When an East Orchard Mesa couple met green builder Gary Poush two years ago at the annual Home and Garden Expo in Grand Junction, they hit it off immediately. Lynn and Vaughn (who prefer not to use their last names) knew how they wanted their home to look and how they wanted to use each room. They just needed someone to help them put it all together.
Poush started Serra Construction in Grand Junction seven years ago and since then has built 10 certified green homes in the Grand Valley, employing a variety of energy-efficient measures.
“We wanted to be good stewards of the environment,” says Lynn. “Gary made it all happen.”
All of Poush’s houses are certified under Energy Star and Built Green Colorado standards.
“We designed the house together,” Poush said. “They had a basic footprint. We tried to figure a way to do passive solar the best way we could.”
Poush installed a geo-exchange system ” a ground source heat pump ” to provide all of the heating and cooling.
“It affects the bottom line in terms of heating and cooling for the life of the house,” Poush said. “The utility bills are very low. For a house that size it’s really important.”
The completely finished upper level footprint of the house is 3,500 square feet with another 1,000 downstairs where a pool table, exercise equipment, a movie viewing room and one of their son’s bedrooms are located.
Energy-efficient houses are built to be airtight, so to prevent a build-up of stale air, Poush installed a heat recovery ventilation system to bring fresh air into the house on a programmed cycle. Stale air is exchanged with the fresh air coming in.
Vaughn and Lynn drew upon their love of Italy in designing their Tuscan-style home in East Orchard Mesa’s wine country.
The exterior stucco walls of the house are painted what the couple calls a “Tuscan yellow” ” contrasting nicely with the red tiled roof. The same red color and a sky blue trim surround the windows.
To get the perfect shade of blue, “We held up the paint sample to the July sky,” says Lynn. She found the yellow she wanted for the house on a rock she picked up on nearby land.
In front of the house stands the couple’s vineyard. Heading east toward the driveway, the skyline is completely filled with a view of Grand Mesa ” the largest flat-top mountain in the world. Set high on a bluff of the Colorado River, the north side of the house provides views of Mt. Garfield and the Book Cliff Mountains ” whether you’re inside looking through the glass doors and windows all along the north-facing wall or outside on the deck that follows the length of the house.
To the west sets the desert sun, which filters light inside the home and reflects off the pale blue ceiling, causing a red-cast lighting indoors ” “a very happy coincidence,” Lynn says.
A small sunset room ” also Lynn’s morning-prayer room ” is adjacent to the master bedroom. Lynn and Vaughn can enjoy the sunsets from indoors in this simple, beautiful sitting room that looks out over the central and western edge of the Grand Valley.
In fact, Poush helped Lynn and Vaughn to bring the outdoors inside as much as possible. Each room in the house has a door going to the outside.
“We want to live outside too. Every room has a view,” says Lynn.
Sixteen 22-inch windows, strategically placed around the upper perimeter of the house, allow plenty of sunlight in.
“We knew where the sun rose and set on the shortest and longest day of the year, and we designed the house accordingly, but still with a view of Mt. Garfield and the Colorado River,” Lynn says.
Outside the windows, the overhangs shade intense sun during the summer, yet allow the house to catch solar heat during the winter when the sun is lower in the sky. The undersides of the overhangs are painted blue to match the color of the sky.
In the master bath, the couple purposely left off doors in the three-sided stone shower area because Lynn doesn’t like cleaning them. Doors aren’t necessary anyway, since the water flows and drains away from the entrance. When someone prefers a soak in the tub, a gas fireplace makes the master bathroom more cozy.
The music room, built with a high ceiling and hickory wood floors for added acoustics, is the room guests step into when first entering the home.
A stone archway just inside the doorway gives the home an “Old World look.” Lynn, who studied geology in college, loves the rocks.
“I think the stonework and the stamped concrete porch add a lot to the look of the house,” says Vaughn. Again, the stonework is typical of buildings in Italy.
Between the music room and the family room is the kitchen area. Lynn wanted to showcase china that her great-aunt had painted. She hired cabinetmaker Tom Mallett, of Distinctive Kitchens in Palisade, to build alderwood shelves and a cabinet designed in such a way as to look like a hutch. Mallett also helped design the Schroll alderwood kitchen cabinets.
Colorado Granite and Marble installed the granite and marble countertops in the kitchen and throughout the house. Above the kitchen, Vaughn came up with the fun idea of an “outdoor cafe” ” an upper indoor eating level designed to look like an outdoor cafe.
Glass doors and windows dot the length of the house facing north overlooking the river and mountains. An outer deck also runs alongside the house.
Standing beside the glass you can see from one end of the house to the other ” from the sunset room on the far west side, to the orchard across the gully outside the family room’s east window. The “line-of-sight” concept makes a house appear bigger ” an idea Lynn gleaned from Sarah Susanka’s book “The Not So Big House.”
“We tried to design it without hallways, which are totally useless,” Lynn says.
Lynn and Vaughn were pleased with all the subcontractors Poush hired, including Horst Kunze, a painter from Clifton.
“He’s very artistic,” says Vaughn, pointing to a wall in the dining room-library that was painted a burgundy color and textured to look like leather. The dining room-library is located in the front of the house just south of the kitchen. Wooden shutters shade the south-facing windows. The marble windowsills add to the elegance of the room, yet the room is unpretentious. Used for company, the dining room is more likely to have schoolbooks sprawled across the table on a daily basis.
“We wanted to use every room every day,” Lynn says. “We didn’t want ‘trophy’ rooms.”
Their sons, Scott and James, also have niches in the family room where they can study. Their computers are set up on a long green and red marble desk on one side of the room.
Lynn and Vaughn spent about three years looking at various styles and going over ideas on their own. They spent another five months planning with Poush, before builders broke ground in January 2005. The family moved in April 2006.
“Gary’s the one who really helped us. He was invaluable,” Vaughn said.
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