Redone Allandale house on Cool House Tour hides green building secrets

Architect Nana Kim’s home doesn’t scream “green building project.” The duplex on Hancock Drive is a fresh take on the original 1955 Allandale ranch home.

Aside from the solar panels on the roof on the back side of the house, most of the other green elements are hidden within the walls — its insulation, the heating and air conditioning system, the deep overhangs of the roof and the reuse of the slab when rebuilding the home.

“It’s like giving a second life to this house,” says Kim, who is the principal of 9 Square Studio and uses the house as both office and home.

The house is one of eight on the Cool House Tour on Sunday, which showcases green building and solar energy. About 50 percent of the home’s energy is created by the solar panels, and Kim has room to expand.

Kim and her husband, Scott Petersen, who creates sound for video games, found the house after looking everywhere for a yard where they could enjoy the outdoors as a family — a space that would be enough for a pool and a vegetable garden. Their previous house in the Bouldin neighborhood had a small yard and was completely shaded by trees and heavily populated by mosquitoes. They didn’t want to go out there, Kim says.

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They looked for yard, not house, knowing that Kim could redesign a house that would work for the family, which includes their daughter.

The bonus with this property was a grandfathered-in duplex that they are able to rent out or use when family visits and will eventually be a space for her mother to live.

The family actually renovated the smaller side — a 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom space — and lived in it for a year as the main house was being rebuilt. They put in a two-door system by the laundry room that creates a soundproof barrier between the two spaces. They didn’t put as many of the green building techniques into this smaller home, and they say they can tell the difference in the way that part of the property lives compared with the main house.

Kim created a more distinctive entrance to the house with an enlarged Texas-style porch that feels like it should always have been there. The overhang also helps keep the sun off the inside of the house.

Inside, the original house was dark, with lower ceilings. Kim added more light in most of the rooms and reworked the space within the original footprint to be more usable and more modern.

“If we had designed a house from scratch, it would look not at all like this, but this layout is really functional, and we really enjoy it,” Kim says.

In the living room, she raised the ceilings to 12 feet and added clerestory windows, which bring in a lot of light. In the dining room, she took out the dark wood bookcases and brick fireplace and added white bookcases and a nook for her desk. Originally, Kim had tried to get a separate room for her office, but working within the limits of the original floor plan meant she had to maximize the use of space.

Kim and Petersen had hoped to keep the original redwood floors, but the week during which the house did not have a roof on it was the week of the Memorial Day floods. Instead, new engineered white oak floors run throughout the house.

Kim reconfigured the placement of the kitchen and expanded it. She popped up the ceiling and added two layers of windows to bring in a lot of light. White cabinetry, white tile backsplash, a white farmhouse sink and Carrara marble island contrast with the black granite of the counters and black appliances.

The black-and-white theme and lines come into play in the wallpaper inside the powder room. Kim created a tiny space to add this bathroom and had fun with the wallpaper and mirrors to make it look bigger than it is. It was important for her to not have her daughter’s bathroom become the bathroom for guests as well. That meant she had to steal space from the master suite and the other bathroom.

The master bedroom isn’t particularly large, but Kim found space for a nice-size walk-in closet as well as a modern-size bathroom. She raised the ceiling in this room as well.

Their daughter’s room has the original ceiling height for a more cozy feel. Creating contrast between ceiling heights as Kim does from the living room to the dining room and from the master bedroom to the child’s room helps define the spaces, she says, and projects the way you want that room to feel.

Both the master bathroom and her daughter’s bathroom feature modern style with white cabinets and marble counters. Kim opted for a shower in the master and a tub her daughter’s bathroom.

Kim also enclosed part of the attic, creating a soundproof room for Petersen to work on music or other projects.

The backyard, the whole reason for moving, does have the pool and the vegetable garden they wanted, as well as room for a swing set and lawn. They use it all the time.

While in some ways, the remodel was more difficult than building from scratch, and using green building techniques took some education of all the contractors on the project, Kim and Petersen love the end result.

“I’m so happy with the way it worked out,” Kim says.

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