How a Forest Hill teardown became an eco-friendly dream home
With help from their son, a couple of empty nesters traded their drafty Edwardian for something greener
Jan and Brian Bornstein always dreamed of building their own home—a place that was both beautiful and environmentally sustainable. The couple, who run a management consulting firm, had lived in a drafty Edwardian in Moore Park for eight years, and they craved a change. So in 2013, with their three kids grown and gone, they went for it. They bought a teardown on a large lot in Forest Hill and hired their youngest son, Erik Bornstein of Mazenga Building Group, to handle the construction. Working with architect Luc Bouliane, they drew up plans for a modern duplex with a handful of eco-friendly features. There was only one problem: they’d pictured a place filled with natural light, but the lot fell in the shadow of an apartment building. Then Bouliane had a brainwave. Inspired by the hollow, glittering interior of a geode, he designed a wide-open space equipped with skylights, floating staircases and, running the length of the house, a limestone wall that bounces light into every corner. To keep their carbon footprint in check, the Bornsteins triple-glazed the windows and added two green roofs covered with indigenous shrubs and grasses. They also installed an elevator, a heated driveway and other conveniences they’ll need as they grow older. In the fall, they put the other half of the property up for sale and hosted a giant housewarming party. Now that they’re settled in, they never want to leave.
The sofa and ottoman, purchased at Studio B on King East, are by Barbara Barry for Henredon.
The staircase, made of oak, glass and metal, was an engineering challenge. “We call it the stairway of tears,” says Jan.
The antique clocks were passed down from both Jan’s and Brian’s parents.
The counter in the master bath echoes the kitchen island.
The soapstone sculpture was also inherited from Brian’s parents.
The oil painting, by Nancy De Boni, decorates the hallway. They love the way it looks against the dark wood.
A camouflaged door leads to the pantry. “Our Miele espresso machine is in there,” says Jan. “We call it the coffee room.”