Peter & Jill's Dream Country Home

Green Tour

Name: Peter Vujovich and Jill Lucas
Location: Afton, MN
Size: 3,800 sq/ft sitting on 10 acres
Years lived in: 3 years, Owned

What does an eco-friendly-design-and-build man have for a home? A dream house out in the country sitting comfortably 10 acres. Peter and Jill's house is nestled into Minnesota's sloping hills, farms, and woods in Afton near the St. Croix River. They built this house from the ground up based on three simple principles: beauty, affordability, and eco-friendly design. Given Peter's work, the design came naturally.

Peter didn't create this home just for himself and his wife, he built it as an example for other homebuilders to understand that eco-friendly can be gorgeous, unpretentious, and downright livable. Seeing the age of geodesic rise and fall, Peter focuses on going beyond trends to create something that will be beautiful for the long haul.

This twist on Grandma’s farmhouse produces its own energy through solar panels that feed a geothermal heating and cooling system. These two actually get to see their energy meter spinning backwards often enough as their system feeds energy back onto the grid. With their expanse of gardens and a brand new apple orchard, they are able to feed themselves year round off their own land with some additions from neighbors. Their gardens, orchid shower, and horses are all fed with a 12,000 gallon rainwater cistern attached to their home.

What we loved was how comfortable the home felt. Peter is very true to his goals of creating beautiful things that are affordable and employ ready green technology. The design felt refreshing and relaxed, easy to dress up or down based on your personal aesthetic. They invite you in to take a look around, get ideas, and get going with your dream eco-friendly home at any price point. For more information on his other design projects, check out his company's website at Vujovich.

Re-Nest Survey:

My/Our style: We love creating livable homes that are beautiful and affordable.

Inspiration: We fell in love with a home in Massachusetts that had a great combination of familiar architecture with contemporary surprises.

Favorite Element: The perfect kitchen for living and entertaining. We made it a nice space that is easy to move around in, yet is somewhat separate from the dining table and bar and wine to keep it from getting congested.

Biggest Challenge: Peter: As a designer and builder, it was difficult to take all of the possibilities for a home like this and distill them down into an attractive and affordable package.

What Friends Say: Say? They stay! Friends often turn into house guests here because it is so inviting and comfortable. There is plenty of room for everyone and their pets to relax here.

Biggest Embarrassment: They showed the construction of the house on our local news channel and I was really embarrassed when I saw myself on TV. (It's okay, Peter. We all ask if we really do sound, look, and talk like that!)

Proudest DIY: The veggie and perennial gardens! Which is surprising given the personalization of the house. (Not to mention Peter's design background. For us, it's his dining table made from an old Chicken Coop!)

Biggest Indulgence: Peter: My orchid shower. It is very personal and serves no real function other than to just be with the plants. (Peter even built in a shower head just for them to provide them with rainwater, not tap.)

Best Advice: Peter: As a designer and builder, I think this is key advice for anyone remodeling or building a house: Separate how you think you live from how you really live. Then build a house around both your aesthetics and everyday livability.

Dream Source: Jill: Peter's passion Since he was just a boy his mind was constantly designing and building things, creating something new.

Green Elements/Initiatives: Too many to list here! Here are some of our favorites:

  • Reclaimed wood for the floors, tables, and rafters
  • Local food onsite or bought nearby
  • Longevity of the design
  • Paint colors
  • Lighting
  • Two heat sources: Geothermal and Solar

Resources:

Appliances: Asko Dishwasher, Miele Washer and Dryer that can intake a high volume and use little water; the La Cornue stove (cheaper than a Wolf but of equal quality), Liebherr refrigerator that provides a separate section for produce to let it last twice as long, and their Wittus stove in the Great Room that is wood burning and easily heats the whole room.

Hardware: Some of Peter's favorites are the doors, which are mainly reclaimed, and the sliding drawers in the kitchen. These drawers are full extension, self-closing, and a few are built just for the spices!

Furniture: They love their sofa and swivel chairs in the Great Room because they are so comfortable and homey. A few other favorites include the dining table made from an old chicken coop by Peter himself, and the reclaimed side table made from a "Chinese Baby Minder" antique and a stone slab. The child was placed inside, forcing it to stand up and stay put, and it has a little drawer at the bottom for easy clean up.

Accessories: Not accessory junkies, these two well traveled individuals have pieces of their lives scattered throughout the home. Peter at one point lived with a tribe in the Amazon and was given a necklace made from bugs and Jill guides trips throughout South America. So as you can imagine, they don't need to go out and find too many unique decorations outside of their travels.

Lighting: Mixture of antiques with contemporary pieces, as well as some LEDs.

Rugs and Carpets: Similar to their accessories, their rugs are mainly from their travels around the world. From hand knotted rugs to gorgeous rugs from Turkey, they each add their own piece of history.

Tiles and Stone: In the kitchen they liked the subway tile for a farmhouse because it was an unusual size. The rest of the house features various remenant marble and granite that are scattered around the house, except for the soapstone countertops in the kitchen. The entry way has blue stone with infloor heating, which is handy during a chilly Minnesota winter.

Window Treatments: They are low E and argon filled. The best in our opinion!

Beds: There are 3 bedrooms including the master bedroom. One of the beds is made out of reclaimed wood, the master bed has reclaimed beams, and all of the bedrooms have reclaimed pine floors salvaged from an old barn.

Artwork: Who needs artwork when you have pictures from around the world? With the minimalist approach, the house is decorated with the stories of their lives.

Paint: Their house is covered in natural tones of low and no VOC paint with help from their friends, Gary and Shelley at Baker Court Interiors.

Flooring: All of the floors that aren't stone are made from reclaimed wood. There are 100 year old white oak beams from an old barn making up the beautiful floors in the Great Room and reclaimed pine wood in the bedrooms.

Thanks, Peter and Jill!

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(Images: Tiffany Finley)

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