Amy and David's Spectacular Skylit Home

Amy and David's Spectacular Skylit Home

Name: Drs. Amy and David Edwards
Location: Santa Clara, California
Size: 3,026 sq/ft
Years lived in: 10 (total), 5 (since the remodel)
Who else lives here: Makenzie, Zachary, and Madison

Over the course of two years, David Edwards collected the cast off remnants of old houses. Doors, windows, boards and beams accumulated in the garage of his lackluster 1960s ranch. With this motley stash of goods and a vast knowledge of green building techniques, the founder of the green construction firm Earth Bound Homes built a gorgeous dwelling that just happens to be one of the greenest homes in California.

"That's the point right? The point is to make a house that lives well, that the homeowners appreciate for its livability and its beauty. It just happens to be super green," David explained. "That should be the goal of any architect, to build a house that appeals to the client and happens to be super green. So the super green isn't the whole focus, but something important and easily achievable."

As a biochemist (he has a PhD from the University of California at San Diego), David is obsessed with the nitty gritty. And as a father of three, he's fanatical about health. From the Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), to the One Lawn synthetic lawn, he's exceptionally informed about the composition of every material that went into his home. There are no heavy metals here, no volatile organic compounds, and the air is kept pure with a fresh air ventilation system.

The Edwards residence has an exciting molecular makeup for sure, but it's lovely on the surface too. Olive, sand, and wine form a truly Californian color scheme that compliments the varying tones of natural wood found throughout. Pale hued cabinets, discreet drawers, and yards of shelves offer plenty of storage space in the main living area as well as a childrens' play/work room for nearly effortless organization. Big windows frame the treetops in a second floor bedroom, while another offers views of distant mountains. Picturesque they are, but none of these salvaged panes beats the magnificence of an enormous skylight at the top of the house. Crowning a stunning staircase, the rooftop window lets the sun stream in, and all that gorgeous wood just glows.

Re-Nest Survey:

Our style: An amalgam of city and forest with Arts and Crafts style detail.

Inspiration: Greene and Greene, Sarah Susanka.

Favorite Element: The greenness of it. The whole house was designed around trying to be as true to the usage, but as green as possible. We designed it around a bunch of recycled windows that we had. There are 37 windows in this house and 19 were recycled. A lot of the exterior facade was designed around using those windows.

Biggest Challenge: Getting all the building materials approved by the city. Insulation, insulated headers, HRVs, structural insulated panels (SIPs), closed cell polyurethane foam insulation - alternative building materials.

What Friends Say: They all comment on how beautiful it is.

Proudest DIY: All the recycled material - windows, flooring, all the trim, it's all recycled redwood from fences, siding from old houses and decks. I basically bought all the usable redwood in the entire Bay area and had to get some from Sacramento. I went dumpster diving on the city trash day with my truck, looking for people who had taken apart their decks, and i stacked it all up in my front yard. I found a huge amount of stuff. I only had to buy one lot at the end of the job - 300 bucks for a bunch of fence boards. everything else was salvaged, picked up from the dump day or from my jobs.

Biggest Indulgence: The Brazilian cherry hardwood floors. That was the single biggest line item for the whole job, something that I absolutely wanted. I love them. It has really high durability, a really high Janka hardness rating. I bought it because i love the look of it. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Best Advice: Don't sacrifice quality and character for size.

Dream Source: Nissan Leaf. An electric car charging station in my garage. I'm not a fancy car kind of person.

Green Elements/Initiatives:
• Small 2.7 kw Photovoltaic solar electric panels provide all of houses electrical needs
• Solar thermal renewable energy systems
• An inexpensive and no maintenance Grey water system waters the only plants in the entire landscaping that require water, the clumping Bamboo.
• A 1400 gallon underground rainwater cistern collects rainwater every winter
• All FSC wood framing and FSC certified Brazilian Cherry Flooring
• Home built with Structural Insulated Panels(SIPs)
• 65% more efficient than Californias' Title-24 Energy Efficiency requirements
• $155/year gas bill, $4/year electric bill, $132/year water bill
• 93%  recycling and reuse of building demolition debris
• Half of all windows were purchased from salvage yards, saving over $10,000 over new windows
• All doors on the first floor were salvaged, saving $3,000.
• All trim throughout the house was salvaged from old redwood decks, fences and the siding on old houses. It was milled on site and the shavings used as mulch on the landscaping.
• New One Lawn Synthetic Lawn contains no heavy metals and requires no maintenance or water. None of the landscape requires suplemental water and saves approx. 50,000 gallons of water a year.
• House uses 31,285 gallons of water a year, for 5 people. This is approx 84% less. than the average household uses(~110 gallons per person/day- including irrigation)


Appliances: LG washer/dryer. LG refrigerator. We base our selection on the Consortium for Energy Efficiency website ( - they're really, in our opinion, the leading informational source for appliances and other mechanical systems for household appliances. Then we look at Consumer Reports for durability.

Furniture: I made a lot of the furniture in the house. All the bookcases and office chairs were salvaged from commercial liquidation companies - those big companies that buy materials from businesses that are going under. Dining set is from Crate and Barrel. Benches from a garage sale.

Lighting: Compact fluorescent.

Rugs and Carpets: Expo Design Center (no longer in business), Pier 1.

Tiles and Stone: All the granite is salvaged remnants. The tile is all slate - one or two dollars per square foot, very cheap - from Tile Fantastic in San Jose. Countertop in kitchen - Corian. Island is concrete that we cast here.

Window Treatments: Mostly open.

Artwork: Lots of Frank Lloyd Wright, Ansel Adams, Lance Armstrong posters.

Paint: Kelly Moore Envirocoat no VOC

Flooring: Eco timber FSC certified, three quarter inch solid Brazilian cherry.

(Thanks, Edwards Family!)

Interested in sharing your home with Re-Nest? Contact our editors through our Green Tour Submission Form.

(Images: Celeste Sunderland and Earth Bound Homes)

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