Monday, June 25, 2012

Bosch Net Zero Home in Serenbe

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, just up the road and across the street from the HGTV 2012 Green Home is the Bosch Net Zero Home, which is now open for tours.  This house was built to showcase Bosch Energy Star appliances as well as their solar energy and geothermal systems (Bosch appliances and solar panels are featured in the Green Home as well).  In an earlier post I described the Bosch Experience Center, which is just a few steps away from this house.  It will feature all of Bosch's energy-efficient and environmentally friendly products.  This company is committed to manufacturing only green products, and is a perfect fit into the Serenbe community.  Their Net Zero Home was built with the commitment to keep net energy use at zero or even below (which means that the power company will buy back any excess energy!) while at the same time showing that such energy efficiency can be achieved in style and comfort.

This home has a country cottage or farmhouse feel to it, just like the Green Home, but the décor is more traditionally southern (not surprising, since the furnishings were supplied by Atlanta-based Ballard Designs).  Here is a view of the welcoming front porch:

The plant to the right in the photo is a small fig tree in a planter.  There are several on the porch and as I adore figs I just might have to steal this idea for our home.  Even though we have a monster fig tree in the yard I always have to compete with the birds and squirrels for the fruit, so maybe this way I will have more of a fighting chance!

Step inside the front door and this is what you see first:

I am not normally a fan of wallpaper, but I liked this woodsy brown and white print.  The dining room table is rustic natural wood, and the floors are reclaimed wood in a dark stain and textured finish.

To the left of the front door is the kitchen:

The kitchen was quite roomy and all of the energy-efficient stainless steel appliances are from Bosch, of course.

Along the wall to the left of the kitchen is a good-sized shelving unit:

This picture gives you a better look at the rustic wood framing around the kitchen, which my husband and I both liked.

To the right of the front door is the living room with fireplace:

The designer chose to arrange comfortable upholstered armchairs in front of the fireplace instead of a sofa, which makes for a perfect conversation area.  The doors to the left and right of the fireplace lead out to a screened porch.  I did not have time to get a photograph, but there is a huge, comfortable, well-cushioned porch swing like the one in this article on the screened porch which serves nicely as a sofa alternative.  There is also bench seating along the window overlooking the front porch:

At the back of the house just beyond the kitchen are a laundry room and this small porch, set up as a seating area complete with outdoor curtains:

Behind the living room at the back of the house is the master suite:

I always like to see a bit of animal-themed décor in a room!

The stairs heading to the second floor are covered with this practical stair runner, which will prevent slipping as well as wear on the stair treads:

This is another idea I am going to have to borrow!  The little number tags attached to the risers are a cute idea, but the numbering is off since there are not over 30 stairs to the second floor!

One of the two upstairs rooms is set up as an office, with what looks like a large desk/mini-conference table in the middle:

Both my husband and I really liked this open shelving space with storage baskets tucked into one corner:

There was a lot of storage in the roomy hallway between the bedrooms, including more basket shelves:

The other room is set up as a bedroom with two twin beds:

This room has three desk/work areas -- the one between the beds, one on the wall across from the beds, and another against the window to the right of the beds as you enter the room:

I really like this rattan console table!

There is also a full bathroom on this floor between the two rooms which is accessed from the hallway (the layout was such that I was unable to get a good picture).  The basic house plans are from Southern Living, and you can see them here.

I had a great time touring both the HGTV Green Home and the Bosch Net Zero Home.  Both are variations on the southern country farmhouse theme, but they are very different interpretations.  The Bosch home is smaller than the Green Home, but both have three bedrooms and two baths.  This house is available for purchase, with the stipulation that the new owner cannot take possession until August after the tours end.  And whoever gets this home will be close neighbors of the future owner of the Green Home!

We plan to return to Serenbe at about the time the Green Home winner arrives to take possession of the house, and I will do my best to get pictures of this momentous occasion.  Who knows -- I could end up taking a picture of you!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

HGTV 2012 Green Home Tour, the Second Time Around!

Guest room sitting area

My husband and I were in Serenbe on the 22nd, and I just had to go on the Green Home tour once more, since June 24th is the last day of the tour and this was my last chance.  Luckily they were accepting walk-ins for the 3:30 PM time slot, so my trusty camera and I made the rounds for some pretty room images this time.  There were a lot more people compared to the tour we did last month.  So far over 7,000 people have visited this house -- a HGTV Green Home record!  The front entry foyer was pretty full, but we all managed to fit in and get our booties on before the guide gave the introductory welcome speech.  One new tidbit of information was shared.  Remember the nailhead studs on the walls of this foyer?  Well, as soon as the tours end the whole house will be thoroughly cleaned and repainted for the Green Home winner.  To repaint the foyer walls, all of those nailheads must be removed, and then replaced when the paint dries!  There must be thousands of those things, in two different sizes and arranged in a very precise pattern -- I can't even imagine how much work this will be!  At least it's good to know that HGTV takes care of all the details for the lucky winner of this home.

We all then headed upstairs to the kitchen and got a little more information from another guide before roaming through the house on our own.  I learned another new fact -- the Green Home has six solar panels, which provide one-third of the energy needed for the home, but there is room to install another 12 panels if the future homeowner would like to have a net zero energy use home.  I also found out that the outside Trex decking will require no maintenance, ever, except for an occasional power washing to keep it clean.  For someone who has had to deal with wood deck maintenance on just about every home we have ever owned, this sounds particularly sweet!

My first photo destination, since I forgot last time, was the infamous powder room:

Sorry this is so dark -- the lighting was not great.

I'm not sure what all of those switches are for!

The small bar on the side of the sink vanity is for hanging toilet paper.

I did not see a towel bar or hook.  The only other place it might be hiding is on the back of the door, which is the only area I did not check!

Here are more photos of the retreat room, which is my second favorite space:

I love everything in this photo -- the wall color, the sofa, the pillows -- I even like the coffee table!

Love the big horse photo art!

There are so many little sitting areas in this house -- you could sit and read in just about every room.

To me, the retreat room is just so warm and inviting -- I could live in this space!

The day was very hot (temperatures in the mid-90s with no breeze and some humidity).  Although all of the doors were open in the Georgia room (this space is not temperature-controlled), midday in the summer is not the time to spend here.  Even so, it still looked cozy and inviting, and would be a great space early in the morning or at night any time of the year:

Furniture was pushed close together so lots of people could walk through the room, but there is plenty of space to spread it all out.

My favorite room in the house is the kitchen.  Here is a picture of the open lower half of the pantry that I forgot to take last time:

Look at all of the stuff in there (that's a lot of canned beans!), and there is still room for a lot more.  Those black and white mugs on the top shelf are from West Elm.  They have an image of a cow and calf on them and were sold as charity mugs benefitting Heifer International:

Unfortunately, they are no longer available -- too bad, as I would have happily added a couple to our collection, especially since they supported a worthy cause.

The reclaimed wood dining room table and benches

Cozy living room images:

This is the hall table in the back entry mud room:

Here is a photo of the master bedroom (still don't know what paint was used on that pretty side table):

Some of the artwork seen on the way up the stairs to the second floor:

Photographs from Newington Gallery in Serenbe (see Green Home 2012 fact sheet for details)

Four paintings by Jeff Surace

I think Linda Woodrum did a great job making the small guest room live large:

She even managed to fit two sitting areas into the space!

Some shots of the upstairs bathroom, laundry room, and craft area:

Sorry again for the not-so-great image -- there was too much sunlight on this side!

And finally, the children's bedroom:

The children's room beds (and notice the "Balcony Is Closed" sign!)

View of the "forbidden balcony", AKA the loft!

After my tour ended, I took a few shots of the Grange neighborhood around the Green Home.  There was a lot of activity when we were there, with building progressing in the retail area.  Here are some photos of the newly opened Fern's Market, just a couple of minutes' walk up the road from the Green Home:

The storefront

A nice little seating area to the side of the store, with espaliered apple trees along the fence and regular apple trees planted in the garden area.

We were impressed with the selection of items offered.  You really would not need to shop elsewhere, although of course it would cost more than shopping at a supermarket.  From basic staples like eggs and milk to convenience items like pre-made refrigerated pestos and Mediterranean specialities like falafel and baba ganoush, the variety in this store was amazing.  Serenbe Farms produce as well as Serenbe jams and honey are available, of course.  There are even sections featuring lotions and soaps, children's toys, and pet foods!  The owners are making every effort to stock locally made and organic products whenever possible.  Coffee and tea by the cup are available, and there is seating both inside and out if you want to have a light snack or meal on the premises.

More framing is up in the retail area, possibly for the future restaurant and health and fitness center, although I thought those spaces were going to be behind Fern's Market.  We had heard that one of the other sponsors for the Bosch Home was interested in retail space as well:

I saw a notice posted for yoga classes in a building behind the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop, but eventually a gym and yoga studio will be sharing space with the new Grange restaurant -- and the Green Home winner is just a short walk away from this area!  The type of restaurant that will be in this space is still a secret, but we do know that a well-known Atlanta chef will be in charge (no names yet, unfortunately!).

Here is a better shot of the Grange post office than I managed to take last time:

No one actually works here -- it is just a small building full of post office boxes.  It is across the street and up a slight hill from Fern's Market -- the perfect excuse to take a short walk from the Green Home, pick up your mail, and stop by the market for necessary items before heading back.  The Serenbe Stables is right behind the post office, on the other side of the fenced pastures in the picture.  Right now there are no horses in the barn because the pastures are being rested.  A Stables Market that was being held in the barn stalls on Saturdays in conjunction with the Green Home tours will end this weekend.

If the day is really nice, you can relax for a while in the gazebo down the hill from the post office:

Development continues at a steady pace on both sides of the Grange lake, and this area is really turning into a wonderful little neighborhood.  There were a lot of events going on at Serenbe this week, which is probably another reason why there were so many more people this time.  The Bosch Net Zero House, just up the road from the Green Home, is now open for tours.  The Serenbe Playhouse was doing a matinee performance of "Alice in Wonderland", and apparently hosting a tea party for attendees as well.  And the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop was featured on an episode of Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" last weekend.  The theme was the LA Marathon, and they won the challenge!  This week only, the bakery was offering a four-pack of their winning cupcakes, which were selling like hot (cup)cakes!  We tried them, of course -- my favorite was the Orange and Apricot flavor.

In nearby Senoia, Georgia, the Southern Living Idea House is now open for tours until the end of December.  Also, this town is the site of a lot of location filming for the AMC television series "The Walking Dead", and filming is currently going on in the area.  They were even set to film in the town of Newnan, which is about 15 minutes from Serenbe.  Who knows, zombies may be invading Serenbe next!  (Just kidding -- I hope!)  We did get to meet a lovely couple at Serenbe, one of whom is associated with the show, and we met a lot of other wonderful people as well, both Serenbe residents and visitors.  I really encourage anyone who has the opportunity to visit this unique development, as it truly is a marvelous experience!

I have a busy week coming up, but I hope to finish one more post about the Bosch Net Zero House, since I toured it as well and have a lot of photos.  Look for Part Two tomorrow!

A small fig tree near the Grange post office -- fig season is practically here!