#EcoRenovate Bathroom Detail, Photo by Jill Tiongco Photography
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By Jesse Bratter
The Main Bath Concept: An Echo of the View on a Winter Afternoon
In the bedrooms at the site of #EcoRenovate, you can take a peek through the wall of windows and see for miles: the blue of Lake Michigan in the distance and the verdigris roof of the Museum of Science + Industry Chicago, housed in the only remaining building from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. And, on a winter’s day, the promise of new life as the trees shed their old leaves and make way for fresh ones is Mother Nature’s version of circularity!
Elemental Green looked to this view for design inspiration as it began its renovation of the main bathroom off the primary bedroom. As the palette of sea green, deep blue and white took shape, we took care to honor the building’s roots: The bathroom is located inside a penthouse at University Park Condominium, an iconic example of modernist architecture by I.M. Pei and Araldo Cossutta originally built in the 1960s.
Views and Before Photos ⓒElemental Green / After Photos by Jill Tiongco Photography
The Approach: Reduce Waste, Improve Energy Efficiency, and Incorporate Recycled and Recyclable Materials
As a first step, rather than replace the vintage flooring, we restored it. This cut down on waste, as did reusing the existing sink and toilet with their unique Crane fittings. And, we installed a Moen Attract shower head with Watersense® certification.
Signa System repaired the window hardware and gave it a double pane treatment. This renders the window more energy efficient without changing the integrity of the arched pane curtain wall, whose reflection we can see in the glass shower door by Kohler. (We’ll see more of these window updates in the living room).
A fresh coat of Recolor’s recycled paint in an off-white Sail colorway pulls from the cream-colored architecture seen in the view from the bathroom. It also created a warm backdrop for Fireclay Tile’s Kingfisher glass tiles (installed vertically in the shower as a nod to the original tile layout), along with a combination of Magpie 3-by-6-inch tiles and 1-by-1-inch mosaic on the shower floor that conjure a wintry scene of lake and sky. Ribbed towels by Avocado stand by in Oatmeal for a spa-like experience.
The Guest Bath Concept: Lake Michigan in the Summer
When undertaking the guest bathroom renovation, Elemental Green didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Nearby Lake Michigan provided a compelling palette of deep blue waves. The task in this room became to incorporate eco-friendly materials and water-conscious products.
The Approach: Re-use Bath Fixtures and Add New Sustainable Materials and Water-Saving Bath Products
As in the main bath, we restored the vintage flooring in the guest bathroom, along with the cast iron tub, and reused the existing toilet sink. Recolor’s warm off-white Sail paint made another appearance in this room, keeping this small space without windows feeling welcoming and bright.
Fireclay’s Wave tiles in Lake Tahoe clad the shower walls, evoking the waters of Lake Michigan. Fireclay’s handmade tiles in Tusk provide a neutral backdrop to allow the Wave tiles to remain the focal point. A low-flow Nebia Spa Shower system ensures guilt-free and luxurious pampering. And Nebia has partnered with Moen to work toward its goal of saving 1 billion gallons of water through the use of its patented technology. Towels by Avocado reappear in Cloud White as a healthy linen option.
Read on to learn more about the brands used in #EcoRenovate and what makes them a sustainable, smart choice.
What We Chose: Fireclay Tiles’ Wave tiles in Lake Tahoe on the shower walls in the guest bathroom along with 6-by-6-inch tiles in Tusk; the latter are available through the reduced-price Foundations collection. In the master bath, 3-by-6-inch Kingfisher glass tiles join a baseboard and floor comprising the deeper Magpie 3-by-6-inch tile and 1-by-1-inch mosaic. All collections are handmade in California using eco-friendly manufacturing methods.
Why We Love The Brand: Fireclay’s handmade quality is something to be admired, as is their manufacturing process. Think reincorporating glaze waste into their clay, water reclamation, using 100% renewable energy, offsetting its carbon emissions, using recycled granite fines in their tile bodies, and qualifying for several green certifications. But it’s their Made For Good commitments that we might love the most, like how they donate 1% of all Brick sales to the National Parks Conservation Association.
What We Chose: Nebia by Moen’s spa shower in the guest bathroom. The showerhead includes an adjustable-height rainshower, handshower for a spa-like body spray, and a magnetic dock. It’s unique system and patented H₂Micro™ technology offers double the pressure and water coverage but 45 to 65-percent less water use compared to the average showerhead. That’s thanks to atomization, a process that breaks up water into millions of micro droplets.
Why We Love the Brand: As if a steam room and shower in one wasn’t enough of a reason to love the showerhead, Nebia has ensured that more than 200 million gallons of water has been saved through the use of its products. Nebia began its journey toward sustainability in 2010 in Mexico City and in 2020, to expand its technological capabilities, partnered with bath brand Moen, which also places a focus on water efficiency and enjoys partnerships with the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Green Building Council. Photo via Nebia
What We Chose: Signa System retrofitted the window in the primary bathroom to be more energy efficient by repairing the existing window and employing a double pane system.
Why We Love the Brand: Signa System is known for transforming single pane windows to double and triple pane in high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, without changing the original glass or window frames. Their insulating technology paired with respect for the original architecture made them an essential partner. They repaired the mechanical portion of the window, which means that the space benefits from natural ventilation when desired. This retrofit also resulted in noise reduction and will save money in energy costs over time. If you’re renovating your space, you can also check whether your project qualifies for a tax credit.
Why We Love the Brand: In addition to its environmentally and socially responsible supply chains and business practices, Avocado is a member of 1% for the Planet, which means it gives back 1% of all revenues to environmental nonprofits. And, they voluntarily offset 100% of emissions associated with their factory in Los Angeles and with product shipping by supporting carbon offset reforestation projects globally via Carbonfund.org. They are a Certified B Corporation, Climate Neutral Certified, and Fair Trade Certified™. Photo courtesy Avocado
Sonneman A Way of Light
What We Chose: The Tubo Slim LED Bath Bar in Flat Trim by Sonneman A Way of Light was a perfect way to add energy-efficient lighting while keeping the lines clean as a modernist nod to the building. The elegantly slender tube of etched glass bathes each space in soft light.
Why We Love the Brand: Sonneman has moved 95-percent of its product offerings to be manufactured with LEDs. The brand’s namesake, Robert Sonneman, began designing modern light fixtures in the 1960s, influenced by the Bauhaus movement. Marrying form with function is the definition of good design, and throw in the energy efficiency of the LEDS and it was a no brainer to use these.
What We Chose: A textured organic cotton shower curtain in a crisp white colorway. You can have the same look with West Elm’s Organic Mini Waffle-Weave Shower Curtain.
Why We Love the Brand: West Elm is one of our favorite retail shops because, despite being considered a “big box” store, it retains eco-friendly and “shop small” values. From Fair Trade Certified™ and handcrafted collections that give back to their artisan communities to responsible sourcing, recycled, upcycled, and FSC-certified woods, to low-VOC finishes and a plethora of environment-minded certifications like Standard OEKO-TEX, Organic Cotton Standard and Greenguard, West Elm’s ethos puts sustainability front and center. Photo via West Elm
What We Chose: Recolor Paints’ Sail on the walls. In a world where 70 million gallons of paint end up in our landfills and waterways each year, Recolor is a bright spot in the building industry. They take unused post consumer and post industrial latex paint, screen it, consolidate it, filter impurities, remove contaminants, add antimicrobial and preservative agents, and render a virtually new product.
Why We Love the Brand: In addition to helping clear our waterways, Recolor also partners with Habitat for Humanity, selling their paints through Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and thus helping to build houses and support the local community. Photo courtesy Recolor