Posts Tagged residential remodel

Complete remodel of Rousseau home – restoration, reuse and daylighting

Here is a journey for you – a tale of complete remodeling of the interior and exterior over 11 years, by Katrina Roussea. This home is featured in Sustainable Connections’ 2013 Imagine This! Home and Landscape Tour. Get your tickets today for 9 homes full of green building and landscaping inspiration!

rousseau remodel collage

“When my husband and I purchased the house 13 years ago, there were elements of the Victorian design from 1905 and a major Colonial Revival renovation in 1941. We were lucky to have photos so that we could see how the house looked over the years. Apparently the house was originally located on Chestnut St near the old St Josephs Hospital location and was moved to the current location in the mid 1980’s.  Because the house had been altered so much through the years we felt that we could do a “semi-historical” renovation.  We felt that we had the flexibility to use whatever historic features we wanted to and not be constrained by any particular historical period.’

‘We have so many great resources here in Bellingham and the Pacific NW.  I also did lots of research online. Over the last 13 years I have been to many older home open houses getting ideas and asking questions.  I have also taken and collected lots of photos that were really helpful when we started to design.  We were also careful to pick a contractor who would be open to re-using old house parts and who would get what we were trying to do.  Bellingham Bay Builders has gone above and beyond in that regard.’

‘We have lived in the house for 13 years, and the house did not seem to “flow.”  Our kitchen was chopped up, passageways were blocked.  Upstairs was one tiny bathroom and two large bedrooms (one was 22 feet long) with 2 closets and one tiny bedroom with no closet.’

‘Going into the remodel we had several priorities.  

  1. Reconfigure the floor plan without adding much additional square footage to make the house flow better.  We studied the “Not So Big House” books to achieve that.  
  2. Try and re-use everything that we could from the house.  
  3. Find historical architectural artifacts and re-use those where we could
  4. Make any new materials look original. 

‘We actually started the process 11 years ago.  Once a year I had Jim Gunsolus (of Craftsman Woodworking) take out a window and I then had it stripped at the Strip Shop in Ferndale. The Glass house Ferndale would restore the leaded glass. Gunsolus then restored the ropes and weights and re-did the trim using old fir that he got from The RE Store.  The effect was stunning and the cost about the same as if we had replaced the windows with new good quality wooden ones.  At about the same time we wanted to put in a gas fireplace, which we did after I found a 100 year old mantle piece that came out of a house in Texas.  The fun for me in these previous projects was that people thought these things were all original to the house.

‘In preparation for the current renovations, I have spent the last year looking for house parts and finding homes for the house parts that we were not going to use. The best items included:

  • 7 vintage doors, at Second Use in Seattle, that came from a house in the Queen Anne neighborhood.  I needed exactly 7 doors and there they were!  I then advertised the doors that I wasn’t going to use on Craigslist and a lady from Blaine who was restoring an old farmhouse was delighted to get them.  
  • A classic 3 panel door that was the exact size that we needed in the kitchen from The RE Store. We also found a nice glass doorknob and lever door set from The RE Store but we are re-using most of our old door hardware.  
  • A pair of antique leaded glass French doors from Second Use in Seattle
  • Vintage hemlock flooring from Earthwise in Seattle – some of the boards were 14 feet long from an old house in Wallingford.  
  • An antique newel post was scored from Skagit Salvage. Gunsolus was able to make a smaller one to match it upstairs.  You can’t tell which is old and which is new.

Surprises in the house included:

  • Historical memorabilia like a child’s homework project that was dated 1908 behind a cupboard. 
  • Stripping the built in cupboards revealed beautiful old growth fir beneath all of the layers of paint. 
  • We figured out how to re-use my favorite door as a pocket door. 
  • Structural beams that had to be added upstairs became a wonderful part of the house. 

The project also included a full replacement of the siding and bringing natural light into the home. Dylan Hicks of Bellingham Bay Builders shared more about the project.

