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The eco-friendly vacation home you’ll never want to leave

Sarah Rose Anderson Sarah Rose Anderson
Modern style bedroom by ZeroEnergy Design Modern
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For this project, the architects at ZeroEnergy Design sought to create a cozy vacation home that’s energy efficient. The home is designed to the Passive House criteria, a renowned international energy efficiency standard.  This vacation home on the New England coast uses its modest 1200 square feet plan efficiently. With two bedrooms and two baths, it’s just the right size for a family getaway. 

We love the classic gable shape of this home. The iconic shape  (done up in a playful red shade) works on the exterior and interior of the home. Minimal trim and polished concrete floors create a brisk and fresh look inside the home. Glass doors in the home open up to an idyllic view of the surrounding farmlands.  They connect the interior living space with an outdoor patio. Inside, we’ll find Scandinavian styled interiors that are cozy yet minimalist. Let’s take a look now and we promise once you see the interiors you’ll never want to leave.

Modest vacation home

Passive House Retreat, south elevation Modern houses by ZeroEnergy Design Modern Wood Wood effect
ZeroEnergy Design

Passive House Retreat, south elevation

ZeroEnergy Design

The home looks like a modern rural homestead. A plain roof with skylights pairs with a thin wood plank exterior. The windows don’t have uniform size and placement and so they give the facade of the home a little whimsy. Simple landscaping highlights the natural beauty of the bucolic rural landscape.

Seeing red

Fiber cement panels, east elevation Modern houses by ZeroEnergy Design Modern
ZeroEnergy Design

Fiber cement panels, east elevation

ZeroEnergy Design

The bold red walls on the side of the home bring a punchy personality. It’s like a modern rendition of the classic farmhouse! Unlike your traditional barn, this home is ultra energy efficient. The house uses a heat recovery ventilator to maintain excellent indoor air quality with minimal energy expense. One-tenth of the energy is needed for this home compared to the average home. Carefully selected south-facing windows take advantage of the sun to heat the home in the winter. The concrete floors absorb heat and re-radiate it into the home to keep as much heat inside as possible.


Inside, high ceilings help to expand the modest footprint of the home. Exposed duct work creates an industrial look in the home.  White, concrete and red make up the crisp colour palette. Above there is a loft area for kids to relax and play in privacy. The kitchen has a clean minimalist look with the kitchen island on rolling casters. Bright and friendly, this is a fun kitchen for a vacation home.

Dining space

The open floor plan in the living and dining space features a dining nook. The clients invite family and friends to visit often, so this dining space accommodates their guests. This dining space is surprisingly elegant and has a distinct Scandinavian style. The slightly mismatched chairs are a fun addition and give the space a casual appeal. Imagine having a Sunday brunch set up here for everyone to enjoy!

Passive house standard

The Passive House standard is a building performance standard that yields an extremely low-energy home. The result is an environmentally-friendly home and a power bill that will put a smile on your face. To reach this standard, ZeroEnergy Design used a combination of insulation, air sealing, and high-performance windows to reduce the energy needed to heat and cool the home. There are no drafty spots and the temperature is constant throughout the home. In this living room, you can feel pleasantly comfortable any time of year without worrying about your energy bill.


Bedrooms at either end of the home are placed to get either the morning or afternoon light. Since the family loves taking baths, the architects included a dedicated sun-filled tub room next to the master bath. This bedroom has a blue accent wall to inspire rest and relaxation. It’s the views outside of the grassy landscape that will really inspire. We hope you enjoyed our tour of this energy efficient Rhode Island vacation home!

Check out our feature on an awesome all-white home that can teach a class in minimalism.

Where do you want your vacation home? I'd like mine on a beach!
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