Living Green? Small Space? Check out the Space Saving Furniture!


According to Kentfield, Marin county Architect, Sarah Robinson, an Alumni of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture; that Being Green is not just to tear down and build from scratch but it’s about “Seeing the untapped potential that already exists.”

“Green Living” is not limited to only use ‘Green’ products such as energy efficient appliances, water saving faucets, shower heads, toilets, bamboo flooring, recycled water, drought resistant plants, solar energy, double/triple paned windows, reuse building material, no VOC paint, and such.

Today, a friend of my shared a video of space saving furniture, which I thought would fit in nicely with green minded, sustainable living friends. these furniture has intelligent design where each piece of furniture has several purposes and fits in a tight space, are artistic an allow for smaller space thus reduce footprint of the new building design.

On a practical side, for friends or college kids who live in small apartments, houses, dormitories; these furniture allow them to have better quality of life while dealing with the tight space.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do


Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors 

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Kentfield Home Earned a Red Hot “Most Sustainable Renovation’ Award from Met Home

redhot According to Kentfield Architect, Sarah Robinson, an Alumni of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture; that Being Green is not just to tear down and build from scratch but it’s about “Seeing the untapped potential that already exists.” Kentfield, Marin County Architect, Sarah Robinson, was thrilled, when her house earned the ‘Most Sustainable Renovation’ Award from the prestigious Metropolitan Home Magazine.

Robinson’s 1963 fixed-upper home incorporated the following winning features:

redhot1) Retain and Expand upon the original mid-century contemporaries design. Robinson’s usage of rich wood, glass, American clay plaster and copper echoed the ‘sensual surfaces’ from the outdoors. She also retained the original custom mahogany paneling and cabinetry.

redhot2) Resourcefulness- Adding 1200sf space (office, family room, extra bedroom) blow the building allows Robins the retain the original footprint of the building. Large dormer captures light and provides views of outdoors

redhot3) Usage of Reflective Surfaces Such as stainless steel, high gloss woods, glass cabinets, white ceilings makes the most of the natural light that streams into the space.

redhot4) Reused 80% of the original building material and incorporated with recycled materials from other sources – including reuse of the redwood framing from the attic for additional trim, exterior siding and new kitchen dormer. She also bought the seconds from a local tile manufacturer (Heath Ceramics in Sausalito).

redhot20090313__14finelivingxx_2005) Incorporated the outside environment to be the primary decorative feature for the home by using ‘floor-to-ceiling glass’, adding skylights and creating a large dormer to bring the outside in.

redhot6) Usage of Energy-Efficient Mechanical Systems Suchas soy-based form insulation, Eco-friendly American clay plaster, no-VOC paint and double-paned windows.

Footnote – I was contemplating about what to write for the RED HOT contest on ActiveRain eCO-All Star Group’s March challenge, and my upcoming presentation to my Rotary Club (of Novato Sunrise  about LEED and Local Green Buildings, when the Marin IJ Article about Local Architect, Sarah Robinson’s winning design caught my eyes. This is an excellent, timely example of how to creat a “RED HOT” Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Home while thinking Creatively Outside of the Box.

The idea of not having to build an eCO-friendly building from scratch, using recycled, reused, local materials to avoid the commonly expensive GREEN features, which is the main concern in a heathy economy and a huge hinderance in the current dismal economy while creating stunning buildings in the process makes this RED HOT for me!

* The post incorporated information from Met Home and Marin Independent Journal. – a news article caught my eyes and just in time for the RED HOT entry!

“Yes, We Can” “Make it Right (ECO, Green)” for Marin County Flood Zone

I was asked by the Active Rain (Real Estate Blog Site) ECO-All-Star Group Leader to enter into the group’s January Challenge.   The goal of the contest is trying to determine how the ECO Green Design from actor Bad Pitt’s “Make It Right” foundation will benefit local homeowners.  

