Green Tour: Lynne's Green Historic Restoration

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Names: Lynne Henrietta Siodmak and Rubi
Occupations: Textile Designer and Australian Cattle Dog, respectively
Location: Ventura, Ca
Size: 2600 sq/ft
Years lived in: Owned 4.5 years

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When Lynne Siodmak bought the Valentine House, an historically beloved Craftsman in downtown Ventura, Ca, the place was almost literally falling down -- the foundation had collapsed, the roof beams were rotten, and the water damage was extensive. So Lynne pulled her Airstream into the garage behind the house, set up camp, and got to work. Two years later, the green restoration was complete.
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Preserving as much of the original structure as possible and making it as green as possible along the way (Marmoleum flooring in the breakfast room, recycled denim insulation, low-VOC finishes, etc.), Lynne uncovered and restored all that was beautiful about the house. It is bright and airy -- sunshine streams in through the windows, and the original wood flooring and Craftsman details gleam. The place is large, but Lynne rents the extra rooms so that every square-foot is used to its fullest potential.

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AT Survey:

My Style: Global Rustic. I've collected textiles during my travels which I love displaying in the house. Much of the furniture has been salvaged from parking lots and thrift stores or was passed down from treasured family heirlooms. The house has many windows so there isn't a lot of wall space to display art, but the paintings I do have are all my grandmother’s works inspired by the Sequoia National Park.

Inspiration: My grandmother, Henrietta, who was a very well rounded designer, artist, poet, chef and gardener … my father who has exquisite taste and sense of interior space, and my mother who is eternally kind and selfless.

Favorite Element: The Asian eves and exterior details.

Favorite Green Element: Native plant garden with vegetables!

Biggest Challenge: Taking out the cracked lath, plaster and blown in newspaper insulation (full of vermin!), re-insulating with recycled denim insulation, and then restoring the plastered walls.

What Friends Say: The Valentine House has unique exterior character because of the Asian details and is very interesting to look at. When you come inside, the house has beautiful light and many interesting rooms, so it’s an adventure to explore. After bringing it back to life with the green renovation, it now breathes and has a very healthy feeling.

Biggest Embarrassment: The project was eating up so much money I had to sell another property to finish it. The sale was delayed which stalled work on the Valentine House. It was a wet winter and I spent a lot of time battening down the plastic on the roof since work was stopped with only the plywood and tarpaper replaced. The scale of this project was so big, it was very humbling.

Proudest DIY: The three couches in the living room were salvaged from the parking lot at Patagonia, where I work. I noticed the very eclectic set abandoned outside our surfboard shaping shop. I asked the guys if I could take them home and they gladly accepted my offer to haul them away. I painted the frames red like the exterior window trim (inspired by my beautiful manzanita bush!), put new oak arm rests on them, and upholstered them in recycled content wool fabric from the Patagonia sample room.

Biggest Indulgence: The marble floors in the bathrooms with radiant heating. A dear friend from high school has a fantastic tile shop in South Pasadena. I justified the purchase for reasons of quality and the fact that my friend gave me a great price break. To offset the higher price, I used budget DAL tile on the walls.

Best Advice: Take your time, live with things...don’t rush it.

Best advice for someone trying to green their home: Undo all the bad things people have done to the house before you. Pare it down to its bare essence and let the house speak for itself. Use quality materials and trims. Honor the craftspeople who work with you.

Future Goals: To install solar panels on the perfect south facing shed roof of the garage.

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