Eco-Friendly Alternatives for Home
In 2005, Taja di Leonardi and Nina Boeddeker founded a unique business on Berkeley’s bustling San Pablo Avenue. Dubbed Ecohome Improvement (2619 San Pablo Ave., 510-644-3500), their company is a boon to East Bayers who don’t want to give up style for environmental sustainability. The corner shop offers quite an array of ecologically sound home goods, from paint to flooring to plaster. Thinking of remodeling your kitchen? Head here pronto. Di Leonardi says that most of Ecohome’s customers are “do-it-yourselfers and buy-it-yourselfers,” so even if you don’t have a background in construction, stop by to see what sorts of ideas the spot will give you. And if you’re inspired enough to start in on a project that requires help, don’t fret. The store has an in-house kitchen designer and can hook you up with a green-minded contractor. Here is a roundup of six of Ecohome’s most desirable offerings.
1Retail Therapy has been to the average kitchen showcase shop, and while there may be a few nice drawer pulls and cabinet knobs lying around, there’s been little to really tickle a fancy. But one step into Ecohome and RT was instantly drawn to the knobs and pulls by Seattle-based Spectra Decor. Made from 100 percent recycled glass and lead-free pewter, they’re more like jewelry for your cabinetry than any plain-Jane functional metal drawer pull could ever be. They come in round, square and elongated styles, and RT especially loves the milky-hued opaque glass, although the line also comes in a variety of colors, including greens reminiscent of sea-smoothed glass. ($34–$56 each for cabinetry hardware)
2If you’re looking for a chic-yet-good-for-the-Earth kitchen backsplash, look no further than Terra Green’s recycled-glass tiles, arrayed in drawers with RT’s favorite Spectra pulls! These Richmond, Ind.-made tiles come in a variety of sizes, including 4 inches by 4 inches, 3 inches by 6 inches and 8 inches by 8 inches. Choose from up to 22 colors—from sophisticated neutrals to cheery brights—all certified as sustainably harvested and made with 55 percent recycled glass. ($15.84–$18.70 per square foot)
3Though the word “Marmoleum” may conjure up the icky British sandwich spread, at Ecohome it’s an eco-friendly alternative to linoleum. Made with renewable ingredients, the flooring comes in a slew of patterns along with a 25-year warranty. While many of the styles are in subtle, neutral tones, RT was immediately drawn to the likes of “passionata,” a retro swirl of red, orange, bright pink and shocking blue, and “sgraffito,” mainly black with some white marbling, reminiscent of an old-fashioned composition notebook. ($3.99 per square foot in sheets or $5.99 per square foot in click panels)
4Paperstone countertop is smooth, heat resistant and simply gorgeous. And, as its name implies, it’s made with 100 percent recycled paper. The line comes in a sophisticated color palette, including very, very dark evergreen, a subtly purple maroon, on-the-very-edge-of-black slate and honey-hued straw. Your kitchen can be glam while conserving resources—
the production of a 1-inch-by-5-foot-by-12-foot sheet of Paperstone saves 1,233 gallons of water and 2.03 BTUs of energy when compared with regular countertop material. ($90–$110 per square foot installed)
5Dreaming of a custom kitchen? Look no further. Ecohome has its own line of cabinetry, made of sustainable woods and soy-based glue by a fabricator in nearby Richmond. Ecohome also delivers finished products in a biodiesel-run truck. The company has 30 different door panels; gorgeous wood choices, including bamboo, maple, cherry and poplar; and all the trimmings, like corner-saving Lazy Susans. And the cabinets aren’t just for kitchens—let your bathroom fantasies run wild, too. These cabinets are slightly more expensive than the prefab cabinets you’d find at a traditional kitchen joint, but they’re custom-made to your specifications, which is priceless. (Price varies; visit Ecohome for a ballpark estimate.)
6Finally, for the pièce de résistance, visit Ecohome’s paint bar. Complete with tea and cookies on hand, the bar itself is made of reclaimed hardwood and is home to an array of color choices. Bring in a color chip from any paint manufacturer, and Ecohome will match the hue without the toxins. Or choose from a whole assortment of color cards at the store. Ecohome’s nontoxic paints are free of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs (which means they don’t emit significant pollutants and are almost odor-free), and have the Green Seal of approval (www.greenseal.org) because they’re lacking in a wide range of chemicals and hard metals found in some nongreen paints. Interior or exterior, your home—and lungs—will thank you for thinking green. ($34.99–$39.99 per gallon).
—By Elise Proux