Posts Tagged ‘PaperStone’

A Visit to Living Rooms — A Healthy Home Store in Kingston, Ontario

February 21st, 2013

 

On yet another monotonous drive down the 401 (thank goodness for audiobooks!) from Montreal to Toronto, I broke up the trip with a stop in Kingston. Living Rooms, owned by two brothers, John and Michael Sinclair, is a mixture of healthy lifestyle products and green building materials.

The brothers  had started their professional lives as painters. But the more they interacted both with the paint and with clients who were becoming concerned about what they were putting on their wall and breathing in the air, the more research the brothers did, the more they sought out alternatives to traditional paints. They started searching for paints that were less toxic to human health with little to no off-gassing of toxic chemicals. Fast forward to the present and low and zero VOC paints are so yesterday. You won’t find any petroleum-based paints in their store, rather, they’ve sourced some really interesting alternatives.

When they began developing their store concept, they worked not on the philosophy of supplying green building products, but rather, they source products while living by standards developed by Bau-Biologie and Permaculture. Bau-Biologie was developed in Germany and is all about creating a healthy indoor environment. The movement focuses on using building materials and home products that don’t off-gas toxic chemicals. Permaculture (which I have written about before), recognizes that all biological systems are closed so that one living thing’s waste product is another’s food source. To that end, on their website they note that their store is not so much about green building materials as it is about sourcing products that are low impact, responsibly-made and better for your health as well as that of the planet’s. In other words, they stay away from a lot of what might be considered electronic green gadgets. The kind of items they stock focus on healthy sleeping, healthy eating and fresh interior air.

Building products: In addition to paints, there are several other better building products to choose from. To name a few that I’ve already written about, there is American Clay, Log’s End flooring (timber salvaged from the bottom of the Ottawa River), IceStone, PaperStone, (for counter tops) Nature’s Carpet (100% wool carpet), Safecoat paints and sealers, Ultratouch cotton insulation….

BUT, they also introduced me to a few new and intriguing products such as insulation made from leftover sheep’s wool, paint made from linseed oil, an intriguing exterior stucco-like product that’s made in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and a new concept: modular built strawbale homes. I’ll discuss each of these products in future posts.

Because they are located in a building which also has artisans and trades, they can also set you up with cabinetmakers and contractors who will take care of any building project work you want done in the Kingston area. Their objective is to source better building and living products as locally as possible and to use local trades and craftsmen to complete their customers’ projects.

Lifestyle products: Another aspect of this store that is the selection of lifestyle products they offer. When John took me around the store he was most enthusiastic about Xtrema, the ceramic cookware and baking line they’ve brought in. He explained that the problem with ceramic cookware in the past has been that it can’t be used over direct heat or it will crack. The manufacturers of this line have solved that problem and Xtrema cookware can be used directly over gas or electric elements (However, it can’t be used with induction cooktops, which use a magnetic pull between cookware and energy source). The cookware is also reasonably priced compared with high-end stainless steel pots and pans. A 24 piece set sells for $530.

Also within the kitchen category, there were tea and coffee makers, and my personal favourite was Presso, a manual espresso maker — perfect for cottage living (although you still have to heat the water).

There are plenty of products that focus on sleep as well. A buckwheat pillow by Eco et Eco, is as local a product as you can get. Except for growing the cotton, all parts of the pillow are made in Quebec. Apparently, buckwheat is a great material for people who sweat a lot around the head and neck area at night as the buckwheat wicks away moisture and heat and allows the sleeper a more even body temperature.

Other bath and sleep products include organic cotton towels, mattresses and mattress pads, and duvets.

In the household cleaning category, Living Rooms carries natural coco scrub pads, natural luffa sponges and soap nuts. Soap nuts look a bit like acorns and are the fruit (called a drupe) of the Sapindus genus of bushes and trees, which grow in tropical climates. The drupe produces a natural soap substance that can be used as a laundry soap. Soapnuts are very versatile and can also be used to make household cleaners, shampoo and even toothpaste! Usually soapnuts can be reused four or five times before they lose there effectiveness. At end of life, they can be composted.

