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Ship Shape

Net Zero Home by Paul Weber Architecture

A family relies on their experience living aboard boats to build a home of maximum efficiency.

It’s no small accomplishment for a family of five to reside on a sailboat. “We figured if we could manage on a boat, we could certainly manage to live in a relatively small house,” says Chris Museler, who set about designing a sustainable home in Jamestown, Rhode Island with the help of architect Paul Weber.

“The goal was to live in as small a space as we could get away with while still having enough room for the five of us,” says Museler, of this compact four-bedroom home. “We also wanted the house to be unobtrusive and recede with the woods; to look and feel as though it had been here for a long time.”

Sustainable home utilizes multi-functional rooms

Sustainability was a key object to the design of the home. All systems are electric—heat pumps, air conditioning, hot water, clothes dryer, lighting, cooking—and all run-off batteries supplemented by photovoltaic panels installed on the roof, says Weber.

“The house is super insulated with double-thick exterior walls and triple-glazed windows.” As a result, the home is net-positive, which means it typically produces more energy than it uses over the course of a year.

Net-positive home by Paul Weber Architecture

Weber devised a simple-shaped, narrow, two-story structure that echoes the extruded form of a barn with yellow cedar exterior siding offset by cementitious panel cladding. Utilizing a simple palette of materials helps ensure the home doesn’t feel extravagant or pretentious, says Museler, noting that the kitchen features a combination of European birch plywood and Formica.

Sustainable kitchen design by Paul Weber Architecture

“Every space in the house is a multi-use space,” says Museler. The home’s one “grand feature” is a doubleheight vaulted ceiling in the living area. “As a result, we lost two rooms upstairs,” he says. “But if we find we don’t have enough space, that just means we need to get rid of some stuff.”

Double-height vaulted ceiling living room by Paul Weber Architecture

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Photos by Kritsada Photography


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