Small Master Bath – Borrowed Space

z bath indigo light

By Chet Zebroski

While working on the American Clay installation in our soon to be Den/Guest Room, we discovered loose tiles in our Master Bathroom shower.  There was no way around it, the Master Bathroom was to be our next excursion into transforming the style and use pattern of our humble ranch home.

Sarah Susanka has received notoriety for promoting the concept of living small in her book “The Not So Big House”.  It’s an observation contrasting developed space, small versus large, focusing on what makes a home special.  She puts forth that it’s not size so much that makes a place special, as it is it’s function, detailing, and relation to adjacent spaces.  The main point being: invest money on details and relationships, not necessarily on square footage.

Her work and observations flowed perfectly into and beyond the training we received while working at JSW/D, coauthors of “A Pattern Language” (another book on the study of successful design patterns).  JSW/D wrote a follow up to Pattern Language titled “Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Enduring Design”.  It’s a book focused on successful residential design patterns only.  A link to the residential design patterns list can be accessed here.

Using these guides as a foundation for decisions, we saw an opportunity to improve our sense of space by enlarging the doorway into the bathroom and borrowing space from an adjacent closet and under the existing roof eave.  This is an example of the tactic “borrowed space”.  In one case, by enlarging the size of the door from 24″ to 64″ we gained a sense of space from the hall.  In another, by extending into an adjacent closet and under the existing roof, we take advantage of those elements and evolve their function with a new use pattern for our daily activities.

This is the wake up room.  The place where we spend time preparing to meet the day.  In a small space such as our bathroom, we worked to minimize visual clutter to maximize a sense of tranquility.  So, we took care to choose each detail carefully, assuring a pleasant space.  Though the selection phase was slow and deliberate, the end result is that each and every element was chosen by us, with no exceptions.  It was worth the effort in the end.

We got some positive press from Fine Homebuilding in their Fall/Winter 2007 issue when we completed this aspect of work.  Here’s a copy of the article below in pdf form.  (Reprinted with permission © 2007, The Taunton Press, Inc.)

FHB Zs master bath
fine home building master bath article
fine home building master bath article
FHB Zs master bath

Earthing Our Homes – Grounded Floors?

By Chet Zebroski

In the previous post we mentioned we would expand on the concept of Earthing in our homes.  As curious designers we ordered a continuity tester from to determine if our floors are grounded in our homes.  One has a raised floor with slate tiles which contact a masonry fireplace with a concrete foundation and the other has a slate tile floor over a concrete slab floor.  To our surprise, both of our homes have large areas of tile that are well Earthed, or grounded.  We can see by using the device that when we stand on the tiled surfaces of our homes, negative electrons are entering our bodies, grounding us and creating the Umbrella Effect.

What’s so good about that?  In addition to the previous article’s list of benefits, one not mentioned is that negative electrons are a source of natural antioxidants!  Here’s a paste from an article at  “The Ultimate Antioxidant: Fight Premature Aging for Free”

“…Earthing systems have emphasized the fact that Earthing greatly reduces your exposure to fields from electrical wiring, using evidence provided by the body voltage meter as shown above. While this is probably correct, reducing exposure to power frequency fields (including dirty electromagnetic fields) is definitely not the most important consequence of Earthing. Far more significant for health is the ability of Earthing systems to deliver antioxidant electrons that stabilize the operation of the immune system and other physiological processes in the body.”

Here’s a link to the article:

So, beyond shielding us from potentially destructive EMF radiation, Earthing is also a natural source of antioxidants which have the capacity to improve our overall health!  Stay tuned and get grounded!

EMF’s and Grounding – Earthing

Earthing the most important health discovery ever cover

By Chet Zebroski

The concept of Earthing is a recent development. The book “Earthing, The most important health discovery ever?” shares the process of discovery and development of the concept of Earthing, or reconnecting one’s self to Earth.

Our bodies are bioelectrical marvels that evolved in direct contact with mother earth. It’s a fact that both the earth and our bodies have an electro/magnetic field surrounding us all the time. We evolved in this manner.

Over the last many decades we have been separated from earth contact by the use of synthetic lined shoes, wood framed floors, multi story housing and offices, etc. We contact the earth far less than our ancestors did. That’s an undeniable fact. In addition, in the same timeframe, technologies have evolved to include new EMF fields that appear to be having a negative effect on our health. Coincidently, we see an increase in health issues in face of medical advances.

