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Turning Japanese: TOTO toilets and washlets at Machen Supply!

Japan is known for many wonderful things: sushi, tea, exquisite housewares, manicured gardens and so much more. In addition to so many lovely things Japan is also known for, shall we say, “high tech” commodes.


Our store is pleased to carry a number of said offerings from the Japanese company TOTO. We currently carry a number of their washlets and commodes. While many focus on the high tech nature of these products, fewer have focused on their eco-benefits.

For example, according to TOTO literature:
The washlet uses water to cleanse and refresh and can significantly reduce the consumption of toilet paper. An independent study has shown that the average family of four uses 183 rolls of toilet paper a year which amounts to 1.3 trees.

Not a bad savings of resources, right? Because it’s not just about saving paper, it’s about saving the resources that go into the process of making, packing and shipping the rolls.

Additionally, TOTO’s  standard (low tech) toilets also have high water efficiency. In fact, besides being the winner of numerous domestic and international awards and recognitions, TOTO is the only plumbing manufacturer honored as Water Efficiency Leader by the Environmental Protection Agency.

I chose to carry TOTO because they are the leader in washlets in the USA and they do a great job of making what could be considered an awkward fixture into something, well, dare I say elegant?

My personal favorite is the TOTO Aquia II Dual Flush Toilet. This high efficiency toilet is WaterSense certified and has an additional dual flush feature. Its streamlined elegant lines put it among my top modern toilet designs.


What do you think, would a Japanese toilet or washlet fit in your American home, or is something lost in translation? ~mb


Just heard about a screening of this movie in San Francisco next week. Looks worth checking out.

Here is the link to the website with more information about this project. ~mb

Mod Chalet

I’ve got a few posts up on our home reno blog, Mod Chalet.

Have I mentioned that we are super excited about this house? It’s a big and welcome change for us, moving from a quaint house in a historic neighborhood to modern one that is steps from trailheads. Up in the Oakland hills, it’s still in our beloved Oakland but it feels like a vacation every time I go up there. Best of all, it’s minutes from downtown Oakland and a hop skip and jump to San Francisco. While there will be some crossover in content, I decided to keep a separate blog because I may have a lot of pictures of pretty trees and hikes and such, which may be a bit off topic for this particular space.

Please have a visit and say hello! And perhaps you can help us with our current conundrum over our walls.


Our new project

Our new house

Keys on Tuesday, neck deep in torn up carpeting by Friday. You know what they say…idle hands.

We will continue to have updates here, but if you’re down with home reno blogs, then you’ll be happy to hear that I’m going to start a separate space with blow by blow details of our goings on. We have boards set up on Pinterest as well— for this along with anything else that might catch our fancy.

More to come on this little project… ~mb

A Peek!

Okay- this is kind of a joke, isn’t it? Definitely a wee peek, but not even as much as a looksy.

So sorry about that.

The truth is that the house has still has a couple more days of escrow so I don’t want to reveal too much. Also, it’s kind of a diamond in the rough. And by that I mean there are some ugly bits. And by that I mean hilariously ugly. So those ugly bits will certainly be entertaining to see, and then we will be making things pretty. And then we will share. So there’s that to look forward to.

In the meantime if you just can’t wait to hear more, please make sure you “like” Machen Supply on Facebook. There are definitely more frequent goodies to be found there.

Have a great weekend, everybody, okay? ~mb


Oh hi– hello there!

How are you? Tell me, how were your holidays?

Um, what’s that?  Where have I been?

Um… you know… cough… around.

Anyway, my sincerest apologies for going missing, dear friends. The store, house hunt, and general holiday mayhem have kept me a tad too busy to properly stay in touch. Forgive me please? Anyway the good news is that we have almost closed escrow on a new massive project house that I’ll be telling you more about  you soon. I can’t wait to share!  ~mb

Movin’ on…

Hello friends-

Yes, it has been a while. So sorry to leave you out of the loop for so long. The past two months have been quite busy, and that, unfortunately has meant that I’ve been neglecting the ol’ blog.

What’s new say you? Well, aside from some great new products in the store, the Machen household is getting some new digs. Over the past two months we’ve moved out and put our home on the market, and over the next few we will be looking for and moving into something new. (But don’t worry fellow Oaklanders, we have no plans to leave our beloved city!)

We, the Machen household, are very excited about finding our next house. We know the process won’t exactly be easy, but here at the honeymoon phase our house hunt, it’s full of possibilities. While our budget is modest, we have dreams that we will finally find a  house that is more in line with our modernist sensibilities, and I personally love the process of transforming a diamond in the rough. Oh, the avocado kitchens we will encounter! The weedy backyards we will endure, the shag carpeting we will suffer. All on the road to making our next house our home.

