Green Home Makeover

Before Maggie and Tyler O’Connor entered to win the My Green Home Giveaway presented by Alabama Power, their bills were exorbitant and they were at a loss on how to save on costs. “We do our best to conserve energy by running our washer and dryer at night, keeping the blinds pulled during the day, leaving the air at a reasonable temperature, using energy-efficient light bulbs, and turning the lights off, ” said Maggie in her entry essay. Some things helped, sure. But when Natalie Kelly of and her team stepped in, the O’Connors were able to get the professional help they needed. “We have been looking for affordable, eco-friendly products to give our home new life and welcome it into the 21st century, ” Maggie says. “Now, we have it.”

1. A coffee table epitomizes the idea of reclaimed materials. Built by Sawyer Vinson Art Build, it combines wood from old school doors and salvaged floors: • 334.294.5125 • Available at Urban Suburban (205. 592.0777) Twig floorlamps from Centuries in Homewood (205.879.2295) add to the sophisticated green aesthetic.

2. A raised bed garden, right, makes planting easy. 

3. The O’Connors’ enjoy the original banquette for its Davenport’s Pizza appeal.

- Sponsors -

4. Low-VOC Mythic paint helped refurbish the guest room. With no odor or toxic off-gasses, the paint is a healthy choice.

5. In addition to interior lights such as the new sconces in the bathroom, Mayer lighting worked with Portera Landscape design to outfit the O’Connors’ front yard with energy-efficient LED landscape lighting set on a timer. A new low-flow faucet in the bath saves on water usage.

6. GLS Supply donated TOTO dual flush toilets for more water savings. 

7. Tyler salvaged this china cabinet and updated it with wine glass racks.

8. Andy Portera designed the environmentally-friendly landscape using sustainable plants that require less water, fertilizer, and maintenance. A new leak-protected front door, right, by Energy Guard adds sensible style. 

9. The original house boasted an all-electric plaque on the front door. Wheelock installed a Ecobee Smart Thermostat and updated, restored, and replaced existing exhaust systems and lighting.

Check out these products and our sponsors for some surprisingly simple ways to green up your own home.

ALABAMA POWER Even the best insulated home will waste energy unless special attention is given to the efficiency of its mechanical equipment, says Robin White, a spokesperson for Alabama Power. For this project, the company provided a 50-gallon Rheem Marathon water heater, with an Energy Star rating and lifetime tank guarantee. For more energy-saving tips, visit

DELTA The new Breez Ventilation Fan is the ideal bathroom solution for green construction. It delivers an aesthetically pleasing ventilation solution that consumes less power and operates more quietly than other leading brands. The Breez Ventilation Fan combines several design innovations, including a DC brushless motor and switch power supply to provide a quieter solution with energy savings up to 74% compared to similar products.

Eco Three stands for Energy Efficient Environment. These home energy experts conducted a comprehensive energy audit that revealed ways the O’Connors’ could reduce energy consumption and monthly expenses. Eco Three provides customized reports for each homeowner to map out the path to a more energy efficient environment. Insulation from Nick Davidson; / 205.516.2712

Energy Guard replaced the front and back doors with insulated Therma Tru doors to seal cracks and leaks. Caulking was applied around existing windows to reduce air infiltration. ENERGY STAR reports that homeowners can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs if they properly seal windows and doors.

Herring Heating and Air worked with
Alabama Power and Eco Three to seal all of the duct work with mastic and install exhaust fans in the bathrooms to remove moisture. Leaky ductwork can cause up to 30% of temperature-controlled air to escape. Adequate ventilation prevents mold. In addition to energy savings, proper sealing promotes a healthier living environment.

3200 Third Avenue South, Birmingham; 2156 Hwy 31 South, Pelham
Mayer Lighting provided LED landscape lighting from HHP Lighting and Philips Hadco to illuminate the front of the house. This low-maintenance product provides longevity up to 20 times that of standard incandescent lights and use 90% less energy. New fixtures replaced old ones throughout the interiors and exteriors to update old wiring and add modern style.

Little Hardware: 2703 Culver Rd
Mountain Brook, AL 35223
Mythic® paint is a non-toxic, ultra low odor paint that provides the durability and coverage without the off-gassing VOC’s and cancer-causing toxins that emit years after drying. Available in a myriad of colors, the O’Connors’ chose a soft green for their guest room. And true to its promise, there was no odor left behind. Visit Little Hardware in Mountain Brook Village to try it out in your own home.

“We designed and installed an environmentally-friendly landscape using a variety of sustainable plants, ” says Andy Portera. His planting list: frost proof gardenias, green velvet boxwoods, camellias, autumn ferns, pittosporum, pansies, and a Japanese maple.

GLS supply installed the TOTO Aquia dual flush toilet with two buttons allowing for low flow flushes. With one of the largest home consumptions being water, this advanced toilet system allows for greater water savings. A new faucet, The Clayton faucet, replaced the original one in the bathroom, offering a lower flow—further contributing to water savings. Special Thanks to Wilbur Plumbing for installation: 205.945.2871.

John Decker / • 205.757.6852
The Backyard Pantry specializes in setting up ready-to-plant raised bed gardens in the greater Birmingham area. Their mission—to help as many people as possible enjoy the benefits of home gardening by making it easy and fun. The cypress raised box, built from local resources, holds 12 inches of soil providing a natural spot for a kitchen garden or cutting flowers. Owner John Decker recommends rotating crops and using home compost to maintain a good PH balance in the soil. Boxes come in three sizes as well as custom orders: 3’x 6’, 4’x 8’ and 3’x 12’, good gardening soil and installation included.

The Ecobee Smart Thermostat ensures 10-20% savings on power bills. Not only does it provide energy efficiency, the smart system allows users to connect to your wireless network and be accessible via any internet connection. For comfort and control, the thermostat can be adjusted remotely so owners can always come home to a comfortable setting.


Cathy Still Johnson

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

Stunning local homes, inspiring before & after projects, southern-style recipes, entertaining ideas and more!