The award-winning, 4,500-square-foot house, which opened its doors to the first of thousands of visitors in September 2001, takes advantage of the latest technologies to create a healthy indoor environment while respecting its outdoor surroundings. The indoor climate system, for example, includes a humidifier, air conditioners, ventilators, and UV light systems to improve air quality. Built to maximize vertical rather than horizontal space, the house's "footprint" is small. The site in the Chestnut Ridge development in Hoover, Alabama, was chosen because of the development's commitment to community values as well as amenities that make living a fit life enticing, easy, and fun. Green-space buffers and a walking-trail system are highlights of the neighborhood, and schools are within walking distance to most homes.
Polished black and rich shades of deep brown contrast with light walls to create a dramatic entrance to the house. The hardwood floors allow for easy cleaning, since they don't trap dust and other allergens as some carpeting does. Because the house has no downstairs hallways, rooms open onto rooms, making efficient use of space.
Glass doors let in plenty of natural light and give this room an open-air feel―a "passive solar"approach. The cozy interior melds with the outside deck, expanding the entertaining space.
The relaxing neutral tones of the all-hardwood furniture and the natural-fiber rug balance the warm red undertones of the wallsGlass doors let in plenty of natural light and give this room an open-air feel―a "passive solar"approach. The cozy interior melds with the outside deck, expanding the entertaining space.
This arrangement expands the casual entertaining area of the inviting great room and keeps people close to the kitchen, which is a natural place to gather. The kitchen activity can spill over easily to the nook. Window seats make efficient use of space and take up less room than traditional chairs. And it's easy to clean the natural-fiber rug and uncurtained windows.
Pantry and Laundry
Just off the kitchen, the highly organized butler's pantry with custom shelving accommodates oversized and less-used items, such as platters, tureens, and tall wineglasses, leaving the central kitchen spaces uncluttered.
In the adjacent room, the efficient, oversized washer and dryer mean fewer loads of laundry, and the machines are quiet, too. A dumbwaiter transports laundry to and from the upstairs to simplify wash day. Built-in shelving holds laundry room necessities.
Spacious work surfaces, abundant natural light, a ceiling fan, and a fireplace yield a comfortable, user-friendly work space that makes a compelling argument for telecommuting.
Casual entertaining can extend outdoors, where plenty of seating, a gas grill, and a rolling vista await guests. The decking material is made from recycled plastic grocery bags, reclaimed pallet wrap, and waste wood; it won't split, splinter, warp, or rot.
The kitchen's all-wood cabinets are made of distressed pine, the countertops of stain-resistant concrete, and the backsplash of slate. The room also features energy-efficient appliances; general, task, and undercabinet lighting; functional work spaces, including an island with shelves for cookbooks; and such environmentally friendly features as an Energy Star dishwasher, which exceeds government standards for energy conservation.
The microwave is mounted in the island (opposite the main sink) for improved safety and control when handling hot items. Flanked by handy shelves, the professional-style dual-fuel range has a convection oven and a stainless-steel surface, which makes cleanup easy. The multipurpose "cook sink"mounted in the island contains a steamer that can steam vegetables or cook pasta. After draining the water, it can be used as a regular sink.
Soft, blue-green walls create a serene, calming space that promotes relaxation. To improve air quality and cut down on allergens, minimal window treatments are used, and paint with reduced amounts of volatile organic compounds was selected. Natural-fiber bedding and pure wool carpeting also contribute to the healthy environment.
Master Bathroom and Closet
Glass encloses both the tub and the shower, creating a home-spa environment. The pine cabinetry in the water closet conveniently stores linens, toiletries, and a phone.
Extra exhaust fans installed in all the house's bathrooms and laundry areas improve air quality and moisture control. Large tiles and gray grout make cleaning a breeze. Time saved can be spent soaking in the whirlpool tub.
The custom organizing system in the closet makes it easy to select an outfit -- or a week's worth of them. The space is broken up into a his-and-hers setup, which simplifies routine. Natural-fiber clothing, such as the robes shown below, doesn't require dry cleaning.
Efficiency is key to the bathroom that joins the boy's and girl's bedrooms. Water-efficient showerheads and toilets conserve water and reduce utility bills. Each bedroom has its own sink area.
The nautical theme in this room is mixed with natural color tones. Natural-fiber linens and antique furniture enhance the space. And the slanted ceilings give an attic feel.
Furniture, accessories, and natural fiber linens, all of which are made from recycled pure materials, soften the girl's room. The wool carpet used here and in other parts of the house provides an inhospitable environment for dust mites and is a renewable, biodegradable resource.
Exercise equipment in the fitness area includes two treadmills, a workout bench, a multigym, a recumbent bike, and an elliptical machine. A mirrored wall provides a visual reminder to maintain good form.
The workout space opens up to the hobby room's glass doors, which let in abundant natural light, and provides a fun, attractive area for exercising. The right equipment -- including a juice bar with a built-in water filtration system -- and the right atmosphere are motivating.
Ample storage space in the locker room keeps workout gear neat and organized. Cubby holes store towels, water bottles, and weights. There's even room for a foot massager. This area also includes a stackable washer and dryer, which beats having to lug used gym towels upstairs.
A personal sauna uses gentle, penetrating heat to relieve muscle aches and pains; an invigorating steam shower rewards a workout well done. A massage room doubles as a place to rejuvenate. Once the portable massage table is put away, the natural-fiber sea-grass flooring provides firm footing for yoga or tai chi.
Patio and Spa Area
Visible through the glass doors of the craft/hobby room, the patio offers an inviting spot for post-workout relaxation. Just off the patio is a spa tub, complete with full back and wrist jets, where two people can soak comfortably.
Craft and Hobby Room
Play and entertainment are important parts of a balanced, fit life. The Craft/Game room, which extends from the workout room, can be used for many activites, such as painting, sewing, listening to music, or watching movies.
The wool carpeting resists dirt and stains. Glass doors, which open to the patio and outdoor spa tub, flood the room with natural light.