At Home in Arkansas: You could have built a new house and made it green. Why did you decide to transform an older home?
Homeowner Chris Ladner: We just love this neighborhood. There’s so much diversity in the style of homes here, and it’s full of mature trees. We’ve lived in three houses in this neighborhood, and with each move, our homes have become progressively smaller. We’ve done the opposite of what most people do.
Homeowner Anne Ladner: And we like the walkability of this neighborhood. We’re close to our two daughters’ schools. I grew up walking to school and riding my bike everywhere, and you can do that here.
How extensive was this project?
CL: It was a total redo. This house had not been touched since 1968. We bought it from the original owners, and they took good care of the house, but it was extremely outdated. We took the house down to the studs, removed a few walls and added a bathroom. The house was very leaky and we had to make it tight. All of the walls and the attic area have been completely updated with foam insulation. Basically, everything you see is new to the house. The remodel took about nine months.
As chair for the U.S. Green Building Council National Chapter Steering Committee and a partner at Viridian, a sustainable building consulting firm, the green design concept is Chris’ work. But why is it important to both of you personally?
AL: His passion rubbed off on me. It made me pay attention and think about ways our family could be more conscientious. And our kids have a lot to do with it.
CL: There are long-term perspectives on what you’re relinquishing at the end of the day to your kids and their peers and their generation. I feel like we’re doing a little part to help what they’re inheriting.
Since people weren’t building houses to green standards in 1968, what kind of challenges did the remodel present?
CL: One chronic issue from that time period is aluminum wiring, which is a safety issue. Another problem with remodeling an older house is that there are things you need to get rid of, but you don’t want to add to a landfill. We donated a lot of what we took out of the house to Habitat for Humanity.
A big part of going green is finding materials locally. Were you able to find many of your materials in Arkansas?
CL: Anything we could source locally, we did. Arkansas is in a pretty good position from a wood and timber standpoint. Most of our building materials were either local or reused. If something wasn’t available locally, we tried to buy American. We have Vermont marble countertops, not Italian marble.
AL: The hardwood floors are from Tennessee. We were able to find what we wanted; it’s just that a little more thought went into it. It’s not, “Oh, that’s pretty. I want that.” It’s, “Oh, that’s pretty. I want that, but is there a green way to do it?”
Chris masterminded the renovation while Anne planned the interiors. What was important to you from an interior décor standpoint?
AL: Achieving the aesthetics we had in mind in a responsible way. Buying items made in the USA was important. I liked the look of marble, but for the master bath, we used a porcelain tile that mimics marble, and it’s made in the U.S. I really thought about the things we used and I tried to be conscientious about where they came from. If I bought upholstered pieces, I made sure I bought something made in America, including items from Lee Industries, a North Carolina-based company that specializes in earth-friendly upholstery.
What would you say to people who think creating a green design plan for their home is too difficult?
CL: In general, to set your goal and it can definitely be done. You don’t have to go off the deep end to make significant changes. Sometimes it’s just changing the ductwork or purchasing a new thermostat. Select items that have high-recycled content. Choose native, drought-tolerant plants. Use hard surfaces that are easy to clean and don’t hold dust. Find things in your area. Try to limit your waste. There are a lot of things that define green. You can go through the LEED guidelines and determine what resonates with you.
For more information on LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, visit the U.S. Green Building Council at usgbc.org
Interior design consultation Laurie McFarland, Little Rock, (501) 225-8825
LEED consulting Viridian, Little Rock, (501) 227-0648, viridianusa.com
Accent mirror—bathroom TEC Electric, North Little Rock, (501) 758-5483, tecelectric.com
Art M2 Gallery, Little Rock, (501) 225-6271, m2lr.com
Art—family room The Showroom, Little Rock, (501) 372-7373
Bedding Vesta’s, Little Rock, (501) 375-7820, vestasboutique.com
Building materials Natural Building Solutions, Rogers, (479) 631-7800, getnaturalusa.com
Cabinets Little Rock Cabinets, Little Rock, (501) 296-9890
Cabinet glass, master bath mirror Little Rock Glass, Little Rock, (501) 588-2732, littlerockglass.net
Countertops—bathroom Alpha Counter Tops, Russellville, (479) 967-0229, alphacountertops.com
Countertops—kitchen Bedrock International, Little Rock, (501) 455-8380, bedrockintl.com
Decorative painting Angelfish Studios, Little Rock, (501) 960-4826, angelfishstudios.net
Electrical Curtis Stout, Little Rock, (501) 372-2555, chstout.com
Flooring, tile ProSource, North Little Rock, (501) 758-0801, prosourcefloors.com
Furnishings Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock, (501) 907-9272, bearhillinteriors.com; Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, (501) 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com; Cynthia East Fabrics, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460, cynthiaeastfabrics.com; Fabulous Finds, Little Rock, (501) 614-8181; I.O. Metro, locations statewide, iometro.com; Marshall Clements, Little Rock, (501) 663-1828, marshallclements.com; Phoenix Interiors, Little Rock, (501) 225-0400, phoenixinteriors.webs.com; Rock, Paper, Scissors, Little Rock, (501) 821-3700, marshallclements.com
Heating/cooling Energy Master Home, Inc., North Little Rock, (501) 753-7300, energymasterhomeinc.com
Outdoor furnishings, bedroom rug Pottery Barn, locations statewide, potterybarn.com
Outdoor screen Formed Solutions, Little Rock, (888) 697-2011, blindshadeshutterco.com
Outdoor stove Congo Fireplace & Patio, Benton, (501) 316-4328, congofp.com
Upholstered banquette, headboard Howard’s Upholstery Shop, Little Rock, (501) 225-0476
Windows Kaufman Lumber Co., Little Rock, (501) 568-3182, kaufmanlumber.com