Mother Earth Living

A Fine Romance: A Recycled Steel Home in Southern California

Solar power and high efficiency gadgets make this Los Angeles home an environmental heaven.

The 3,200-square-foot home is made of steel recycled from junked cars, cans, and washing machines. Picard believes he saved at least 100 trees by using this material instead of wood.
Photo By Claudio Santini
An abundance of natural light makes the main room an ideal spot for Claudio to work on his paintings. The huge south-facing window is also a natural ­passive solar collector. Designer John Picard installed light-toned bamboo flooring for environmental reasons (it matures quickly and grows like a weed), but Jana loves its durability and low maintenance. “We had a Christmas tree whose container leaked for three days before we discovered the problem,” she recalls.
Photo By Claudio Santini
Jana Montgomery and Claudio Santini wield a soft touch within the hard edges of their modern home. Setting the table with the elegant Sasaki dishes, for example, transforms the simplest fare (even Chinese takeout) into an idyllic meal.
Photo By Claudio Santini
Butcher-block countertops are a cook’s dream—practical yet beautiful. Jana and Claudio have amassed an eclectic collection of pottery from their many trips to Italy. Views from the kitchen window include an ever-flowering bougainvillea bush and squirrels and birds feeding at the fence.
Photo By Claudio Santini
Jana loves the charcoal-poured kitchen floor, which acts as a passive solar collector, because
Photo By Claudio Santini
A reproduction bathtub provides romantic relief to the hard edges and
Photo By Claudio Santini
Located in a loft overlooking the main living area, above the kitchen and the guestroom, the bedroom space is small and intimate. From their bed, Jana and Claudio can watch movies projected from a ceiling pro­jector onto a huge screen that drops in front of the southern windows.
Photo By Claudio Santini
In the high-ceilinged living room, Jana and Claudio create intimacy by clustering the living room furniture around a super-efficient Rais woodburning stove and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves,
Photo By Claudio Santini
Claudio, a professional photographer, and Jana, his manager, share the office adjoining the home, which runs completely on solar electricity.
Photo By Claudio Santini
Jana and Claudio have made use of nearly every inch of their urban lot to grow food and fresh flowers, creating a lush oasis in the city. Gardenia trees and a honeysuckle vine perfume the entryway; lavender and old-fashioned roses provide romance. Rosemary is essential for the Italian dishes Jana makes, and a productive vegetable garden behind the home keeps the kitchen well-stocked. A slow-growing hybrid dwarf grass (Bonsai) lawn and drought-resistant land­scaping help foster an atmosphere of calm.
Photo By Claudio Santini
In the mild Los Angeles climate, outdoor living space is essential. Several times a week, Claudio and Jana eat dinner on the covered patio behind their office, and they often entertain there as well. The outdoor room adjoins the couples giardino segreto (secret garden), which is protected on all sides.
Photo By Claudio Santini

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