A beautiful space offers luxury living while safeguarding the environment
Growing up in wide-open Wyoming is bound to have an effect on a boy. In the cases of developer Mark Lowham and builder Mark Turner, that upbringing gave them a respect for the outdoors and a desire to protect our precious resources. The two Wyoming transplants connected in Washington, D.C., where they collaborated to build a Craftsman-inspired house that offers luxury living while safeguarding the environment. Turner, president of GreenSpur builders, has been focused on sustainable building practices for several years; he found a willing partner in Lowham, a senior vice president of West Group, a largely commercial developer in McLean, Virginia. "As a resident and member of the development community for more than 20 years, I want to pass along to my own children that how and where we build has a direct impact on our planet," Lowham says.
The house's interiors have an equally compelling green story. Lowham recruited friend and designer Barry Dixon to lead a group of interior designers in beautifully appointing the house, using sustainable and environmentally responsible materials.
"We wanted to show that there is such a thing as luxurious sustainable living," Barry says. "There is much more to a green house than unbleached linen and drab, neutral color schemes."
Nineteen designers outfitted 18 rooms with sumptuous and richly colored fabrics, plush rugs, graceful tables, inviting chairs, and glamorous mica-encrusted wall coverings-all eco-kind materials.
The 3,800-square-foot house served as a fund-raiser for CharityWorks, an organization helping children and families in the Washington, D.C., area. Traditional Home was the national media sponsor of the GreenHouse showhouse and will feature it in the GreenSpace section of this and future issues.
The minimal environmental impact of the project started with the site in an established neighborhood in McLean, within walking distance of retail shops and mass transit. An existing brick rambler on the site was demolished, but that, too, was environmentally responsible. A crew dismantled the house "shingle by shingle and board by board," and 97 percent of the old house was salvaged and recycled, Turner says.
Architects at Cunningham/Quill Architects in Washington, D.C., designed and sited the new U-shaped house to take advantage of the sun, taking into account shading properties of old-growth trees. Trellises and wide roof overhangs shield the house from the high summer sun while allowing for heat gain from the winter sun, which is lower in the sky.
The house has a geothermal heating and cooling system and in-floor radiant heat. Solar photovoltaic panels generate electricity to heat water for the home.
Turner sided the house with durable wood-look-alike fiber cement boards, which are made with recycled post-industrial waste material.
Low-flow water fixtures and energy-efficient appliances were installed. The house's energy consumption is projected to be 70 to 80 percent less per square foot than for a comparable new home, Turner says. "The project showcases how energy-efficient design and renewable energy systems come together in a home that is not only seriously environmentally friendly but also a beautiful place to live," says Turner.
Landscaping is also designed to conserve energy and water. Native plants are drought tolerant, disease resistant, and require little maintenance. To prevent storm water runoff, Belgard permeable paving stones were laid on the drive and walkways. The pavers are installed with spaces between them and over layers of porous materials to allow water to gradually soak into the soil.
While Turner and his team focused on construction, the interior designers searched Web sites and showrooms and talked to manufacturers to track down sustainable furnishings.
"We wanted to take the scare factor out of going green and show that green interiors can be just as nostalgic, comfortable, and warm as your grandmother's home," Barry says.
For many of the designers, using sustainable materials was a new experience, so they collaborated to find viable sources. The result is a showhouse furnished with sustainable components-one that shares common design sensibilities and a common palette.
"There is a wonderful harmony and flow you don't always see in a showhouse," Barry says.
Consistency in design is also environmentally friendly, he adds. "We wanted a design that could be left the way it is when a homeowner moves in, without repainting or redoing spaces."
Photography: Gordon Beall
Metal roofing has high solar reflectivity and emissivity values to reduce cooling loads. Metal roofs are extremely durable and long-lasting.
Wood trellises above the windows filter the sun. Low-emissivity window glass helps reduce heating and cooling costs. Available from greenspur.net .
Pre-insulated walls, called Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), speed construction, make for less waste, and result in a well-insulated house.
Permeable pavers installed on walks and driveway let water soak into the soil, preventing storm water runoff (www.belgarddesignpro.com ).
Solar panels (also known as photovoltaic panels) produce energy that heats water for the house.
Established trees were preserved to shade the house from the sun. The house was built on a city lot close to retail outlets and transportation.
Architect: Cunningham/Quill Architects, 1054 31st St. N.W., Suite 315, Washington, DC 20007; 202/337-0090, cunninghamquill.com.
