Totally Green (And So Much More)

The Panaros’ new home is built with environmentally friendly materials and processes in a way that will allow them to age in place. Thinking ahead is green.

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The Panaros’ ecological sensitivity is also reflected in the home’s furnishings. For example, the fireplace mantel was milled from a fallen tree on the property and floors are made of renewable bamboo. Photograph by Jared Castaldi“I called Julie on my cell phone right away and said, ‘Hey, I can see boats,’” he recalls.

At first, the Panaros found themselves swimming upstream in their plans for a dream house that would be LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. In a becalmed real estate market, it took two years to sell their previous home.

As they pondered the blueprints over time, the couple realized they would be happier in a house with less square footage, a home in which the Panaros and their guests would enjoy each and every room. They revised their plans, slicing 1,000 square feet from the design.

“Two weeks after the plans were done, we sold the house,” Julie recalls. “It was a clear sign that we were doing the right thing.”

Though the Panaros are both youthful and fit, they were intent on installing features in the house that would readily enable them to age in place or remain in their home if they became ill.

They had learned from personal experience that accessibility is an issue many people don’t ponder until it is thrust upon them. Julie’s father was in his 50s when he suffered a debilitating stroke.

“One day he was an active man, playing golf and enjoying the outdoors, and the next day he was dealing with paralysis,” she says.

The EverLife concept enhances accessibility by integrating subtle shifts in design that are not apparent to the casual observer. Light switches are positioned at a height slightly lower than standard, within easy reach of someone in a wheelchair. Electrical outlets are placed higher than usual. “It’s also great if you have a bad back,” Julie says.

All doorways are 3 feet wide to readily accommodate a wheelchair. Wider doorways also facilitate moving large pieces of furniture.

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