Zem Joaquin’s Elegant, Eco EscapeAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Spending time with Zem Joaquin is a profound experience. As a businesswoman, editor, entrepreneur and visionary she has changed the way the world views sustainability. Her revolutionary website, Ecofabulous (acquired by Huffington Post in 2015) in addition to her countless editorial contributions, demonstrate that sustainability and style can go hand in hand. Now, as founder of the Near Future Summit, an event that aims to solve the world’s most complex issues, Joaquin works with global leaders on the development of innovative technologies and solutions that will change our lives and the way we think.
Joaquin recently completed a project that is very close to her heart: a farmhouse with a smaller home at the back of the property and stables that she renovated and designed for her family and two Icelandic horses. Always keeping the environment top of mind, she worked with local and national vendors to select the most energy-efficient, locally made, environmentally conscious materials and products on the market. We sat down with the powerhouse to learn more about her passion for design and the rare pieces she found for this fabulous retreat.
Why is this home so special to you and your family? It is the collective realization of our individual dreams. My daughter and I can escape the city to ride or just cuddle our Icelandic horses. My son gets to grow veggies and orchids in the greenhouse and my and my mother can garden to her heart’s content. My husband has a jam room where he can drum covers of all his favorite bands.
How long did the renovation take? I spent a year and a half working on the house with a fantastic team. Architect Noah Riley, Upscale Construction, Shades of Green Landscape Architecture and project manager Molly McGettigan helped me realize my dream of a deceptively simple Nordic farmhouse.
You clearly have a passion for design. Where did you find most of your inspiration? When I was 23 my godmother, Jil Hales, took me under her wing and chaperoned me to Paris to show me architecture. In London, she brought me to galleries, the theater and museums and taught me how to critique restaurants. She now owns a fabulous farm-to-table restaurant and event space in Healdsburg called Barndiva and continues to inspire me!
What is your favorite design element? There are too many great moments in the house for me to choose! As an avid pool player, I’ve always aspired to have a table but never had the space. I had been seeking a convertible pool table that could become a dining table, so I was thrilled when I found one by Blatt Billards that was constructed of reclaimed oak. And I love the custom Western Windows that glide open and flood the house with light, allowing for seamless indoor-outdoor living. We enjoy having guests, so the more beds, the better. The Orient Express (bunk room) was a clever way to make use of a narrow and rather useless corridor. With the help of Riley Projects, I conceived of a space where each compartment was like a cabin, that has an insanely comfortable Avocado organic mattress, SOL organic sheets, Cradle to Cradle certified plaid wool Pendleton blankets, Rejuvenation lamps made in Oregon, skylights and charging stations. Each one is like a little hotel capsule.
What was the most important factor for the new design? I have been co-hosting a conference in Iceland for the past 11 years and feel deeply connected to both Denmark and Finland, so I was unquestionably inspired by modern Nordic design. The meticulous simplicity speaks to my personal aesthetic. Eco-conscious materials drove the project, though. From the walnut table, crafted from a local tree, to the FSC-certified floors, doors and casework by Design in Wood to the reclaimed West Elm media cabinet, we know the provenance of each timber element. The stunning Fireclay tiles are made locally and forged with a high percentage of recycled content. The Benjamin Moore paint and MechoShade blinds are Cradle to Cradle-certified. There are beautiful Brizo fixtures inside and smart WAC LED exterior lighting.
How do you hope the sustainable home can inspire others? I aspire to help others make more sustainable choices. When I ran Ecofabulous and was the eco-editor of magazines like House & Garden andDomino, I used my voice to provide resources. I believe by making better individual decisions, we collectively will have a huge impact on the planet, so my goal is to continue sharing information and resources.
SHOP THE LOOK of Zem Joaquin’s stylish, sustainable home:
WAC LIGHTING – (seen outdoors)
“I love WAC Lighting because they offer high- quality LED options with sleek modern style, that integrates well with the outdoors.”
“Monark was amazing to work with when selecting the appliances. They have numerous Energy Star and high- efficiency choices.”
“The Avocado Green mattresses are very comfortable, toxin-free and made of organic cotton, wool and natural rubber. Not to mention they are affordable and can be delivered directly to your door.”
NEOLITH (seen in the kitchen)
“It was important that the kitchen counters were not just durable but eco-friendly. Neolith was the perfect product as they make easy to maintain, durable stone alternatives that are comprised of recycled materials.”
FIRECLAY TILE (seen in the powder room)
“Fireclay is by far one of my favorite companies as they offer stunning tiles made in California with a high percentage of recycled content.”
“I could not be more pleased with Western Window Systems for their superior custom, easy -to-operate windows made in America.”
BRIZO (seen in the kitchen and bath)
“I think the Litze by Brizo, made in Tennessee, is the chicest faucet line. I love the one-touch faucets that keep you from leaving water running needlessly.”
COYUCHI BEDDING (seen in all bedrooms)
“I have lots of Coyuchi items throughout our home. They make beautiful organic linens right here in the Bay Area!”
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