Design Without Compromise

Occupying the corner of Elder and Washington, this home truly sets the narrative for the modernist Old North Boulder neighborhood.

Completed in December 2008, it was the last of three Nielsen Design / modverde collaborations on Washington Street.

If the list price of $2,100,000 is achieved, it would be a record for the neighborhood. With Boulder's low inventory combined with the home's thoughtful design and quality craftsmanship, odds are this will be the home to set the new pricing standard.

Design Without Compromise

by Rob Reilly and Laura Bowles

We wanted a green house without it necessarily looking like a green house, a house that would represent us stylistically; that is, an architecturally distinct modern space at the same time extremely energy efficient. Our home is intended to provide that synergy between strong design and high standards in energy efficiency.  

Our experience of living in the space provides us with abundant daylighting and a feeling of privacy from the exposure of being on a corner lot. In pursuing at passive solar design on a corner lot, we carefully placed the glazing and exterior garden walls to create a well lit interior environment without feeling the need to hide it from the street outside Crucially important to the design of the house was the window glazing on the southern face of the building that represents approximately 10% of the living area square footage. 

In order to maximize our solar advantage, there are concrete and stone floors and walls in the home to provide thermal mass to soak up the heat from the sun and radiate it back to us in the cold winter evenings when the sun does not shine. This mass, along with Structural Integrated Panel System (SIPS) exterior walls, provide a feeling of solidness in the home, both structurally and acoustically. The SIPS exterior walls also provide excellent airtight qualities to contain heat in the building envelope in the winter.

The solar systems provide us with domestic hot water and heat for the concrete floors as well as electricity to offset about half our electric use Specifically, the solar thermal systems are evacuated tube collectors that offset a minimum of 54,987,035 BTUs annually, translating to approximately $500 of energy savings in the first year of operation and increasing each year thereafter. tTis is while the grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) array of 4 kW supplies approximately 4,275 kWh annually, a significant portion of the home's electricity needs. 

Our passion for distinct and natural material finishes are apparent throughout the home. Three prominent themes of this include: Venetian plaster, natural limestone tiles and salvaged brick. The Venetian plaster is warm and sleek; made with slaked lime, marble dust, pigment and linseed oil. It provides a very hard and durable wall surface, while enhancing a warm mood in rooms where it is found. The limestone, used both on the exterior walls and interior bathrooms, is a durable and elegant material that will require little to no maintenance for the user life of the surface. The salvaged brick wall in the kitchen offsets the otherwise hard-edged design of this space. Included in the low embodied energy material used are salvaged brick and the salvaged framing lumber used from the deconstruction of the previous structure. Interior walls were framed with FSC certified lumber. 

The most striking thing about living in our home, however, is the quality of light, space and material. That being said, thereafter very real benefits to living here: when the utility bill arrives, we enjoyed paying less every month. We want our choice to live in an environmentally sound home to inspire others to do what they can to support the same cause; we invite you to come and enjoy this space with us.