How about you? Is house hunting a distant memory? Or a recent one you’d like to forget? ~mb

Jonathan Adler Sinks: Now in stock!

We’re delighted to announce that Kohler Colors featuring Jonathan Adler sinks are now in stock at our store!

What? Jonathan Adler sinks, you say, tell me more! Are there fabulous colors, you ask? Why of course, we say— try these 4 classic yet modern hues:
Greenwich Green, Piccadilly Yellow, Palermo Blue and Annapolis Navy.

Want bold some color in the kitchen and want to really show it off ? Choose from the Whitehaven sink for a farmhouse look.

Feeling somewhat divided? Try the Iron/Tones sink.

Love to accessorize? Check out the Riverby sink.

Needs some pizzazz in the bath? Enter the Demi-Lav, Canvas or Tides Sinks.

At varying price points, there’s no excuse to bring some happy chic into your kitchen and bath! Check out the full line right here.  ~mb

Top, Kitchen: Whitehaven Kitchen Sink in Greenwich Green
Kitchen, clockwise from left: Riverby Sink in Palermo Blue, Iron/Tones Sink in Piccadilly Yellow, Blue Okura Planter, Riverby Sink in Annapolis Navy, Carnaby Scale Mug.

Bath, top: Demi-Lav sink in Palermo Blue
Bath, below, clockwise: Canvas sink in Annapolis Navy, Demi-Lav sink in Palermo Blue, Tides single hole sink in Piccadilly Yellow, Demi-Lav sink in Greenwich Green.

Before and After: Small Urban Garden Renovation

Today I thought I would share with you one of our own before and after projects—

When we bought our house, the back “yard” was a big compromise. In fact, it was hardly even a backyard: a narrow strip of land, 14 by 35 feet, covered in cement and squeezed on either side by buildings— nary a plant or ornament save for a trash can and a broken clothes line from the 1950s. But we loved square footage of the house and the walkable, friendly neighborhood so we were willing to overlook the cramped outdoor space.

It sat in that sad, barren state for too many years— until one summer we decided to spend our vacation making an outdoor space for our family.

There were number of challenges with the space, so the first step was to identify the restrictions and requirements:  In our small space we needed: an area for play, an area for eating and cooking, and space for growing fruits and vegetables. Drainage pipes around the perimeter ruled out planting any trees or large shrubs directly in the soil. The house was built in the 1930s in classic Mediterranean style so despite our preference for modern design, we decided to work with the architecture as much as possible. Additionally, with two under two, we had to consider that hardscaping could mean lots of boo-boos.

After we identified the restrictions and requirements, we came up with a plan. We decided to put plants and trees in containers around the perimeter, with focal points on all 4 sides (to distract from the hideous views). Playground mulch covers the entire yard and keeps the weeds at bay while cushioning a toddler’s fall. So not to overwhelm the small space, the plant palette was restricted to just a few Mediterranean plants and colors: lavenders, white blooming plants, succulents and citrus. Window boxes were added to the two story wall above to extend the garden space vertically. Additionally, we built an eight foot high trellis-planter-bench combo to screen our neighbor’s bathroom windows, serve as seating, and grow summer vegetables too!

We laid the groundwork for the project in a week. Cement we had removed before our vacation started, and we spent that week in Spring laying in mulch, weed barriers and putting in plants. A few months later, in the Fall, we added the freestanding trellis and bench structure in a couple of weekends. With a newborn and a two year old, things moved rather slowly so it required a lot of persistence and motivation on our part to get things done. The project cost us around $2,200 including cement removal, wood, window boxes and planter purchases. (The large terracotta pots and furniture were purchased years ago as renters.)
In a few years we’ll probably upgrade some of the materials, but three years after we took that staycation, we’re happy we invested the time and money in our own little urban oasis. It’s an investment that has paid off for us every single day!  ~mb

Civic Center: Making Cities Comfortable


Civic Center is a conglomeration, of sorts, of urban community-minded public art projects. Founded in 2010, Civic Center blends art, design, education, research, and urban planning to create spaces and tools that help people navigate their cities and improve their neighborhoods. Civic Center believes that public spaces should inspire conversation, make the machinery of the city more accessible, and restore a sense of dignity to the public realm.
Make sure to visit the site to see some of the thoughtful public art this organization has been responsible for. ~mb


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