Sunday, May 13, 2012

HGTV Green Home 2012 Tour

Bulldog painting "Pancake" by David Ryden in children's bedroom

My husband and I toured the HGTV 2012 Green Home in Serenbe on Thursday, and it was truly impressive!  Forgive me for the prominent display of the bulldog painting, but since my husband teaches at UGA we felt the need to show a little "Georgia Dawg" spirit -- besides, "Pancake" is adorable!  I think you are going to laugh at some of the rather odd photos that I am posting but I tried to get pictures of items that fellow followers of the HGTV blogs expressed interest in seeing, like closet interiors, which is important information but not necessarily the most photogenic.

The weather for our tour was absolutely gorgeous -- mild temperatures, low humidity, light breeze, and not a cloud in the sky.  After picking up a takeout lunch at the rather packed Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop, we drove to the site of the Green Home and ate lunch while looking out at the lovely view across the street from the house.  Then we headed in for the tour.  We didn't know what to expect, but I assumed we would be kept on a tight schedule in appointed groups with little time to deviate from the plan.  To our delight, just the opposite was true!  Instead of being assigned to one tour guide, the guides were assigned to rooms and areas of the house, and after donning your blue paper booties you are free to roam the house at will, asking questions, taking photographs, and even touching and opening all but a few items that are off limits.  Unfortunately, the three unfinished rooms off of the front entry level foyer were off limits and the doors kept shut, so viewing and photographing them were not possible.  We were told that the total square footage of all three spaces was 1,000 square feet.  The two rooms at the front of the house have windows -- one is ready to be turned into an additional bedroom and bathroom, while the other could be used for storage or possibly even a small office.  The back room, by far the largest space, runs underneath the house and has no windows.  It would make a great media or family room or a "man cave", but since it is windowless it cannot be turned into a bedroom.

We then headed up the stairs to the main floor.  There is a mirror placed rather low on the first landing, and my clever husband figured out that it was a way of determining if someone was coming up the stairs!  This picture isn't great, but if you look through the open stair risers you can just see the mirror:

Once upstairs we started wandering randomly to examine whatever caught our fancy.  I immediately gravitated to the kitchen countertops, which are my favorite item in the house.  We were told that they were made by an Atlanta company called DEX Industries, and that the recycled brown glass pieces came from Atlanta's own Sweetwater Brewing Company:

Oh, how I covet these countertops!

We were not allowed to touch the kitchen cabinets, but the pantry doors were open and it was quite spacious.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture, but all of the dishware that was set up on the outside dining table for the HGTV photo shoots were in the pantry, as well as many cans of Bush's baked beans, and there was still plenty of room for more.  I really liked the cow mugs, but no one knew where they were purchased, so I will have to remain "cow-less" for now!  The appliances are the most efficient ones made by Bosch, but there is no microwave!  Apparently, there is some question as to whether microwave radiation is an environmentally safe, so it was decided not to include one in the Green Home.

I then headed for the back entry mudroom to get a few photos:

I thought cat lovers might want to know that there were supplies for cats in the pet pantry as well!

Someone on the HGTV blog wanted to know where the light switch by the entry door was located, so I took this photo:

It is on the wall with the peg rack, right next to the lamp on the hall table.

Next it was on to the master bedroom suite, to get some photos of the walk-in closet at the far end of the master bath:

Facing closet, right side

Facing closet, center (with a bit of the left doorway in view)

Facing closet, left side

Facing closet, left side on door wall there are two hanging laundry bags

Overhead access in the master closet:

I really like this rustic dresser in the master bath across from the water closet:

Speaking of the water closet, this was apparently the one "oops!" moment in the building process!  The door dimensions were calculated based on normal toilet length, but since the toilets are the dual flush variety the tank is a little wider than usual.  This means that the door is too long and is blocked by the toilet, so it cannot be shut!  The simple solution is to remove the door, which in our opinion was not necessary anyway, since the fixture sits back in an enclosed area of its little room, and there will only be one or two people using this facility.  If you must have privacy you can always hang a sliding curtain.

I also had to get this shot of the inside of the shower:

There was some concern on the blog that water would get all over the floor from the open shower.  There is a drop in floor level of about two inches from the main room into the shower, so that should prevent most of the water from flowing outside of the shower area, and strategically aiming the shower heads should prevent even more water from escaping.  Of course, if you like to fling water about vigorously while you shower, some will certainly get out onto the main floor, but otherwise the floor should not get too much wetter than it would when you step out of any other shower.

I loved this little reading nook in the master bedroom:

And this little courtyard right outside feels completely private:

The Doggie Green Home is very spacious, and one of my husband's favorite aspects of the house (he also loved the bucket and pulley in the children's room -- I guess he's just a kid at heart!):

It is probably too small for very large dogs, but one of our 50-pound dogs would easily fit, and several small dogs or cats would be quite comfortable inside.  Older dogs would need a ramp to replace the steps, but that would be an easy fix.

Of all the rooms in the house, the only one we would have liked to have seen made larger is the master bedroom.  Pushing the master bath out by two feet would have made all the difference, but the house may have already been close to the maximum width so perhaps there was no room.  The two upstairs bedrooms were not large, but we felt they were adequate in size for children and guests.  And unfortunately, no one knew the name of the paint used on the turquoise nightstand next to the (queen-sized) bed.  The color is even prettier than it looks in photos, so it would be nice to find out exactly what it is!