To explore the products they offer on line, visit their website.

If you’re in Kingston or surrounding area,  Living Rooms is located at:

12 Cataraqui Street
Kingston, ON
K7K 1Z7

613.766.6821

info@livingrooms.ws

Regular Store Hours
Monday 10am – 5pm
Tuesday 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 10am – 5pm
Thursday 10am – 5pm
Friday 10am – 5pm
Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday Closed
Or by appointment.

 

 

 

A New Green Building Store in Toronto: “g” GreenDesign Center

June 1st, 2011

 

******UPDATE: UNFORTUNATELY, g GREENDESIGN IN TORONTO HAS CLOSED DOWN AS OF OCTOBER 20, 2011. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OTHER g GREENDESIGN CENTERS, PLEASE VISIT THEIR WEBSITE AT: http://ggreendesign.com******

 

“g” GreenDesign Center is a new green building store located in the Castlefield Design District in Toronto. If you’re just learning about how to “green” your renovation or build a new greener home, this is a great place to start your search. “g” GreenDesign offers all kinds of small, little one-offs from your picnic supplies (places, cups and cutlery) to ReBinders — recycled cardboard binders — great school supplies for September. But the small items serve a purpose. You come in to buy biodegradable cups and cutlery for your next picnic, but you can also learn so much about greening your next home improvement project while you’re there.

“g” GreenDesign is a franchise owned by David Lee and Joe Caricari, with store manager, Michele Vig. The concept of “g” GreenDesign was developed by Nicole Goldman, with the first location based in Cape Cod, MA. As an interior designer who was building her own house, she wanted to build green but was having difficulty sourcing all the products and trades. Nicole had the idea of developing a green building store that would be a one-stop shop so people wouldn’t have to run all over the place trying to do exactly what she did.  By franchinsing out, she offers homeowners the opportunity to take advantage of all the research and foot work she’s already done. Toronto is the third location of this store. Because suppliers are already in place, sourcing products becomes that much easier. All trades hired, naturally, are local and the store carries local products as well such as milk paint from The Homestead House.

While green interior products abound in the store and, admittedly, are the most fun to put together, it’s also great that they offer all the options for building a tight building envelope, and all the HVAC systems you could dream of — not to mention the design services that will help you put it all together.

“g” GreenDesign carries many of the finishes I’ve written about before including American Clay, PaperStone, IceStone, Eco by Cosentino, Marmoleum, etc., but it also carries many products I have yet to write about including fabrics, window coverings, bamboo products and lighting. I will be visiting shortly to learn more about these products.

The next time you’re in the Castlefield Design District, drop by and take a look around. Michele will be happy to help you out.

“g” GreenDesign Center is located at 113 Miranda Ave, Toronto, ON, M6B 3W8.

Phone: 416-782-9105

website: http://ggreendesign.com

Sustain Eco Store, Sustainable Building Store in Huntsville, Ontario

March 1st, 2011

Jonathan McKay from Sustain Eco Living Store in Huntsville

When I was at the Interior Design Show this past January, skimming through the brochure index, many of the green products and services that were there were all represented at one exhibit — that of Sustain, an eco building and lifestyle store based in Huntsville, Ontario. The owners of the store, Jonathan and Celine McKay, are a young couple who have a mission to educate builders and cottagers alike about the importance of building responsibly and sustainably.

I spoke with Celine last week about what they hope to achieve with their business. Celine was very candid with me about their store; she said that their philosophy is to encourage people to introduce small changes into their lives that are better environmentally speaking than the traditional product, so a product they carry might not meet a true “greenie’s” expectations.

