Misha & Nick's First Passive House in Texas

House Tour

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Name: Misha Blaise and Nick Blaise Koch
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: 1,600 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; Owned

Keeping cool in Austin can be a work of art all in itself. And creating a work of art is precisely what Misha and Nick Blaise have done — applying inspiration gleaned from their travels to Israel to remodeling a 1955 fixer-upper. Look beyond the beautiful Mediterranean facade, and you'll also notice that there is craft hidden in the bones of this home too — it's the first Passive House in Texas.

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There's a few levels of cool going on at the Blaise residence, and you'll pick up on it before you walk through the door. You may notice windows framed in sky blue paint, and a bright orange rainwater collection barrel nestled on one of the home's sides. This blend of color and eco-consciousness is something you'll see repeated throughout the home as you walk room-to-room.  

The work of Misha, a prolific painter and graphic artist, adorns the walls of each room. They establish a certain balance and harmony with their cool and relaxing tones. If you talk with Misha's husband and home builder Nick, however, you'll get introduced to another type of art — Passive Home design. Thick walls and thorough insulation seal the home well beyond typical green standards, allowing this 1600 square-foot home to be cooled by a small 3/4 ton split-AC unit (an inside unit you'll see hanging above one of the side tables in the main living area).

Beautifully designed from the inside out, the Blaise residence is a place that truly gives you room to breathe.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style:  We love spaces that are simple and open, but with exciting visual elements integrated in. To decorate our house, we searched out interesting textiles and art to bring each room to life.

Inspiration:  We have both spent time in Haifa, Israel, and were inspired by the Mediterranean style homes there: white washed stucco with bright blue accents and rustic local woods.  We modeled the outside of our house on this style. One of the homes we visited while touring the Baha’i World Center in Haifa, called “House of ‘Abdu’lláh Páshá, had beautiful old cedar inlayed throughout, which influenced us to use cedar for our sliding doors and the custom made beds we put in our tea room. We also were in love with the ornate tile work we saw throughout our travels in the Persian Gulf, and that became the inspiration for the tiles we chose in both our bathrooms. 

Favorite Element:  We salvaged the wood from the old roof that we ripped off and used it to create the valances that the lighting is tucked behind throughout the entire house. The indirect lighting keeps the house warm and bright, while the wood valances add a touch of rustic beauty.

Biggest Challenge:  This home was built in 1955, and we had to overcome huge obstacles in our retrofit. One of the biggest was that the entire place was laden in asbestos siding, sheetrock texture, and also lead paint.  We sealed it in where possible (it is often recommended to seal or “encapsulate” asbestos rather than move it) and paid a lot of money to have professional remediation done in other areas.  There was also significant termite damage to almost all of the walls, which was difficult to fix without disturbing the asbestos siding on the outside

What Friends Say:  Our friends who have lived or stayed in other countries remark that it doesn’t feel like a typical American home. The wood elements give it a sort of cottage-like feel. Also, we use only one mini-split system to heat and cool the entire house. These systems are very common abroad, but are rarely seen here in the US. Everyone also comments on how much they appreciate the indirect lighting.

Biggest Embarrassment:  It took us two years to even attempt to landscape the front yard. What we did was so affordable and easy, but made such a big difference that we should have done it as soon as we moved in.

Proudest DIY: The re-use of the virgin Southern Yellow Pine lumber for the island countertop, and the butcher block cutting boards on either side of the stove.

Biggest Indulgence: The blue and white tile in the guest bathroom. We saw it a few years ago at a friend’s house in LA and fell instantly in love with it. It was the first interior design element we picked out.

Best Advice: Don’t let people tell you that going green has to cost more money, or that in order to achieve energy efficiency, you will have to sacrifice everything about your personal style or house plans.

Dream Sources: Unexpected travels. 