The day was so beautiful that all doors and windows in the house were open, and we really got to feel the flow of the indoor-outdoor living concept:

Back patio viewed from living room

Side courtyard viewed from kitchen

The whole house is wired for sound, including the courtyard, but there is no sound system installed:

Living room


The ceiling fan in the Georgia room was on, and there was quite a pleasant breeze passing through that comfortable space:

We did not notice any insects at all in the vicinity of the Green Home, either inside or outside, during our mid-afternoon tour.  Later, in the early evening, my husband and I walked along the lake for a little while, and we did not get bitten by anything then either.  The temperature was only in the upper seventies to low eighties that day and the breeze was probably a factor in keeping insects at bay.  The realtor we talked to the next day told us that the Grange area usually has a breeze and that insects tend to be less of a problem there, but this is Georgia so I'm sure there will be buggy days!  While there are no screens for the Green Home windows, we did find out that they are Andersen windows, so screens are most likely available if the future homeowner wants them.  We tend to spend more time outdoors in the spring, fall, and even milder days of winter than in the summer, since Georgia summers can be so hot and humid, and at these times of year insects are rarely a problem.

Before going upstairs to the second floor I took a close-up shot of the retreat room sofa:

I did not realize that this sofa had such texture and pattern until I saw it up close, so I wanted to make sure others realized this as well.

On the way upstairs, I had to take pictures of some donkey photography (we have a miniature donkey) and the unusual light fixture at the top of the cupola:

On the second floor, I took some quick shots before we had to leave to meet with a realtor.  Here are some images of the laundry room closet, which is quite large:

Facing closet, left side

Facing closet, right side (I am curious as to why there is a box of Sony 3D glasses in this closet!)

An added bonus -- overhead storage in the laundry room:

I did ask about access to the mechanical parts of the washer and dryer, as that was a concern which came up on the blog.  The machines will have to be pulled away from the wall and out from under the cabinet, but they are supposedly easily moved, according to one guide who has the same machines.

Here is a glimpse into the guest room closet:

And this is an interior shot of one the two children's room closets (the other was in such a dark corner it did not photograph well, but it was identical to this one):

I should mention that the closets have very high ceilings, so additional storage can be put in up above.

On the way out, my husband and I noticed that the Trex decking lacked the usual abundance of nails or screws to hold it in place.  Instead, the boards are held in place by these metal pieces:

This makes for a very clean and attractive look, not to mention no screws or nails popping out over time to snag an unsuspecting foot!

Here is a look at the solar panels, which we were told supply one-third of the energy for the Green Home:

We were unable to photograph the interior of the garage, which was off limits because the GMC Terrain was locked inside, and the garage has no windows.  I did get answers to a few more questions before we left:

1) Street parking is permitted.

2) There is a security system, but no whole house integrated electronic system ("smart house").

3) All of the indoor plants are artificial.

4) The rather unique trash recycling system consists of an underground container accessed through a round metal cover that looks like a manhole cover (but not as heavy!).  Everything is sorted into either trash, recyclable, or compost material, and it is all picked up twice a week for a monthly fee of $25.

5) The house is not handicap accessible.  The best option for handicap access is probably via a ramp from the street, through the front foyer entry, and then some sort of lift chair up the stairs to the main floor.  I asked about installing an elevator but the guides weren't sure where it would go, so it may or may not be an option.

6) The Georgia room is not air-conditioned, but it would be easy to install a single room ductless air conditioner if the homeowner felt the need for it -- I even found one that can be disguised as art!

7) The exact lot size was not known, but the guides thought it was somewhere around 0.2 acres.

8) HOA fees are listed on the Serenbe website -- for a cottage lot like that of the Green Home the fees are currently listed at $828 annually (subject to change).

9) There are several playgrounds in Serenbe, as well as treehouses!  There is also a dog park, ball field, and small basketball court as well as tennis courts, but no community pool (yet!).  Horseback riding lessons as well as trail rides are available.

10) Right now the nearest grocery store is a small one five minutes away in Palmetto, with Publix and Kroger supermarkets about 15 minutes away in nearby Newnan.  A brand new food store called Fern's Market will be opening in a matter of weeks at the new Grange shopping center -- more about that in my next post!

11) I asked about mailboxes, and found out that there are none!  Instead, everyone picks up their mail at a tiny little post office near the entrance to the Grange!  I think the idea is that this helps encourage a feeling of community, which is what Serenbe is all about.

I have a lot more information about new developments in the Serenbe community which I will save for another post.  I hope you have learned a lot more interesting information about the Green Home and its location, and if at all possible you should try to see it yourself.  The trip is worth it!

The Grange post office in the evening light


  1. So glad you enjoyed your visit! There is nothing like being there in person to really "feel" the spaces!

    Steve Kemp
    Kemp Hall Studio Architects

  2. Great info! Were you able to find out what is behind the closed doors in the front entry way? It's been driving me crazy! (:

  3. I figured it out!! LOL The mechanical room and future bedroom & bathroom as well as unfinished basement/storage.

    1. Sorry I never got back to you -- I have a dog who is having health problems and is taking up most of my time. In case you haven't seen this yet, photo #3 shows the floor plan for the ground floor (only the entry and mechanical room are finished spaces):