Most people know that a green or sustainable product is one which causes measurably less impact on the environment. However, most do not realize what a huge impact these materials can have toward reducing energy costs and potential health concerns, as well as making for stunning living spaces. Paige Loczi of LOCZIdesign explains.
How have trends in sustainable design influenced your design style and the desires of your clients?
Sustainability has been a hot topic for a while it seems and I am happy that most of our clientele are educated as to why these trends are becoming well, trends! It seems that from the food we eat, the clothes we wear to the homes in which we dwell, paying attention to the source of things is really on point. I appreciate that what is emerging is a holistic way of living. We’re often talking to our clients about HOW they live, what compels them and motivates them. How can we create an environment that supports the individual thriving? Yes, it’s really important that your carpet isn’t making you sick, and I love the bold colors in this years mix, but I think the issue is bigger. We should really be asking what kind of environment will make you well- from your lifestyle choices to your finishes. When we build a custom bedroom with FSC certified wood and that bed is carved by hand- that story leaves a lasting impression. People want to create their own stories in their homes and that’s even truer when the elements that make up that environment are made with intention and attention.
Another trend that I am seeing is creating indoor spaces with living walls. Especially here in the city, we find the need to surround ourselves with greenery and bring the outside in. We recently finished a new living wall in Noe Valley that’s stunning. You can see it here and read the full article on our blog.
What new materials are you working with due to these trends?
Paperstone continues to be a personal favorite. It’s versatile and it’s a great story. It’s made from 100% post consumer paper. It’s durable, biodegrades in a landfill and its matte finish is very modern. We use it as counter-tops in kitchens and baths. We’re also using it on a fireplace surround.
I have a massive crush on glass2. It’s 99% glass, stain-resistant and bacteria free. I love the way it looks, like folding ice. We’re using it in a custom kitchen we’re working on in Pacific heights, and the plaster walls reflect off the glass and it’s spectacular.
My other favorite is Fireclay tile. These guys are fabulous. Their work is impeccable *which is a trend that never goes out of style, and it’s also beautiful. We just finished this great back-splash using 4 colors from their Vitrail series. It’s our take on the geometric Batik!
Lastly, we use a lot of plaster. Sometimes we use earth plaster from American Clay, like we did in this bathroom. Other times, we use a Venetian plaster.
What aspects of a property do you consider when applying environmentally conscious design techniques?
We tend to start with the envelope itself! Windows, insulation and flooring create a comfortable space. If the house is cold or too hot, it doesn’t matter how beautiful it is. We use radiant heat to control the temperature since once set, it’s easy to maintain a base in the space. There are so many sustainable flooring choices these days that you’re sure to meet your sound and aesthetic preferences. For health reasons, I tend to favor hard flooring over carpet. When we do install carpet, we stick to wool, or FLOR tiles for their versatility. We also install tank-less water heaters. Most of our remodels are in the city where square footage is at a premium. Not having to take up space heating 80 gallons of water just makes sense. Lastly, we only use non-toxic paint. It’s really easy since Ben Moore, Mythic and a number of other well-known brands carry a low or no-VOC paint. To a new or prospective homeowner, this is a big point! No one wants to move into a freshly painted house that is off-gassing.
How important is this trend to your clients and the communities in which they live?
Sometimes it’s a bit of an education to share with people that their newly purchased home needs new windows or insulation. They’ve likely just paid top-dollar for their stunning views and don’t realize how cold they’ll be. We show them the thermal loss and point to their likely high heating costs and that helps. Again, creating a healthy and comfortable home shouldn’t be a trend- it should be the de facto standard. We as consumers have to continue to ask builders to use finishes that don’t make us sick and ask manufactures to stop making toxic elements.
What benefits have your clients realized by making sustainability a focus in their properties?
The Bay Area is filled with informed buyers. They know a solid or engineered wood over an imaged Pergo. They know cheap granite from Caesarstone or Icestone. I recently purchased a home and a few of the selling points were a solid hardwood floor, new composite roof, high efficiency water heater and drought resistant plantings. Of course I knew about these things, but so did all the other people that bid on our home.
What advice would you give to prospective clients who would like to make their homes more beautiful and eco-friendly?
Start with antiques! There are so many great places to shop in San Francisco for high-quality vintage furniture. STUFF and Harrington Brother’s on Valencia are favorites, as is the Antique Mart on Bayshore. This furniture was built to last and can live another life with a little love. I also enjoy shopping at Cisco Brothers and Lee Industries. Both make beautiful sustainable furniture. And, almost all the showrooms these days carry sustainable fabrics. Changing the color of a wall or adding wallpaper will instantly spruce up a place. I love all the patterns from Fermliving’s latest set and applied this beautiful pattern in a powder room.
What projects have you worked on that are good examples of sustainable design properly applied?
We recently finished a home in Diamond Heights that has sweeping views of Glen Park Canyon. We installed new windows and insulation. We used Fireclay tiles, paperstone and ceaserstone counter tops, solid engineered poplar flooring, reclaimed wood furniture and wool rugs. Who says sustainable has to be boring or drab? I say sustainable is the new lux. It lasts and luxury never goes out of style!
To learn more about Paige Loczi, LOCZIdesign, or sustainable design solutions, check out Paige’s profile here: