Home Improvement

World-Class Luxury Home Shopping in San Francisco

Surrounding Union Square are some of the Cities best offerings for those looking for that exclusive luxury home vase, work of art, custom upholstered furniture or unique, one of a kind accessory to add to your homes elegance?  San Francisco hosts a myriad of luxury home stores for you to fulfill your decorating itch. 

Try Gumps, a harbinger of elegance and sophistication,  at 135 Post St. in San Francisco.  ‘Ohh and ahh’ through their beautifully dressed retail store.  Contact their concierge to host your private event, cocktail reception or dinner, bridal event or arrange a private seminar with one of their designers or artists. 

Nearby find Neiman Marcus at 150 Stockton Street, now showing Spring Home Trends like their “Global Perspective, New Preppy, Nouveau Cottage, Coastal Charm and the traditional Country Estates”.  Designer’s like Lily Pulitzer, Calvin Klein Home, Mac-Kenzie Childs, and Jonathan Adler contribute to the homes collections.  For Baccarat and Lalique, this is your destination. 

This Friday you can catch Barton Perrerias’ Sunglass Trunk show at another luxe shopping “go to”, at Barney’s New York’s San Francisco store at 77 O’Farrell Street at 11am. Barney’s sets itself appart with  its’ selection of sophisticated urban decor, tech and travel, desk, gourmet and even the dog department.

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Houseplants are Easy-How To Secret!

Houseplants.  We are 7×7 in San Francisco.  That is 7 miles by 7 miles.  Not all of us have outdoor space, though in the City many of us are lucky to have our little slice of land in the back yard.  If you don’t have that, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fabulous greenery that is living, in your very own home.

Here is my best kept secret.  Purchase potting soil and a pot that is a little bigger than the plant you have purchased, drop in a screen to cover the hole in the bottom of the pot (purchased at a garden supply store) and some gravel or old pot shards as a small bottom layer. Ease the plant out of the pot by turn it on its’ side and holding close to the stem(s), drop it into the pot with some soil previously placed in the pot leveling the top of your new plant about 1-2” below the rim.  Surround it with soil and press the plant down, and tamp the soil down lightly.

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Estates Group’s preferred Stager

Robin Chudy of Robinsnest Design is a stager whom we rely upon to add the furniture, design and staging that make our listings so appealing.

Robin has a wonderful eye, and always consults at the beginning of our listing process to make sure she has the right vision for the space.  She adds custom art (many of the pieces painted by Robin herself).  Robin goes the extra mile – making sure her stages remain pristine throughout the showing process.  I know that when Robin is called in to stage an Estates Group Listing not only will the job  be done with no fuss or issues, but it will exceed our expectations.  To see a sample of her work, visit our current listing at 450 San Bruno Ave., San Francisco, CA 94110.


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GREEN Seminar Coming UP in San Francisco

Posted in Energy Saving Tips, Erika Gives Back, GREEN Beauty in San Francisco, GREEN Homes for Sale-San Francisco, GREEN Websites, Home Improvement, Local SF Real Estate News, Local Vendor Reccommendations, Press Releases, San Francisco Real Estate, Seminars, Sustainable Choices in the City, United States Green Building Council | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Insulate Your Pipes! Save Money!

It’s true.  It’s New Years Day and I love to do things like clean out closets.  So my husband stays smartly out of the way and just came up to tell me that he had insulated our hot water pipes.

  Now you may have guessed, we are a GREEN household and always seeing to improve our recycling, energy efficiency, use of natural and re-use products, native gardening improvements and general home repair GREEn upgrades.  Natuarally I was pleased to hear he had insulated the pipes.

My husband also happens to be a plumbing contractor in the City of San Francisco and personally he is an avid recycler and energy improver! If he makes a plumbing call to your house, you can almost be sure he will advise you about what you can do to optimize your recylcling and energy comsumption.

