Go See the Solar Decathlon!

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon – College Students Competing for a Clean Energy/Cool House Future For the next two weekends, there are 14 creatively efficient small homes on display at the Great Park in Irvine, CA.  Sponsored by the DOE, the Solar Decathlon challenges teams of students to create sub-1000sf homes that: Cost less than $250,000 to build Have systems that heat, cool, run appliances, provide hot water and […]

Shading Windows & Passive Solar Design-UPDATED

Shading Windows & Passive Solar Design-UPDATED

  Whether you think of it as common sense shading, or if you treat it as a scientific approach to energy efficient passive solar design, every new and remodeled home project should carefully consider these principles: Orient the house to the Sun, if possible.  Allow for exposure to the southern sky to heat the house in Winter.  Minimize direct solar gain to the East and West through tree plantings and […]

Extra Footage from KTLA-5 News

We were honored to host Gayle Anderson and her Channel 5 News truck at our house in June.  Gayle is a dynamo, working without a Producer, without a script, and switching seamlessly from talking to people in front of her to briefing the anchors in the studio on what’s coming next.  Her pink iPhone is all she needs to coordinate her broadcasts, and she and her cameraman edit the footage […]

Before & After Pics

We are so pleased with the transformation of the house that we thought we would share some before and after pictures.  Our architects from OpenHAUS Design devised a great open floor plan tailored to how our family lives.  And our builder, Hardey Construction, was very careful to ensure that the reclaimed wood ceiling terminated flush at each end and at the peak, so that the great room really works.

Our Quest for Reclaimed Wood

Our Quest for Reclaimed Wood

Reclaiming wood by definition is giving old wood a spit shine and a new purpose.  It adds instant charm and character to a space and it is definitely having its moment (seen a new Starbucks lately?)  Our home is a 1957 ranch with a lot of great ranch house characteristics, including a wood ceiling in the original den.  Wood ceilings are a great way to make a modern space cozy, […]

Mechanical Ventilation & Tight Homes:  A How-to Guide

Mechanical Ventilation & Tight Homes: A How-to Guide

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a common refrain in American business.  In home construction, this is often invoked to defend the normal way of doing things over innovation.  There is good reason for aversion to change in construction.  The stakes are very high, with the threat of lawsuits a constant for builders, contractors, and manufacturers.  So I always heard industry veterans say that houses are built to […]

Why You Can’t Plan a House Around a Table :(

Why You Can’t Plan a House Around a Table :(

When we purchased our Net Zero Nest, I knew one thing for sure – I was keeping my reclaimed wood dining room table.  I love it, have only had it two years, and feel it reflects our style and personality.  Plus it took a really long time to find a table I could afford and at every dinner party it has performed beautifully.  I am invested in that table! Fast […]

Floor Plans are Fun

Floor Plans are Fun

Perhaps my favorite project day so far was when Cynthia Kraus and Claudia Wiehen, our fabulous architects from OpenHaus Design, showed us some floor plan options. We were utterly shocked to know that our 1950 sf ranch could be reconfigured in not one, not two, not three, but four different ways to meet our needs. All within the existing walls and footprint. All with 3 bedrooms, 3 baths plus an […]

Why Us? Why Now?

Why Us? Why Now?

As we continue to write the story of our remodel, things are a little rocky at times. Let’s be honest, remodeling isn’t for the squeamish. It requires a certain tenacity, flexibility, and optimism – especially when you have limited time and money. With each challenge, there have been moments of soul searching…do we really want to do this now? Can we afford it? Will our kids disown us? Will our […]

Business in the Front, Party in the Back

Business in the Front, Party in the Back

 I have never lived in a ranch style home, so the form is somewhat new to me. Although apparently ONLY to me, because ranches became the ubiquitous tract home in the 1960’s due in part to their reasonable construction cost, durability, and room for easy customization. They were mostly a no frills, unpretentious, family home that felt no need to put forward curb appeal for the pleasure of others. And […]