Kirsten and Ted’s Green Dream

published Jun 18, 2015
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(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)

Name: Kirsten Thoft and Ted Nadeau
Location: Princeton, NJ
Size: 3200 square feet (including lower level apartment / family room)
Years lived in: 2 years; owned

So many words are needed to describe Kirsten and Ted’s multi-faceted home: beautiful, sustainable, functional, light, airy, warm, homey, and even industrial!

Kirsten, an architect, purchased the site and originally planned to build a spec home. With no particular client, she started using herself and her family as the model and made decisions for the house based on how they live. Eventually, she and her husband Ted realized they were building a perfect home for themselves – and decided to move in.

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The house is located in central Princeton, walking distance to great shops and restaurants. (Image credit: Anita Jeerage)
(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)

The site originally contained two lots, but had a long garage that straddled the boundary. Kirsten took down part of the garage to split the property, and began constructing a new house while renting the existing house. She then renovated the existing house next door, which will be going on the market later this summer.

One of the most important principles for Kirsten is designing efficiently, and she has a strong commitment to green building and sustainability. Kirsten and Ted’s house uses geothermal heating and cooling, has solar panels on the roof, large windows to minimize the use of electric light and is solidly constructed with a tight building envelope. Their kids might be running around near the record player, but it will never skip.

They reused most of the furniture from their old home, but did get a few new items – especially in the living room. Kirsten designed the stunning TV unit (which was built using salvaged Douglas Fir from the old garage), and the couple found a layout that made sense. Kirsten also took care to design a home with plenty of storage for Ted’s many collections. A favorite is “Tedsonian 2” in the half-bath – a beautiful collection of shells and rocks on display.

It’s a house that meets the needs of this family of five with ease! They love to entertain, and there is ample space for friends to gather around the kitchen island, or watch films in the lower level. The warmth and texture of the interior creates a space that is inviting and cozy, and the couple’s vibrant energy makes it a place where anyone would love to spend time!

(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern with some industrial thrown in

Inspiration: NJ vernacular architecture (turn-of-the century houses, bank barns, and factories), Olsen Kundig Architects, Scandinavian design…

Favorite Element: The staircase

Biggest Challenge: Figuring out what went where in the living room. I really wanted a gas fireplace (you can’t do wood-burning in a LEED house) and wanted to have it be part of the living room, but also wanted the stair to be open and the TV to have good sight-lines from the couch. Furnishing the living room was tough but I think we’ve settled on a plan that works.

What Friends Say: It feels like you are up in the trees and it’s so bright!

Biggest Embarrassment: My office shelves, they are full of stuff that needs to be culled, and are highly visible from the street. Not the best advertisement!

Proudest DIY: As the architect, there were many design challenges, but I’m maybe proudest of the staircase design. It consists of 5 different parts: the stringers, treads, balusters, cable system and handrail are all from different sources and I am particularly proud of the way it all came together to read as modern, industrial and sleek. The other is using custom doors on the stock IKEA cabinets. I bought the least expensive doors they had and handed them over to the millwork shop, which used them as templates for the walnut doors.

Biggest Indulgence: The 6” wide oak floors were a splurge. They are finished with a great product that I took a big chance on because I hadn’t used it before. Rubio Monocoat is a no VOC oil that penetrates the wood and hardens with a slight sheen. It has stood up excellently to our abuse (5 people, lots of parties, teenagers, etc.) and if it gets scratched, you can sand just that spot and re-coat a patch without having to do the whole room.

Best Advice: Don’t sweat the details too much. I’ve seen people (and myself sometimes) get paralyzed by the number of decisions that have to be made in a building project. What’s important in the end is the whole effect. Also, to design well, it helps to know a space well. If you are moving into a place, give yourself time to see where the good views are, where the best light is, and how you actually use it before embarking on a project.

Dream Sources:, Material Culture, Rago Auctions, EBAY, DWR, Schoolhouse Electric, ABC Home



  • Benjamin Moore: Pale Oak (majority)
  • Benjamin Moore: River Gorge Grey (accents)
  • Benjamin Moore: Revere Pewter (office)
(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)


  • Floor mat: FLOR House Pet in “Hamster”
  • Furniture: Gio Ponti family piece
  • Drawing: Lisa Thoft (Kirsten’s sister)
(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)


  • Beams: custom – Unadilla (NY State)
  • Ceiling: 2×6 T&G Hemlock, unfinished
  • Built-in for TV: Built by George Akers, Material Design using salvaged Douglas Fir
  • Rug: Ebay
  • Couch: Crate and Barrel
  • Copper Plate prints: A print shop in Prague
  • Leather Chair: Material Culture
  • Lamps: Pier One
(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)


  • Sideboard: Hans Wegner
  • Rug: Material Culture
  • Light: CB2
  • Wall Sconces: George Kovacs,
  • Table: ABC Home
  • Small table & chairs by window: R+B Imports in Lynn, MA & Ikea
(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)


  • Cabinets: IKEA with custom fronts
  • Countertop: Caesarstone
  • Island Countertop: Stainless Steel
  • Backsplash: Timestone from Complete Tile
(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)


  • Bedframe: West Elm
  • Rug: Cowhide – Mercado de San Telmo in Buenos Ares
  • Hanging over bed: Uruguyan artist
  • Wall Color: Parakeet feathers, Sherwin Willaims
  • Ceiling fan: Modern Fan Co.
  • Mirror: R&B Imports, Lynn, MA
  • Bedside tables: Ikea – RAST hack
(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)


  • Benjamin Moore: Night Train
  • Cabinet and Sink: IKEA
  • Faucets: Danze “Parma”
  • Rug: Ebay
  • Tile: Dal Tile
  • Hardware: Amerock “Arrondi”
(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)


  • Shelving system: Rakks
  • Raw steel stringers: custom made by Custom Built Co.
  • Treads: Red oak, custom milled by Naticchia’s Millwork
  • Stainless Steel Balusters: Q Railing
  • Cable and Fittings: Blair Corporation
  • Handrail: Red Oak, Coffman Rail Parts

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Thanks, Kirsten & Ted!