Mother Earth Living

Modernist Without the Markup: Sustainability on a Budget

Nearly a decade ago, a Washington, D.C., family set out to build a sustainable home for around the same price as a conventional one. Think it can't be done? Here's how they succeeded.

The fireplace has a recycled-concrete material, which is key to retaining and radiating heat in the great room during winter. The blue, Cassina "Dodo" chair reclines flat and has an optional footrest.
Michael Shopenn
Artist Anthony Brock's "Body of Paint" on recycled plastic hangs as if it were designed specifically for the space. The glass table and recyclable Panton chairs were purchased through Design Within Reach.
Michael Shopenn
The homeowners hired an arborist to inventory existing species, relocate large trees, install root-aeration mats and put up tree fencing. After the house was finished, regrading approximated the land's natural contours. A terraced rain garden slows runoff from the driveway.
Michael Shopenn
A childhood friend of Luke's built the 8-square-foot table out of stainless steel and certified sustainable maple and walnut.
Michael Shopenn
A custom, stainless steel fireplace the owners designed runs on natural gas. The blue sofa fabric by Knoll—which looks and feels like leather—is actually recycled polyester and nylon and wipes clean with a damp cloth.
Michael Shopenn
The kitchen has FSC-certified maple and wheatboard cabinets, and its counters are made of soapstone, a beautiful, stain-resistant surface that retains heat.
Michael Shopenn
The breakfast room's oval Saarinen Table—designed so no one gets stuck sitting over a leg—was given a restored Formica finish. Natural hemp slipcovers on the chairs, in Galbraith and Paul's "Donuts" fabric, feature hand-applied natural dyes.
Michael Shopenn
The classic 1950s designs of the vintage chair and table blend well with the bedroom's new eco-friendly and recycled-fiber décor.
Michael Shopenn
2nd Floor
Zaneen Lighting's playful Medusa sconce is energy efficient—in three years the owners have not had to replace a light bulb. The chaise is a favorite place to read and enjoy the fireplace.
Michael Shopenn
1st Floor

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