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House Remodel Part 3

By: Tessa Smith, lead designer

As a sustainability consultant (LEED AP, Certified Passive House Consultant, pending) I have a long standing affair with mother earth, a deep-seated passion for deep green design and a constant nagging concern about energy efficient performance. Although the clients goals on this project were much more about finish than energy, we made every effort with every part of the project we touched to increase its performance. Where we opened walls and replaced windows and baseboards we sealed assemblies up with caulk and flashing, air tightness being as big a factor or more so in energy efficient performance than insulation and R-value. We then heavily insulated the new roof assembly with blown-in insulation; I expect the energy savings post remodel to be upwards of 30%, not bad considering its initial scope didn’t specifically call for any energy upgrades! We will see after the winter months how close my approximation is.

Some of the cost cutting measures the client and our design team chose to do included, simplified cabinetry, relying on the beauty of the wood as opposed to complicated finish carpentry. Laminate countertops impeccably installed actually appear to have the movement of a sandy beach. The Demich’s have reported that they have had many friends express shock that the material is laminate, in its context it is stunning! The free standing cabinetry and hood result in a light filled implied hallway behind and a more interesting layer of views from the kitchen, this detail was essentially free!

We only removed a small portion of the fireplace between the living room and entry way, improving the traffic pattern but not incurring the full cost of the demolition, also the remaining portion served to enhance the entry process. The home was primarily painted by a professional, but to help control costs the clients chose to do the arduous task of taping and painting their large window wall towards the water themselves, essentially cutting their painting bill in half! The flooring consists of laminate tiles, all the beauty of real tile without the maintenance and cold temperature against your feet. The bathrooms echo the practical but elegant approach to finishes, the straight forward cabinetry, softly colored marmoleum, and simple transitional/contemporary light fixtures breath new life into mostly existing spaces. This house has a whole new energy and character for a price palatable to any budget. I can’t escape the sensation to sit and quietly look at the water, stay, rest, exist in spaces that soothe and aren’t a barrage of stimulus. This simply can’t be a place you get to stay; it MUST be a place you visit……