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Great local Environmental Website

Our local San Francisco website for all things GREEN including         San Francisco Programs and Policies, Resources plus links to get anything recycled in SF!
Check it out at: www.sfenvironment.org

Posted in Energy Saving Tips, Enironmental Safety, GREEN Beauty in San Francisco, GREEN Websites, Home Improvement, Local SF Real Estate News, Recycling, San Francisco Real Estate, Sustainable Choices in the City | Leave a comment

Recycle your Fridge, Earn a Gas Credit, Use CFL’s by PG&E in San Francisco

fridge recyclingold fridgeHowdy!  Look what I received today in my ValPak mailer.  A coupon from PG&E promoting Recycling, and energy savings.  The info below is what was on the coupon with all of their website links too!

Check out the program put into place by PG&E in San Francisco

It’s easy to recycle your old (still working) refigerator!  Guess who will do it for free and you will receive $35 dollars too!

www.ApplianceRecycling.com/PGE or PHONE 1-800-299-7573

Here are some other PG&E Links you might find useful

Posted in 1st time Home buyers, Buyers Tips, Energy Saving Tips, Enironmental Safety, Erika Gives Back, GREEN Beauty in San Francisco, GREEN Websites, Home Improvement, Recycling, San Francisco Organizations, Sustainable Choices in the City | Leave a comment

San Francisco Real Estate Links for GREEN Buyers and Sellers

Green cityHey Folks!
Gavin Newsom just Twittered me about the launch of the new Green Cities Website, which is a collaboration of 10 cities GREEN Goals, we can participate in helping our City “Go GREEN”, read about Best Practices and keep up with what’s happening. Very inpsirational. I’ll be sure to post some of their San Francisco initiatives and events here.

See the article about the launch Here:


and the visit the New WEBSITE website here:


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Re-Charge It! Camping & Batteries – Lots of ‘Em

recylcled batteries

I went camping last weekend and I’m proud to say that all of our equipment that needed batteries, were either wind up flashlights or used rechargeable batteries.  We made the original investment and get a feel good vibe everytime we charge our batteries in ad

I am a Realtor representing buyers and Sellers of Real Estate in San Francisco and I make it my business to impart GREEN info to my clients on a regular basis.  Ask me about GREEN homes for sale, what you can do now to make GREEN improvements to your current sale OR when preparing your property for sale – ask me what Green features buyers are looking for before beginning your home repairs or improvements.
vance and have plenty of light at our campsite and are helping the environment at the same time.  Not to mention the resources we are saving when going it outside with the elements…that’s another story. Continue reading

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New Floors – Make them Bamboo Floors


Renewable flooring materials like Bamboo cost less than hardwood and look great.

Bamboo grows significantly faster than hard wood so it is sustainable. Some bamboos grow to over 60 feet in just 6 months.

Vertically oriented ‘carbonized’ 5/8 bamboo tongue and groove with pre-urethane top coat performs very well and looks terrific. Note that when comparing prices against hard wood, American oak is often cured longer and has less potential to buckle than cheaper imports that cost less than $5 / sq. ft. Bamboo costs about $3.50 / sq. ft. so the immediate savings on a 300 sq.ft. room (20′ x 15′ ) is about $450.

Consider bamboo for guest rooms, dens, home offices, or play rooms. You have many styles to choose from, but the vertical oriented system may wear better over time than the horizontal. The ‘carbonized’ finish is darker than the blonde finsh and it looks more like hardwood, and pre-finished boards with multiple coats of urethane will save on installation.

Also consider using bamboo instead of carpet. Installed carpet ranges from $1.25 to $2.50 per sq. ft. but you have to clean it and potentially replace it every 5 to 10 years depending on the wear.

The savings is immediate relative to wood, but the ROI Calculation is based on offsetting carpet at an average of $1.75 / sq. ft. for two 300 sq. ft. rooms with the need for a carpet replacement within 10 years.

The Bamboo ‘Grain’ is elegant and durable.

