Archive for the ‘Furniture’ category

Contemporary Furniture from Team 7 Available in Ottawa

April 23rd, 2012
Team 7 Lux Coffee Table

Team 7 Lux Coffee Table and consoles

 James Flynn of Greyhorne Interiors, a contemporary furniture shop in Ottawa, sent me some information on a line of furniture he carries called Team 7.

Team 7 is based in Austria and makes beautiful, contemporary furniture. While it is a well-known brand in Europe, it definitely flies under the radar here in Canada, and that’s a shame because not only is it classic contemporary furniture, the company prides itself on their ever increasingly sustainable production.

The contemporary furniture is hand-crafted by local woodworkers, wood pieces are joined together by hand and are only polished with natural oils such as linseed and safflower, and buffed with natural waxes.

Riletto Bed

All wood used for the furniture comes from well-managed European forests and are grown without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Team 7 mills the logs in its own factories, minimizing waste in the process while the leftover sawdust and wood chips are used to power the furnace to heat their plants. Each year they produce a sustainability report to evaluate how they are doing compared to the previous year. They also set goals to determine what area of resource use they need to focus on to further reduce their impact on the planet.

Team 7 Atelier Adjustable height desk

Team 7 Atelier Adjustable height desk

James also mentioned that he is working with Blu Homes, a modern pre-fab, totally green home builder, to outfit the model homes being constructed in Calgary, followed by Toronto, then Vancouver.

While there are other distributors of Team 7 furniture in Canada, to the best of James’ knowledge, Greyhorne Interiors is the only Canadian showroom.

You can visit Greyhorne Interiors at 1134 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON, or check out their website.

(note: this post was recently updated. Greyhorne Interiors used to be elevenfiftyfour.)


Nexterra LivingHome Revisited

April 17th, 2012

Nexterra LivingHome — Kitchen

Two years ago I attended the press party for Nexterra LivingHomes. I was pretty excited about the concept of a green modular home that achieved the goals of being lighter on the planet, but was still functional and gorgeous. The house is now ready and, since I was in Toronto to attend the GreenLiving Show,  Gary Lands of Nexterra, took me on a tour of the nearly completed and furnished model home. There are three other homes that will be built at 20 Senlac, blue prints and property positions are available on the Nexterra website.

Exterior Rainscreen cladding be Externit


Side view of house — double garage under scaffolding

The Nexterra LivingHome consists of 6 prefab boxes: four large boxes and two smaller ones.  The finished home is a spacious three plus one bedroom, meaning three bedrooms on the second floor with a fourth in the basement. Ceilings are 10′ tall on each level so there is a real feeling of space — even the basement ceilings are 10′. The home has wonderful flow, with windows used both strategically and liberally so that there is plenty of natural light.

Laura Felstiner, involved with establishing Nexterra’s partners, told me they are targeting LEED Platinum certification, but won’t know until the house is completed and systems are operating, in order to monitor energy consumption.

Some of the features of the home:


Geosmart furnace

Waterfurnace HRV

Third floor tower leading to roof deck (also works as a heat stack)

Building envelope and HVAC system: The building is tightly sealed, with R35 insulation in the exposed walls, and R30 insulation in the basement walls.Insulation is Heatlok Soya, a sprayfoam insulation made from recycled water bottles and soy. It’s an excellent insulation with an R-value of 6 per inch. The key to Heatlok is that it doesn’t lose its R-value over time. Many sprayfoams lose a little of their insulation value due to natural shrinkage of the material.

There is easy accessibility to the roof via the third floor stairway, which also acts as a heat stack. When days are hot in the summer and (hopefully) nights are cooler, opening the door to the roof, while opening lower floor windows prompts cool air to be drawn into the lower floors while the hot air escapes through the open top floor door. There is also space for a whole house fan in the roof which would accomplish the same thing if the lower level windows are open. The roof is also solar PV panel ready, and there will be a roof deck as well.

Geothermal heating system by Geosmart provides both heating and cooling for the home. In addition, because the building is tightly sealed, there is a Heat Recovery Ventilator and air purification system by Water Furnace, that keeps the air clean and circulating through the house.

Windows have fiberglass frames, made by local Toronto business, Inline Fiberglass, and are double-glazed, low-emissivity, filled with argon gas. These windows are some of the best insulating windows on the market today. You can read more about the advantages of fiberglass windows in this article.

