The term “passive home” can seem like such a misnomer. Take, for example, this house in Boulder. It may be passive (meaning it is ultra-low-energy), but it is also very active, harnessing the sun’s heat for warmth in the winter and using its own shadiness to keep things cool in the summer.
When the original 900-square-foot ranch house on the property was scraped, the owners, Adrian Harris and Madeleine Fairchild, hired natural architect Brian Fuentes to design a new 2,300-square-foot, two-story house. Fairchild, a Swedish native, says, “We wanted something very simple, very open, and very minimalistic, without a whole lot of clutter.”
Also wanting a look that was monochromatic, they chose Kabi to do the cabinetry not only in the kitchen but throughout the house. “I wanted something very dark but not black in the kitchen,” says Fairchild. “The charcoal gray is lovely and turned out very nicely with the custom-paneled Thermidor full-size freezer and refrigerator. It also goes well with the distressed concrete floor, the white Caesarstone countertops, and all of the hickory wood.”
Behind the Thermador “Freedom” induction cooktop, they added a wall of vibrant azure. “I couldn’t figure out what I wanted,” says Fairchild. “I definitely didn’t want traditional tile because it is so hard to keep clean. So we came up with the idea of glass—two panes, which we painted on the back side. It’s so easy to clean—one swipe and we’re done.”
The eight-foot-plus island has nine huge pullout drawers that are large enough to hold the couple’s kitchen gear; they allowed the couple to avoid heavy overhead wall cabinets. Instead, they opted for floating hickory shelves that create visual impact against the blue wall, with a small but usable desk area on the same wall as well as a custom wine rack, designed and built by a local artisan.
Ultimately, the kitchen has the serene vibe the couple were after. “It’s extremely quiet and very comfortable, a happy, vibrant space with amazing views from those south-facing windows,” says Fairchild. “I have friends who have come over and initially said, ‘Oh, this place is too modern for me,’ and then over time, they’ll say, ‘Oh, my god, I feel so calm in your house.’ ”