“Designer Deborah Todd worked closely with John and Karina to conceive of the remodel and produced detailed permit drawings. Daylighting was a prime goal of the interior remodel, removing light-blocking interior partitions on the top floor.   New modern windows, multiple new skylights and a creative light plan will ensure a bright interior environment. We removed the three existing layers of siding, replaced windows that were beyond repair and weatherized the shell. We applied new exterior trim and siding to closely match the photo from 1927.”

Karina concluded, “I think my biggest piece of advice to anyone working on their old house is to figure out a way to stay true to your house, even if it means that you have to do things slowly.”

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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PSE’s Re-Energized by Design winners – designing around reuse

Scott and Nia Sayers spent the last six months winning a competition that remodeled their home’s interior, benefitted their family and their professional lives, all while designing around reuse. That contest was Puget Sound Energy’s Re-Energized by Design challenge that pitted six households against each other in a contest that we quote here from the PSE site:

“Re-Energized by Design is a ‘design show’ style competition, where six PSE customers are competing in a series of five room-by-room makeover challenges to combine creative home design with energy efficiency. After each challenge, one contestant is eliminated. PSE provides contestants with a weekly cash allowance, energy-efficient products, and a design coach to help implement stylish energy-efficient home upgrades.”

Designing with reuse - Nia Sayers Window Display - Bubble TubThe Sayers have been designing around reuse for many years. Nia Sayers did window displays at The RE Store in Bellingham in 2008 and 2009. Nia came up with inspiring concepts like a salvaged claw-foot bathtub full of light globes and lightbulbs as bubbles.

Nia Sayers Serving table displayThen there was her outdoor serving table that she built from a table base rescued from the brink of the landfill. Click on the photo thumbnails for full-sized photos. Nia has taught workshops on DIY skills like recovering upholstery and her idea for this project is downloadable here.

Scott Sayers - Chevy Chase - Recycled Arts Show 2013Scott just had pieces in both Bellingham galleries for the 12th Annual Recycled Arts Show. If you missed his perfect rendering of Chevy Chase in negative relief that was cut out of duct tape, the photo doesn’t do it justice. Scott said that for the Re-Energized by Design competition that “The RE Store was our secret weapon.”

When asked about how all of the remodeling of the family’s home wrapped up, Nia said, “We still have some projects to finish up.”

And don’t we all…

Check out the Re-Energized by Design website for all of the stories, more resources for saving money and making a home more efficient. You might pick up some creative and clever ways to improve home interiors and make it more energy-efficient. And learn more about Nia on her site,

Posted in: Green business, RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Video posts, You can do it yourself

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Outdoor Cinemas, Flying Beds & Funky Junk at NW Flower & Garden Show

Flower and Garden Show Booth CollageDid you ever ride on a flying bed made from old stair stringers and reclaimed fir posts at the NW Flower and Garden Show? If you didn’t get a chance to see it in person, we had a suspended day bed from which to watch the movie screen on the side of the “house” with salvaged beveled siding. Cabinet drawers arranged around the bed were filled with various bedding annuals and perennials. An outdoor kitchen sported one of the much acclaimed “Big Green Egg” hybrid grill/oven/smoker and a nice used cook top. Random reclaimed rummagings were used for planters and a vertical pallet garden filled out the vignette.

The Flower & Garden Show seminars are always a big highlight, bringing experts on a wide variety of experts on gardening, plants, garden design, food and more.  We proposed two seminars this year and were chosen as two of the 85 speakers from almost 250 proposals.

Thanks to everyone who came out to see us at the Flower and Garden Show this year – it is always great to meet new folks and catch up up with old friends! We had a great time designing and building this booth – this year’s theme was an “Outdoor Cinema” in line with the larger show’s theme of “Silver Screen – Take Root”.

Eberhard Eichner, our master of REvision Division furniture building in Bellingham talked about making the most of small urban gardening spaces outdoor furniture and demonstrated how to build a planter box, bench seat and arbor

Jason Darling, our Education and Marketing Coordinator, presented an inspiring slideshow with photos and videos of creative planters, fences and screens, pavers and patios, arbors, sculptural accents, water features and weird old unidentifiable things. Everything was made from reclaimed materials and he even did some good networking, soliciting artists for our 12th Annual Recycled Arts Show.