Appliance Bank: AEG microwave, oven and steamer oven

Franke Sink with culinary work prep sink and built-in compost bin

Recycling bins built into kitchen cabinets — by Scavolini

Kitchen: The cabinets were done by Scavolini, an Italian company that takes sustainability very seriously. Not only are the cabinets NAUF (no added urea formaldehyde), but there are thoughtful additions such as a recycling centre built into the island. The company itself also practices sustainability during the manufacturing process. The two manufacturing plants run almost entirely on electricity derived from the rooftop solar panels on their factories, waste is minimized as is the amount of water used in manufacturing. While the cupboards are manufactured in Europe, they are shipped by boat and flat-packed, and are assembled on site. Flat packing items allows companies the opportunity to ship more items in one container, lessening the number of cargo holders needed.

Countertop by Caesarstone, Faucet by Franke

Countertop: Caesarstone “Quartz Reflections” with up to 42% reclaimed quartz and with particles of recycled mirror and glass which adds a very nice sparkle.

Euro-Line Appliances provided all the appliances and the stainless steel sink. The sink is by Franke and includes a prep bowl and strainer, as well as a built-in compost bin. Appliances are by AEG and include an induction cooktop, and a wall of ovens consisting of a microwave, convection oven and steamer oven. The dishwasher is also AEG. European appliances use significantly less electricity than standard North American models and will lighten the electricity load for the house, Faucet is by Franke.


Barnboard in mudroom

Mudroom: Between the garage and the kitchen is a mudroom to which barnboard has been added for a great rustic touch. Barnboard comes from Muskoka Timber Mills, and was installed by Andrew Reesor, a local artist.

Dual flush Aquia II by Toto

Powder room: Just off the mudroom is a smart little powder room containing a dual flush (3/6 litres) toilet by Toto Aquia II, and a vanity and sink by WETSTYLE, featuring a proprietary WETMAR material for the sink basin.  It is completely recyclable at end of life and can be made into new WETSTYLE products.

Inlaid cork flooring by Jelinek at entry way.

Other features of the main floor: The welcome mat at the front door is actually an inlaid cork flooring provided by Jelinek. Wood flooring through the rest of the house is Kentwood, FSC engineered oak. Engineered flooring is often used because it behaves more consistently than solid wood, not being susceptible to expansion and contraction.


Halo LED lighting in basement

LED pot lights throughout the house are 4″ Halo, 5Watt lights. When Gary was showing me around the house he asked me what was my favourite feature. I told him the LED potlights (he might have been a little disappointed with my answer). I thought they were 50W halogens because of their light temperature (colour) and brightness. I had no idea they were LEDs. Not only will these lights use 10 times less electricity than their halogen counterparts, they will likely not need to be replaced for 15 to 20 years. Now that’s great lighting.

The pendant lighting in the kitchen and over the dining room table is provided by Eurolite.

Living Room — furniture by Gus* modern, art by AGO

Furniture in living room is provided by Gus* Modern. Pillows are provided by Bev Hisey and are Goodweave certified. Goodweave is a not-for-profit group with the aim of ending child labour in the carpet industry while providing education opportunities for children in South Asia. Second life rugs were provided by Elte.


Cast-iron fireplace by Jotul

The fireplace is provided by Jotul, model F 370 DV. Jotul manufactures this fireplace from recycled iron in one of the cleanest foundries in Europe.


Home office








The desk in the home office was constructed by JM & Sons out of recycled metal and reclaimed wood. Gary explained that the home’s interior is set up so that if someone has a home office, any clients they might receive can stay in the main part of the house. This eastern-facing wall has large windows so that lots of natural daylight can stream in.

All art throughout the house is provided by the Art Gallery of Ontario’s  Rental and Sales department.


Master bathroom, bath tub, sinks and vanities by Wetstyle

The second floor consists of a Master-ensuite with floor to ceiling closets on the end walls providing lots of storage space. The washroom has been outfitted with Wetstyle tub and sinks and vanity. Other storage cupboards also come from Wetstyle.

Faucets and showerheads throughout the house are low-flow from Aquabrass. I should also mention that while all toilets and faucets are low-flow, they’ve also built the house to be grey-water ready. Grey water, water that comes from the shower drains, can be used to feed all toilets in the house, literally helping to reduce your water use in half.


Bunkbed in bedroom #2 by Kolan


Bedroom #3, crib by Oeuf

The two other rooms on the second floor are set up as kids’ rooms, one with a crib, the other a set of bunk beds. These rooms are bright and spacious and putting furniture in the rooms shows that they are big too — there is plenty of play area in both rooms. The kids’ bunk beds  and bookshelf are made by Oeuf out of Baltic birch and eco-MDF and low VOC water-based finishes. The table in this room was made by Heidi Earnshaw, a local artist.

The crib and dresser are made by Kalon from FSC domestic maple and low VOC food grade dyes and stains.

The paint throughout the house is white, zero VOC provided by PARA paints.