Celine and I have a lot of the same goals and philosophies about green building: having a lot of people making small incremental changes will have a better result than a few people making major changes. Not that these latter folk aren’t praise-worthy, they are, it’s just that it’s hard for many people to make dramatic environmental alternations to their lives. Then, of course there’s the fact that many people don’t have an interest in changing their lifestyles or there is the common misconception that “going green” is more costly, or the products don’t work, or aren’t as green as they’re marketed, or even that the styles are “too modern” or “too antique.” While all of these concerns are valid, Celine and Jonathan like to point out that the paths to “a greener lifestyle” are as varied as the number of paint colours on the market. Celine told me that some people come in wanting “toxic free” products, while others want ethically produced products, and others want the lowest environmental impact products available.

Celine and Jonathan’s goal is just to get people to consider using a low VOC paint instead of a regular paint, or perhaps use their bamboo flooring instead of a big box store’s. (Bamboo in itself is a big can of worms that we won’t go into right now, but let’s just say that when it comes to flooring, you get what you pay for: the cheaper it is per square foot, the poorer the quality).

So, when Celine and Jon look at representing a “green” product, they look at every detail of the product from its manufacturing right through to its use. Their important criteria for representing a product are:

  • Is it produced using fair labour practices?
  • Is it produced while safely managing the environment? For example, does the manufacturer have recycling systems in place, conserve, reuse or minimize water? Conserve energy or use renewable energy?
  • Is it produced locally? If not, how is it shipped?
  • Is it produced with the lowest impact ingredients available?
  • If the product is to be visual (like flooring or tile) is it design worthy or attractive? Is it durable? Does it off-gas?
  • Is the retail price point realistic?

Basically, if the product can pass these tests, Celine and Jonathan will carry it in their store. If you look at their website you’ll see a lot of products that I’ve covered before such as PaperStone, American Clay, Nadura flooring, AFM Safecoat and UltraTouch cotton insulation. But in addition to these products they also carry furniture, air purifiers, natural latex mattresses, infrared heaters, and area rugs all of which have a lower environmental impact than their “regular” competition.

You’d think that running a store would be enough for the pair, but in addition to that they also produce a stunning online magazine called Pure Green Magazine. Celine told me that the magazine’s target market are regular home decor magazine readers, such as those who read Canadian House and Home and Style at Home. The goal of Pure Green is to demonstrate that being green doesn’t have to be “out there” on the design front. While a lot of people think that green design is modern and expensive, Celine’s out to demonstrate through concrete examples that green design is just like any other design only with a lighter environmental footprint that’s also healthier for its occupants.

The next time you’re in Huntsville, drop around to their store and have a look. In the meantime you can subscribe to their online magazine here. The next issue is due out in May, 2011.

Thanks again Celine for your time!

Sustain is located at:
8 Crescent Road, Unit B2
Huntsville, ON
P1H 0B3

t.    705-787-0326
f.    705-787-7326

Store Hours:
Monday to Friday: 10 – 5
Saturday: 10 – 4
Sunday: closed

A Visit to The Cork House in Oakville, Ontario

November 30th, 2010

The Cork Store

I contacted Alison Ostner at The Cork House a few weeks ago and asked if I could come and have a tour. The Cork Store is the company store for Jelinek Cork Group which includes not only cork flooring but also cork furniture and accessories. The store is located in Oakville, not far from Jelinek’s world headquarters so you could say it’s about as local a cork company as we Canadians are likely to get!

The Cork Store is located in the oldest house in Halton. It’s a white clapboard house located on Neyawaga Blvd. in Oakville and provides quite the contrast to the strip mall stores in the same complex.  The house has been completely restored and renovated by Jelinek and now serves as their showroom.

Alison Ostner

Cork is a great material for so many things and, in fact, Jelinek’s primary cork business is still wine corks. The flooring, furnishing, bulletin boards and other cork items they manufacture were developed from the leftover cork “waste” after the corks were made.

