A private residence in San Anselmo, California has received a green renovation with some unique features. Designers from Pfau Long Architecture, the residential studio of Perkins&Will, expanded the space to 2,800 feet to help this project stick out from the rest, complete with sustainable solar power and recycled denim insulation.

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A multi-story home with a wood and brick facade, semi-obscured by greenery.

The home, which belongs to a local architect, traces its history back to the 1950s. According to project leaders, it may have been originally designed by the famed Bay Area modernist architect Henry Hill. The property sits on a 1.4 acre Marin County hillside, almost completely camouflaged by trees, some of which the architects decided to construct around to minimize land impact.

A lush grassy yard and a stone path leading to a house with floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside is a living room with a sofa and fireplace.

Related: Energy-efficient villa in Portugal uses locally sourced cork for insulation

Designers kept the existing main structure, which included floor-to-ceiling glass windows and ashlar masonry stone walls, choosing to add a wing with two more bedrooms and an updated family room with a kitchen. The main living room is completely open and partially characterized by a kitchen island with new appliances and new masonry to match the existing system.

A living room with a beige L-shaped sofa. Behind the sofa, floor-to-ceiling windows look out on the backyard.

The new renovations help make it a low energy use home, utilizing sustainable building elements such as FSC-certified vertical grain Douglas Fir wood and steel. The steel beams are exposed to give the home a simple, open layout. The team also replaced the floor-to-ceiling glass walls with low-E insulated glazed glass to save energy and included solar panels, solar and hydronic heating, solar pool heating and a graywater system. Likewise, the building itself is integrated perfectly into the hillside ridge to allow for low water usage and incorporation of native plants in the landscaping.

A lush grassy yard and a stone path leading to a house with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Architects chose to add a special kind of insulation into the walls of the old home to save additional energy, which came in the form of used natural cotton fiber. Specifically, strips of recycled blue jeans made from scraps and clippings from denim clothing manufacturing.

+ Pfau Long Architecture, the residential studio of Perkins&Will

Via Design Milk

Photography by Bruce Damonte