Home Tour: Smart Home: Green + Wired


Photos by JB Spector, Museum of Science and Industry

Chicago is no stranger to amazing architecture and fabulous design, and the Smart Home: Green + Wired, Powered by ComEd exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry marries these elements in a stylish, eco-friendly way. Designed by Michelle Kaufmann Designs and built by All American Homes, this 2,500-square-foot modular home features three levels of sustainable living, from reclaimed and recycled materials to a home automation system and occupancy sensors that turn off lights, television and music when no one is in the room.

I toured the Smart Home a couple of weeks ago, and while I really could have done a better job with the tour than our guide, I was impressed at how well the home showcases a green life that is accessible to almost anyone. (I was also impressed at how eco-smart the little kids in my tour group were, it gives me hope!)


The first floor, which includes the living room, dining room, kitchen and lounge, features wall-to-wall limestone tile and huge glass pocket doors that open to the outdoor spaces.

Smart Home Exhibit @ The Museum of Science and Industry

The living room furnishings, handmade in Chicago by Verde Design Studio, are crafted with FSC-certified hardwoods, water-based adhesives and finishes, and upholstered with natural and recycled materials.  A hand-knotted jute rug and a bold accent wall painted with low-VOC paint help set the living room apart from the nearby dining room.  The awkward fireplace (below) helps too.


Designed by John Beck, the steel dining table is a centerpiece all its own, with a typographic motif and fun stripes.  I especially love the shapely chairs, which were found at a resale shop and reupholstered in eco-friendly faux leather.  Topping off everything is a clever pair of chandeliers crafted from recycled motorcycle hubcaps!

Smart Home Exhibit @ The Museum of Science and Industry

Adjacent to the kitchen, the lounge adds a little luxe to the Smart Home, with a striking faux leather ottoman flanked by chairs upholstered in Greenguard-certified wool.  An Energy Star-compliant Samsung LCD television hangs above a built-in bench to complete this chic conversation area.


Always one of my favorite rooms in any home, the Smart Home kitchen did not disappoint.  The well-proportioned galley kitchen has a great eat-in bar for casual meals, with fantastic countertops made of 100-percent recycled glass—including stop lights, which create some of the red specks in the design.  A full suite of GE Monogram appliances is Energy Star compliant for maximum efficiency, and a sink and faucet from Kohler maintains the clean lines of the space while also reducing water usage.

Smart Home Exhibit @ The Museum of Science and Industry

On the second floor, visitors are first greeted with a diminutive home office tucked away beneath the stairs leading to the rooftop garden.  A simple desk is outfitted with Dell’s Studio Hybrid PC—encased in a retro wood-grain sleeve—and a wall-mounted LCD monitor, both of which consume less energy than average desktop systems.

Smart Home Exhibit @ The Museum of Science and Industry

Also on the second floor, the master bedroom is definitely cozy.  The handmade bed and side table, both from Sawbridge Studios, boast beautiful patchwork designs created from materials from demolition projects.  The bed is outfitted with a natural rubber latex mattress dressed in a duvet and shams in warm fall hues, and organic sheets from Crate & Barrel. And big props for the ceiling fan, the outcast of electrical fixtures.

Smart Home Exhibit @ The Museum of Science and Industry

Can I have this?  Please?  Soothing green subway tiles (made of 100-percent post-consumer glass) envelop the fabulous shower, which features Kohler’s Purist Ecofficient showerhead and a marble floor salvaged from the early 1990s renovation of the Wrigley Building.

The Smart Home exhibit is open through January 3, 2010 at the Museum of Science and Industry in my someday future home Chicago.

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