Dwell marvels at Setsumasa and Mami Kobayashi’s not-so-primitive weekend getaway located in Japan's Chichibu mountain range. By day, the couple chop wood and trim trees while at night they "sit around a campfire and eat Japanese curry, listen to Phish, and balance their laptops on their knees." And oh yeah, they sleep in big, yellow rooftop tents from The North Face that are accessible through the interior of the home via ladder or wall-mounted climbing holds. That's the woodsy compound pictured above. 

The Wall Street Journal takes a ringside seat to watch home improvement giants Lowes and Home Depot duke it out in the "battle to engineer prettier, sturdier, longer-lasting blooms." Reports the WSJ: "This year, Home Depot is touting an exclusive 'Stellar Blue' ageratum, or floss flower, that hides faded blooms as it grows, requiring less clipping. Lowe's, meanwhile, is promoting a double-flowered African daisy called 'Double Ballerina.'"

Details goes dumpster diving with salvage-happy NYC-based "interior designers to the stars bars," Johnny McCormick and Alex Kravchuk. 

Fast Company travels to the suburbs to partake in a bit of whimsical reimagining — courtesy Dutch design collective Droog and eco-minded architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro — of the original, mass-produced planned community: Levittown, NY. "Aereotropolis" author Greg Lindsay reports. 

The Scientific American asks: "Do Furniture Flame Retardants Save Enough Lives to Justify Their Environmental Damage?"

The New York Times heads to the Garden State where residents are up in arms about "ugly" and "hideous" solar panel installations popping up around New Jersey neighborhoods, often without warning. Explains the NYTimes: "New Jersey is second only to California in solar power capacity thanks to financial incentives and a public policy commitment to renewable energy industries seeded during Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s administration. But what might have been a point of pride in a state better known as the nation’s leader in toxic Superfund sites has instead caused suburban aesthetic unrest."

Sunset shares a few tips and tidbits on how to transform a cramped and unattractive interior into a cramped and Sunset magazine-worthy interior. A few of the 16 tips? "mix high and low," "update secondhand furnishings," and "add fancy touches in small doses."

The Los Angeles Times wonders: "Can I recycle ... Brita and Pur water filters?" The short answer? No. 

The Brooklyn Paper reports that the IKEA store in Red Hook, Brooklyn (just a few blocks from this blogger's own IKEA'd out apartment) now offers "fuel from meatballs — and the sun." Earlier this week, a 1,104 panel-strong solar array (at 19,000 square feet it's the largest solar array in Brooklyn) atop the store officially went live. 

TreeHugger eyes ten "good but not great" recycling bins for the home. Writes TH: "We understand it's hard to get green product designs to market at a good price. Still, why have so few eco design wizards tried their hand at designing a recycling bin system that looks good, takes up as little floorspace as possible, and has enough compartments?"

Core77 suggests a housing solution for all of you nutjobs, conspiracy theorists, and home invasion sufferers: the KWK Promes-designed Safe House, a "Modernist structure with a James-Bondian trick: Flip a switch and a series of sliding walls and rollgates buttons you up tighter than troops in a bunker."

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.