Making a House an Eco-Friendly Home

I’m excited to share my home renovation with you. It’s been a crazy time for my family because renovations are never easy, fast, or fun. And with two little kids and a company to run, it might not have been the best-timed idea. (Ha!) But, now, with all that in the past, I’m stoked to be here, sitting back, chilling in the yard.

Instead of building up or out, we chose to keep the mid-century house small and manageable because we wanted more outdoor living than indoor space. We do live in California, after all! When building this house, I sought to make everything as eco-friendly as possible, but of course when budget is a concern it wasn’t always feasible. So, I did the best I could to find affordable “green” options. I was surprised to learn that there were many great alternatives when it came to landscape, tile, and kitchen cabinets.

Eco-Friendly Refurbished Concrete Floors

To stay true to our budget, I chose more common eco-friendly products instead of large labels that read “sustainable.” We also made it priority to shop local and work with craftsman from the community. For example, when it came to flooring, we were torn. Flooring is expensive and rarely eco-friendly, unless you spend half your entire house budget on it. We could have gone with flooring materials that claimed they were “eco-friendly,” but instead we got rid of the 40-year-old linoleum floors and re-surfaced the concrete underneath. Not only is this the cheapest way to go, but it’s the most eco-friendly because we used no extra material and didn’t use any glues.

Use Non-Toxic, No-VOC Paints to Refurbish a Door

We also have a 40-year-old front door. Originally, we planned to get a new door because this one was pretty darn rickety. But we decided it was worth restoring and not getting rid of. So, we got new hardware and painted it BLUE! (And we used all non-toxic, VOC free paints.)

Sometimes eco-friendly choices are about using what you already have or using things that last a long time. Like the original owner that had not made a single change to the home since he purchased it 40 years ago (now THAT is what I see as true sustainability), we tried to keep as much of the home as we could without fully becoming one of the Brady Bunch.

I did splurge, however, on a few eco-friendly items that were very important to me. Like my kids’ bunk beds and their mattresses. I’m sure if you’ve looked into buying an organic mattress, you know what I’m talking about. The sticker shock is almost a joke, but because children spend a lot of time sleeping I didn’t want them to rest their heads on an off-gassing or chemically laden product. Similarly, we purchased their beds from a really special eco-friendly children’s furniture line. Not only are the construction and materials sustainable, but we know the beds are of a long-lasting quality—we owned a crib by the same brand that both my boys slept in and it’s now in somebody else’s home (thanks Craigslist!) being used yet again in perfect condition. That’s a great product.

Another non-negotiable design feature was the boys’ bathroom. I wanted the entire thing to be tiled. As if you were walking into one big shower when you entered the door. Tile is very expensive, but I found honed marble tiles (a natural stone that will last for years) on sale for $7 per square foot and that was a total steal.

Our kitchen was something we couldn’t restore! It had to be torn out. We went with a European kitchen cabinetry from Poggenphol. It’s the same kitchen they used in the first ever LEED certified home in California. Even cooler was that it was extremely affordable.

As far as landscaping, I had one major request: Everything planted must either require little to no water or be edible! So we have avocado, meyer lemon, apple, fig, lime and plum trees. Along with a small herb garden. (A larger garden will be done later and documented on my blog Pure Mamas, so stay tuned for that.) This not only reduces our carbon footprint, but also teaches my kids about caring for the environment and healthy eating.

Due to foundation cracking and other problems, we were forced to remove a very beautiful old tree on the side yard. So, instead of discarding it, we upcycled it and turned it into a kids table and chairs. We are also using the rest of it to create a natural obstacle course for our kids.

That’s about it! It’s a relief to be done, but creating a healthy, eco-friendly home (and finding affordable sustainable options) was well worth it. Thanks for reading and hope you like it!

– Juli 

Guest Contributor Juli Novotny = Food lover. Green chef. Health advocate. Business owner. Mother. Blogger. Modern minimalist. When she’s not running her health food company Kookie Karma or enjoying the beach with her two little boys, Juli blogs and takes beautiful photographs about healthy family living at PURE Mamas.