The tongue and groove boards come in easy to deliver and handle boxes.
Install it yourself or bring in the pros.
Bamboo looks great in transition with natural stone, carpet and oak.

Copied from Website: http://www.greenandsave.com/finishes/flooring/bamboo_floors.html

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GREEN ENVY – The benefits of Green homes

Source: U.S. Green Building Council

More and more Amaericans are discovering the benefits of green homes. The advantages affect consuers’ health, wallet and the environment. For example:
~Toxin-free building materials help combat indoor air ollution, which can be worse than outdoor pollutiona and can pose serious health risks.
~The net cost of owning a greenhome is comparable to – or even cheaper than – owning a standard home.
~Month to month, people who live in green homes save money by consming less energy and less water than standard homes.
~The value of a green home is often higher than that of a comparable standard home, and the amrket demand for green homes continues to rise.
~Local, state, and federal governments are increasingly offering tax breaks and other incentives for building certified green homes or adding green features to an existing home.
!Green homes use 40% less energy than comparable standard homes.
~Efficient plumbing and bathing fixtures, drought-tolerant landscaping and water-conserving irrigation systems help green homes use less water than standard homes.
~Far fewer natural resources are used in the construction of a green home. Many green building materials have significant recyled content.

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Mayor Newsom Announces First Solar Installations at S.F. Public Housing Sites; Creates Green-Collar Jobs

Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced plans to install over 365 kw of solar panels on the San Francisco Housing Authority properties of Hayes Valley North and South and Plaza East through San Francisco’s GoSolarSF Initiative. The solar panels will provide hundreds of thousands of kilowatts of clean, renewable electricity to public housing residents. The project is expected to create 25 jobs and be completed by the end of the year. Newsom also announces 450% increase in San Francisco solar applications since inception of solar rebate program. Read more…

July 07, 2009 in Green | Permalink

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Build new green homes and remodel existing homes in a healthy, environmentally friendly, efficient ways

The Resource & Your Guide:

Green Home Building

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Go Green with Low Flows for Bathroom Remodeling

The biggest culprit of unsustainability in the bathroom comes from excessive water usage, but in dichotomous ways. To truly make your bathroom greener, it is vital to manage the water coming in through the pipes, as well as water that flows out, whether it be through non-low flush toilets, or through the vapor from hot water. You can combat this with low flow showerheads and toilets, and faucet aerators. The showerhead and the faucet aerator both maintain the current feel of water pressure, but use much, much less water. However, the challenge does not simply end with these improvements, as the walls of the room must also be able to withstand the constant barrage of water and humidity, in conjunction with an exhaust fan that can work quietly and efficiently to clear the space of excess humidity. You will also want to invest in durable surfaces that can stand up to time.ga_3001

Before starting your Bathroom Remodeling Project, make sure you consider the desired function of the room, the existing conditions that one will have to deal with, the scope of the project, the size of the room, and the layout and space planning. Here it is in a little more depth:


A bathroom remodeling project can be enacted for a variety of reasons. And whether it is to fix a leak and its subsequent structural damage, to make the room more convenient, to grow with a family, to improve aesthetics, or just to upgrade the appliances and fixtures; the project will be an opportunity to consider purchasing green products in the face of more luxurious ones that serve a less vital function.

Existing Conditions

Consider the problems you face when going into the project to best be able to overcome them. For instance, the project could be driven by mold or moisture that has eroded the sanctity of the bathroom, or the electrical wiring for light fixtures and outlets could be old and in dire need of replace, and still others may wish to simply enlarge the space of the room. Think about what your goals are before you settle on a strategy.


When making upgrades and changes to the bathroom, it is helpful to consider improvements to the homes envelope as well. You may need extensive plumbing and wiring in the bathroom, and if you are considering further home remodeling projects, think about how your future goals for the whole house will be affected by the bathroom upgrade. Also, if you design the bathroom to be friendly for the elderly (i.e. higher stalls, wheelchair accessible), you will be able to inhabit the home for a longer period of time.


