Green home design is still building momentum, but it's not a new concept. Consider the Harvard Square home that Bertil Jean-Chronberg, GM and beverage director of South End hotspot the Beehive, shares with his wife, Tracy. It was built in 1937 by pioneering Cambridge-born architect Eleanor Raymond, who later worked with MIT to design the Dover Sun House in Dover, Massachusetts, the country's first completely solar-heated home. Her Cambridge construction was also ahead of the curve, with cotton batting for its ceiling insulation and compressed cornhusks in its walls. Jean-Chronberg has since updated the structure with modern green touches — LED lights, cork floors, recycled bathroom tiles — but he's not done fulfilling Raymond's vision: he found her original blueprints for the home and plans to add elements she wasn't able to complete. (That is, once he's done with the build-out for his still-unnamed new restaurant, slated to open in Harvard Square this year.) Jean-Chronberg gave us the green light to take a closer look around.
A. In Bauhaus-influenced homes like this one, living areas were often placed upstairs above the bedrooms — which helps with heating, since warm air rises. These walls insulated with Icynene, an eco-friendly spray foam made with castor oil, also help on that front. They're covered in VOC-free paint.
B. Sure, that marble-encased kitchen sink looks nice — but the plumbing in this home serves a more important purpose. Greywater systems collect rain for use in the garden and recycle water from appliances for use in toilets.
C. Jean-Chronberg, who spent time rebuilding hotels in developing Africa with a hospitality nonprofit, is fascinated by the folklore of African and Indonesian cultures, as evidenced by this collection of tribal masks and totems. It includes a mask given to his father by a famous neighbor — Pablo Picasso.
D. The red lacquered IKEA kitchen is ultra-modern, but this farm table dates to the 18th century. Jean- Chronberg found it in an old barn in northern Quebec, where he lived for 20 years after moving from his native France. He removed the paint and buffed it down, using melted beeswax to smooth its surface.
E. Before bringing their adopted daughter to America, the Jean-Chronbergs took her to see the Chinese village where she was born. There a rice farmer offered them this handmade antique red chair from his home as a reminder of her birthplace. His request in return? Bertil's Reebok hat.
F. As this stack of cookbooks shows, the Beehive beverage director has been known to perfect food and cocktail recipes in his home kitchen. But his culinary pride is his collection of seasonings from around the globe, from Lebanese spices to Italian smoked salts.
JEAN- CHRONBERG'S SECOND HOME ::THE BEEHIVE, 541 TREMONT ST, BOSTON :: 617.423.0069 OR BEEHIVE-BOSTON.COM