Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 30, 2014

Tour features inventive reusers

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Fifteen years.

That’s how long Marcy Grudzien bided her time, stashing doors and building materials, before she found the perfect project. The resulting 196-square-foot studio constructed from a collage of doors stands near her home in Benzonia.

The centerpiece — a pair of 110-year-old French doors salvaged from a family cottage.

“I’ve accumulated architectural salvage for 15 years,” said Grudzien, an artist and designer. “I have an old door fetish.”

The small structure used more than 20 doors in a variety of applications fastened over a wood-frame structure. The doors then were finished with a clear polyeurothane to preserve them, she said.

Grudzien’s obsession with recycled doors led her on frequent treasure hunts to Odom Reusable Building Materials. And it landed her studio on this year’s Building Resiliency Tour (previously the Used Materials Home Tour) alongside other recycled materials enthusiasts.

The tour, scheduled to take place April 13, will feature a variety of innovative homes and businesses ranging from Peggy Case and Jeanne Peters’ sustainable-living homestead near Thompsonville to OM Cafe in Traverse City, said Bruce Odom, owner of Odom RE-USE Co.

There are more than 10 stops on this year’s tour, according to Odom.

The 10th rendition of the annual tour is co-sponsored by Odom and Benzie Solar Initiative. The homes and businesses vary from projects that simply recycled some used building materials in inventive ways to those like Case who went a little further.

“My philosophical goal is to put back as much as I take from the planet,” said Case, a retired school teacher. “Our goal is to produce what we use.”

Case and Peters began building their homestead nine years ago. It now encompasses 35 acres of trees, a large garden, an active chicken coop, a solar array, bee hives and a small cabin Case hopes to turn into a neighborhood library.

Recently, Thomas Hirsch, a builder who specializes in sustainable structures, completed a massive root cellar on the property. An adobe-covered shed opens to a stairway that stretches below ground level to the cellar.

Hirsch owns Bungalow Builders and his home will be one of the sites on the tour also. He calls himself a natural or green builder. His own home is a hybrid of a renovated cabin augmented with 12 inches of clay-covered straw insulation. He used no paint on the walls and only natural oils to finish his wood floors.

Hirsch also uses many recycled or re-purposed building materials in his projects, he said.

“There’s a lot of energy used to extract that lumber from the woods,” Hirsch said. “Nobody pays the true cost of materials.”

There is no doubt homeowners interested in finding new ways to reuse building materials will find plenty of inspiration on this year’s tour.

Those interested in a guided or self-guided tour should make reservations prior to the day of the event by calling Rachel Jarosz at 231-590-8295 or email her at Homes will be open for tours between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and tickets cost $10.