The larger your end goal, the more expensive and time consuming your project will be. Consider analyzing the current space, and refiguring the location of things to increase the functionality of your bathroom without disrupting other rooms in the house. Thinking of the home as an organism, instead of an object will lead one to understand that the more radical the change, the less likely you are to understand the full impact of the improvements until it is too late.

Layout and Space Planning

Before you get started on any major bathroom remodeling project, consult with an expert contractor who is familiar with the green technology improvements over the past few months. Not only will your options be clearer with the help of an expert, but he may also be able to point you in the right direction for tax credits on qualified items, which can really enhance the value of an energy efficient upgrade.

With proper planning, you should be able to come to a solution that preserves or enhances the aesthetics, while improving resource efficiency.

The information found in this article has been provided by the ReGreen Program, which is the result of the American Society of Interior Designers’ Foundation and the U.S. Green Building Council partnering on the development of best practice guidelines and targeted educational resources for sustainable residential improvement projects. This program will increase understanding of sustainable renovation project practices and benefits among homeowners, residents, design professionals, product suppliers and service providers to build both demand and industry capacity. Learn more at ReGreenProgram.org.

GREENandSAVE.com is a free resource for anyone that wants to save energy, money, and the environment. The articles, product reviews, online tools, and return on investment calculations are researched from a diverse range of public and private sector sources. Overall, the company is passionate about saving money as well as creating healthy homes, offices, and lifestyles.

For a better idea of which improvements to your home will save you the most money the fastest, take a look at GREENandSAVE’s Return on Investment Table for your next Home Remodeling project. Or, consider taking a career in the rapidly expanding Green Industry with the EcoAcademy, which is training people across the country for Green Collar Jobs.

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Retrofitting – Low Level Upgrades

Retrofitting is an easy way to institute lower-level upgrades to improve energy efficiency, indoor air quality, conserve resources and meet other green goals.
Some options include:

  • Programmable thermostats

  • cflsCFLs

  • Lighting controls such as timers, dimmers and occupancy sensors

  • Hot water Heater Jackets

  • energystarENERGY STAR Appliances

  • Duct Sealing

  • Rain barrels

  • Retrofit kits for wood-burning fireplaces

  • Water filters on faucets

  • lowflowfaucetLow-flow faucets

  • Weather-stripping and caulking

In the real estate world of San Francisco a required inspection is the “Energy Inspection” which includes wrapping of the water heater, weatherstripping, insulating accessible areas like your attic, duct wrapping and more.  I can put you in touch with my “Go to” energy inspector who can do the inspection for a very small fee and perform the work.  You can then have an energy compliance certificate filed with the City upon completion.  If you haven’t done this already upon the transfer of your last purchase or sale, this is a good time to do it.  Give me a ring.

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Cleanerrific and I mean it!

I called “Cleanerrific” on the reccommendation of one of my colleagues at Zephyr Real Estate . I was delighted to find that they are a subsidiary of The Jewish Family & Childrens Services and a provide training and employment for those that are learning to be self reliant. It is important for me to continually contribute to what I call “the full circle way”.
The JCFS trains and helps these people become valuable employees. I employ them. They clean your house after you’ve moved out or before you move in and everyone is happy, participating and giving back.
I spoke with their Director who told me they are 90% GREEN with their solvents and cleaning supplies…which is commendable and necessary. Cleanerrific is just that, a terrific organization providing much needed services and they have an important mission and message.

I am more than happy to pay it forward. In this case, I’m giving my client his house cleaning as a closing gift. His hardwood floors will be waxed and buffed and his new home sparkling.
“Imagine having a sparkling home or office, PLUS the good feeling of giving back to the community. You get both when you hire Cleanerific, Jewish Family and Children’s Services residential and commercial janitorial service.” And they are GREEN too!