Builder: Mark Turner, GreenSpur Inc., 2807 Summerfield Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042; 202/438-3794, greenspur.net.
Developer: Mark Lowham, West Group, 1600 Anderson Rd., McLean, VA 22102; 703/356-2400, west-group.com.
Landscaping: John Clime, T&J Lawn Service Inc., 301/774-4050, tjlawn.com; Greg Brandon, Skye Design Studio Ltd., 202/403-1864, skyedesignstudio.com.
Native plants such as hydrangea, viburnum, and yews are drought tolerant, disease resistant, and require minimal maintenance.
From the salvaged barn beams and ceiling trusses to the terrazzo floor, virtually every material in the living room of this eco-friendly house has a green story. Even designer Barry Dixon's choice of motifs is a nod to green. "We played with the circle concept, referencing the circle of life and ideas such as reuse and recycling," he says.
An east-facing wall of 8-foot-tall windows and French doors topped with transoms fills the room with sunlight so that less electric lighting is needed during sunny days.
Organic linen curtain panels are embellished on the hems with overlapping appliqués of sheer and solid linen circles suggestive of bubbles-"paying homage to the lap pool just beyond the French doors," Barry explains.
Luxurious upholstered seating, including a sofa, daybed, and fireside chairs designed by Barry, is made with sustainable wood frames, soy-based foam cushions, and eco-kind casein-based finishes. Proving good design can co-exist with eco-materials, Barry upholstered his furniture with sustainable fibers, such as natural linen, cotton, bamboo, and even a fabric made of recycled plastic bottles for the banquette in the dining area.
The room is warmed by a cozy EcoSmart Fire, a ventless unit that burns denatured ethanol, a renewable and clean-burning fuel. Barry turned the fireplace into the room's focal point, adding a classic limestone mantel surround against a dramatic accent wall fabricated from riveted metal.
Opposite the fireplace is a huge mirror set into a salvaged factory window. Nearby, an old cheese-packing crate serves as a drum table.
Every corner of the room is designed for function. "There are spaces to curl up by the fire and read a book or take a nap with the dog," Barry says. "It's a room for everyday living."
Plush pillows are covered in linen fabric scraps from designer Barry Dixon 's studio. Barry designed the pattern for an upcoming eco-kind fabric collection for Vervain.
Organic linen draperies embellished with appliqués filter morning light. A natural fiber, organic linen is grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides (pindler.com).
Sustainable balsa wood pieces fit together to form the lacy pendant lights. Balsa is a fast-growing, easily replenished wood. Designed by New Zealand architectural designer David Trubridge , the pendants are also made of bamboo.
The silky rug from Karastan  is made from renewable bio-based polymer fibers that use 30 percent less energy to produce than standard nylons.
An old factory window was made into the mirror, and a vintage cheese crate became a table. Antiques and salvaged items conserve resources required to make new furnishings.
Sustainable oak, cotton velvet upholstery, and soy-based cushions on the daybed Barry Dixon designed for Tomlinson/Erwin-Lambeth  prove green can be gorgeous.
The living room and kitchen share a 42x21-foot space in the heart of the house, and are subtly separated by a 10-foot-tall mesh panel made with recycled metal. "It's a translucent divider that provides a visual separation without blocking views, light, or conversation," says designer Barry Dixon.
Comfortable seating is a must-have for today's kitchens so Barry designed a graceful curved bench that connects people with the living and kitchen spaces. Built of sustainable wood, the bench is upholstered in a soft-to-the-touch and durable fabric made of recycled plastic water bottles. To shield views into a messy kitchen, Barry thoughtfully made the bench back 18 inches taller than the kitchen counters.
A round pedestal table--another Barry design--is made of cast concrete and anchors the eating nook. "Concrete is basically made out of rubble and sand--very eco friendly," the designer explains. Many of the furnishings, including the table and bench, were made locally¬--another way to be environmentally responsible, Barry adds.
The efficient galley-style kitchen features handsome SieMatic cabinets in two finishes and manufactured with sustainable materials. One wall of cabinets houses wall ovens and conceals the energy-efficient refrigerator and freezer.
More storage is provided by a walk-in pantry by Eco-Nize Closets, a company that builds with particleboard made with recycled and recovered wood.