While our earlier posts on the subject of EMF’s related to devices that harmonize with or block/redirect the field as means of providing a sense of safety, this post focuses on a completely different approach. According to research, Earthing provides a free flow of negative electrons fed from the earth to counter the multiple effects of inflammation caused by radiation, or exposure to EMF’s. This graphic from page 80 captures the shielding effect quite well:

Unbrella effect Earthing

Our exposure to this new level of radiation (EMF’s) is just one form of pollution which create the inflammation in our blood cells which then may cause disorder in our health. Here’s a list of health issues related to inflammation from pg 63:

Infammation health impact list

The photo below shows how Earthing regularly can assist in the decoupling our blood cells, pg 175.

Healthier blood due to Earthing

This discovery is directly related to the concept of a Healthy Home.  Following up on this important information we invested in a number of Earthing devices.  It occurs to us we should be able to design for a well grounded structure.  We’ll follow up on this in our next article on EMF’s.

In the meantime, keep that cell phone away from your head and do what you can to keep grounded!

Assoc. links:

More on EMF’s, RF, Radiation, WiFi, etc. and Our Health

By Chet Zebroski

Recently, we heard another interview about the effects of EMF and Radiation on KPFA.  Thank you Your Own Health And Fitness for bringing this to our attention!

Program description: EMF/RF remediation consultant Michael Neuert discusses how to protect yourself at home and work from electromagnetic fields that can create health problems.

Another resource for understanding the impact of EMF’s and means of protection can be found in this book, Overpowered, by Martin Blank.


“Martin Blank deals with a difficult subject in a scientifically accurate but easily readable fashion. He covers everything from powerlines, to cell phones, to light bulbs, to conflicts of interest, with humor and passion. In this great scientist, we have an unlikely activist and truth teller.”—David O. Carpenter, M.D., Director, Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany

An interview with Martin Blank:

Potential related illnesses:

  • Cellular stress, DNA damage, free radicals, gene damage, leading to 
  • Cancer risk increase
  • Increased male infertility
  • Reproductive health risk via prenatal exposure
  • Increased cases of ADHD
  • In children: Increase in headaches /migraines, hearing loss, ADHD

Cell phone radiation is currently a hot topic and this interview emphasizes the impact of the entire EMF range, including light bulbs and their effect on the wiring in our homes.  In his book “Overpowered” he provides a remedy for our homes and beyond.

While both Laurie and I have purchased the Pong case (referenced earlier) for our cell phones, I sent an email to Safe Space Protection to inquire about their alternate method of creating a harmonizing field. Current thinking is that it may be wise to use both, for now.

We’ll share more as we dig in deeper on this important subject.  We’re very interested in the technology that is said to balance the radiation field, rendering it harmless.  The Pong case redirects the radiation, towards the backside of the phone.  One can actually feel the heat building on the backside of the phone when in use.  So, it’s advised to use ear buds, or some other device to keep the phone away from our bodies.

Our long term goal in this research is to discover the issues faced in the home and how to reduce or eliminate the potential hazard in our residential design work.

Home Design – Natural Daylighting

By Chet Zebroski

Once the water intrusion, air infiltration, and insulation solutions were installed in our crawl space, we moved our attention onto interior improvements.  With the desire of opening up circulation and providing natural light into a dark hall, we started by removing a door and related framing to allow additional daylight to enter the hall space from the Living Room.

We considered adding a skylight for natural day light, but the roof form over the hall where we’d like to place one is way too complicated.  So, we came up with the idea of borrowing light from a bedroom window and feeding it through a large display niche into the hallway.

What happened is that while contemplating a solution for gaining natural light in the hallway, a friend/client and I bartered an exchange.  I did some design work for him, and he did some glass blowing for me.  His work actually inspired the concept of the niche in the hallway instead of a skylight because we needed a place to display his art.

It occurred to us that by using a niche as a light-source / display-space in the hallway, we could also expand the niche on the bedroom side and provide a built-in cabinet. ~and, avoid the hassle of putting in a skylight.  We wanted to make improvement to the bedroom, too.  So, it’s kind of a two-fer.

We love built-ins and the charm they bring to a home.  So, game on!

By removing a door and related framing from a hall entry, and providing a source of light from an adjacent bedroom’s window via a large niche, we provide natural daylight into what was once a dark hallway.  These pictures should be self explanatory…

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