Posts Tagged ‘sustainable remodeling’

Sustainable Home Remodeling – Cork Floors and Zero VOC Paint

October 10, 2009 2 comments

Railing After Sustainable Remodeling ProjectIt is amazing what new flooring and paint can do to update your home.  And if you are concerned about the health of your family and that of the planet, it is nice to know that these days you can easily source eco-friendly paint and flooring materials.

In our first post for this Sustainable Home Remodeling Series, we pondered aloud whether a sustainable remodeling project could bring a 1970 split level home from decidedly dated to hip and comfortable.  Check out the before and after pictures below and let us know what you think.  If you like what you see, we’ve got more specifics on the cork and paint at the end of this post.  You may also find our post on DIY floating floor installation to be useful.

Living Room Before:
Living Room Before Sustainable Remodeling Project

Living Room After:
Living Room After Sustainable Remodeling Project

Family Room Before:
Family Room After Sustainable Remodeling Project

Family Room After:
Family Room After Sustainable Remodeling Project

Materials List

Living Room:

Family Room:

  • Westhollow “Baffin” floating cork floor – $2.49/s.f. on sale when we bought it from e-tailer iFloor
  • Benjamin Moore Natura Zero VOC paint, Grasshopper and Agave Walls and Fireplace Accent – $49/gallon
  • More of the leftover Benjamin Moore Eco Spec Low VOC paint, Super White Trim and Fireplace


We don’t have a good before shot of the railing pictured at the top of the post, but we included it because it gives a good visual impression of the power of Benjamin Moore’s Affinity color deck.

The Affinity deck, available at Benjamin Moore retailers, is a work of genius in that any color you pick from the 144-color deck will work with any other color in the deck.  For color-challenged folks like me and Lara, it takes a lot of the stress out of paint color selection.  I refer to it as Grr-Animals for paint.  We used the Kasbah (plum) and Rattan (khaki) colors in Natura on the railing blocks for some color pops, and also threw in the orange color that was left over from a friend’s recent painting project.

Alright, that’s it on the updates to our 1970 home for now.  We’re working on finishing up the kitchen and bathrooms.  When we do, we’ll be posting about bamboo cabinets and vanities and the nicest concrete countertops you’ve ever seen being custom-made by the guys at Concrete Visions.

In the mean time, if you’ve got some painting to do, think about paint that will keep your family from breathing volatile organic compounds.  And if you’ve got flooring to replace, consider rapidly renewing, warm and naturally antimicrobial cork.

And if you are thinking of buying a home in the near future, this should give you hope that without a lot of investment, it’s possible to refresh an average, older home without much more than paint, and perhaps updated flooring like we have shown here. The Green Team Real Estate is especially experienced with helping clients find homes such as these that they can get into affordably and make their own. Get in touch with us if you need to find an agent for your Northern Colorado home purchase.  We are ready to help!

Not So Big Living = Green Living

February 8, 2009 2 comments

One of the simplest strategies for living a greener life in a more eco-friendly home is to subscribe to the teachings of architect Sarah Susanka.  Susanka is the author of the bestselling “The Not So Big House” series, in which she makes the compelling case for choosing quality and efficiency of space over square footage.  Her upshot – a smaller, carefully planned home will always feel more comfortable and cozy than the vacuous expanses of your typical McMansion or Starter Castle.  From an environmental perspective, the benefits of not so big are obvious…a smaller home requires fewer resources and less embodied energy to build, and generally consumes less energy to heat, cool and illuminate. 


Dave and I live in a 1,200 square foot house built in 1952.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, it is quite energy-inefficient (we’ll be working on that, one project at a time) and we do have a long-range plan to expand our livable square footage to approximately 1,900.  We have lots of family and friends visiting us in Colorado, and putting visitors up in my office with an inflatable mattress on the floor and sharing a single bathroom with all of them is a true test of family and friendship bonds.  Of course, we’ll be blogging about our energy efficiency improvements and sustainable remodeling project efforts along the way.


So if you are thinking about a new home, think about how not so big principles could help you buy or build less house than you might otherwise have done.  Better still, think about how you might implement not so big to stay in your current home and make it work for you.  In particular, Susanka’s books “Not So Big Remodeling…” and “Not So Big Solutions for Your Home” can help you be happy staying put.  Your soul and your wallet will thank you. 


What?  You say need room for all of your stuff?  Re-think that too.   We’ve all fallen into the trap of filling up space with stuff we rarely (if ever) use.  A move to a new home can be a great time to sort and shed stuff (be sure to google “donate used your city” to locate organizations who can put everything from eyeglasses to clothes to sports gear to vehicles to productive re-use).  It is also an excellent opportunity to start a new habit of buying and accumulating less.   Look to George Carlin for humorous inspiration .  On the serious side, consider Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff”


So, get inspired to live larger by living not so big – dig into Sarah Susanka’s great work, and check out the quick video below which shows an example of not so big put into practice in our home.