Cork bark with "wine cork holes"

Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree which grows primarily in Mediterranean countries where the climate and soil conditions are the most suitable. The bark is stripped off the trees after no less than nine years and used to make a variety items. The trees are left to regrow their bark, and then it is harvested and used again. This cycle continues for up to 200 hundred years per tree. For more information on the cork oak tree, see the Jelinek website.

Cork Flooring: The advantages of cork flooring and subflooring are many. Cork is:

  • A renewable resource. Cork is the bark of the cork oak tree that is grown in Mediterranean countries, such as Portugal and Spain. All of Jelinek’s cork comes from Portugal where it is tended to, harvested and manufactured before it is sent to various countries around the world for sale.
  • Resilient. Cork is made for surfaces where there is a lot of standing, so it’s great for kitchens. It is a material that “gives” with pressure and will bounce back into shape after pressure is applied.
  • A sound dampener. It absorbs noise, so it is often used in multi-unit dwellings as a sub-floor to absorb noise.
  • Durable. If treated properly cork can last for years. Court houses in New York City were first covered with cork flooring and are only being recovered now, more than 100 years after initial installment.
  • Anti-static. Great for places with a lot of electronic devices.
  • Anti-allergenic. Will not trap dirt and allergens.

True to their “natural” philosophy, all binders and adhesives used in creating the flooring tiles are low VOC and water-based.

Rio Varnished from the "Select Line"

Harmony Brown

Mosaic Flooring as Back Splash

Jelinek offers two types of cork flooring in several different designs.

Cork Click Flooring. A “floating” floor that consists of three layers — the cork finished layer, a high density fiberboard layer and cork underlayment layer. No glues are necessary to install this floor and it can be dissassembled and moved if necessary. This flooring does not require a sub-floor because it’s included in each tile. Tiles are covered in a water-based semi-gloss polyurethane.

Cork Decor Flooring. 12×12 tiles that are glued to a sub-floor. Tiles are coated in a water-based semi-gloss polyurethane.

Comfort Flooring.  A new line of flooring that offers an even more natural look. The coating is a vegetable oil-based coating that gives the tiles a “matt” finish. These tiles are as easy to care for as the other two lines, the only difference being that once a month a special floor cleaner should be used (at other times washing with water should suffice). This finish is available in both glue down and click types of flooring tiles. (Note: this is a new flooring and may not yet be available on the website.)

Cork Mosaic Floor Tiles. This is a fun product made from “rejected” wine corks. They are not recycled corks, but rather, corks that aren’t deemed good enough to go into a wine bottle. Instead of throwing the corks away, someone had the great idea of reusing them for more flooring! This product needs a subfloor, and is applied with a glue and then grouted. As in their showroom, it can also be used as a back splash for a unique look.

I asked Alison if she had any advice regarding cork floors. She said to make sure your installer has installed cork flooring before. It’s a breathing material and it must be at room temperature before being installed. Also, as explained on the website, a 1/4″ gap must be left around the edges of the floor in order to allow the cork to expand and contract. For full installation instructions see the website. She also told me the Cork Store installs as well.

The Cork Store also has models of cork furniture — both “hard” (wood and cork based) and upholstered. I asked about the wear of cork upholstered sofas and Alison told me that they will wear at the same rate as leather — which means if properly cared for, they will last a long time.

Sofa upholstered with cork fabric

Cork inlaid desk

Other “Green Building Products.” The Cork store not on s own line of cork flooring, cork furniture and accessories, it also sells additional “green” products such as American Clay, a low VOC paint line, C2 Lovo, as well as IceStone and PaperStone counter top materials.

Jelinek cork flooring is sold worldwide. In Ontario you can get it through Alexanian’s, as well as other dealers such as Eco Building Resource and The Healthiest Home (in Ottawa). To find a dealer near you, contact the Jelinek Group directly.

EcoInhabit — Earth Inspired Living in Meaford, Ontario

April 6th, 2010

During March Break our family was skiing in Collingwood, ON in the most spectacular weather I’ve ever skied in in my life, even if it was a bit weird and scary being in Collingwood in March in almost 20 degree weather — the same as it was in Florida, according to the weather map.

