How to Green a Bathroom

In eco-remodeling, compromise is often necessary, but even small green choices help the environment. Here’s how Dallas designer Helen Erdman transformed a tiny bathroom into a purposeful space.

| September/October 2007

  • Scott and Alice Wilson's newly greened bathroom.
    Photo By Terri Glanger
  • The homeowners purchased the unique Talavera sink during a trip to Pueblo, Mexico. Local artisans handcraft the vessels using local clay and then fire them using mineral-based enamels.
    Photo By Terri Glanger
  • The galvanized tin ceiling.
    Photo By Terri Glanger
  • The shower floor is finished with natural, honed river rock from DuraTile, with a sustainable, chemical-free webbing and good slip resistance.
    Photo By Terri Glanger

At first glance, Dallas designer Helen Erdman had her work cut out for her: Her clients, Scott and Alice Wilson, wanted to upgrade a rarely used master bathroom in their circa-1950 Dallas ranch home, and they had some distinct plans for the project. “They wanted to revitalize the room and use it as a guest bathroom because it was accessible from the back yard, where there’s a swimming pool and cabana,” Erdman says.

Erdman is a firm believer in making remodels sustainable, functional and beautiful. “It’s just as easy to complete projects with green and safe materials as not,” she says. She chose water-saving devices such as a low-flow toilet and showerhead from Kohler. Here's a look at some of the eco-friendly features of Scott and Alice's remodeled bathroom:

■ A beautiful blue piece of custom glass evokes the owners’ wish for a whimsical outhouse look.

■ Erdman worked with contractor Gary Buckner to remove an existing window and install an exterior wood door that accesses the patio. She hand finished the door herself, weathering it to a silvery finish. Swimmers in the adjacent pool area now can use the bathroom/dressing room.

■ To go the extra eco-mile look for doors that are salvaged from old buildings or built from sustainably forested wood. Try Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores for salvaged building materials.

■ To save bathroom space Erdman placed shelves and a niche in the shower. Removing the typical chrome trim on the glass enclosure helps give the illusion of a larger space, and a Solatube skylight adds natural light. The rimless shower glass, natural stone, a water-resistant mahogany cabinet and a wall-mounted faucet create an easy-to-clean environment.

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