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Family Who Lost Everything in Fire Gets Second Chance in New Eco-Bungalow

Published on January 12, 2015 by   ·   2 Comments Pin It
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In the feel-good story of the day, wherein human beings and big businesses come together for a family in need – this  is the heart-warming story of a family who lost everything in a tragic fire, but was given a second chance thanks to a community of design/construction/furnishing professional, who built a new, eco-friendly home for this multi-generational family.

When fire burned through the walls and smoke smoldered in the ceiling of Steven Ambers’ home on Christmas day 2011, he never imagined it could be the beginning of a new, healthy way of life for him and his family.  But two years later, the Ambers’ family became the first on the west coast to live in a bungalow built from the ground up to be safe from fire, high-energy costs and toxic pollutants.

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Steven, his wife, three children and a live in grandmother just moved into a new high-design ‘Eco Bungalow’ where their old home used to stand on the west side of Los Angeles in Beverlywood.

The Eco Bungalow was built mostly with donations and discounts from builders, architects, designers and other tradesmen with eco-friendly materials and sustainable design.  They pitched in to help at the request of family friend, New York-based designer Robin Wilson.

“I had to help. I needed to make sure they had a happy home and could put their lives back together.” Wilson, owner of Robin Wilson Home, said. ‘We should all pay it forward because this was an accident that could happen to anyone.”

The Ambers’ house went up in flames Christmas day and the sixth night of Hanukkah in 2011. One of the boys brought home a menorah he made in preschool. They lit the candles in the kitchen then went into the family room to open presents. They didn’t realize a candle had fallen over and caught the table on fire. Steven and his wife Cindy grabbed the kids, their grandmother and the family pets and escaped seconds before the kitchen exploded. Nothing was salvaged in the fire but the shirts off their backs.

Family Who Lost Everything in Fire Gets Second Chance in New Eco-Bungalow family

When Wilson heard the news, she asked her colleagues in the eco-friendly building and design industry to be donors and the Sustainable Furnishings Council to be the charitable partner for the Eco Bungalow Project. The businesses wanted to help because it was a chance to “rebuild it the right way” from the foundation to the furniture that is high design and affordable for budget-conscious consumers.

Family Who Lost Everything in Fire Gets Second Chance in New Eco-Bungalow unkown2

Among other things, Robin Wilson Home designed a multi-generational house which includes wider doorways and a first floor living space for their grandparent. Robin Wilson Home is also donating hypoallergenic bedding that’s sold at Bed Bath & Beyond.com.

After redesign:

Eco Bungalow Design 38bf75c7-6a4d-497f-8a58-a3ca010fd043_0_t 74c0622d-7fee-47a4-bbaf-a3ca010ee1d6_0_t 87e4705f-304a-4dd9-a5db-a3ca010f2b3f_0_t

Other donations and discounts include:

  • Kohler – providing all the faucets, tubs, sinks, toilets which are WaterSense certified and ensures that less water is used in the daily routine of the busy family.
  • Cosentino – a family-owned company is providing Silestone natural quartz surfaces that fights bacteria, mold and mildew growth, for the kitchen and the bathroom. “The Cosentino family is committed to participating in projects that educate consumers of the value and importance of using products that meet their lifestyle needs.”
  • Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams – Providing stylish furniture created in America with respect for the environment.
  • FLOR Carpet Design – Providing the flooring for the children’s bedrooms. “We were so excited to be able to help this deserving family rebuild their home in a chic, smart and affordable way.”
  • NovosBed.com – Providing an all-natural, latex foam mattress for the grandmother.  “Not only were we moved by this family’s story, but we wanted to be part of a project that emphasizes fire safety and eco-friendliness.”
  • First Alert – Providing all of the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well as security cameras. “This family’s story is a tragic reminder that home fires can happen to anyone.”
  • Aronel – The design studio is providing the wall covering for the stairwell “The tragedy experienced by this family has created an opportunity for us to give back.”
  • Salamander Design – The furniture designer and manufacturer is providing night stands in the master bedroom. “The Eco Bungalow project is an excellent opportunity to work with other environmentally conscience manufacturers to educate consumers about all of the green choices available to them.”
  • Verengo Solar – Installing a solar power system on the family’s new homewill help them save money on electric costs each month while providing clean, affordable, renewable energy from the sun. “We are honored to be a part of the rebuilding of their new eco-friendly and energy efficient home.”

We include these companies – not as advertisements, but as commendation for doing what’s right.

The Ambers’ old home was 1,700 square feet. The rebuilt home includes more space with a second story. More than $750,000 in labor, services and products were donated to the Eco Bungalow.  Their goal is to teach others that eco-friendly design can be affordable and available to all families. Find out more at EcoBungalow-la.com.

Watch the heartwarming short film about this project:

Family Who Lost Everything in Fire Gets Second Chance in New Eco-Bungalow

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Readers Comments (2)

  1. Saniel says:

    Great story, would be good if this could be done all over US especially urban areas.




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