What you notice when you walk through this house is not only is it a great example of a green-designed beautiful contemporary house, but also there is an absense of “new home smell” — ie., no smell of chemicals off-gassing into the air. Neither the products that were used to construct the house nor the furniture installed for modelling the home contain toxic chemicals providing a comfortable healthy indoor air environment.

If you’re at all interested in modern, low impact homes, take a look at this one. It will be available for sale at some point, right now it serves as the model home for three others to be built down the same laneway.

For more information on the home, visit the Nexterra website.

For more pictures of the home, visit BEC Green’s Facebook page.


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Festive Silver Chair “Don’t Junk it Funk it” Tips from Designers: Jim Connelly and Peter De Sousa

December 3rd, 2011

Silver-coated chair, previously bound for landfill

It’s Arts and Crafts day at BEC Green!! Jim and Peter tell us how to take an old piece of furniture and turn it into something fun. Just follow the instructions below to make this sparkly silver chair. (Editor’s note: I’ve added links to some of the products needed for the project).

And now from Peter and Jim…


Next time you see a lonely old chair on the street waiting for the garbage truck or when you are in a junk store shopping think “Don’t Junk it Funk


With a little imagination and a lot of love you can create your own little treasure! At Masterpiece studios we are all about re-use and recycling to inject a new purpose into a discarded yet still functional piece of furniture.

Many of today’s paint and adhesive products are green with low VOC’s, easy to work with and the result’s… well the sky’s the limit!!!.

That sad little chair now shimmers with a new life. Follow these easy steps to make that garbage discard into a gorgeous delight!

Try this project out for yourself this holiday season to make a statement in your front room, next to your tree or on your front porch – you’ll dazzle your guest with your creativity!



Silver coated chair (close-up)





  • Wash the chair with warm soapy water to remove any grease, dirt or fingerprints dry completely.
  • Cover table top with newspaper to create a good clean work surface.
  • Remove the seat from the chair frame.
  • Paint the chair frame with a White Bonder Primer and let dry completely.
  • Paint the chair with a water base Size / Glue and let Dry Completely, the size when dry will remain sticky to the touch.
  • Apply the Silver Leaf Squares or transfer Foil to cover the entire Chair.
  • Seal chair with Exterior High Gloss Varnish let dry completely.
  • Paint the old fabric seat with water base silver paint using a small paint roller and tray, apply the silver paint heavy to cover any pattern on the old fabric and sprinkle silver glitter over the chair seat let dry completely.

About Jim and Peter from Masterpiece Studios

Jim and Peter are famously known for their regular appearances on Debbie Travis’ Painted House and Facelift. They are painters and designers and their mantra is “funk it don’t junk it” – they can take a shabby wreck and turn it into a goldmine! They have worked on Celine Dion’s Canadian offices, the home of Rush’s lead guitarist Alex Lifesman, Elton John, Bare Naked Ladies and may more to just name a few. For more tips and to learn more visit: Masterpieces Studio

Update your furniture and add some “Zing!” while you’re at it — Vicky Sanderson shows us how.

September 15th, 2011

Let’s just say you’ve inherited four Victorian dining chairs with needlepoint cushions from your grandmother and desperately want to give them away or sell them or put them on the curb but guilt makes you keep them and you cart them around from house to house wondering what in the world you’re going to do with them (ahem). Along comes Vicky Sanderson, who abhores throwing out good pieces of furniture, or almost anything for that matter, if she can breathe new life into it by giving it a stylish update. Bringing old pieces up to date will not only make you enjoy your old pieces, but also make you think fondly of your childhood days at granny’s instead of resenting the pieces themselves. Not sure how to do this? Read on as Vicky inspires us with ideas for sprucing up your home by reusing what you have and adding a little paint to breathe life into old pieces (and rooms).

But, BEFORE Vicky tells us how to get more from less, if you’d like to see her in person, Vicky will be at the Toronto Fall Home Show running September 22-25, 2011 at the Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place.  She will be speaking about shortcuts to take to create fabulous décor on Thursday, September 22 at 3:00pm, Friday, September 23 at 1:00pm, and Sunday, September 25 at 4:00pm on the Style at Home Main Stage presented by HGTV. Visit for more details.

And now, back to Vicky….

Vicky Sanderson

Upcycle. Repurpose. Steampunk. They’re all variations on a theme, used to describe the practice of modifying and repairing existing goods to extend their lives. While the design cognoscenti may claim it as the latest trend, it’s been a way of life for greenies for a long time — at least as long as the motto, reduce, reuse, recycle has been part of common eco-parlance.

It’s only now that the cool kids get that not only is recycled decor good for the planet — it can be a quick shortcut to seriously chic room design. And getting the look is dead easy, because it’s entirely based on personal taste and imagination.

