[Not For Sale]
This is the third and final installment in a three-part series about a trio of local projects that earned Grow Smart Awards from Idaho Smart Growth in November. The Heights Drive home won in the General category for being a showcase for "green" remodeling.
From the street, the olive-green stucco two-story home looks like a nicely remodeled Boise North End-er tucked along a sloped street in a mature neighborhood. But look a little closer at the sunny south-facing front yard, and you'll notice that drought-tolerant landscaping surrounds an organic vegetable garden where Swiss chard and broccoli still struggle tenaciously to produce food despite freezing December temperatures. The presence of an edible garden instead of a front lawn merely hints at the owner's uncommon level of mindfulness.
As you enter the 70-year-old house, the sunlit interior seems like any other remodeling project where walls that once formed a tiny master bedroom and a dinky bathroom were removed to create an open kitchen with features like floating shelves, stainless steel Energy Star appliances, travertine tile floors and a spacious dining area. But listen closely as owner Sharon Patterson describes how the kitchen cabinets were built locally using recycled wood for the cabinet frame and certified-sustainable wood for the cabinet drawers and doors. Details like the zero-VOC paints used throughout the home and the wool carpet squares that form an area rug over the home's beautifully refinished, original Douglas fir floors make you realize this is no ordinary North End remodel.
Before picking up a hammer or a crow bar, Patterson, who earned a bachelor's degree in ecological design from San Francisco Institute of Architecture, assessed the property's most basic elements by considering which direction the prevailing winds blow in summer and winter. She then asked how those winds could be captured to naturally cool off the house in the summer, yet block them in the winter to keep the house warmer and reduce heating costs. She added a window in the rear kitchen wall to invite northwest breezes indoors during warm months, and plans to beef up the landscaping in the front yard to buffer chilly southeast winds in the winter.
The 540-square-foot cottage was enlarged with efficiency in mind by erecting a modest 730-square-foot, two-story addition. The new addition contains two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a laundry/utility closet. The bathrooms, washing machine and water heater are arranged in a stacked cluster configuration to create a compact, efficient plumbing design.
What Patterson could have demolished and discarded, she reused and recycled instead. Parts of the home were carefully dismantled, and the salvaged lumber was used to create frames for doors and windows and the underlay for the new interior staircase. However, the project was not limited to on-site salvage. Treads, risers and railings for the eye-catching staircase were made from Douglas fir that came from an old barn in Lewiston. The rough-hewn boards are lightly sanded and sealed but still maintain their soulful character.
Although this home is not for sale, it is a showcase for what "green" remodeling can look like. Patterson is excited to have PaperStone countertops, bamboo flooring and cabinetry, recycled denim insulation and Marmoleum floors in her home so she can speak knowledgeably about "green" building products with clients of her two environmental consulting businesses. Patterson's Eco Edge company educates builders, developers and real estate agents about ecological design while her other firm, Om Your Home, focuses on smart residential renovation.
Pros: A show house for conscientious, eco-minded remodeling.
Cons: Budget constraints delayed completion of a new master bedroom balcony with views of the Owyhee Mountains.