After years of working from their home in Portland, Oregon, architect Jeff Stern and his wife, a felt artist, decided to build a house that better suited their lifestyle. The couple envisioned a modern, energy-efficient residence. “Since I was the architect, general contractor, certified Passive House consultant, and owner, I was able to tune the design for optimized performance and keep things simple,” says Stern, founder of In Situ Architecture. Built on an oversized lot the couple already owned, the Skidmore Passivhaus physically connects a detached studio and residence while maintaining a feeling of passing through outdoor space. The dark-stained, rough-sawn cedar siding's appearance will change naturally over time—a nod to traditional Northwest architecture. The home’s open floor plan is enhanced by cost-effective materials like painted sheetrock, concrete floors, and plywood cabinets. Brightly painted doors and laminate countertops provide splashes of color throughout the Passive House–certified residence, which produces nearly all of its electricity via a small, roof-mounted photovoltaic array.