Friday, March 11th, 2016

What shoes and cabinets have in common

First, the shoes.

I had a beloved pair of chelsea style boots on which the soles were showing their 10 years of service. These boots served me through thick & thin, on jobsites and in showrooms. They were easy and quick to put on and take off, required no intense maintenance, and they put up with all kinds of weather. All while being ridiculously comfortable. I absolutely loved them.

Went to order a replacement pair and was bummed to see the style had been discontinued. Searching alternate brands of similar styles yielded no successor, leading to even more bummage.

Then, I found a shoe restoration service in CA ( that replaces soles, threading, laces, and rejuvenates leather. And they will work on ANY brand and style of shoe. I shipped my precious boots westward and waited patiently for about 6 weeks. I figured I had nothing to lose, since they were on their last legs anyway.

It was worth it! They came back with new hole-free soles and brand new tread, ready for more outings. The leather was restored and best of all – they fit just like they did when I shipped them off!

This service is GREAT. Not just great because it’s easy to use, but also because it is rejecting the throw-away shoe mindset that has prevailed in the footwear industry for decades. It takes the perfectly good parts and replaces the worn ones. That extends the life of the shoe years, literally. Which keeps it out of the landfill. And uses fewer raw materials. It’s earth friendly.

Now, the cabinets.

This is one of the primary reasons why we made Besh cabinets: to replace the fronts, not the boxes or the hardware. Like my boots, we keep that backbone in place & extend the life of the product. As long as the functional elements work fine, there’s no need to replace them. And because it’s a modular system, cabinet sizes are common across multiple installations.

That’s not to say it lasts forever. Nothing does. But if a component reaches the end of its life cycle, we’ll do our best to find another life for it, whether it’s

  • raw material for other products, like metal recycling, or post consumer wood products
  • refurbishable – like a fresh sanding and paint finish
  • resizeable to another of our modular fronts

If we’re going to make things, we should make them responsibly. The first step is using only what we need to begin with. That’s the right way. For all life and this planet on which it depends.

Swappable Fronts & Guts

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Where’ve ya been?

2015: Last Call!

zapped tape measureWe don’t get much time to write these blurbs. That’s because we’re out in the wild, doing things like this:

Frying our tape measures on electrical plugs that were slightly askew in the outlet. Fortunately I was holding the rubber casing, so I still have my famously darty, non-linear way of thinking intact.

I just can’t measure anything between 6″ and 7″ now, though.

So much for getting that job. (I didn’t.)

I also didn’t bother to go out & get a new tape measure. I just have to watch the edges.

And  figuring out column details:

column section

Designing & installing extra storage for brand new modern condos:

niche storage


And new kitchens:

modern kitchen sink wall  modern kitchen angle 2


Designing many new kitchens and baths for people who dig modern:

aerial into dining Bath 2  new modern kitchen

Cool projects like the sketch below, which turned into the 3D model & will become reality sometime in 2016!

Concept A modern kitchen  modern kitchen concept accepted


The goal is to have new shots of what we did in 2015 included in the gallery over at the Besh website before the end of January, so stay tuned. Speaking of Besh, we’ve also been working on a new website for it. Aside from making it cleaner & easier to navigate, it will be much more friendly to designers and builders to use!

We’ll leave you with this sneak peek snippet from the new site coming soon to a screen near you….

sustainability screen clip


As always, Cheers.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Pulse check!

Fraser Fir. Mmmmmm.blip. blip. blip.

Yep, still here!

And I have to report that 2015 has been an interesting year. We started out anemic, but when May rolled around our pulse came back & in spite of a slow start it’s been a manageable Steady.

We’re transitioning from a B2C business model to a B2B. That means we’re working directly with builders & designers more than with homeowners. We’ll probably never give up direct homeowner projects, because we learn so much from them, and we meet some really wonderful people!

At the same time, it’s great to work with seasoned folks who understand the building process completely, so we can seamlessly interface with them without extra time for education. That’s a plus when it comes to making product & process improvements too.

Around the corner.

2016 will bring a new & improved Besh website that we’re very excited about. It will make it easier to find the info you’re looking for, whether it’s specs, door style options, or inspiration. And it will be especially Builder and Designer friendly, for the creative folks out there looking to finish out their modern projects with the perfect cabinets!

So take time to smell the Fraser Firs – we sure are. Tis the season!

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.

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