Monday March 31, 2014
As I delve more deeply into the world of eco-friendly bathroom products and materials, I'm both delighted and a bit dismayed. Delighted, because there are so many smart and committed companies bringing attractive and and widely-available green products to consumers. I'm less thrilled with the choices in formaldehyde-free vanities and cabinets, however. Unless you're going the custom route -- which may be beyond the budgets of many folks --there isn't too much to choose from right now. I'm confident this won't always be the case, but until the industry catches up with the demand for healthier home building products, it's probably best to build it yourself. Unless you've got deep pockets, of course.
Friday March 28, 2014
After stumbling across this amazing photo on a retro design blog, it reminded me that that not everyone wants or needs a contemporary bathroom with the latest fixtures and high-tech surfaces. While the goal for most of us is a functional, clean and comfortable space, there's no rule that says that's not possible when your bathroom resembles an Art Deco hotel in Miami Beach. In fact, there are many young homeowners who take great pains to preserve or even re-create vintage details such as this shower mural. If you're one of them, I salute you, and suggest you visit retrorenovation.com if you need help tracking down that pink tile.
Photo © MidModMegg
Tuesday March 25, 2014
We moderns may think we've invented the whole green building thing, but the Ancient Romans actually figured it out about 2,000 years ago. In fact, Roman concrete was not only exceptionally eco-friendly, but superior to the stuff we use today in everything from sidewalks to home foundations to recycled countertops to bathroom tile. Unfortunately, the age-old recipe remained a frustrating secret until last spring, when researchers from the University of California, Berkeley unlocked the answer. By extracting samples from an underwater floor dating back to 37 B.C., they discovered that the Roman mixture of lime, volcanic ash and seawater was not only super strong, but greener than today's Portland cement, the making of which accounts for 7 percent of the concrete industry's carbon dioxide emissions. Let's hope we can find a way to adapt this age-old technology to modern home design.
Photo © dgoomany via Creative Commons
Wednesday March 19, 2014
Beer bottles, broken mirrors, seashells, old newspapers, car windshields...the list of trash that conservation-minded companies around the world are re-purposing as eco-friendly countertops is truly awe inspiring. One of the coolest I've come across lately is a Minneapolis company called Nuxite, which is making sustainable surfaces out of crushed walnut shells. The result is warm, lightweight and durable, with no toxic chemicals or fumes to worry about. What will they think of next?
Photo © Natural Built Home