In our modern, high-tech society, we don't think much about some of the electronic gadgets in our homes. Take, for example, the ever-present thermostat—a staple of American households for decades. It usually takes the shape of an unassuming box on the wall, but that modest device controls the comfort of your family on the coldest day in January and the hottest day in July.
Stefanie Powers doesn’t hold anything back. She’s been the type of woman and actress who, when she has her mind set on accomplishing something, jumps in with both feet and makes it work.
Powers is best known for her career as the lovable and charming Jennifer Hart on the award-winning hit television series Hart to Hart, which ran from 1979 to 1984. She received two Emmy and five Golden Globe Award Best Television Actress nominations for her performances. She also appeared in 28 feature films and the television series, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. She’s been a professional dancer, singer and actress since she was 15 years old, appearing in more than a dozen plays and musicals, including Annie Get Your Gun and the United States and United Kingdom tours of The King & I in 2002 and 2005. She also created and starred in her one-woman show, One from the Heart, which toured in 2008.
When she’s not working, she’s relaxing in one of her three homes in Beverly Hills, England and Kenya, each of which, she says, “don’t look anything alike and aren’t your typical Hollywood-sized mansions. I’m not in the business of impressing anyone with my homes,” says Powers. “They serve a purpose for me, but I find those big ‘McMansions’ obscene. Having a large home is pointless.”
Her Beverly Hills home is a modest 2,500-square-foot California ranch built by famed architect Robert Byrd in 1954. It includes his signature birdhouse on the garage and the original shake roof, a wooden shingle made from split logs. It is decorated in a highly eclectic manner, using an extensive collection of primitive artwork from Powers’s travels, including an orator’s chair from Papua New Guinea.
Powers describes her other homes as “minimalist in nature” and “warm and inviting.” Her England muse home is decorated with touches of Anglo-Indian, Anglo-Oriental and traditional English décor. She describes her Kenyan abode as having a main living area that includes a two-and-a-half story open floor plan with a fireplace, bar and wooden floors and is decorated with homespun Kenyan art and furniture.
Powers’s Kenyan home is powered with solar energy, and she decided to incorporate these beneficial green changes into her California home as well. The project includes the replacement of the old shaker roof with 54 energy-efficient solar panels. “I had been thinking about it for quite awhile, but the problem is that while we talk a great game we don’t have a lot of things in this country that are state-of-the-art,” she says, “so we had to import the solar batteries I use in South Africa.”
However, as Powers soon found out, not every remodeling project goes smoothly. After gutting her bedroom, Powers stored all of her belongings and moved into the garage. “It’s never wonderful with reconstruction,” she says.
“We found rot when we took the roof off, so we had to replace walls and windows, too,” she explains. “We were also able to re-duct, rewire, re-insulate and add energy-efficient systems, including a heating/air conditioning unit that is more
controlled and an on-demand water heater.”
She knows she’ll be pleased with the finished product, despite the remodeling difficulties. The new solar roof will produce enough electrical power that she won’t have to pay for traditional grid power except on cloudy days.
Practice What You Preach
Powers wishes that her other celebrity neighbors would follow her lead. “Everybody talks a good game and says that they are recycling, et cetera, but while there is new construction going up, there aren’t any solar panels and that’s stupid,” says Powers.
“When my 54 panels go up, I’m going to put a sign on my house saying…‘powered by solar, is yours?’ We need to practice what we preach.”
When it comes to protecting the environment, Powers is a leader. She is co-founder and president of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation in Kenya, which currently serves over 10,000 students a year. She also works with the Jaguar Conservation Trust, a campaign to assist the Jaguar company to preserve the animal that is the company’s namesake. The Trust provides grants and funding for projects that promote the preservation of the jaguar and its habitat.
As for what the future holds, Powers waits. Her 92-year-old mother, with whom she shared her Beverly Hills house, passed away in January. “She was a major force in my spending time here, as well as to work,” says Powers. “I may be about to change my life. The future will reveal itself.”
Credit: Renovate Your World