Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Houston Goes Green

Via my good friend Maple, I recently learned that Chief Justice Adele and Dan Hedges, a high-powered Houston legal couple here in Houston, have just recently completed the first
LEED platinum home in the Bayou City. [Adele Hedges is the Chief Justice of the 14th Court of Appeals and Dan Hedges is a named partner of a top-notch local law firm.] Designed by the local husband-wife team of Adams Architects, the 3700-square foot house is in Upper Kirby, a neighborhood in Houston not 5 minutes from my own. The interior is designed by Marlys Tokerud, lead designer of the Houston-based design firm Tokerud & Co.

The house harnesses energy from a multitude of sources, from geothermal radiant heating and cooling below ground to solar panels covering every square inch of the roof (see above). During daylight hours, the house is powered entirely by the 140 solar panels. At night, the house runs off the power grid, with a back-up battery available in case the grid go down (a very smart investment for Houston's hurricane-prone summers).

The galley-style kitchen is flooded with light from the large windows, which largely eliminates the need for artificial light during the day (and bring in great views of all the mature oaks on the property). Bamboo cabinets are topped with Richlite, a durable and nonporous composite countertop made from FSC-certified and/or recycled paper products. I'm not sure what material the mosaic-tile backsplash is, but I would guess recycled glass.

I love how the living room is divided into a multistory sitting area and a cozier, low-slung library around the perimeter. By varying the height of the room, the architects were able to delineate between public and private zones within the same space. The window seats underneath each window provide extra storage and welcome nooks for readers.

The electric fireplace is cleaner and more energy efficient than traditional gas or wood-burning ones. The house's steel frame is left exposed throughout the house, lending an industrial feeling to the rooms. While I appreciate the restraint the interior designer (and clients) used in decorating their rooms (the place is completely devoid of clutter and chotkies), I wish they wouldn't been a little bit more venturesome color-wise than the beige, steel gray, and white color palette.

The Hedges' large two-story master bedroom is definitely a "less is more" kind of space. I particularly love the Venetian plaster on the far wall where the chaise lounges sit -- the traditional architectural feature is a stunning contrast to very modern room. Unadorned clerestory windows let in plenty of light during the day, yet are high enough not to become a nuisance should the couple sleep in.

The screened-in porch runs the length of the home and -- while I think I would like this even more if it were a wee bit wider -- the modern skylights, natural wood decking and sparsely modern furniture are lovely. I can just imagine dining al fresco here on a spring day. Delightful. I am left wondering though what the large gray conical piece is in the corner -- is it sculpture or does it perform some other function? Any ideas?

For more information on Houston's greenest home, go to the full-story as it appeared in the Houston Chronicle HERE. All photographs courtesy of Aker/Zvonkovic Photography.


Liz said...

How awesome is that?? A great demonstration that green can be beautiful (I particularly love the sitting area).

Patch said...

I love it, but I'm with you-- where's the color?!

Daniela said...

I am in love!

Anonymous said...

the gray conical piece is an outdoor table and chairs set.

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