A coat of paint is one of the quickest, most affordable ways to refresh the style of any room, or to give new lustre to a beloved, but well-worn piece of furniture or accessory.  And colour, of course, is always highly personal.

Look to retailers for inspiration (Photo courtesy of RONA)

Used in a room, colour can breathe new life into tired furniture by providing an exciting backdrop. Applied in a block or wide stripe, it makes a striking statement, and it can define space in an open concept design. To get a polished look, you’ll want crisp, sharp paint lines, which are easy to achieve if you use a good tape, such as 3M’s new Edge-Lock painter’s tapes. It doesn’t bleed, seep or irritate the skin and can remain on the surface over several days, allowing paint to fully dry and set. For décor ideas with paint, as well as tips on how to mask like a pro, go to, and look under Painting Tips and Techniques.

There are loads of options for eco-friendly paints these days, including a new line from Rona called Rona Eco, which is made almost entirely from recycled paint. According to Rona, the production of this low-VOC, latex-based recycled paint reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent, compared to an equivalent production of virgin paint.

Some paint and a roll of good tape can produce distinctive looks (Photo courtesy of 3M)

An edited palette of 16 shades offers plenty of options, all of which dry to a lovely velvety finish that’s also a snap to wipe clean.

Appliance decals give an instant custom look (Pic RONA)

You can also add visual interest to any wall by using graphic decals, either with or without painted effects. There are even decals for appliance fronts these days. Look for the Mur-Mur line, also available at Rona.

Settee -- "Before"

Chairs - "Before"

Reupholstering old furniture is another way to create unique décor. Search for interesting pieces on Kijiji, in thrift and vintage shops or at local garage sales. Keep an eye on the curbside in your neighbourhood too, which is where the chairs in the “before” picture shown were discovered. They, along with a tired settee, got a fabulous new look, with help from the wickedly creative Jim Connelly and Peter de Souza of Masterpieces Studio Notice that the fabric on the seats and chairs don’t match; that’s because we used scraps that many would have sent off to the trash. The settee was refinished with metallic foils which are then covered with a lacquer-like finish suitable for outdoors. Seats and backs are covered in marine-grade vinyl, so that the piece will work indoors or out.

Settee and Chair -- "After"

Two books become a unique candle holder (Photo courtesy of Lisa Occhipinti)

Your local bookstore, library or fave décor mag is also a good source for inspiration. Check out, for example, Lisa Occhipinti’s new book, The Repurposed Library ( This artist uses simple tools to transform old books into distinctive objets and accessories.

So whether it’s dubbed upcycling, repurposing or steampunking, remaking used and vintage finds into new décor is finally getting the attention it deserves. Maybe it’s even time for a new motto. How about sustainable, sensible — and sexy!

Vicky Sanderson writes Hot Home Products, a widely-read weekly column on home improvement, décor and housewares that appears every Saturday in the Toronto Star. She also keeps readers up to date on new products through her blog, On the House, which can be found on Having tried and tested just about every new home product, décor item and countertop appliance to hit the market in the last 10 years, Vicky is an expert on all things home-related. She frequently shares tips, tricks and trends on such media outlets as Canada AM, Breakfast Television, CHCH Morning Live, and CBC Radio. Follow her on Twitter @vickysanderson

Farewell Toronto, Bonjour Montreal!

July 28th, 2011

Just a quick heads up here. I haven’t been producing many articles this summer and that’s because I’ve been busy packing. We’re going on an adventure — moving to Montreal!

I love Montreal and I’m familiar with the city as my husband and I both went to university there. However, I have to admit that I’m looking forward to living there without studying for mid-terms or exams, and when I have enough money so that I can buy good wine instead of the infamous Cuvee des Patriots, available in a local depanneur (corner store) for $2.85 — back in the ’80s, I’m sure it’s creeping up on $5 a bottle now. Even we, young, poor students recognized that it was better used as a salad dressing than poured into a wine glass!

So what does this mean for the blog? Yes, I will still continue to write it, and I will still feature some Toronto businesses — but by necessity, the blog’s scope will expand to Montreal and Toronto, with maybe some Ottawa thrown in for good measure. The point of what I write about is to help you find green building materials, in addition to demystifying green building itself.

Montreal has a very vibrant green building sector as well as many companies that produce products for the market, a few I’ve already written about such as Montauk, PolarFoam/Heatlok (Demilec) and Adbond. I’m looking forward to exploring the green companies in and around the city, writing about them and their efforts to lighten their environmental load.

In the meantime I have some great Toronto articles coming on Transition Towns, Permaculture, green walks, paint and more, so stay tuned!

Oh, and if you have any suggestions about interesting Montreal-based companies I should get to know, leave a message in the comments section or contact me at cathy “at”

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