Whole House recycles home materials


Palo Alto furniture maker John Seltzer is bringing down the house, or at least the pieces of the house he needs.

"What caught my eye was the appliances, in particular the U.S. range, and then when I got here, I some other thing other things that I was interested in, and long over due, it will be for my own kitchen remodel," said John Seltzer, Palo Alto resident.

All the stuff inside this San Francisco home about to undergo total renovation could have ended up in a landfill. But instead, Whole House Building Supply and Salvage blasted an email to Seltzer and the other 10,000 people in its database, offering an opportunity to get in on this piece by piece demolition.

For Whole House people, recycling is clearly a last resort.

"We do reuse, we keep the wood as wood, instead of breaking thing up into smaller bits and making other things out of them, we are just continuing to use the thing in its original form," said Toni Kiely, Whole House spokesperson.

What customers don't take, Whole House does, right to its East Palo Alto yard, where you can buy it for 25-50 percent less than you'd pay for it new, if you can find it at all. You'll find great old wood at the warehouse, some it over 100-years-old. One piece of redwood is 16 inches wide - they don't cut it that wide anymore.

Owner Paul Gardner started this 17 years ago, and he's still finding new ways to use old stuff.

"We're taking the shorter pieces of wood that people don't want to buy now and we're making furniture and different thing like that out of them," said Paul Gardner, Whole House Building Supply owner.

Whole House sends part of its proceeds to the non-profit East Palo Alto Council of Tenants, or E-PACT, to promote affordable housing.

"We also sponsored the creation of the principle non-profit housing developer in East Palo Alto, which is called APA Can Do, which has developed over 300 units of permanent affordable housing" said William Webster, E-PACT director.

Todd Gaviglio has decorated his entire East Palo Alto home with Whole House materials.

"There will be things that you can tell yourself that you will never be able to find again, so if I don't buy it today, it will be gone tomorrow or the next day," said Todd Gaviglio, artist and Whole House customer.

To Gaviglio, its art from housing, to E-PACT it's the art of housing and to Paul Gardner:

"It's one of these win, win, win situations - where everybody gets something out of it," said Gardner.

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