Thanks so much to our friends at Seattle Urban Farm Company for teaming up with us on our booth at the Flower & Garden Show – and to Sutter Home & Hearth for loaning us the “Big Green Egg” grill/smoker for the outdoor kitchen – and thanks to Sky nursery for loaning us some plants too.

Posted in: Green business, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, You can do it yourself

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Economical RE-design Made Possible with Salvage Cabinets

by RE Store Rockstar and customer, Kathleen, of Lily-Max Design

A couple approached me when they were thinking about putting their home on the market.  They knew there was a lot to do to get it ready for sale and wanted to stretch that budget as far as possible, so they hired me to re-design their home to make it more appealing to potential buyers.  As most of us know, the kitchen can either make or break a sale.  We wanted to make it shine, without having to gut it or break the bank.

We replaced the counters and splurged on a mosaic glass tile backsplash, but kept all of the existing cabinets and repainted them with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  This worked so well, as all we needed to do was clean and wipe on a little deglosser/liquid sandpaper, then paint.  Once cured, we sealed them with water-based Polycrylic in a satin finish.

We found two mismatched base cabinets at The RE Store in Bellingham and used them to create a prep/baking area for the empty space near the refrigerator.  One cabinet has two drawers with cabinets below and a cool pull-out shelf inside, the other has lots of drawer space – perfect for utensils, oven mitts, etc.  They were both in a wood finish that had seen better days.  We removed their tops, put them together, added some base trim and painted them the same as the existing cabinets.  We then added a butcher block top for the counter, a shelf made from reclaimed wood, and new hardware.  We were able to add much needed storage and a prep area for very little money (around $120 total).

Nice economical re-design great re-use, Kathleen!  You can find out more about Lily-Max Design at

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Mainstreaming Green Demolition and Reuse With Tom Napier

Tom Napier has a big brain. He works as a “Research Architect” for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center / Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. He has also served as president of the national Building Materials Reuse Association, and is involved in the Design-Build Institute of America and Construction Specifications Institute. Based on his own research, Napier has concluded that reusing materials could reduce the environmental impacts of water use, air and water pollution, and disposal by as much as 99%. “That’s almost a total reduction of adverse impacts compared to manufacturing new items,” Napier says.

State Street warehouse series

State Street warehouse takedown – green demolition aka deconstruction

More and more case studies are being accrued in the green building and demolition industry showing the true viability of these practices, increasing jobs, reducing waste and saving money for contractors and home/building owners.

Tom put out a bucket list of changes that would transform the building industry, boosting the reuse industry and green demolition aka deconstruction into the mainstream. The bucket list was reprinted recently on the ReBuilding Center’s blog, The Reclamation Administration, and we thought it was worthy of reposting as well. The following list contains four of the 6 items. If this gets your gears turning like it does for us, read the rest of the list and his further ideas in the original article on Ecohome, a magazine of the American Institute of Architects

Here’s the list:

  1. The conflict between demolition and deconstruction disappears. The routine is to reuse what can be reused, recycle what can be recycled, and landfill the little bit that’s left.
    “Buildings have to be demolished,” Napier admits. “That’s just a fact of life. What we are trying to do, once a decision is made for a building to come down, instead of the default being to put materials in a landfill or recycling the steel, there are additional avenues of conservation that can be practiced that are not as common as the mainstream. We just want to bring those into the tool kit as well.”
  2. Promoters of “green building” rating systems fully appreciate the impacts of waste and life-cycle benefits of materials reuse, and give full credit to reuse as a major contributor to sustainability.
    “The path of least resistance becomes that which the point chasers exercise,” Napier says. “In a perfect world, there would be some kind of hierarchy—the closest use to the original form gets the most points and the farther you divert, or the more resources you put into making something different, then you get fewer points.”
  3. Architectural and engineering professionals, as agents to building owners, educate their clients and vigorously promote salvage and reuse where practical.
    In an ideal world, Napier says the value of reused materials would be ingrained in the construction industry infrastructure, starting with academia. “If I were king and I had a really long-term vision, I would be starting back to the educational systems and architectural programs and civil engineering programs and make this part of the value scheme of people coming up in the building professions,” Napier says. “That’s going to take a couple of generations.”
  4. Deconstruction, salvage, and used material businesses develop a robust and highly visible infrastructure within the building industry. Services are available for any type of project, any time, and at any location.
    According to Napier, this will mean changing up the business model. “When you think about the business model of a demolition contractor, they don’t have a material handling or interim phase between the acquisition of material and the ultimate reuse,” he explains. “Getting those kinds of businesses started and getting them active and working is going to certainly give more options to building owners, property owners, demolition contractors, and designers.”

