This project is a sustainable renovation for a family of four in a house built 20 years ago in Toronto Ontario. The entire house was renovated from the attic to the basement, with materials chosen to reflect the client’s interest in sustainable building and eclectic taste.
Materials were chosen to address concerns about off-gassing of formaldehyde and VOC’s, therefore the countertop and fixtures used in the kitchen used recycled stainless steel, and complimented the inventive backsplash, which is made from cork flooring, painted glass and a salvaged wood shelf. The backsplash in the Powder Room made use of left over metal flashing from the roof.
The kitchen cabinetry is constructed of locally sourced FSC walnut on the exterior, and FSC Formaldehyde Free MDF shelves on the interior. There is also a bar countertop made from a FSC certified material of post-consumer recycled paper and petroleum-free resin, painted a bright orange colour with LED lighting from beneath the ledge to give it a vibrant glow.
The existing fireplace had not been properly insulated so a new, more efficient fireplace was put in and the surround was properly insulated with recycled denim batting. Alternatives for the new fireplace mantel included trips to salvage stores and antique shops, but in the end, the client opted for a clean-lined surround (built with FSC lumber and high recycled NAUF drywall and finger-jointed mouldings made from off-cuts). The surround was painted (with low-VOC paint) and decorated with reclaimed early 19th century French tiles collected at auction and a 4” thick slab of salvaged Brown Ash finished in natural oils to reveal the grain.
A built-in bookshelf replaces the upstairs banister (which was re-used for the stair leading to the basement). The bookshelf is made of beautiful salvaged white oak which has been hand rubbed with oil/varnish to give it a deep brown tone with lots of character and patina. The back of the bookshelf is backed with steel wire (traditionally used as reinforcement in cement), which helps light pass from the upper floor to the main and provides interest to the stairs.
To reduce water consumption throughout the house, a tankless water heater was installed, as well as low flush toilets and low flow showerheads in the bathrooms. The garden was planted with indigenous plants to reduce the need for watering.
The urban sustainable renovation project has the following features;
The builder also has a rigorous system of disposing materials sustainably. He provide the following statistics on this project;
The client, Bettina Hoar, was so enthusiastic about what she learned in working with us and the builder that we recommended (we set up interviews with 4 builders for her to select from) that after it was finished, she went on to open up her own sustainable renovating and consulting business called ‘Sage Idea Studio‘ with partner Amanda Levey. Their business intent is to help Toronto homeowners and small businesses to integrate sustainble design, architecture, products and services. Bettina was directly involved with the builder selecting materials, picking up supplies at times, finding great recycled products. She choose her own colours and fixtures and found a new career in discovering her love of working with unique & innovative sustainable ways to create a new home for her family. We are very proud of this project and the great collaborative effort with all parties involved!