Isabelle's Greenest House in Venice

Isabelle's Greenest House in Venice

Marcia Prentice
Sep 6, 2012

Name: Isabelle Duvivier, AIA, LEED AP
Location: Venice - Los Angeles, California
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year

Architect Isabelle Duvivier had been living in rentals in Venice for many years when she decided to purchase her own home. She fell in love with a 1912 Craftsman cottage in Venice, although the place was not without its challenges — the house needed major repairs. Keeping historic elements from the home while renovating it to meet and exceed green standards was very important to Isabelle.

Now the remodeled Craftsman cottage is the greenest home in Venice, among the top 10 green homes in the state of California, and in the top 25 in the country. It is 54% more energy efficient than California title 24 or energy standard requirements. Isabelle also collects all water on site. You can definitely tell how passionate she is about conserving materials and the environment.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Regional contemporary.

Inspiration: Harmony with the historic, low income neighborhood, respecting the old house while also creating a modern home, and integrating with the outdoor environment.

Favorite Element: The open feeling throughout the house, Finn's room in the old attic, 100% storm water collection and use, the native garden, and shelves from old 2x4 walls that were removed.

Biggest Challenge: Being the project manager as well as the architect and owner. Being involved in every stage and each method of construction was exhausting. Most subs wanted to do things the "standard" way, but the standard way is often directly at odds with the most environmentally responsible way. For example, getting 30% flyash in the concrete was not hard, but required many phone calls and follow-ups and glares from the subs.

What Friends Say: Love it, so open and airy.

Biggest Embarrassment: Sometimes I am embarrassed by my obsession with an all native plant palette in the back yard. The reason is: there are about 106 species of butterflies in LA. 85 of those species need native plants to survive, based on centuries of co-existing and species cooperation. The same is true for birds and insects. But sometimes I think it is a bit over the top.

Proudest DIY: The wood shelves created from 100-year-old house lumber, the water wheel, and the stormwater collection fountain.

Biggest Indulgence:

  1. 600 G cistern, biggish bathtub (only 5.5' but deep)
  2. Bosch dishwasher (most efficient dishwasher on the planet)
  3. Awesome downspouts and water mill made by the fabulous sheet metal guy Larry Strickland.

Best Advice: Definitely do a Quality Insulation Installation or QII. The right insulation installer can do it for no extra charge and it guarantees that the insulation is properly installed per Energy Star recommendations. It will greatly improve the overall energy performance of the home.

Dream Sources: Pasadena and Santa Monica airport swap meets.

Resources of Note:


  • Bosch Dishwasher, oven and induction stove (has magnietic connection - uses induction heating to directly heat a cooking vessel, as opposed to using heat transfer from electrical coils or burning gas as with a traditional cooking stove. To be used on an induction cooktop, a cooking vessel must be made of a ferromagnetic metal, or placed on an interface disk which enables non-induction cookware to be used on induction cooking surfaces.) (we have solar)
  • Miele washing machine/dryer


  • Marvin integrity - wood windows with fiberglass cladding - very energy efficient





  • Desk and table lamps from thrift shop and inherited from grandparents
  • Ceiling mounted cans are all CREE LED from Alcon Lighting on Robertson




  • Reused old 100-year-old floors
  • Bathroom: porcelain tile from Epoxy green





  • Mary Cordoro's bed line


  • Self-made

Thanks, Isabelle!

(Images: Marcia Prentice)

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