Walnut Street Retrofit

The Victorian house on Walnut Street had been re-muddled several times and was in a dilapidated condition. We took a chance on the gut renovation of the 3,000 square foot home. Ten years ago our office completed another gut renovation project right next door; this was essentially the same house.

We wanted to design to Passive House standards so that we could see how the utility bills for our house compared with the code-built house next door. This is the first Passive House in Shadyside and is the greenest house in the neighborhood. The house received a layer of out-sulation in addition to filling its walls with dense packed fiberglass. Passive Houses are significantly quieter than typical houses because they have so much insulation in their walls, and that became a selling feature. The basement was excavated, the slab removed, and a new one poured in order to insulate, damp-proof and create head height for usable space.

The house fits seamlessly into its Victorian context from the outside. None of the original details were intact so it was possible to open up the floor plan and create a contemporary feeling, with double height spaces and a wall that opens up to the garden outside. The interior is open and flooded with light. Walnut book-matched cabinets, maple hardwood floors, white quartz countertops, open stairs, and recessed LED lighting let the rich materials and quality of the house be expressed with simple clean lines. Oversized wood doors give the house a solid yet intimate feeling. Because it has been so well insulated the basement is a usable conditioned space. The heating and cooling bill for this house is estimated to be less than $35 per month.

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