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Bar Method

When plans for a prefab home flopped, Rian and Melissa Jorgensen were introduced to Jonathan Feldman of Feldman Architecture, whose custom design was able to deliver an environmentally conscious modern home that met all budgetary restrictions and exceeded all expectations.

Rian and Melissa Jorgensen's 2 Bar House in Menlo Park boasts all the usual green design suspects: energy-efficient lighting, good insulation, renewable material finishes, radiant heat, and the roof is pre-wired for future PV panels. Executed by Feldman Architecture, the house requires only natural lighting during the day which keeps energy costs way down. Still, the most stunning aspect of the green design is the living roof planted with succulents, aloe, viviums, and ice plants. "I'm absolutely glad that we did it," says Melissa. "It turned out so well and I really enjoy sitting up there and taking advantage of it as much as I can. It's very peaceful." Read more about this total remodel here.

Like many new homeowners seeking to realize the home of their dreams, Rian and Melissa Jorgensen had a simple set of must-haves—nothing too extravagant, something that was tailored to their needs (they have two young kids), boasted a strong commitment to environmental stewardship, and had an enviable connection between indoors and out. Drawn to the aesthetics and ethics, prefab seemed like the right route, but eventually proved to be cost prohibitive.

Their starting point was the Glide House designed by prefab maven Michelle Kauffman. "They were interested in the cost benefit and the sustainability aspect of it," says Feldman. "They were proponents of the fact that if you built it in a factory there is far less waste and inefficiencies. It can get assembled on-site quickly, so there's also a price benefit labor-wise."

The Jorgensen's Menlo Park home is a model of green design with features that are smart for everyone to consider. "Every project is different, but there are some universal things that will apply from project to project," says Feldman about designing a green home. "The first—and most obvious thing—is to always try to build less, to have a smaller house and be smart about how the rooms are designed and oriented so that you can get by with less space. Smart design will lead to a smaller building, but it won't feel smaller."
However, the Jorgensens wanted to modify the design to the point that the budgetary benefits from prefab were nullified by the changes. "They had this epiphany that they tweaked this house so much that it was essentially custom. Why not embrace that?" says Feldman.

So embrace custom they did, with a tailor-made energy-efficient green home with a strong connection to the outdoors. The naturally day-lit, 2,400 square-foot house is divided into two perpendicular sections, hence the project's name, the "2 Bar House."

"The owners came to us and said, 'We want a small house and we know that we just sleep in our bedrooms and there's a lot of wasted space there. We'd like to put that space into an open room where the family is going to spend time together. We'd also like that space to be adjacent to the yard because we spend a lot of time outside since the climate is so nice,'" says Feldman. "Their wise directive and how it translated into the plan and overall design is what I'm most proud of and excited about in this home."

The living room, dining room and kitchen are in one open space. The flooring is bamboo. The cabinetry is a mix of bamboo, walnut, and maple, and was fabricated by City Cabinetmakers out of San Francisco.
The 2 Bar House boasts all the usual green design suspects: energy-efficient lighting, good insulation, renewable material finishes, radiant heat, and the roof is pre-wired for future PV panels. "People often say that you shouldn't be able to put on solar panels before you've put in good insulation and have an efficient heater and take care of those things wasting energy to begin with, " says Feldman. "You should reduce your consumption to begin with before you harness more power."

Though the "invisible" green design elements carry the lion's share of the measurable environmental benefits, the most stunning attribute is the living roof designed by Lauren Schneider of Wonderland Garden and planted with succulents, aloe, viviums, and ice plants that flower in swaths of white and purple.

Both of the children have access to the playspace, which has cork flooring. "Rian and Melissa thought, "How do we want to live our lives? How can the shape of the house create the backdrop for how we live and interact, and how our kids will grow up?" says Feldman. "They were really proactive and I think that's how we created this really special place."
"It was a tough call," says Feldman of the roof. "Green roofs are more expensive than regular roofs and we were tied up against a budget all the way through. But we liked it conceptually and from an environmental point of view. The master suite looked out over this shiny, white roof. It could have been this thing that was kind of unfortunate, or it could be this secret garden, and so it became this splurge, this luxury for us to create this garden."

"I'm absolutely glad that we did it," says Melissa. "It turned out so well and I really enjoy sitting up there and taking advantage of it as much as I can. It's very peaceful."

"In this project, we got so much benefit out of this "secret garden" for the master suite along with all of these environmental benefits that the residents were excited to embrace. It's one of the pieces we are happiest about," says Feldman. Read the full article here.
When everything was said, done, and built—green roof splurge and all—the home still came in at a modest $300 per square foot.

"Working with a family that was so conscious about creating a house that would shape the way their family would live, that appreciates modern design, and that had such a strong commitment to sustainable design proved to us that inspiring clients, rather than large budgets, often lead to the best designs," says Feldman.

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