Mother Earth Living

Natural Home Bath of the Year 2006: Green and Serene

A Seattle couple transforms a garish bathroom into a spa-like setting--and even enjoys the process.
By Lori Tobias
September/October 2006
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Photo By Michael Shopenn

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Christine Janikowski has one word to describe her old bathroom: shocking. “Wow, I’ll bet that color really woke up the previous owners in the morning,” she says of the room, which was electric blue when she and her husband, Patrick, bought their house on Mercer Island near Seattle. Christine saw the potential, however, and her bathroom has gone from shocking to spa-like. “Now it’s very calm,” she says. “The natural slate gives it a serene look.”

Using earth-friendly materials made remodeling the bathroom a pleasure, Christine says. “We didn’t have to be bothered by any outgasing from paint or carpet. Living in a healthy home with no noxious fumes is a great joy.”

The Challenges: Finding sustainable materials often can be a headache, but Christine and Patrick had Seattle’s Environmental Home Center resources in their back yard. “If you don’t have a place like this, finding all the products would take an incredible amount of research,” Christine says. “I really appreciated all their educational materials and specs.”

The Joys: “Having a contractor who actually got into this whole thing was great,” Christine says. “He went to the Environmental Home Center and got information on the products I picked. He was very supportive about using green materials and working with us. He had never done anything like this before.”

The Compromises: Finding eco-friendly cabinets. “I did look into wheatboard cabinets, but we were told their longevity isn’t very good,” Christine says. “That was a bit of a disappointment.” The couple had a local cabinetmaker craft laminate-wood cabinets instead.

Our Favorite Features: The cool, maroon Richlite countertops, which pick up the slate’s purple hues. Also, we love the stylish, Italian wall-mounted Saturno faucets from Lacava.

The good stuff

CountertopsRichlite, a natural fiber composite made from renewable and recycled resources, doesn’t outgas and generates no hazardous waste when manufactured.

Sink: The Caroma sink is shallower than the standard bowl, so it takes less water to fill.

Toilet: The Caroma dual-flush toilet lets users choose less or more water as needed.

Flooring, backsplash and tub surround: Natural slate

Paint: No-VOC American Pride paint (in white vermouth) keeps indoor air free of harmful chemicals and odors.

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