Here at Gimme the Good Stuff, we have decided to take on a major renovation project we call “One-Eleven.” The goal is to take an old row house that’s been serving as an office and convert it back into a residence/showroom/retail space (more on how you can use this space in a minute).
Because we’re all about the Good Stuff, we are using nontoxic and sustainable products, materials, and processes as much as possible as we complete this project.
We’ll be removing ancient carpet, restoring the original wood floors, designing and installing a kitchen, and much more. Are we brave, or crazy, or both? Time will tell! As you can see from these photos, there it’s lots to be done.
As the de-facto construction manager, I will be blogging about the process to share the joys, challenges, and successes of taking a nontoxic approach to home renovation. We expect to learn a lot. We’ll share our tips and recommend the best products as we search for them and test them out.
One-Eleven is a three-story brick row home that’s three blocks from of the heart of downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The building is about 200 years old. For the past 30+ years, it served as a judge’s office. We want to convert it back into a home, though it won’t be a traditional home (see below).
Why Lancaster? Well, it’s where we (Maia’s parents) and her brother and his family live. It’s only 3 hours from her home in Brooklyn, and Gimme the Good Stuff is headquartered in Lancaster (it’s where our warehouse for the store lives), so Maia travels here often. Also, Lancaster’s downtown is enjoying a great renaissance. Millennials have discovered its affordable charms, as have retiring boomers suffering from McMansion-fatigue. It has been likened to Brooklyn. (Then again, almost every place is now likened to Brooklyn. Sorry, but there’s only one BK!)
Planning: Where Do We Begin?
Taking on a conversion and renovation project of this size is daunting. Even though I have decades of personal and professional experience with this work, I still get intimidated—I know what I’m getting into! Fortunately, Maia’s husband, Daylon, found a program called RoomSketcher that’s helping us visualize our plans. It lets us enter the dimensions of all the rooms and then design potential layouts, which you can then view from multiple angles and tweak as needed. It’s almost like the work is already done!
How YOU Can Use This Space
As I mentioned, One-Eleven is going to be more than just a beautiful nontoxic row-home when we are done with it. While we will certainly use it for short-term stays for our family, it will also provide a unique AirBNB experience. With the ability to sleep as many as 8 people, we hope One-Eleven will be a haven of clean living, even if only for a weekend! If you’re interested in a nontoxic mattress, and want to actually sleep on one before you buy it, this will be your chance! One-Eleven will also function as a warehouse for our online store and a by-appointment retail space, where–if you live near Lancaster–you can come to purchase your favorite natural products.
Follow Our Nontoxic Renovation Journey
We have a long road ahead, but we’re excited to share the renovation process with you. First up: tackling the floors. In my next post I’ll share the dirty details of why and how to get rid of old carpet (hint: it’s really toxic, and you’ll need to deal with a lot of staples!). I’ll also talk about how to restore old wood floors with a nontoxic polyurethane alternative, which is healthier for people and the environment.
We hope that our experiences can help you understand the unique challenges that come with taking a sustainable and nontoxic approach to home renovations. We also hope that those of you who are brave/crazy will share your own experiences with nontoxic renovation and construction!
P.S. You’ll hear more about these brands later, but we owe a huge thank you to the companies who have donated nontoxic materials and products for this project, including Savvy Rest, Green Building Supply, Ecos Paints, The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company, and Coyuchi.