zem’s ecofabulous home

Last week I had the great pleasure to have lunch with friend and eco-fashionista Zem Joaquin at her Bay Area home. Zem not only runs ecofabulous but she is also a board member of Global Green, Healthy Child Healthy World and Teens Turning Green,is actively involved with William McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle, a writer and promoter of all things beautiful and green, but also remodeled  her home (in collaboration with Aaron Mutschelier).  For anyone who knows her it comes as no surprise that she leads all of this with humor and charm because she has more energy than anyone I know.

Zem and her husband, James Joaquin, bought this 1960′s Marin County home a few years ago she has since completely transformed it into a lovely home filled with recyclable, renewable, non-off-gassing materials, as well as vintage furniture re-invented by Zem transforming it all into green glamour.  She seems to have created a new style of that is Hollywood-eco-eclecticism.

This chandelier from Ionies in the East Bay (who use lots of recycled/reclaimed materials) used with LED bulbs is a great example of her mixing of old and new, with the goal of making a home that performs more with less.

The home is a magical mix of warm materials and clean lines. The homes has no-VOC paints, Cradle to Cradle products, LED and CFL bulbs, FSC-certified cabinetry, countertops made from newspaper pulp and fly ash, cork flooring energy star appliances, antique hardware and furniture from flea markets.

The furniture color and form and relation to the window seems to frames the lush garden landscaping like a piece of art in the space.

Absolutely EVERYTHING in her house has an eco-story to it. There is a rug made from old leather purses (above) and I love Zem’s  interesting solution to the huge TV left behind by the previous owner. She dealt with the challenge of not wanting to notice the TV (which can be tough when the TV is so enormous) by finishing the entire wall in black and anchoring it with the black table and ottoman to it folds into the overall fabric of the space.

In her son’s room, Zem incorporated plantation shutters made from bamboo above his desk filled with his insect collection.  He wanted a nautical inspired space, so they took old Mexican wood details and gave them new life as shelves, made a mirror from old boat parts. The result is fun, fresh, functional yet not at all literal.


Zem’s daughters room is a perfect space for a young girl. The smart use of pink fabric framing the threshold between the bedroom and bathroom softens the space as well as adding playful glamor.  Much of the furniture came from eBay or flea markets and were given a new life by adding new fabrics and finishes. The flooring is a lovely cork flooring.


Zem said one the Cradle to Cradle ideas that is a driving force in her work is a quote from William McDonough, “How do we love all the children of all species for all time?”

Zem is certainly offering some beautiful answers.

You can see more of Zem’s design work in upcoming showhomes she will be creating on both the east and west coasts, including a home at the upcoming Dwell on Design in Los Angeles in June.

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