B&B retreat has living, breathing sustainability
Owner Anke Bodack wants to inspire guests by use of eco-friendly materials
In a manner of speaking, designer and B&B owner Anke Bodack hopes her guests bring home the wallpaper with them.
Well, maybe she doesn’t want them to actually pry the wallpaper, made from recycled shoe leather and water bottles, off the walls of her new Encinitas B&B called Twelve Senses Retreat. But she does hope their stays will inspire them to use some of the eco-friendly materials she chose for the four rooms (each with a theme: Air, Water, Earth and Fire) or bring other forms of sustainable living and design to their homes.
“I want to inspire people to design their homes like this,” she said of her 1957 home that she remodeled over seven months this year to open as a B&B in October.
To make that inspiration accessible, the lobby/yoga room converted from her old garage includes a materials library with samples. She displays the design boards for each room in the hallways. And the retreat website details the materials and green building practices used in the retreat.
(The website, www.twelvesensesretreat.com, also explains the name, inspired by the 12 human senses identified by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian 19th century architect and philosopher.)
The project, which Alliance Green Builders completed in September, added a 499-square-foot second story with an adjacent 600-square-foot deck to the existing one-story home. Downstairs, 601 square feet now goes to the B&B and 852 square feet goes to the home she shares with her teenage son, Luca Mazzei.
Bodke decided to remodel her home, which she bought with her ex-husband in 1999, into a B&B after renting out two rooms through Airbnb for four years. From the outset, she knew she wanted the retreat to feature mindful, minimalist, modern style that would spotlight sustainable design.
“I like sensory materials, sensory touch. For that, I feel the environment has to be really minimal and simple for the materials to speak, otherwise it’s too complicated or you lose the character of the materials,” said Bodack, who moved here in 1996 from Germany to work as a color and material designer for Nissan. “I like to choose things that last longer and are more sustainable.”
“I grew up in my parents’ home, which they built 40 years ago, completely sustainable,” she said of the home her father and uncle built. “I grew up in a home that had nothing toxic. The feeling of it, it’s almost like healing.”
It’s that healing feeling that she wants for her guests. “I wanted no technology visible, because for me, the idea is to disconnect from technology to reconnect to yourself and nature,” she said of her decision to pare down the technology in each room to Bluetooth speakers and the Nest smart-home system (for security and climate control).
“The rooms really do that job. You go in there, and they have this incredible natural, grounding, healing feeling almost.”
Bodack worked up the initial designs for the B&B with former Nissan colleagues Stephen Moneypenny and Thokozani Mabena, then brought in Flavia Gomes and Renata Rocha from Offset Architecture and Drafting to complete the plans.
When she approached Rich Williams and Jeff Adams of Alliance Green Builders about building the project, the three clicked immediately. “She was just talking our language,” said Adams.
Staying within the original footprint, they took down the front part of the existing structure to the studs. They reconfigured what had been the two bedrooms, bathroom and kitchenette used for the Airbnb into the Earth room, Fire room and a staircase. Those rooms kept the original 8-foot ceilings for a cozy feel.
The new second floor houses the Air room, Water room and deck with an ocean peek view, seating for meals, an outdoor kitchen and firepit. The upstairs rooms have 10-foot ceilings. “We chose (where to put each room) by the functionality of the space,” said Bodack. “But also we felt water and air are lighter, so they needed higher ceilings.”
She credits the way Green Alliance built the home and the materials they suggested for making the retreat green down to the studs. The team is especially proud of the exterior woods (all Forest Stewardship Council certified), which were pickled and charred or heated and sugared to make them durable, low-maintenance, and rot- and pest-resistant.
The decking is Kebony. “They use a soft wood and, heating it with sugar, it becomes a hardwood,” said Williams.
The exterior cladding is Accoya, treated by acetylation with vinegar from Delta Millworks. “The wood is all black, and that’s natural,” said Williams. “They used the ancient Japanese method called Shou Sugi Ban — what that is is a charring of the wood. So before they had anything for treating the wood, that’s how they protected the wood from rot and fires.”
To increase energy efficiency in the solar-powered home, they installed mini-split heating and cooling systems, used cellulose insulation made from recycled newspaper, and installed Andersen 100 windows (made with 20 percent recycled glass and metal content) and Western sliding doors.
After the drywall went up, they sealed air leaks with the AeroBarrier process. They used a high-powered fan to blow a natural aerosol sealant into the rooms. “When it finds a hole, it accelerates and then, ‘boop,’ it sticks to the side of the hole,” said Williams.
The process not only prevented energy loss by closing the leaks (which Williams said can cause 25 to 40 percent of energy loss in homes). It also increased soundproofing.
“The sound is really good. It’s incredible,” said Bodak.
The wallpaper Bodack selected also helps keep the rooms quiet. For all but the vegan Air room, she chose ribbed wallpaper from Buxkin in Holland, made from recycled shoe leather in different shades. It’s on the bottom half of the wall for an almost wainscoting effect, with recycled felt and wool wallpaper on the top half. For the vegan room, she found similar ribbed Buxkin wallpaper made from recycled plastic water bottles and Kravet seagrass wallpaper.
Although each room has its own personality and color scheme, they all feature toilet closets clad with stained wood that’s either char-beetle pine or treated with the Shou Sugi Ban process to accentuate the grain. The sinks and showers (all open to the rooms to maximize space) come from Duravit. The flooring is stone (basalt for the Fire room, marble for Earth and limestone for Air and Water).
The furniture on the private patios and balconies comes from Mexa, and most of the accessories come from the Tijuana store Object (including Anna Lebrija ceramic pour-over coffee makers; no plastic pods here!). The white organic bedding comes from Coyuchi. Mattress Makers in San Diego crafted the latex mattresses and bed pillows from organic latex, kapok and buckwheat. All the solid oak beds come from Ethnicraft.
Local artist El Lovaas created abstract paintings for each room that reflect the feelings and colors of their themes (red and black for Fire, greens and brown for Earth, blues for Water, and gray and yellow for Air). All but the vegan Air room spotlight the colors in the custom mohair blanket created by Weckelweiler Werkstätten, a community of disabled artisans in Germany where Bodack’s aunt and uncle work.
The Fire room includes, not surprisingly, a fireplace. Only the Earth room includes a soaker tub, outdoor shower and cork accent wall.
After seeing how the lengthy design process could change her initial material selections, Bodack is surprised — and delighted — that the rooms remain true to her original design.
“This literally looks like the renderings. Actually, it looks a lot better because you have the whole feeling,” she said. “Each room really has the feeling that each room should have.”
Chaffee is an Encinitas freelance writer and can be reached at CoastalSophy@gmail.com.