eco+historical started off in 2008 with the project to rehab, “green” and expand a 1922 Edwardian located in Cole Valley – a San Francisco neighborhood that feels more like a small town than part of a city.

It looked a bit like a potato from the outside and had undergone a budget rehab in the early 2000’s to add a lower level guest suite and an Ikea kitchen plus a contemporary (but cheap) paint job, but there were many nice details, from the unique wainscot to the stair railing “arrow” cut-outs, that added a lot of personality and were well worth preserving.

Over the course of the next year or so, the home was expanded with a new 3rd story with three bedrooms and two baths plus a lovely new kitchen, family room, and eco paint, finishes, materials and systems throughout.


Despite looking like a potato, the existing floor plan was excellent with great Living/Dining/Kitchen flow and it was clear that we had an opportunity to turn this home into the perfect family and entertaining home.  What the house really needed was enough space for a Family Room, a modern Master Bedroom suite and a couple of kids’ bedrooms.

Original Plans

To accomplish those goals, we simply converted the original two bedrooms on the main level of the home into a Family Room off of the kitchen and added the 3rd story as a living level with a master bedroom, bath, huge closet and front deck plus 2 decent-sized kids bedrooms, a kids’ bath and a laundry area.

New Plans

We worked hard to keep and restore the lovely original floors, wainscot, fireplace and stairway details and set to work to address issues like the:

  • lack of insulation that had left the home very cold and drafty
  • ceiling stains from a leaky roof
  • the old and inefficient furnace that couldn’t keep up with the drafts

On top of those issues, the home also needed new paint, a new roof, a kitchen with more storage capacity and efficient appliances, efficient heating, and low-flow water fixtures.

In order to build the 3rd story, we had to open up most of the 2nd story walls to upgrade the structure, freeing us to fully insulate the home, re-wire it, add nice features like CAT5, audio and video, and repaint with zero-VOC finishes.

In coming up with the specifications for the rehab, we broke the concept of “Green” down into three component parts:

  • Health
  • Sustainability
  • Efficiency


To assure a healthy living environment, we wanted to eliminate toxins and improve air quality while utilizing formaldehyde-free materials and zero-VOC or low-VOC paints and finishes.  This meant:


  • Lead-painted doors and trim
  • Asbestos duct insulation
  • Plaster ceilings and walls that could harbor mold
  • Fluorescent lighting that includes Mercury



  • Paint – Zero-VOC paint on all walls and ceilings
  • Insulation – Formaldehyde-free insulation
  • Cabinets – Use formaldehyde-free plywood in custom cabinetry
  • Bath Fans – Automatic motion-activated continuous-circulation fans improve air quality


To minimize the impact on the planet, we kept whatever flooring and materials we could in the house and then used Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified lumber to assure that the lumber was all harvested from sustainably-managed forests.

  • Lumber – FSC Certified
  • Cabinets – Sustainably-harvested plywood
  • Counters – Slate-like Richlite (layered paper fiber in zero-VOC non-toxic resin)


To keep the carbon and water footprint of the home down to a minimum, we completely insulated the home, created separate zones for heating each floor (so you only heat the area you’re in), updated the furnace, utilized a Hot Water Heat Pump to achieve water heating efficiency nearly twice as good as an on-demand hot water heater, put in low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads, EnergyStar appliances, better-than-fluorescent non-toxic dimmable LED lighting, and motion-sensor dimmers throughout to automatically turn off lights in unused rooms.

  • Lighting – Dimmable LED lighting in halls and kitchen
  • Lighting Control – Motion-sensor dimmers throughout
  • Insulation – Formaldehyde-free in-between all walls, and floors
  • Windows – Argon-filled double-pane Low-E wood windows
  • Furnace – 95% Efficient new gas furnace
  • HVAC – Added separate zones for each floor
  • Faucets, Toilets – All low-flow
  • Appliances – EnergyStar-rated

Despite being near the corner of Frederick and Cole Streets with its traffic and bus lines, the home became almost eerily quiet and peaceful thanks to newly-insulated walls.  The lead paint that once was there was gone, as was the remains of the asbestos insulation on the heating ducts. The original home details were retained everywhere possible and were reproduced where the original detailing could not be retained.  All of the original floors were retained and refinished with water-based low-VOC floor finishes, and the original fireplace received a new chimney and flue, bringing it up to code.

Check out the marketing site at plus the full Before and After galleries…