The entry did get the First Place in the very tight contest and was the Featured Blog for both the group and ActiveRain community 🙂


465px-hurricane_katrina_august_28_2005_nasaNEW ORLEANS, LA

  1. It is now 3 and 1/2 years since Katrina’s 2nd landfall on August 29th, 2005 in Southeast Louisiana.  With the unprecedented economic downturn and the excitement of a new President and the New HOPE promised by President Obama, Katrina seems to be a distant past, a fading memory, something to be put on the back burner and forgotten.

Why should it still matter? – New Orleans had come back to life, Mardi Gras celebration goes on … But how can we forget the devastation and extreme destruction since Katrina slammed into New Orleans and the continued struggle200px-nola9thfloodedbetsy 9th Ward people have while hoping to rebuild their homes and start a new life? 

250px-hurricane_katrina_medical_evacueesBy August 31, 2005, eight percent of New Orleans was flooded; with some parts under 15 feet of water, thousands of buildings destroyed and the official death toll, according to the Louisiana Department of Health, was 1,464.   

Seeing the great loss, actor Brad Pitt formed the “Make It Right”foundation a year ago and presented lot owners in Lower 9th Ward with designs by 13 architects; basically allowing the homeowners to pick a design for their homes to be rebuilt by the foundation.

make-it-right-pic-2December 11, 2008, the “Make It Right” Foundation celebrates the completion of first six homes. These are not only a fresh start for homeowners but also become blueprints for LEED Platinum Certified, affordable, storm-resistant, and Green/ECO sustainable housing designs. 

The homes are built with sustainable wood cabinetry, non-toxic paints, and Energy Star appliances; as well as Green features that take these houses to the next level include insulation that makes them five times more air-tight than typical homes, photovoltaic systems, and groundwater heat pumps for both heating and cooling.  Looking ahead, separate plumbing lines were installed so owners can utilize their rain harvest systems if a current s law banning rainwater for toilet use is repealed.

Heavily subsidized by Pitt’s foundation, the per-house budget of $150,000 is possible because of donated materials and services, including the architects’ designs.  The costs are expected to drop as more houses are built. The goal is to build 150 homes; Pitt’s foundation has raised money for 87 of them.

An additional $9,450,000 is needed to complete the remaining 63 homes at $150,000 each.  A speckle of dust comparing this to national debt; but a healthy chunk of money when money is scarce (unless you are Treasury with a printing press, of course)begreenfeelgolden1


Back to my hometown, the Marin County – As Marin county residents (or California, in that respect), by the Very Nature of choosing to be part of Marin County, we are proud of being ECO, being GREEN, being environmental friendly and being Sustainable.  We want to be in the forefront of going Green and being Green! (see logo from San Marin High School for their Green Week event)

Marin has seen a few successful Green Projects. Boasting Cleanest Air in the Country, Novato (San Rafael 2nd, and Salinas placed 15th in Clean Air category) in Marin County, CA has three of the following four Green Projects (there are many more) –

phpthumb1) Dominican Convent in San Rafael received a Gold Certificate from the U.S. Building Council for the sustainable building (convent). The 6,200-square-foot, two-story shingle-and-stucco convent, built with strong lines and a vibrant brick-red exterior, takes full advantage of the latest pro-environment technology. It has rooftop photovoltaic panels, solar-powered attic fans and toxic-free insulation of reclaimed materials, . With programmable gas heaters in each room, the interior remains at a uniformly comfortable temperature, even with a floor made entirely from a mix of concrete and recycled fly ash.  Traffic flows were studied, Recycled furnishings were used, History was preserved.  

Dominican convent is the only environmentally certified convent in the world, right here in Marin.  

2) 10-4-07004Virginia Grove In Novato, Marin is the First None Public Funded Affordable Green Homes in Marin county and the Winner of the 2007 Award of Excellence for Smart Growth & Workforce Housing,138 points on the Build-It-Green scale, the highest ever in Novato.  This project combines attractive architecture, Green Development Practices and lower income affordable housing in a single-family environment.   Heralded by ABAG as “a model for regional planning”, the project includes bioswales, Grass-pave, ground-water recharge, a major tree-transplanting program, passive solar heating and cooling, pre-wiring for solar photovoltaic panels, sustainable, recycled and reclaimed materials on an infill property.  

chi_fp_oliveridge_sm_13) Olive Ridge, again in Novato, CA, on the other hand, is a Luxury Green Home development consists of 19 homes on large lots surrounded by 20 acres of open spaces.  

