The Pyramid bed is among the more popular teak pieces at
Kosmos Designs.Throughout the DC area, there are a bevy of shops to help us live “green.” For this special issue, we have scoured local neighborhoods to find the ones with the best collections of stylish yet ecologically conscious home furnishings.
Since 2003, Kosmos Designs & Ideas on King Street in Old Town Alexandria has offered a unique mix of sustainable furnishings that strike a balance between traditional and modern décor. In 2006, Kosmos opened a second showroom on North Royal Street. In both colorfully painted shops, Kosmos features handmade teak furniture that owner George Galdiz sources on regular trips to Indonesia, where he has established relationships with a dozen artisan families. Ninety-five percent of the wood they use is reclaimed.
The ideal behind the furniture is to “take pieces in an artistic fashion and make something functional,” says Kosmos creative director Sue Henry. “Inspiration for design can be traditional, but it also has a modern edge.” Carved wooden pieces from deconstructed buildings are mixed with smooth reclaimed beams in beds, benches and tables. The shop’s colorful bedding and pillows are made by hand of a silk-cotton blend by a family of artists in Bali. Also from Bali is the root furniture—low, curvaceous chairs and benches that “you can see going into the earth,” says Henry. If you don’t find what you need in the showrooms, Kosmos Designs accepts special orders.
Blurring the line between green home interiors and building is Eco-Green Living in DC’s 16th Street Corridor on Church Street. Eco-Green’s first-floor is more décor boutique, with shelves full of everything from natural personal care items to cleaning supplies and organic cotton bedding. “There is a high criteria for anything we carry,” says Erin Alexander, who runs the store with owner Keith Ware.
Upstairs, the building showroom displays a wide variety of options for green building and remodeling, including zero-VOC paints, bamboo flooring, recycled glass and porcelain tiles and countertops, in addition to low-flow toilets and tankless water heaters. What caught our eye? Bio Glass countertops, which are made from recycled bottles in four distinct color ranges: deep blue, light green, clear and mottled brown/gold.
Another shop making a difference in DC is Greater Goods, which helps consumers adopt greener behavior at home by moderating water and energy consumption, recycling and minimizing waste. The store, which opened in the fall of 2007, is a popular source for Mrs. Myers natural cleaners, as well as such eco D.I.Y. tools as motion-sensing light sockets and recycling bins and composters. Greater Goods also provides references for general contracting, solar-heating installation, efficiency inspections and green roofing.
Located near Fells Point in Baltimore, bluehouse was started as a way to provide people with healthier options for everyday life, and owner David Buscher started with the building itself. From bamboo floor and cabinets to low-VOC paints and recycled glass countertops, “almost every material we chose to build out our store is green in some way,” he says.
Buscher was first contemplating a store when he read several articles “about poisonous outgassing from furniture and paint,” which can combine with cleaners to make interior air worse than exterior air. He was also concerned about the environmental impact of home goods manufacturing. However, when he began researching green alternatives, he had a difficult time finding them. Thus, bluehouse was born.
“Our goal is for people to be more conscious—whether they are buying a soap or a sofa,” says buyer Ann Fortune. Each item is chosen to fit at least one of six tenets of conscious design, whether for health or sustainability: created from reclaimed, recycled, and/or recyclable materials; created from alternative or managed resources; created locally; created by hand; created from organic, natural, or chemical-free materials; or created from especially durable or long-lasting materials. High design definitely plays a role in what is selected. “We are trying to find the hippest and most modern things—that are also eco-friendly. Just because you’re going green, you don’t have to sacrifice style,” says Fortune. The store’s collection includes recently arrived Atlantico, sleek furniture made from FSC-certified wood; modern platform beds from Environment Furniture made from reclaimed and recycled wood; and the clean cut Shimna Beam sectional sofa. Popular items include organic mattresses by Green Sleep and Savvy Rest. bluehouse also just signed to start carrying timeless, sustainable pieces by Herman Miller.
The work of local designers is also represented, including pieces from woodworker Anthony Bronza from the Eco Supply Center in Richmond, and the Kathos Collection of bathroom furniture from Baltimore-based Luke Works. Past the front furniture displays—and the shop’s organic coffee bar—is a mini design center that stocks green building resources, from YOLO Colorhouse paints to EcoTimber Flooring.
Green Ticket Items
Products and companies that are making a difference on the home front
Loewen is a 100-year-old Canadian Mennonite window and door company that has launched a number of green initiatives, including using 95-percent SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) wood; the company is an FSC-certified manufacturer. Loewen is a leading supplier of windows and doors to LEED projects, including the Platinum LEED accredited Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. Visit www.loewen.com.
Liebherr’s North American product line is Energy Star qualified and RoHS compliant (Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment). Exemplifying this commitment to energy conservation is the CS 1350 combined refrigerator-freezer, which consumes a minimal amount of energy with optimum results; it also features an alarm to signal when the door is ajar. Visit www.liebherr-appliances.com.
Philadelphia-based MIO focuses on “responsible desire”—combining the needs of people today with technology for a greener, healthier future. Designer Jaime Salm’s L-XL lamp is a two-part aluminum piece that increases its size with the addition of the XL Ring. Made in the USA of recycled and locally sourced materials. Visit www.mioculture.com.
Julien maintains the life-cycle quality of stainless steel by utilizing 100-percent recycled and recyclable metal in its products. Crisp corners and smooth sides help the UrbanEdge sink bring sharp modern lines to the kitchen. The collection also features additional drain board and work surface accessories. Visit www.julien.ca, or call (866) 901-5624.
Reliable and trustworthy: Finding the right products
As the presence of a Green Building Council denotes, building environmentally conscious homes has become an industry in-and-of itself. But how to find the most reliable and trustworthy products? A number of area green building suppliers have done the legwork in testing and research to offer you the best in eco-friendly building products.
Located just outside of Baltimore, Alter Ego carries sustainable products ranging from flooring to countertops and tiles. It was started in 2003 by Brennan + Company Architects as a collaborative showroom to educate clients, designers and contractors on sustainable design options.
Amicus Green Building Supply in Kensington, Maryland, offers a range of products and services to help consumers complete a green project, whether they are focusing on energy-efficiency, clean air or a whole green home design. Amicus even works with builders to help them meet LEED requirements.
Richmond-based Eco Supply Center offers a range of indoor building products, from flooring and surfaces to paint and plywood options. In addition to building supplies, the center offers a collection of hand-crafted furniture, made with sustainable and salvaged woods and materials.
ECO Solution started in 2004 as a non-toxic painting company, but after they began stocking their own paint supply, they branched out to create a shop that carries paints, stains, flooring and insulation. They also offer a professional U.S. Green Building Council member consulting firm to help homeowners build green.
Nature Neutral in Charlottesville, Virginia, offers environmentally sound products for home and commercial construction and renovation, as well as for LEED certification. Their products are all selected for their non-toxic or less toxic ingredients, as well as performance and value.
Local green shopping and building companies in Maryland, Washington and Virginia
640 Frederick Road
Amicus Green Building Supplies
4080A Howard Avenue
1407 Fleet Street
Kosmos Design & Ideas
1010 King Street - (703) 837-1955
805 North Royal Street - (703) 837-0107
1469 Church Street, NW
8909 Deer Run Drive, Suite A
Copper Hill, Virginia
Eco Supply Center
1310 Roseheath Road
1626 U Street, NW
370C Greenbrier Drive