Annualhome show features more than 300 vendors

Published on Thu, Mar 15, 2007 by Jack Kintner

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Annual home show features more than 300 vendors

By Jack Kintner

The annual home and garden show produced by the building industry association of Whatcom County took place on the first weekend in March.

This year’s show was big and boisterous, spurred by the healthy, some might say frantic, construction climate the county has enjoyed for several years. What follows is a sample of what some of the nearly 300 exhibitors had on display.

Alternative power
Despite our March snowstorm, trends are leaning toward alternative and environmentally-friendly ways of producing energy.

Jack Hardy’s Solar Electric Systems of Bellingham will not only tell you if your house would work (you need sun hitting the roof where the systems are mounted), but will set you up with a system that over the next 25 years will eliminate the discharge of 40 to 80 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

He evens sells a solar powered fish fountain that comes with a 20 watt solar panel for $543 complete.

It will also pay for itself in seven years, Hardy said, through a combination of energy savings and tax and power company incentives.

You can find out more about incentives for solar electric in Washington state by visiting

The systems come in different sizes, generally 2 to 4 kilowatts in capacity, costing from $20,000 to $30,000.

For more information, contact Hardy at 360/319-6273 or go to

Another place to save money on energy is in water use. Toilets are more economical these days as are washing machines.

Maytag, once made exclusively in Newton, Iowa, has branched out and now imports a German-made machine that washes clothes in one-tenth the water that a regular top-loader uses.

“Its capacity is 3.8 cubic feet, nearly a cubic foot more than a top-loader,” said Bellingham Maytag dealer Terry Lehmann, “but because the load is constantly being turned over rather than just being spun like a merry-go-round it can take four times the laundry, such as a comforter that fits a California king-sized bed.”

The machine is available in white or black and costs about $1,100.
For more information, call Maytag at 360/733-7722 or visit

Hot tubs
Since the first person heated the first redwood tank back when people still liked Ike, hot tubs have become part of the urban landscape.

This one is a Jacuzzi J-470 with a bundle of lights and everything from plug-ins for your iPod to a remote control you can keep on a shelf and use to make the unit ready for your plunge without having to actually go outside until later on. For more information, contact Barron’s at 360/676-1131.

The other is a Beachcomber unit made in California and sold locally by Bellingham Hot Tub and Fireplace on Bennett Street. Beachcombers are all about simple, effective design, doing the work with effective placement of jets and massage apparatus rather than just more holes and higher horsepower pumps.

They’re never the first with innovations (also the name of a store that’s a third alternative for hot tubs, by the way) but instead make a reliable, bullet-proof product that gives both value and good service. If the Jacuzzi is a Corvette, this one’s more like a no-frills SUV, tough and purposeful.

For more information call Bellingham Hot Tub at 360/734-6611 or visit their web site at

Jane and Tom Schilperoort sell a sauna that couldn’t be easier to use or to transport. It uses infrared lamps as a heat source, making it more efficient and easier to use than one that uses heat from a wood stove or electric heater. It also comes in six easily portable pieces that clamp together like a steamer trunk.

Saunas are touted for their healing properties by people who live in cold climates, such as Finland, where the word “sauna” means “bath.” They’re also popular in colder areas of the U.S. and Canada. The units are made of a variety of woods and come in several sizes. For more information contact the Schilperoorts at 360/398-9842 or go to

Window treatments and replacements
Windows are one fairly inexpensive way to reduce heating costs while improving security and the value of your house.

You can replace them with a factory-direct service such as that offered by George Hennessy (Windows 72) that involves a sales visit to your house where measurements are taken and then a follow-up visit by a technician who installs the new unit and takes the old one away.

All the windows are made in a Portland factory. You can also work with an independent sales company like Angela Smith’s Harley Windows of Seattle. The process is similar except that they handle over 30 different brands to be able to offer a wide variety of styles and prices.

For more information, contact West Coast Vinyl at 800/468-4474 or go to; Harley Exteriors, 888/826-0005; Lorraine’s Window Coverings, 888/738-8175.

Interior renovation
Sam Drake of Drake Closet Design works by himself, selling and installing closet up-grades.

He has systems that will double or triple the storage space in closets from a minimal college-dorm size to the standard double sliding door style in older houses to the sometimes huge walk-in closets in new houses that seem to be the size of handball courts.

Since he works alone with a pre-fab product he can work quickly and efficiently. Most designs are in solid and laminate woods using hardwood stains.

For more information, contact Drake at 360/756-6008 or go to

Charlotte Webb
Webb is a porcelain artist who fashions artistic designs she paints herself and then renders in tiles that are painted or glazed and kiln-fired, making them impervious to anything short of a trip on the space shuttle.

She’s designed them for applications from outdoor house decorations to things that she has glued to the bottom of swimming pools. She works out of a studio in Arlington but is planning a move to Bellingham soon.
For now, contact her at 425/442-7329.

Paws With A Cause
This organization trains dogs to be helpful “chore dog” companions for disabled people.

They work much like seeing eye dogs but instead of leading someone around they can perform a variety of jobs, from helping with dressing to picking up dropped objects, opening doors and turning on lights.

“It’s a way to help people stay at home longer, and to help people be more independent,” said PAWS regional administrator Kathy Dwyer of Bellingham, who brought Dickens to the home show to help collect donations in a basket. The group collected nearly $900 over the three day event.

For more information call Dwyer at 360/966-5959 or go to

Pampered Chef
Now that you’ve put in that new kitchen, what will you cook? If you want some good ideas and some kitchenware to go with them, hire life-long Whatcom County resident Corrine Roos, director of the Pampered Chef, or sales person Cathey Munden.

They’ll come to your house and fix a gourmet meal for you and several friends, and when it’s over you get a discount on their heavy-duty cookware.

It’s made of a combination of aluminum and titanium that has the thermal mass of cast iron (meaning it stays hot) but cleans easily and doesn’t need break-in or conditioning.

It’s not a miracle pan, just a good honest and heavy utensil that will help you cook food that everyone will want to eat.

There are also a number of ingenious little kitchen gadgets in the Pampered Chef line-up, like a variable measuring cup that changes capacities quickly and accurately with a thumb slider.

For more information, contact Ross at 360/592-2415 or visit