Name: Lindsey Lee and Beth Rosen
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Size: 1721 square feet
Years lived in: 1 1/2, owned
How dreamy would it be to live right across the street from your favorite coffeehouse? For Lindsey Lee and Beth Rosen—owners of Ground Zero Coffee in Madison, Wisconsin—doing so is more than a lucky coincidence. Living directly across from their coffee shop business makes good, green sense. And the light, bright industrial style of the popular meeting place and the historic warehouse in which it's housed inspired the design of their urban home.
Lindsey opened Ground Zero coffee in 1998 on a busy thoroughfare on Madison's funky east side. For years he looked out the front window at a residential property that was in an increasing state of disrepair. As a business owner, Lindsey believes in sustainable practices, buys and sells from local businesses, and supports neighborhood groups and causes. So when the property across from the coffeehouse came up for sale, Lindsey and Beth decided to purchase it and build a family home on the lot. “Live where you work,” says Lindsey. Walking across the street is the ultimate close commute.
Because the existing home had an assessed value of only $2,000 and umpteen problems, it was clear it would have to be replaced. With the help of architect Todd Barnett, a Ground Zero regular, Lindsey and Beth built an energy-efficient home, using a variety of materials salvaged from the old property. After the contractor built the “white-box” structure, Lindsey stepped in and, with the help of his twin brother and father, completed the interior carpentry, painting, and kitchen and bathroom installation.
Challenges included an urban infill lot that was barely 1,600 square feet and that had a grade change of seven feet from front to rear. But the resulting home feels open and spacious. A two-story light well lets in the sunshine. Large windows allow for views of Lake Monona to the southwest, historic power plant stacks to the north, and a tiny pocket park to the west. The house has six alternating levels, with the family rooms and kitchen on lower floors, bedrooms on the middle floors, and a family get-away space and rooftop deck on the top level.
The sweat equity was worth it, says Lindsey, even if it did mean squeezing a family of five into a 600-square-foot apartment during construction. In a neighborhood where shop owners have lived above or nearby their businesses for generations, living across from Ground Zero Coffee feels natural. It feels like the right thing for a committed business owner (and coffee drinker) to do!
Our style: idiosyncratic contemporary
Inspiration: Honda Element
Favorite Element: the Rubik's-Cube-like feel of the house
Biggest Challenge: the small size of the lot. It’s 36 feet by 42 feet, with a 6-foot rise.
What Friends Say: "Do you drive to work?"
Proudest DIY: constructing the railings out of Kee Klamps and large wood dowels
Biggest Indulgence: Fisher & Paykel half-size dishwasher
Best Advice: There is often a less expensive and cooler way!
Dream Source: Dwell magazine
Favorite Green Element: We built our home across the street from our business. Live where you work!
Future Green Goals: Solar panels
Appliances: GE stove and oven, LG fridge, Fisher Paykel dishwasher, Amana washer and dryer
Furniture: St. Vinny's thrift store
Lighting: utility lights from Farm and Fleet
Tiles and Stone: Habitat for Humanity Re-Store
Artwork: My brother Lynn Lee, who is an artist
Paint: Hallman Lindsay, a Wisconsin-based paint company
Flooring: particle board, concrete
Design and Architecture: Todd Barnett, Barnett Architecture
Interested in sharing your home with Re-Nest? Contact our editors through our Green Tour Submission Form.
(Images: Children's rooms—Doug Kozel. Coffeeshop—Therese Maring. All other interiors and exteriors—Joe De Maio.)