Think you canâ€™t teach an old house new tricks? Childrenâ€™s book author Margaret Hyde gave her 102-year-old home a makeover to suit the times.
About seven years ago, Margaret Hyde had an identity crisis. â€śI was living in a 10,000-square-foot house in the Palisades,â€ť she says. â€śIt felt so excessive. I started questioning every aspect of my life. Whatâ€™s my impact on this planet? What do I really value? None of these had easy answers.â€ť
But the inquiries did eventually lead to some major changes. Hyde ended her marriage; continued writing childrenâ€™s books (the "Moâ€™s Nose" series, starring a rescue dog; â€śtheyâ€™re an eco-friendly update on the old scratch-and-sniff books, featuring essential oilsâ€ť); and met and married her current husband, green-energy broker Chris Gough. Together they started renovating a 4,800-square-foot Craftsman-style home in Santa Monica, California.
â€śWe werenâ€™t sure how green we could make a house that was more than a hundred years old,â€ť she says. â€śBut when the idea of LEED certification came up, we quickly became committed.â€ť
These days, Hyde -- who shares the house with Gough; their daughter, Sadie (19 months); her sons, 15-year-old Jackson and 11-year-old Jasper; and the familyâ€™s golden retriever, Augie -- says she feels like her daily life and her values are finally in sync. â€śMy sons tell me I canâ€™t ever sell this house; they want to live here when they grow up!â€ť
Hydeâ€™s home scored 105 out of a possible 136 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) points, earning it LEED Platinum certification. Major overhauls to the exterior included insulating double-paned windows with a reflective low-E coating and a reflective, half-recycled metal roof with solar panels.
The efficient under-sink Bosch dishwasher and Liebherr fridge scored major LEED energy points. All of the eco-friendly wall paints used in the house came from Portola Paints & Glazes. The floors are 150-year-old oak reclaimed from a barn. The upper cabinets are made from glass and steel and the lower ones from sustainable wenge veneer; both are by Valcucine, an Italian company that plants trees to offset its footprint.
Because the front yard receives sunlight most of the day, Hyde decided to plant vegetables there. The familyâ€™s homemade compost keeps the soil rich and healthy. â€śWe cook from the garden all the time,â€ť she says, â€śand Sadie and I are often out there picking strawberries together.â€ť
A large skylight added above the stairway leading to Hydeâ€™s office provides extra light -- plus heat in winter and ventilation in summer. Once the sun has set, a row of LED fixtures illuminates photographs and artifacts from the familyâ€™s travels. â€śWe have painted prayer wallpaper from Bhutan, masks from Africa, and swords from Indonesia,â€ť Hyde says.
Water efficiency accounts for 15 LEED points, and the house earned 12. The toilets use less than 1.1 gallons per flush, and the faucets run at less than 1.5 gallons per minute. A gray-water system recycles water from the shower and washing machine for irrigation in the garden.
The 165-year-old fig tree in the backyard may be one of the oldest trees in Santa Monica. â€śWe knew it was the perfect spot for a tree house,â€ť Hyde says, â€śbut we needed to do something that would be in harmony with it.â€ť She called eco-tree-house guru Roderick Romero, who â€ścame out and communed with the tree,â€ť she says, before creating this solar-powered aerie from reclaimed wood and windows.
â€śThe patio off of my home office is like my own secret adult hangout,â€ť Hyde says. â€śItâ€™s the perfect place to have a meeting -- or just a cup of coffee.â€ť Having real fireplaces knocked off some LEED points, but Hyde says she and her family love them too much not to have them. â€śWe cook with long-lasting almond wood.â€ť