Barry allotted plenty of work space for multiple cooks, with long stretches of elegant Eco by Cosentino countertops. The durable surface is made of 75 percent recycled content -- mirrors, sinks, and windshields -- in an eco-friendly resin made in part from corn oil.
For a dash of glamour, Barry covered the kitchen's largest wall with a glittering wallpaper made with mica flakes applied to a recycled paper backing.
Barry couldn't resist one final tribute to green living: open shelves lined with homegrown and home-canned produce from his Virginia farm.
Countertops from Eco by Cosentino  are made with 75 percent recycled content in a corn oil resin.
Mica flakes embedded on a recycled-paper backing create an eco-responsible wall covering. Maya Romanoff' s Wallmica is free of heavy metals and formaldehyde.
Sleek cabinets that streamline storage are made with recycled content, certified woods, and rapidly renewable materials, and are built in an eco-responsible plant (www.siematic.com ).
Travertine floor tiles are a mixture of recycled glass in a cement-based product using fly ash to preserve resources (www.waterworks.com ).
Designer Barry Dixon
Barry Dixon Inc., 8394 Elway Lane, Warrenton, VA 20186; 540/341-8501, barrydixon.com.
Soothing grays and blues are energized by two 19th-century Chinese red-lacquer cabinets in the master bedroom designed by Michael Roberson. "One of the quickest ways to go green is to reuse something, keeping it out of a landfill," she says. The slipcovered headboard and club chair are from Lee Industries and are made with soy-based cushions, recycled fiber fillings, and sustainable wood; they are covered with organic cotton fabrics.
The salvaged wood floors are softened by an all-wool rug, and the room is lighted by energy-efficient fluorescent lights.
Michael Roberson softened the windows with all-linen curtains that were hand-printed and colored with low-VOC dyes. The sheer roman shade is also linen that was tinted with natural dyes. Bedding is organic cotton and linen, plus a bamboo fiber throw.
Designer Michael Roberson
Michael Roberson Interior Design, 4320 Lorcom Lane, Arlington, VA 22207; 703/527-9010, michaelroberson.com.
Susan Gulick combined the coziness of a family room with the sophisticated technology of a home theater--and did it all with sustainable materials.
A sink-in sectional that seats practically an entire family is constructed of woods from responsibly managed forests. Cushions are soy-based, springs are made of 80 percent recycled material, and upholstery is a bamboo and organic cotton fabric. The fabric was even manufactured using wind power.
Susan chose sound-absorbent and cushy cork for the floor. Cork is a renewable resource and is harvested without damaging the tree. For added comfort, Susan layered the floor with a wool rug colored with vegetable dyes.
The room's acoustics and elegance are enhanced by decorative hardwood paneling that is formaldehyde free and bonded using soy-based adhesives. Two other walls are softened with a Phillip Jeffries wall covering made of hemp, a rapidly renewable and biodegradable material.
The 46-inch Samsung TV may be large, but its LED (light-emitting diode) technology uses 40 percent less energy than a standard LCD or plasma television, plus it contains no mercury.
Maple plywood panels, which contain no urea formaldehyde, provide a sophisticated backdrop for water-based paintings by Craig Cahoon.
For added privacy and to darken the room for TV viewing, Susan hung handwoven silk draperies--colored with natural dyes--between the sitting area and a back entry.
Designer Susan Gulick
Susan Gulick Interiors Ltd., 12021 Sunset Hills Rd., Suite 200, Reston, VA 20190; 703/674-0332, susangulickinteriors.com .
The Craftsman-style front door opens to the elegant entry hall and stair designed by Raji Radhakrishnan. Setting the tone for the house's classic style, Raji installed paneled wainscoting painted a crisp, clean white. The custom millwork was made from 100 percent recycled wood fiber harvested from responsibly managed forests.
Raji mixed modern art with antiques and vintage pieces--a vintage umbrella stand, Louis XVI-style candle sconces, and a brass-and-iron bench--to give the space life and personality. A custom console table, for example, is fashioned from old French balcony parts, recycled steel, mirrors, and granite.
Reclaimed 100-year-old heart pine floors stained and finished a warm honey tone flow from the entry up the stairs and through much of the house.
For the stairs, Raji opted for a long-wearing custom wool-silk runner by Odegard, a company that has led the rug industry in stopping child labor and in promoting environmentally responsible practices.
Designer Raji Radhakrishnan
Raji RM & Assoc., 23015 Eagle Watch Court, Brambleton, VA 20148, 202/330-3866, www.rajirm.com .