  • “You can’t have a curbless shower without modifying joists or lowering the floor slab.”

The above statements are now FALSE I am happy to report.

Back in the day when I was doing commercial building design, we would specify as little as 1/8″ per foot slope toward the roof drains. If that is sufficient for a roof, why in the world would you need 16 times that amount for a shower floor?  You don’t.

3/4″ is all you need

Which is great, because that’s the thickness of most subfloor material.  And unlike linear drains, cutting into multiple joists (when the span perpendicular to the shower floor) isn’t required to seat the drain cavity. Happily, we can still have a square ornamental drain plate cleverly disguising a conventional round drain fitting.

Level entry showers are great not only for accessibility, but also they’re just plain easier to walk in & out of. No curb to step over. Or trip over. Less material & labor to install, and it makes for a nice seamless appearance & transition from the rest of the bathroom.

Not to mention if you’re a klutzy idiot like me who regularly sprains ankles & endures the torture of crutches, it’s way easier to maneuver in & out of a shower that you don’t catch crutch tips on.

VIM Products will also be at the Coverings show, coming up next week in Vegas.

Monday, March 17th, 2014

State of the Cabinets Address

YAY!2 lines, no waiting

So about a month ago, we broke the news that we’re now offering a 2nd cabinet line called Besh with our kitchen & bath design projects. We’re happy to report thus far that we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive reception of Besh from homeowners, architects & designers and builders & developers alike.

A quick number crunch revealed that out of 14 active projects, 12 of them are using Besh, not IKEA. That’s a whopping 86%!! Early in the game, yes, but numbers are numbers.

2014 & beyond

Up until this point, we specialized in design & installation using only IKEA’s kitchen cabinet line. There’s a change afoot with IKEA’s kitchen cabinet line. That change has already been rolled out in Europe, and is set to roll out in North America in 2015. Here’s a link to some of the chatter on the IKEAFans forums about it.

Because we do still get requests for IKEA kitchens, we are still providing those services through 2014.  UPDATE: we will NOT be doing any IKEA projects for the remainder of 2014.

However, we’re not at all convinced that the new IKEA line – to be called SEKTION in the States – is an improvement. That being said,  we have and will always stand behind only robust, quality products. For that reason we will not yet commit to using IKEA’s kitchen line beyond 2014. If IKEA’s new line proves to be a continuing level of quality as in the past, we may consider projects on a case-by-case basis with it.

Long story short: we’re using  Besh exclusively for the remainder of 2014.  In 2015,  Besh will be our primary cabinet line until we can evaluate IKEA’s new system.

Besh: Modern cabinets for work and play

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