Green Tour: Chris' Green Hideaway

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Name: Chris
Location: Santa Barbara, Ca
Occupation: Surfer, entrepreneur, visionary
Size/Type: 750 sq. ft. cottage
Years lived in: 10
Average Gas/Electric Bill: $25 gas/$25 electric

When Chris' family of four outgrew their 750-square foot home in Montecito, Ca, a beautiful beach community just south of Santa Barbara, rather than sell, he decided to turn the cottage into a "green" vacation rental.

Now, by showing the finished project to disbelievers, Chris has turned more than a handful of people on to the subtle, yet beautiful green elements he incorporated into the home.

Those include:
• Reclaimed teak furniture;
• 100% organic linens;
• Non-toxic, zero-VOC paints and finishes;
• CFLs;
• Cork flooring;
• And energy-efficient appliances.

Chris' goal is to eventually take the cottage completely off the grid; however, until then, he's pretty happy with what he has accomplished so far.

Oh, and, if you'd like to vacation in Chris' Green Hideaway, you can contact him: info [at]montecitohideaway[dot]com.

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Our Style: Funky, casual, surf-shack chic.

The inspiration for our home: The vacation I need ...

Favorite Element: Yes, the biggest factor for me is how it all comes together [in a mind, body, spirit kind of way].We’ve all been in homes that look really cool, but there is usually something (that creates subtle tension in our bodies) that tells us "... but I wouldn’t want to live here." So, my favorite part is how it feels -- how people want to just hang out.

Biggest Challenge: Being "green" isn’t quite mainstream, so sticking to your principles can require patience and perseverance when sourcing materials and even labor.

Friends Say About Our Home: "Whooaa. Duuuude!" Or "When can you start on my house?"

Biggest Embarrassment: Well, considering that this is an ongoing project, I am painfully aware of my to-do list, even though most don’t notice or care.

Favorite Green Element:Being sustainable doesn’t work if it’s not attainable. If being green is just for the wealthy, then we are truly doomed. I measure the sustainability index of everything I do via a filter of my social, environmental, and economic responsibility. So, the fact that this project underscores the green options that most people can afford and attain is significant to me.

Proudest DIY: The fact that I did 99% myself.

Biggest Indulgence: Taking the time to do it all my self. However, the entertainment technology is a close second.

Best advice you'd give to anyone trying to green their home: Do your homework, ask advice, but be careful who you listen to, and don't allow naysayers to divert you from your purpose.

Re-use as much building materials as you can, but also be aware of any potentially hidden, additional time/labor costs that this can sometimes create.

Remember that you and your family are going to live in it -- possibly for a lifetime -- so (in addition to saving the planet), consider all of the factors that will affect your health and longevity. Beyond removing toxic elements, consider light, sound, color, and texture.

Nature is the perfect architect. So, whenever possible bring nature inside and create opportunities for you to be outside.

Learn to listen to your body’s inner voice when making choices. Really. A simple way to do this is to become aware of any tension in your body. You should be able to relax in your home. If you can't, then you are going to have persistent issues. Pay special attention to sleeping areas, as this is where we regenerate and heal ourselves as we sleep.

Be an advocate. Learn it, live it, teach it.