For the past several months, my boyfriend and I have been house hunting. We’re first-time home buyers, so we’ve been looking at a lot of different types of houses and are considering quite a variety of options. The boyfriend—James—is quite handy and has done some contracting in the past, so we are looking for something that needs some work. We want to personalize our space and to hopefully increase the property’s value by putting in some good, old-fashioned elbow grease—and we want to use eco-friendly materials to do it. After working at Natural Home for more than two years, I’ve definitely got some design ideas in mind. Each house we look at, it seems, is transformed in our minds into a greener version of itself: We’re imagining stained concrete floors, clay plaster walls, cork floors in some rooms, low-flow fixtures and native plantings in the yard.
One thing I’ve noticed as we’ve shopped for homes throughout Lawrence, Kansas, is the interesting mix of green features that you find in various houses. Older houses usually aren’t very energy efficient and they don’t have efficient windows or appliances. But, in exchange, you do get real wood floors, quality craftsmanship, architectural details and sometimes the odd healthy feature, like a whole-house exhaust fan. On the other hand, newer homes are often more energy efficient, with low-E windows and more insulation. But they are also often filled with formaldehyde-containing particleboard and lower-quality features, such as wood laminate flooring and vinyl countertops. As we go about our search, it definitely helps to have so much knowledge about green remodeling in my head. I realize we will have to compromise on some items, but knowing various techniques, creative ideas and all the possibilities that are out there is certainly a help when looking for the perfect fixer-upper.
We haven’t found the right house yet, but I am excited to get to try some of the green remodeling concepts I’ve read about in Natural Home over the years. In coming blogs, I hope to report that we’ve found a house and are starting our remodeling. I’ll let you know how it goes...