Ecoinhabit

In any event, one day instead of skiing I decided to visit Ecoinhabit, a green products supplier, which lies just off Highway 26 between Meaford and Thornbury — a fun field trip for me, apparently an excruciatingly boring one for my 14 year old son — go figure.

Showroom

Ecoinhabit is occupied in an old barn with exposed rafters as well as the metal roof peeking through the wood. It’s a beautiful environment and the store itself is worth a visit. EcoInhabit can help you with many of your green building and lifestyle needs. In addition to building materials, it also carries organic sheets, towels, mattresses, futons, etc. If you’re in the Georgian Triangle area, drop in to take a look. Kara, the store manager, is very knowledgeable and passionate about the products the carry, and like me, cares about whether or not a product is really as green as the manufacturer wants you to believe it is.

Ecoinhabit Store Entrance

Below is a list of some of the products Ecoinhabit carries.

Sealants, Adhesives, and Caulking.

AFM Safecoat products. This is a California-based company that specializes producing low and zero-VOC paints, sealants and adhesives that are considered the safest and least toxic on the market today. Many of its products have received the Scientific Certification Systems’ Indoor Advantage Gold Certification, meaning that they are excellent for indoor air quality.

Ecoinhabit carries the following products:

  • Transitional Primer, $54.99 per gallon,
  • Zero VOC wallpaint. Available in flat (no sheen, $57.99/gallon), eggshell (low-gloss, easy to clean, $59.99/gallon), semi-gloss ($59.99/gallon) and exterior ($59.99/gallon).
  • Carpet Cleaners and Sealers: SafeChoice Shampoo ($30.99/gallon, $11.99/quart), SafeChoice Carpet Seal ($39.99/gallon, $14.99/quart), SafeChoice Lock Out ($32.99/gallon, $13.99/quart).
  • Caulking: $14.50/ten ounce tube.
  • SafeCoat Almighty Adhesive $14.50/10 ounce tube.
  • Safe Seal, $61.99/gallon, $19.99/quart
  • Hard Seal,$57.99/gallon.
  • MexeSeal,$62.99/gallon.
  • Grout Sealer, $23.99/quart. Coverage: 100 linear feet.

For a more detailed description of the benefits of these products, read the post on AFM Safecoat products.

Flooring:

Interface Flooring’s Flor carpet tiles: The residential line of Interface’s carpet selection is called Flor. It offers the ability to mix and match carpet tiles to create unique and interesting patterns similar to linoleum tiles, only with carpet. Carpet tiles made from recycled carpet: $8.99/19″x19″ tile. 100% wool carpet tile: $19.99/19″x19″ tile. Note: prices are approximate only. Please call Ecoinhabit for up-to-date pricing.

Eco-Timber: Engineered and reclaimed hardwood flooring products manufactured by Eco-Timber are made exclusively from Forest Stewardship Council Certified US managed forests. Milling and processing is done in Denver, CO. $10.25/ft sq. Bamboo flooring comes from FSC-certified forests in Asia. $5/ft. sq.

Ontario Reclaimed Flooring: Local reclaimed flooring made out of barnboard from barns that need to come down from around Ontario. $7 – 10/ft sq. Unfinished.

Plaster:

American Clay: An all natural clay product with natural pigments. Applied as plaster, zero VOC, it actually works to purify the air. For more information on American Clay, see my post on its benefits. 50lb bag of: Loma, $80; Meritimo,$120; Porcelina: $145.

Countertop Surfaces:

IceStone: A surface material made of recycled glass and concrete. Available in many different colours and thicknesses. $46-102/ft. sq. For more information on IceStone, see my post on its benefits.

PaperStone: A surface material made of compressed recycled paper and eco-resins. Looks a bit like laminate, the darker ones have a stone-like appearance to them. $42.75-48.50/ft sq. For more information on PaperStone, see my post on its benefits.

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