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Catch the Green Wave

Catch the Green Wave

Just outside of the tiny town of Saybrook, Illinois is some of the “greenest” farmland to be found anywhere in the Midwest. This pic was snapped traveling down a lovely country blacktop last October.6a0105361dfb6d970c01156fa30707970bThese graceful towers are absolutely silent, but are generating power for thousands of residents in Illinois. That’s a good thing, because in the United States alone, buildings alone account for:

• 70% of electricity
• 39% of all energy use
• 39% of all (CO2) emissions
• 40% of raw materials use
• 30% of waste output
(136 million tons annually)
• 12% of potable water

Sustainable residences, commercial properties, developments, and communities are so important to all of us. If you are seeking a green home or building, there are real estate professionals who specialize in “green.”

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Green Designation is the definition of green professionalism, excellence, and leadership for today’s real estate practitioners. This training program is specifically designed to address the educational needs of practitioners in residential, commercial, and property management markets. The program provides real estate professionals with the knowledge and awareness of green building principles applied in residences, commercial properties, developments, and communities so that they can list, market, and manage green properties as well as guide buyer-clients, in purchasing green homes and buildings.

The Green Designation enables real estate professionals to incorporate green principles into their practice and encourages the real estate professional to be an advocate in spreading the green philosophy and be a positive force for creating sustainable and energy efficient communities of homes and commercial buildings.

What does it really mean when it comes to being a homeowner or looking for that eco-friendly home?

A homeowner can do many things to go green in the home. For example, some tips regarding electricity according to Planet Green are:

· Audit yourself – determine how energy is used in your home, where it is lost, etc. Many utilities offer energy audits as a free service.

· Reduce your use – replace light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLS);turn off lights and devices when not in use; eliminate electronics that sleep on a standby setting as they continue to pull electric even when turned off; line dry (when possible)

· Put your house on a diet – Houses consume a large amount of energy when heating and cooling. To cut down on costs, utilize natural ventilation instead of air conditioning when possible such as ceiling and whole-house fans. Keep shades drawn during the hottest period of the day in the summer. If you use electric for your water heater, purchase an insulated blanket to wrap around the water heater.

· Buy wise – After heating and cooling, appliances are the next biggest electricity users. When purchasing new appliances, look for the EnergyGuide label which shows consumption in terms of kWh per year. Additionally, look for the Energy Star rating.

When purchasing a green home, not only are you helping the environment, but you have the ability to take advantage of energy-efficient mortgages.

1. Energy-efficient homes and energy efficient mortgages – Check out “Financing Energy Efficiency: An EEM Handbook” by Randy Martin. The book discusses what energy efficient mortgages are (loans with relaxed credit standards and favorable interest rates for houses meeting prescribed energy standards) and FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage requirements. http://www.resnet.us/ratings/overview/default.htm

2. Residential Energy Services Network RESNET is one of the principal groups of green housing-minded practitioners, lenders, builders, etc. The group is guided by a committee of mortgage lenders offering energy-efficient mortgages. http://www.resnet.us/about/resnet.htm

3. EPA Energy Star – Existing homes EPA’s Energy Star Program is used by lenders as the standard of determining energy efficiency. Borrowers whose houses meet the standard qualify for the favorable terms of energy-efficient mortgages. EPA’s existing-home site contains information on the top energy saving improvements and how to save money by using energy-efficient improvements as part of the remodeling process. http://www.energystar.gov/

4. EPA Energy Star – New Homes – EPA provides information on its Energy Star Program as it applies to the new-home market. Website features resources on finding a new-home builder, lender, energy-use rater, and utility programs that promote energy efficiency. http://www.energystar.gov/

5. National Energy Raters Association – NERA is an association of professionals who rate and verify home energy efficiency and consult with practitioners, lenders, buyers, sellers and others on improving home efficiency. http://www.energyraters.org/

Tips taken with permission from the National Association of REALTORS®

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