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At Home With James Duft and Jessica Kellner

Jessica Kellner and husband James Duft live in an environmentally friendly house outside of Lawrence.

About the series

“At Home With” explores unique styles and decor inside apartments and homes in the Kansas City area. It appears in Ink the first and third weeks of the month. Know someone with an enviable space? Send info and photos to sarah@inkkc.com.

Green cleaning tips

Jessica Kellner’s five favorite recipes for natural cleansers call for inexpensive ingredients you probably have in your pantry. For more recipes, go to naturalhomeandgarden.com.

1. Use baking soda as a gentle scrub to make your kitchen sink shine.

2. Mix white vinegar with water and essential oils (Kellner likes peppermint or lavender) for a multipurpose cleanser that’s perfect for washing windows.

3. Add antibacterial properties to a multipurpose cleaner by blending tea tree, lemon or orange oil with the vinegar-water solution.

4. Scrub the tub with a mixture of baking soda and kosher salt, a natural abrasive.

5. Whiten grout with a paste made from baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.


Jessica Kellner and her husband, James Duft, pretty much abandoned their search a year ago for a house in Lawrence.

Kellner, editor of Natural Home & Garden magazine, and Duft, director for Mother Earth News Fair, a national sustainability festival, are into green living on-duty and off. They envisioned their first home as extremely energy-efficient, with enough outdoor space for a compost pile and a big garden. When they couldn’t find it after searching for months and months, the couple resigned themselves to renting.

Last summer, when Duft and Kellner were invited by a coworker to check out the property outside of town, they almost didn’t go.

It’s lucky they did, because the house turned out to be the couple’s dream home. Among its environmentally friendly attributes: a wood-burning stove, in-floor radiant heat, 13 skylights that let natural light spill in and a community garden, compost pile and tool shed.

The best part: The house backs up to a 14-acre tract of raw land that’s crisscrossed with walking trails and shared among a small group of neighbors. And it’s cocooned by nature. Fragrant lilac bushes line the gravel drive, an apple tree adorns the front yard, and the long branches of a giant oak shade the home in summer.

Kellner says she couldn’t contain her excitement: “I did not have a poker face.”

Last July, Kellner and Duft bought the home and moved in with their golden retriever, Scout, who loves the trails as much as her owners.

The small family is about to expand: Kellner and Duft are expecting their first child in August.

Kellner has already stocked up on BPA-free stainless steel bottles. But she’s still on the hunt for the perfect nontoxic, all-natural crib.

For more ideas on affordable, sustainable and environmentally friendly housing, check out Jessica Kellner’s 2011 book, “Housing Reclaimed: Sustainable Homes for Next to Nothing” (New Society Publishers, $24.99).


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