oh, naturel

Cor-Ten is a steel-copper alloy that is prized for its durability in commercial construction; Dwight likes the material because it's virtually maintenance-free and has a high recycled content. “It's normally used for bridges and overpasses so that they don't have to be painted and repainted,” he says. “I also love the way the color looks when it rusts. The steel starts out with a bluish industrial look that makes neighbors nervous and ends with a warm brown that looks remarkably like redwood.” United States Steel Corp., 888.243.6851; www.ussconstruction.com.

nice to trees

Dwight is fond of renewable resources, particularly cork flooring. “I've had cork-tile floors in every house I've owned,” he says. “The cork bark is harvested without harming the tree, and the resiliency of the tiles is easy on your back during lengthy dinner preparations.” Dwight's preferred supplier is Expanko, which offers 12-inch-by-12-inch or 12-inch-by-24-inch tiles as well as a glueless floating floor system that comes in 12-inch-by-36-inch planks. Expanko, 800.345.6202; www.expanko.com.

brick is back

Dwight says bricks add instant character to a building and warm even the most modern spaces. But not just any brick will do; it has to be old. “There are so many brick buildings being torn down these days that I don't see why anyone would buy new bricks,” he says. When securing the cooperation of a demolition site proves elusive, Dwight turns to reclaimed brick supplier Chicago Antique Brick. The company sells authentic, reclaimed Chicago common bricks and street pavers in clay and granite. Chicago Antique Brick, 800.828.1208; www.chicagoantiquebrick.com.