How Green is My Bathroom

It started with the recession – an opportunity to buy into the housing market at a point when lending rates were low and my desire to get out of my ground-floor rental was high.

I made my “must-have” list: south-facing one-bedroom with balcony; at least second storey; in-suite laundry; walking distance to a gym; and within a few blocks of the best coffee in the city – and my comfortable stomping grounds of 10 years – Commercial Drive. And, oh yes, almost forgot: I wanted a “wow” factor.

Not exactly a bucket list, but a tall enough order. So when a top-floor suite became available on First Avenue, with a south- facing balcony, close to a gym, a few blocks from the Drive, with a stunning vaulted ceiling with semi-circular window, I knocked three other people out of the bidding. The only issue – the bathroom.

It wasn’t the most hideous bathroom I’d seen, but it definitely needed work. Besides the dated white-with-wood-trim cabinet, “pork chop” counter and dark-brownish paint, the bathtub was in serious need of cleaning, and every surface was chipped or stained.

The only salvageable items were the beautiful slate floor and dual-flush Pegasus toilet.

Wanting to keep the bathroom as eco-friendly as possible, I focused on trying to source the larger items locally to reduce the carbon footprint caused by shipping items from China. The bath- tub is made right in B.C. by Venco Products Ltd., and the cabinet was custom-made by Cocoon Home Designs in Vancouver using North American maple with a smoked-ash veneer.

As well, I was intent on getting a thermostatic bath valve and trim so I could control the water temperature separately from the volume. Common trims have only one knob, and in order to get hot water, you have to turn the knob up full blast. You can’t turn down the volume and keep the water hot. This Aquabrass shower valve not only looks stunning, it enables me to set temperature and volume separately, thus saving money in heating bills.

In addition to the fixtures and paint that needed changing, there was a bizarre ensuite-style walk-through from the bedroom to the bathroom that was completely redundant, since it was only inches away from the main door of the bedroom, which was right across from the main door of the bathroom. It was unneces- sary and took up valuable storage space. So the walkway was closed off and a closet built that opened onto the bathroom for extra storage.

NOTE: As seen in Home Make Over February 2010 issue, page 19.