The homes meet the new Residential Green Building Ordinances for all single family homes and major remodels by City of Novato.  The ordinances addresses Green Issues such as using Natural Resources, conserve Water And Energy and improve Indoor Quality; use energy-efficient materials and techniques such as photovoltaic, solar panels.

20080613__firemans1_gallery 3). Commons at Mt. Burdell– A redevelopment of the current Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company’s property in North Novato (the north most part of Marin County) brings the first LEED Platinum certified project to Marin County.   Numerous neighborhood meetings and city planning meetings were held for neighbor and city input on the project. 

The project considers and implements plans for renewable energy, conserve and recycle water, noise reduction, indoor air quality, reuse, recycle, education, public transportation, and plans to achieve carbon-neutrality within 10 years.  A music will also be built for educational purposes.       


Those are  examples of the existing and in planning Green Buildings in Marin County


Looking at the designs for the 9th Ward and considering the challenges some the Marin county residents have, the “Make It Right” foundation’s design can benefit many of Marin Residents, especially for the ones who live in one of the 10 flood Zones in Marin County (o.k. don’t know what happened to Zone 2)novato-flood

The flooding happens every few years and can be devastating to local residents and businesses (see picture on the right for Novato Flood in the ’80s). 

Not only it is disruptive to lives and businesses, being in the flood zone also requires flood insurance for homeowners and has an adverse effect on the desirability of the homes and housing prices in the area. 

  • Flood Zone 1 – Novato Area, 
  • Flood Zone 3 – Mill Valley Area,   
  • Flood Zone 4 – Bel Aire Area   
  • Flood Zone 5 – Stinson Beach 
  • Flood Zone 6 – San Rafael Meadows  
  • Flood Zone 7 – Santa Venetia
  • Flood Zone 9 – Ross Valley (Corte Madera Creek)
  • Flood Zone 10 Inverness

Some of the features for the “Make It Right” homes will probably even benefit earthquake prone California – the stilts have to be able to withheld the surge of flood water, which shall be able to absorb some of the effects from an earthquake.

As we have learned from various sources, designing Green Buildings and acquire Green Material add a premium to the building of those homes, especially the LEED Certification, which can prove to be cost prohibitive to embark on related projects.  


The idea of sharing the ‘Make It Right’ plan provides “a sense of working together to change the world”.  Being able to share the plan from 9th ward, one of the most economically challenged areas in the country with other areas in the U.S. provides both a symbolic and real meaning of working together and sharing; something to be encouraged and proud of! 

And remember, one of the most important features of Green/Sustainable are to RECYCLE, REUSE and to CONSERVE, same thing goes to building plans.

d_bnim_012Although some of the designs are hard to picture in Marin, but a few will fit right in (see the one on the left)!   

Now comes the difficult part –

moneysign3How Do We Fund all These – not talking about Marin projects, but the remaining Lower 9th Ward homes?

Well, last I checked…  there are currently 1,197,529 Realtors  registered with National Association of Realtors, 

As Realtors, we care about our neighbors, our fellow citizens and our country.  in short, WE CARE!  

The participation by All Realtors at a time of housing crisis to help complete the Lower 9th Ward project will definitely go a long way to show the nation that Realtors DO Care, which is something Money Can NOt Buy!   

hopeWith each Realtor donating $8.00;  we can raise more than enough for the 63 remaining homes.  The remainders can be used to improve the Lower 9th Ward! 

What better time to help with the Optimism of “HOPE” and “Change Is Coming” slogans and what a great time to cultivate Goodwill among All.  

To jump Start, Yes, Mr. Brad Pitt might just want to be the Goodwill Ambassador for NAR as his presence will certainly rally the participation and help all to accomplish this noble goal! 


Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frankk Howard Allen Realtors

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa. Starter Home to Luxury Property. REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architecural Distictive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange. Chinese Realtor.

Make Dreams Real – Rotary Club of Novato Sunrise Youth Services