WaterShed uses locally produced, durable, and sustainable finishes that are economical, provide simple and elegant visual appeal, and ease of maintenance. Chosen based on the appropriateness to the region, they maintain a design balance between simplicity, modernity, and the vernacular of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The exterior of the house features two species of locally manufactured, thermo-treated wood: poplar for the siding and ash for the decking and rails. Thermo-treated wood provides properties associated with pressure-treated lumber, however without using any chemicals. Instead, the wood is “cooked” at high temperatures over a period of time, making it resistant to rot and insects, and rendering it dimensionally stable as well. The thermo-treated woods are treated with a waterborne sealant. Galvanized aluminum and corrugated metal – durable and economical materials – are used to finish WaterShed’s gable ends, north roof, and various components within the site, including the wetlands and desiccant regenerator, also adding to the ‘shed’ aesthetic.

Inside the home, WaterShed features several environmentally conscious finishes from tile with recycled content to low-VOC paints. Unique engineered lumber flooring, Bellagio Microline provided by Oregon Lumber Company, is constructed with a rapidly renewable wood core and backing systems, contains no VOCs, and contains a wood tone palette that unifies the wood species found throughout WaterShed. The fumed white oak is dark, durable, and provides contrast to the white walls and ceiling painted with no-VOC paint. The ceramic tile on the floor and shower walls in the bathroom module is composed of 40% pre-consumer recycled content. This tile, manufactured by Emil Ceramica, a leader in recycled product material, is laid in random running bond and appears to extend out into the wetlands on either side of the bathroom.

WaterShed also features custom-made concrete countertops in both the bathroom and the kitchen. Crafted in Baltimore, Maryland by Luke Works, the sleek counters are composed of approximately 70% recycled content. The tops are molded in a “waterfall” configuration — folding down from the countertop and appearing to fold up from the floor, they unify the living spaces. The white kitchen cabinets, a new line from Decor used for the first time in WaterShed, offers a modern counterpoint to the more “earthy” finishes used within the home. Various solid material and veneer panel wood species such as maple and Douglas fir, finished with natural, oil-modified water-based stains for protection and sheen, line the edges of doors, windows, and baseboards.

To learn about harmful chemicals often contained in finish materials, please visit the EPA’s site on formaldehyde and the Minnesota Health Department’s site on VOCs.