Green Home in La Jolla Blends Indoors and Outdoors

By Emily Shapiro / Published by Dwell
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The Noorens fell in love with San Diego and the surrounding area during a surf vacation several years ago, and made it their mission to return for good. When they finally returned in 2009, they incorporated elements of the landscape of La Jolla into a custom, eco-conscious home.

Jack and Jill Nooren have long hoped to live a more environmentally responsible lifestyle, and after visiting and falling in love with San Diego eight years ago while on a family vacation, they committed to relocating to the coastal community. The couple returned to the area in 2009 with their two children, and with the help of domusstudio architecture and Hill Construction Company, spent three years designing and building a custom, eco-conscious home that is elegantly integrated into the natural landscape of La Jolla.

Large, glass, accordion-style doors from LaCantina Doors open the family dining room to the home’s outdoor space, ensuring airflow and ocean views while effectively doubling the size of the room itself. The custom wood table and benches were made by Hill Construction from reclaimed California redwoods.

Although the Noorens were forced to demolish the previous home on the property—a 1927 Spanish house that was one of the first in the La Jolla Shores area—they took great pains to recycle as much as possible from the demolition process, integrating original pieces with local, eco-friendly materials into a fully sustainable home. The property boasts energy-saving appliances, low-flow showerheads and faucets, dual-flush toilets, and LED lighting, while concrete floors with radiant heat from the rooftop solar panels and open windows ensure no unnecessary energy is spent on heating and cooling the home.

Windows are scattered throughout the house in order to let in natural light wherever possible, while custom furniture with clean, minimal lines contributes to the natural palette.

Committed to educating their family and friends about the importance of living sustainably, Jack and Jill used the process of designing and constructing their home as a means through which to teach their children, as well as the community around them, about the benefits of an eco-conscious lifestyle. Today, the Noorens’ home is not only certified as a LEED Platinum project, integrating mild climate indoor-outdoor spaces and utilizing radiant heat and solar thermal systems, but it is a beautiful, airy space with an abundance of natural light and a simple palette of natural, local, and low-maintenance materials. 

An important aspect of the home’s design is the seamless flow between inside and outside, which is enhanced not only by large windows and doors, but also by the home’s materials. The majority of the surfaces and structural elements in both the interior and exterior are composed of concrete, stainless steel, and wood, ensuring a unification between the two while guaranteeing durability. Concrete floors require little maintenance, while local wood helps the home blend into its surrounding landscape.

Much of the home’s design is based around a large, structural steel trellis supported by the second floor balcony. The top of the trellis is formed by frameless solar panels that provide the family with the majority of their daily energy needs.

The living room couch—a semi-circle design by Niels Bendtsen—is the centerpiece of the open-plan living space. The rolling kitchen ladder is by Bartels Doors, and the kitchen island, pantry, and cabinets were custom made by Hill Construction Company.

In an effort to forego an air conditioning system, domusstudio architecture strategically placed windows and ceiling fans to welcome in ocean breezes. The Noorens also chose to incorporate a large, accordion-style glass wall into their living area. The wall folds away entirely, allowing airflow and open access to the outdoor spaces.

Local wood, contrasted with steel and concrete elements, comprise the home's modern palette. The light fixture is by German designer Ingo Maurer; the dining room table and chairs are from Crate & Barrel.

Emily Shapiro

@emilyshapiro

Emily is a design historian, teacher, and writer/editor. She credits her early interest in architecture and design to helping her boat-builder dad as a kid, which cemented her love for home decor projects like building furniture, reupholstery, crafting, and decoration. In addition to crafts, she studied English literature at Brown University and holds a MA from Parsons in design history.

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