Modern Living Showhouse: Small, Green, Gorgeous

Dwell on Design 2011

Despite its tiny footprint, the Modern Living Showhouse dominated the floor at Dwell on Design. The sustainable prefab home, designed by architect Jonathan Davis and curated by ecofabulous founder and eco-chic expert Zem Joaquin, proved that green living can be gorgeous, even for the chickens and bees.

Throughout the interior of the house, the designers struck a beautiful balance of warm woods, whites, and plenty of windows, including a clerestory that flooded the 520-square-foot home with light. An unexpected touch? EcoClad bio-composite cladding used on the interior. It totally worked. Dark cork floors by Wicanders grounded the palette.

I particularly loved the kitchen, which was small but extremely efficient (at least according to the guy who was baking cookies for the crowds that toured the tiny space). I was already a big fan of Modwall’s small white subway tiles made from recycled glass, and they looked stylishly subtle here. If I had the budget, I'd be very tempted by the induction cooktop from the high-end Electrolux ICON line. Apparently it doesn’t scratch or stay hot after use.

Joaquin laid out the space smartly, arranging the middle of the prefab as a living area, divided from the bedroom by a custom Plyboo unit from Neil Kelly Cabinets. Plyboo, by the way, is such a promising material. It’s renewable and looks really modern, especially the way it was used in this wall unit -- on the edges and sides the stacked layers were left exposed, lending the wood a striped appearance. A bonus: built-in closet space on the bedroom-side of the unit.

Speaking of sleeping spaces, the bedroom was very cozy and outfitted with a rubber latex mattress and pillows from Organic Mattresses Inc. and ultra-luxe Coyuchi linens. (I won't lie -- I had to fight the urge to crawl beneath the covers after a long day at the conference.) To the side of the bed, a closet-size space housed an exposed energy-efficient washer and dryer, which would normally be neatly tucked away behind a door. For small layouts, this is an inspired choice. No more lugging laundry, that’s for sure.

The bathroom was textbook eco-cool, with glass tiles and energy-efficient faucets and fixtures. But it was the “backyard” that really won me over. A few chickens were pecking about in the coolest coop ever by the L.A.-based 100x Better. The structure would look amazing in my backyard if I could ever convince my man to indulge my chicken-coop fantasies. Maybe good design will sway him?

By the way, the entire house is up for auction on eBay, in case you’re interested. I'm not sure I'd want to live in something like this full-time, but as a second home, this would be an ecofabulous dream come true.

• The prefab's exterior. Photo: ecofabulous

• The kitchen. Photo: ecofabulous.

• Zem Joaquin and architect Jonathan Davis discuss the house's features.

• A closeup of the live-edge table, sourced from a tree at Davis' wife's childhood home.

• Joaquin says she was unconvinced about the interior cladding until she saw it in action.

• The living room. Photo: ecofabulous.

• A closeup of the Plyboo wall unit.

• The bedroom.

• The bath.

• The chicken coop.

Images: AnnaMaria Stephens unless otherwise noted