Read the rest of the list and elaboration on the original article on Ecohome.

What would you like to see to help transform the mountains of construction and demolition trash into reusable materials, green jobs and stewardship of our home?

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“Sink” your teeth into this: brand new Caroma’s at The RE Store!

The Seattle store just received 25 pallets of brand-new, in-the-box Caroma sinks last Friday – that is about 500+ sinks!   There are 10 varieties of both wall hung and pedestal style sinks, and most are either white or off-white in color.  They are priced to sell – at $90/94 – and would be great for anyone in the market for one sink – or quantity for an apartment building or similar project.  Caroma designs stylish fixtures, while manufacturing with sustainability in mind.  They just needed to offload this lot due to warehouse space reduction in the Seattle area, and we were at the right place at the right time (we met their spokesperson at an outreach event).  Bellingham will be receiving a shipment of these next week – so spread the word, and come check them out in both stores!

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RE Store Rockstar: Fireplace Facelift

Project Title: Nani Paape’s Fireplace Face Lift for a Craftsman Cottage

Project Description: The brick surround and existing mantel were demolished and the limestone slab hearth was removed. Then the firebox was repainted with high-heat Rustoleum. Face and hearth were tiled (my first real tiling job!), and the  oak surround was hand sanded. Carpenter Jeremy Hanson provided demolition, tiling prep, and carpentry to retrofit surround, making its legs longer and its mantel depth shallower. He also custom-fit the oak trim. I finish sanded the oak and applied in a beeswax, canuba oil and orange oil, rubbing it to a soft matte finish.

Salvage Materials Used: Vintage 1920s solid oak fireplace surround from the Seattle ReStore

Instructions or Advice: What part of your find can you re-use? We were able to re-use pieces of wood that came with the surround as part of the retrofit. A friend donated the tile backing board, and we didn’t have to buy a single piece of new wood to complete the project.

Do you have a RE Store-inspired project to be proud of?  Please, show off & share your story!

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1920’s bungalow restoration

Craftsman bungalow from 1920s

The Schindler's bungalow-style home

By Mike and Becky Schindler

We bought a 1920’s bungalow years ago here in Broadway Park, Bellingham.  As our restorations continue, we are reminded daily of how valuable The RE Store has been for us through this process.  To date, every room in our home has benefited from the store.

One of our first projects was to replaced several non-vintage closet doors.  We knew that louvered doors were not correct for our period home and we felt very fortunate to find and purchase several doors from The RE Store that fit our spaces appropriately.  Another project was to replace three hot water radiators that had been previously removed from the bathrooms and kitchen.  It was really wonderful to find the perfectly operable vintage radiators and restore that type of heat to three very important spaces in our home.

We have replaced light fixtures, door hardware, wood trim, and screen doors; We have purchased old school bleachers to replace our basement stairs and recycled cabinetry from  Western’s old chemistry lab for our garage work bench ; we even found a wonderful vintage deep sink and small hot water heater for a garage that has been used extensively throughout this remodel and process.

Most recently, we have removed the carpet from our stairway and are planning to strip them and refinish them.  Unfortunately, upon removing the carpet we discovered a broken stair.  What are the chances of finding 5/4 fir with one rounded edge to match those in our staircase? Well, we found the wood at The RE Store!  OF COURSE!!!

