Kendra and Jodi's Stairway to Heaven

Kendra and Jodi's Stairway to Heaven

Name: Kendra and Jodi
Location: Lincolnwood, Illinois
Size: 4000 sq/ft
Years lived in: Owned, 3-years in the home, 1-year since the addition and renovation

A couple of years ago we showed you an amazing green renovation by the husband and wife architecture team, 2-Point Perspective. Now they're back to show off a recent eco-friendly addition for a Brady Bunch-like expanding family. Wanting to make a minimal impact on the environmental, the house makes a huge impact on style and sustainable smarts.

With the merging of two families, the existing three bedroom house simply wouldn't cut it for a family of seven. Rather than starting over, they decided to build onto their existing home. Because the clients and architects knew that the large family would need a larger than average home, eco-friendly components were incorporated wherever possible. The eco-highlight and visual focal point of the addition is the bridge that connects the new addition to the existing house — the railings are made from a gorgeous wood and 3Form eco-resin embedded with birch. The family notes, "We love that the new bridge element makes it feel like we are part of the landscape as we move through the home. With many large windows all around, and with the birch branches in the handrail, it feels like we are in the treetops."

The goal of the addition was not to rely on active, tacked-on green elements, but to incorporate passive elements such as lots of natural light and ventilation, well-insulated and ceiling fans for an energy efficient addition. Other green elements included an upgraded 95-percent efficient gas HVAC system, water saving plumbing fixtures, exhaust fans on timers, cement fiberboard siding, cellulose insulation, no and low-VOC finishes, efficient light fixtures and light blocking window shades.

Re-Nest Survey:

Our style: Contemporary and low maintenance.

Inspiration: Our home itself has lots of clean lines and is oriented to the back yard (half the rooms have direct access to the yard).

Favorite Elements: The new stair that leads to the second floor addition really ties the whole home together. At the bottom the handrails mimic the existing stair to the basement, but moving upward the old design breaks apart to allow for the gorgeous 3Form eco-resin panels that make the space really special. Also, it sounds simple, but the natural light and skylights mean that we rarely turn on lights in the addition before sundown. With many of the windows being operable, we can open them on the nice days to get a cross breeze.

Biggest Challenge: The impossibly small laundry room. We did purchase a new high efficiency washer and dryer, which allows us to wash more per load at a much reduced water and electric rate.

What Friends Say: They love the stairs and bridge to the second level and all of the light.

Biggest Embarrassment: What's to be embarrassed by? Actually, we haven't managed to paint the garage door to look more like the rest of the house.

Proudest DIY: We weren't able to include a re-do of the basement when we built the addition. As a consequence, the kids stopped using the basement family room. So, we painted an accent wall, cleaned the existing carpet and added some family friendly furniture. Now, we can't get them out!

Biggest Indulgence: The basement family room furniture: it not only had to look good, but be very functional and tough.

Best Advice Recieved: We learned throughout the construction process that there were a few deferred maintenance issues with our home. We were tempted to take care of them later, but it saved us a lot of future stress and headaches to get them taken care of at the same time.

Best Advice You'd Give To Anyone Trying to Green Their Home: We chose to talk with an architect up front. We didn't want to take a big step, and then find out that we had gone in the wrong decision and wasted a lot of money.

Green Elements/Initiatives: With the understanding that saving energy is key in a green home, we requested good insulation to keep the heat in and we opted for cellulose insulation which has recycled content. Combined with good windows and an efficient new furnace system, our home is now much more efficient.

Future Goals: Now that the rest of our home is coming together, we have noticed that the kitchen and master bedroom suite will need a bit of attention in the near future.


Lighting: To save energy, CFLs were an important part of our lighting update and were installed throughout.

Plumbing Fixtures: Hansgrohe

Appliances: 2 washer/dryer combo units by LG. (Less changing of loads as each machine can wash, then dry... good with a large family.)

Tiles and Stone: Natural stone tiles in a running bond pattern, set against 1" x 1" glass mosaic tiles. The natural stone in the new bathroom creates a clean, warm feeling.

Window Treatments: We chose energy-saving, room darkening cellular shades for the new bedrooms.

Artwork: Mostly original works (new ones by the kids) and other pieces we've collected over the years.

Paint: With so many kids in the house no-VOC paints was a given and we used Benjamin Moore's line. We wanted warm colors that would create a comfortable environment.

Flooring: Hardwood floors for all the new area and much of the first floor were used to match the existing. Terra cotta tile is in the entry way, kitchen and master suite. We kept the carpet in the basement (but are planning to change out to recycled carpet squares) and lower floor bedrooms.

Other: On the exterior, we used James Hardie cement fiberboard siding. It looks like wood, but it is a durable cement board that requires a lot less maintenance.

(Thanks, Kendra & Jodi!)

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(Images: Le Wang and 2-Point Perspective)

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