One person’s junk may be another person’s treasure

If you spend any time perusing home decorating magazines or websites, you may have noticed the trend of integrating salvaged or reclaimed wood into remodeled kitchens. I’ve seen it used as the panels that back an island, as open shelving, and even as bar or island countertops. This look may not be for every taste, but I think it can provide a nice rustic look and an interesting textural element that can really warm up your space and add a unique touch to your project. You may wonder, “where does this stuff come from?”.

Surely you can’t just pull off the road and start dismantling some old barn that seems to be falling apart anyway. That might get you arrested, or even shot!

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to pay a visit to Heritage Salvage in Petaluma, California. At first glance, this place appears to be no more than a somewhat organized junkyard. There are piles of old timbers and rusty objects that seem to defy description.

But with some patience and a little imagination, you can begin to see that there’s a treasure trove of interesting building materials in abundance. They also have a showroom where they showcase the ways that they’ve incorporated reclaimed wood into flooring, wall cladding, and furniture.

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I spotted a container full of large slices of tree trunks, just waiting to be turned into a bar or island counter. They may look a bit rough and unfinished, but the folks at Heritage will sand, stain and finish them to specification.  Now, I’m waiting for the right client and project to put one of these beauties to use!

How Is A Remodeling Project Like Taking A Hike?

 

I’d love to say, “Because it’s just a walk in the park!”, which would be great if everything always went according to plan. But as you probably know, life has a way of throwing us curve balls, and sometimes, we’re doing some throwing of our own.

I enjoy hiking as my primary form of exercise, and try to get out at least twice a week. If you live in the Bay Area, you know that we’ve had a lot of rain this winter, which translates to a lot of mud on the trails. Compound that with the fact that in the winter and spring, we get to share our regional parks with lots of cattle. Hiking in the parks these days can be more than a little challenging. My hiking buddy and I have been mostly limiting our hikes to one park that has a trail that’s primarily gravel. So, we were out on our usual route today, when I suggested we mix it up a bit. Seeing as how it was a pretty decent day, and we had lots of time, and I had a handy dandy PDF of the trail map on my iPhone, what could go wrong? Well, we slogged through the mud, climbing higher up in the park, and the trail got fainter and more vague. Then, I slipped in a cow pie, and promptly fell on my butt, wrenching my knee in the process. At this point we were about 4 miles from where the car was parked, up high in the park with a nearly non-existent trail and a bum knee.

So, back to the remodeling project….sometimes you’re about halfway through the job, your kitchen, for all practical purposes is non-existent, you haven’t prepared or eaten a decent meal in weeks, and you wondered why you ever started this mess in the first place. Everything may be going along exactly as planned, but if just feels like it’s taking forever because you’re sick of living with the mess. Or, maybe like my idea to try a new trail, you threw your own curve ball into the job (“as long as the contractor is here and everything is torn up anyway, let’s________”. Fill in the blank. Add some skylights, replace all the flooring in the house at the same time, …..

Meanwhile, what has happened to the intrepid hikers? Well, once we had lost the trail, we had been trudging for quite a while up a hill through the mud, and had no desire to re-trace our steps. We could see a wider trail far below, so we had to totter (or in my case, limp) down a steep rutted hill to a muddy (of course!) trail, cross a creek a couple of times, and eventually we found ourselves on a familiar route that headed back to the car.

So, rest assured that your torn up space will being to take on the familiar appearance of a kitchen, or bath, as the case may be. Cabinets and appliances, or other fixtures appear, counters are installed, and you will begin to feel like the end is in sight, and has all been worth it in the long run.

This is a picture that I took after we climbed the hill, before things started to go downhill, literally and figuratively
This is a picture that I took after we climbed the hill, before things started to go downhill, literally and figuratively

Is Green Design a “Thing” Anymore?

 

IMG_6077   About 10 years ago, I began taking classes at UC Berkeley Extension to complete a certificate program in Sustainable Design. As I to worked my way through the program, I began to wonder if eventually, the terms Sustainable Design, or Green Design would become redundant, because all good design would automatically incorporate sustainability. Well, I must not have been the only one to sense that things were heading in that direction, because it wasn’t long after that, just as I was completing the program, that the school stopped offering that particular certificate.

   Increasingly, building codes are being changed that require more water saving and energy saving products than ever before. And, many companies are incorporating sustainable practices into their materials and manufacturing processes.

   You may wonder what constitutes a sustainable or “green” design, and how do you incorporate these concepts into your home remodel project? There are actually a lot of different criteria to consider when evaluating the sustainability of a product or process, and the choice as to what you consider to be a top priority is often an individual decision.

Some of these aspects of sustainability are:

• Personal use of resources in your home, such as how much energy or water is used.

• The wise use of resources in the manufacturing of a product.

• The distance that materials have to travel to get to your job-site, affecting the carbon footprint.

• The responsible resourcing of materials, such as sustainably grown wood for floors and cabinets.

• The policies and practices of the companies that manufacture the products that you choose.

• The way that products affect the immediate environment within the home, especially with regard to off-gassing and materials that create poor indoor air quality.

 

   If these are issues that are of concern to you, it can be confusing and overwhelming to do the research and make choices that are best suited to your individual needs and requirements. Let us use our knowledge and expertise to guide and assist you to find the products that you can incorporate into your remodeling project that will help keep your home and planet happy and healthy.