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Resources of Note:

ENTRY

  • Red bench
  • Framed print above bench: Misha Blaise Design
  • Amish barn hex: Ebay
  • Art to left of door, from top to bottom
  • painting by Misha Blaise Design.
  • Framed print by Cary Hulbert
  • painting by Misha Blaise Design.
  • Console: Craigslist
  • Art above console:
  • Mirror: Bazaar in Dubai

LIVING ROOM

  • Console: Craigslist
  • Couch: Macy’s
  • All four chairs: Ikea, with custom made covers
  •  Poufs: Crate and Barrel
  •  Black and White pillows: custom made with African Fabric
  •  Yellow pillow with bird: Misha Blaise Design
  • Green and Blue diamond print pillow: Ikea
  • Quilt with Roosters slung over chair: custom made
  • Coffee Table: World Market
  • Large art piece on left of large window: Anis Mojgani
  • Framed art on right of large window: Chris Tavares Silva
  • Framed print to right of TV: Cary Hulbert
  • Geometric wood pieces above plants: Misha Blaise Design

DINING ROOM

  • Dining Table: Craigslist (our best Craigslist find ever, by the way. It was custom made in Norway!)
  • Pot on table: Gift from friends who visited Peru.
  • Art on turquoise wall:  Bird by Misha Blaise Design; 2 large framed collage pieces: vintage from Misha’s dad
  • Bookshelves against green wall: custom made by Nick
  • Art on top two rows of bookshelves:
  • Top row, left to right:
  • Croatian folk print: Ebay
  • Painting in white frame: Anis Mojgani
  • Print in black frame: Hollie Chastain
  • Second shelf down, left to right
  • Arabic art, blue triangle art, bird on pink background: Misha Blaise Design
  • Small pink painting of guy’s face: some guy on the street
  • Framed print of black cloud: Callen Thompson

KITCHEN

  • Counters: Durcon elements, Mist color
  • end piece wood counters on either side of the stove: custom
  • Island: custom using 100 year old reclaimed wood from a demolished house.

BEDROOM

  • bed: IKEA
  • bedspread: Ecowise, Austin, TX
  • Buffalo print above bed: Layli Samimi-Aazami
  • Stacking bookshelf: CB2
  • Dresser: Gift from grandparents to father, circa 1950.
  • Flower ornament above dressor: fleamarket
  • Scroll framed print to right of dressor: Baha’i Media Bank

MASTER BATHROOM

  • penny tiles: Overstock.com
  • sink:Overstock.com
  • tiles above sink: Villa Lagoon Tile

BABY’S ROOM

  • crib: custom made by Nick
  • shelves and dressor, Ikea
  • vintage desk: goodwill
  • Print above desk: Rory Skagen
  • Miniature painting from India, to right of desk: Ebay
  • Bed: Walmart
  • “Today is going to Be Awesome” Pillow: Misha Blaise Design
  • Framed art above bed and geometric triangle painting to right of bed: Misha Blaise Design
  • display bookshelves: Ikea
  • Robot painting above bookshelves: Ramey Guerra
  • Bunny painting above bookshelves: Misha Blaise Design

OFFICE

  • Black desk: Craigslist
  • Black Rolling Cart: Texas resale
  • White desk: Ikea
  • Art on pink wall, from left to right: Textile from dellshop on Etsy, 2 paintings by Misha Blaise Design, framed print by Misha Blaise Design, Poster from Tesoros, Austin, TX
  • Bookshelves: Ikea
  • Art to left of computer: All Misha Blaise Design except for vintage Croatian dance print and photo of my mom.

GUEST BATHROOM

  • Cement floor tiles: Villa Lagoon Tile
  • subway tiles: Overstock.com

FLEX SPACE/ “TEA ROOM” (ROOM BEHIND SLIDING DOORS)

  • Beds/couches : Custom made by Nick
  • Suzani: Ebay
  • white shelves: Ikea
  • Bird art on upper shelf: Misha Blaise Design
  • Art on dark gray wall above couch, from left to right
  • Circular flower painting: Etsy
  • Night sky scroll art: Misha Blaise Design 
  • Geometric paper art: Tesoros (Austin, TX)
  • Large Painting: Anis Mojgani
  • Rug: West Elm
  • Handpainted Indian chests: Craigslist
  • Chest: Misha’s grandmother’s “hope chest” from when she was a girl.
  • Mirror above chest: Pier 1 Imports
  • Ottoman and white tray: Ikea

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Thanks, Misha and Nick!

(Images: Chris Perez)

→ Learn more about Passive Homes: Equitable Green Group

→ See more Misha Blaise artwork: Misha Blaise Design

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