Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our Eco House - the Interior Details

We had the fortune to have a wonderful designer work with us to create our home.  Marina Fensham of thinkGiraffe Design paid attention to the smallest detail, things that we would have never thought about when designing a home.  I asked her to incorporate as many of the design ideas from The Not So Big House by Susan Susanka. Our home is 1,780 square feet on one level and I wanted it to feel larger. The corner windows that create a diagonal view from the front door across the main room give the great room a very spacious feel.

 The east window placed in line with the garage entrance 50' away at the other end of the house means that you are drawn to the light/window at the end of the corridor when you enter the house which is much better than walking into the laundry room like so many homes. 
Our windows are usually the first thing that people notice - they are lower in our home than most houses. Most of our windows line up from one side of the house to the other, including our front and back doors creating a "see-through" kind of look.  The second thing they notice is our black concrete floors.  I wanted to be warm, and as we all know, black absorbs more heat.  The downside, of course, is that it is painfully obvious just how much we humans, and our pets, shed skin and hair.  I have learned to lower my cleaning standards!

The advantage of the lower windows is the outside can actually be viewed from the position you are normally in - which is sitting.  So when I sit at my office desk in the hall the window is just above my desk offering me a view of my front gardens.  In our bedroom we can sit in bed and have our morning tea while watching out over the back yard. 

In the bathroom the window at tub level offers a wonderful view while bathing.  In the living room the windows start at the floor and continue up 8' affording beautiful views of the backyard and the fields beyond.

Storage was very important to me as I hate clutter and wanted to be able to tuck everything away as much as possible.  Marina designed the hall to incorporate a built in look with simple Ikea cabinets for books on one side and coats, linens and even space for a small office area tucked under a window on the other side.

A large pantry off the kitchen was insulated and houses the laundry, microwave, vita-mix and still has room for food storage and cleaning supplies.  Keeping the noisy machines out of the kitchen was important with the open-concept main room. The kitchen cupboards mimic the style of our windows and are once again Ikea.
There are no closets in the house so instead we used Ikea wardrobes and cupboards either built in or free-standing.  The custom built window seat adds even more storage in the form of 8 deep drawers.

One of my absolute musts was to have a covered porch that we planned to screen in so we could enjoy the outdoors.  I had been to friends' country properties and quickly learned that the number of bugs would make sitting outside almost impossible.  Our porch is an extension of the house in the summer and instead of screening we found mosquito curtains (mosquitocurtains.com) that are attached in the springtime with velcro along the top and snaps at the bottom and use magnets to close at the door opening.  They keep our porch bug free while still allowing us to enjoy our backyard.  We have even slept out on hot humid nights.  In the fall we take down the curtains and fill the porch with our firewood for the winter.

Having lived with the house design for 4 years now would I change anything?  Probably if I were to do it again I would not have the stairs to the basement open to the room upstairs (noise travels and our son is still living with us) and I would probably go with a walkout in the basement (both the designer and builder suggested we do it at the time of building) and now I can see how it would have been prudent to do to allow us more uses for the house.


  1. oh wow, you have a lovely blog! My husband and I have been talking about converting our house to make it more eco friendly. We live on a 42 acre farm in PA and as soon as the weather breaks (still supposed to get snow here soon ... ugh!) we're going to be putting up our own windmill to make our own elecrticity. It's a start, but I think we're in the right direction.

    Thanks for posting this, lots of good ideas and tips here. And your home is absolutely beautiful!

  2. Thanks very much! We feel very lucky to have found our little piece of paradise. Good luck putting up your wind tower! It is all about one step at a time.

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