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From Ramsey Fulton | bldg seed architects
After many years of rural living in the exurbs of Carbondale CO, our young family decided on a path to simplify our lives, and bring about a connection with community. This required moving into the boundaries of our beautiful mountain town. In town is where our friends, schools and small businesses would be close to home, and where we could give or kids the freedom to roam without a parental chauffeur service. This goal sparked the opportunity for me to fulfill one of my life’s dreams; to design and build a home for my family.
The one element that gave pause to this plan, was that most all of the available land in the community is controlled by an HOA with design standards that are not ideal given my vision of our modern and simple home. In the end we took the risk, bought the land, and I decided to make the pairing of my personal design beliefs, the 90’s design standards, and the pursuit of an efficient and passive solar home as my personal challenge. This unlikely marriage sparked a rigorous design process, and the conversion of three goals into one uniquely crafted home. The results of this design were then shared with Bridger Smith & SmithBuilt Inc. to help collaborate on the process of building our home. The cooperative and exciting journey of building this dream stretched just one year, and in the spring of 2017 the well-executed and detailed vision was built and complete.
The completed home is a huge success. It is warmly regarded by the community as a whole, as well as the HOA. The outside stands out from the other homes, as it melds traditional beauty with modern touches, and a hidden passive-solar efficiency. While the interior of the home achieves the clean modern style fitting for our family, with a balance in materials to achieve the warm and modern feel appropriate for a family home.
The overall efficiency of the home starts with a passive-solar design allowing for a solar charge in the winter and cool tempered summers, which is in part made possible by a heavily used front porch. Followed by the energy consumption offset of extensive natural lighting that reaches most every space of the home. This is partly achieved through the interior “slot canyon” that slices above the main living area, creating a dynamic void that brings light deep into the space. This wood lined element is punctured with interior windows and a bridge that gives the sense of passage as you cross through the canyon. Adding to our goal is a compact perimeter, efficient spaces and a tight envelope that combined to allow us to reach energy-star certification with ease, and much to our delight when finally built and with the spring install of solar panels, will achieve a HERS (energy performance) rating 67% better than the average homes built today. As a final note on the subject of going green, we believe that density in development is an important goal for any urban infill project. For this reason and to help with allowing the overall expenses to work, we maximized the lots potential, by included an ADU to our home that sits above the garage and is rented to a great young couple along with a 12’x12’ Colorado lifestyle gear garage next to the alley entry.
After only 6 months of living in the home, it is safe to say that we have achieved simplicity and feel more than ever as members of a unique community. Our kids walk to school and my wife and I bike or walk to work. The neighborhood is swarming with playmates and some new great friends. Most surprising to me however, is how much I smile when I approach the home or we shut the doors in the evening and I can just sit back and love the spaces that I designed and built over the course of two years. The journey was one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but when I see how our lives have changed for the better, I would gladly do it all over again.