A Fine Romance: A Recycled Steel Home in Southern California

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

| January/February 2001

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

When Colorado-born Jana Montgomery pictured owning a home, a two-story corrugated-metal cube capped by a roof made from recycled petroleum waste wasn't exactly what came to mind. "I'm a little more of a cottage person,'' Jana confesses.

But Jana and her spouse, Italian architectural photographer and artist Claudio Santini, also harbored dreams of living in an environmentally friendly house large enough to provide a work and display space for Claudio's art. The Los Angeles-based couple lucked out when they heard about a quirky 3,200-square-foot eco-techno home located on a side street within a quiet residential section of Marina del Rey. "We snatched it up before the house even went on the market,'' recalls Claudio. He, Jana, and their rabbit, Chipper, have been living there happily for nearly three years.

Claudio's idea of home sweet home has always been inextricably tied up with the concept of living in a manner respectful of the planet and its limited resources. And by those standards, this is a dream home, to be sure.

The Montgomery-Santini residence was constructed in 1991 by and for John Picard, a renovator of multi-million dollar Hollywood mansions whose ecological epiphany came while watching an MTV public service announcement on the decimation of Earth's rain forests. "That was the first time I had ever thought for one second that I had something to do with the world's environmental problems,'' he says.

As a result, Picard changed careers and began planning a personal residence that would become a poster child for environmentally sustainable living in Southern California. Bucking building trends, Picard constructed his home from recycled steel produced from junked cars, cans, and washing machines. "The house can be disassembled with a quarter inch screw gun and recycled again,'' he explains.

Solar Power 

8/11/2014 1:07:09 PM

Such homes are so great, I would like to live in http://www.eosok.com such a home.

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