We are reminded how valuable you are to our community every time we look around our home.  We thank you for being there for two people who have never restored a home before.  We love our vintage 1920’s bungalow and so appreciate being able to find the materials we need to restore the true character of this wonderful old home.  They do not build them like this anymore.  With The RE Store’s help, this home will still be standing for another 96 years!

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New and Better: Utilizing The RE Store for residential remodeling contracting

Bob Penny helps The RE Store install windows in it's Bellingham facility

Bob Penny helps The RE Store install windows in it's Bellingham facility

by Bob Penny
Hawk Meadow Homecraft
small contractor in Bellingham

Something that has bothered me for many years is the infrequency with which local contractors utilize The RE Store to create win-win arrangements for their remodeling clients.  Hopefully what follows can inspire and promote this incredible local resource, and

illustrate some of the various strategies to bring The RE Store in as a helpful partner for contractors and clients.

I offered a $200 gift certificate for my services at a silent auction, with the proceeds to benefit The RE Store. The couple who won the bidding

used the certificate to get an initial price reduction off of a multi-faceted remodel for an older home they had recently purchased in Bellingham’s Lettered Streets neighborhood.  They presented to me a project with a variety of options.  Floors needed to be refinished, windows cabinets and doors replaced, a porch floor needed to be rebuilt, framing needed to be changed – the list went on.  It was a multi-faceted list, and certainly not all of the items would make the inevitable budget cutting process.

How should the project be approached?  What factors could help determine the cost effectiveness of various elements under consideration?

I wrote a comprehensive proposal that broke out all the costs involved for each item on the list.  Included was the cost of removing,

hauling away, and disposing of an entire set of perfectly good, but medium quality, kitchen cabinets and half a dozen newer, but not stylistically correct, interior doors.  In the contract I inserted a clause allowing for a further $300 price reduction

if The RE Store choose to remove these materials.  The RE Store sent a field crew leader to the house to preview the materials, and agreed to do the work.  The work proceeded quickly and efficiently.  Within four hours the entire set of cabinets and all the doors were gone – I had done no physical work and had expended little organizational time.  The rooms were

left clean and neat, the plumbing items to remain and be reinstalled left neatly collected together.
For making this “donation” of materials to a registered non-profit the owners were given two options – receive a tax-deductible receipt, or a trade credit at the store.  They elected for the trade credit, worth $183.  Additionally, The RE Store

had the right salvaged tongue and groove flooring to help patch damaged areas of the house’s floors.  There was enough to do the whole front porch floor.  The porch floor had been initially eliminated from the project because of cost – new fir flooring is extremely expensive.  But The RE Store material was about half the price of new.  And with a further $183 price reduction it was a steal.

Another benefit was to the environment.  I always insert a statement in my contract that enumerates any old growth materials to be used in the project, and recommends alternatives.  The biggest old growth item in this project was the porch floor.  But now all that material could be had without cutting any new trees.  Additionally, the elimination of the porch from the project had reduced my potential for earnings and profit.  Reintroducing this item back into the project at a reduced cost gave that earning potential back to me, at a savings to the clients.

A final tally of benefits from this participation with The RE Store:

The RE Store received:
A $200 donation from the auction
A half day of salvage work

Over $1,250 worth of highly attractive sales items for the showroom
An additional sale of about $750 of flooring

The client received:
A price reduction of $200 on the project

Another price reduction of $300 on the project
A tax-deductible receipt from The RE Store for their $200 bid donation
A savings of about $1000 on a purchase of flooring over new prices
An additional credit of $183 on the flooring purchase

I, the contractor, received:
A job that keeps me busy and employed for over two months
A satisfied client who could provide good references for future work
A portion of the work done without hardly any effort by me

A portion of the project eliminated by the budget reintroduced to the project

The Earth receives:
The continued existence of one huge old growth Douglas Fir tree.

~ Another win-win-win-win situation, courtesy of your friends at The RE Store.

Learn more about Bob Penny and Hawk Meadow Homecraft

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