Under the Influence of Books

The Armstrongs

Our New House Project

Our new home in the woods

This is a brief look at the location of our new home (the image at this link is from 1999, just before the county replaced the bridge and straightened the road), some information on the building, and some current photos during construction. The quick summary of the house is that it is a very open floor plan with no hallways (we'll be living in that house when we're in wheelchairs, so that will make it easier to get from place to place), using architectural themes from Sara Susanka's Not So Big House (central spine, open spaces). The basement walls are poured concrete with foam on either side for additional insulation (sound and temperature) and the main floor walls are Structured Insulated Panels (SIPs), making the house very efficient. We'll have geothermal heating and air conditioning (less noise and more efficient), adding to the "green" theme of the house. The living areas face primarily to the south, taking advantage of the beautiful, shaded view in the summer and the available sunlight (and free heat) in the winter when the trees are bare. We've had a preliminary estimate for solar and wind energy--we hope to add that energy source (tied into the grid, of course) in the next couple of years.
The Sun Room is in the front (south) of the house, separated from the Living Room by a wall with doors on each side. To the left as you look at the house is the Master Bedroom, with a walk-out porch to the front of the house. To the right of the Sun Room is another porch--you can go between porches through the Sun Room. Behind the front right porch is the Library (a 13'x12' room, but we won't use it as a bedroom). The Living Room and the Library are separated by a fireplace. The Kitchen, Dining Room Living Room and entry way are all in the same open space. We have a pair of 15' oak library shelves that stand about 3' high that we'll use to separate the spaces without closing off the areas from each other. Our Master Bedroom will have double-wide doors (I already mentioned wheelchairs) and a walk-through set of several closets leading to a bathroom at the back of the house.
The basement will be finished. Gregor wanted his room downstairs, so it will be under the Library with an escape-sized window to the east. My office is beneath the Sun Room and has four huge basement windows, complementing the four, even larger southern-exposure windows of the Sun Room. The basement living area will be about the same size as the upstairs open area, and we'll have storage and house systems in the space beneath our bedroom. We ended up with a bonus room under the east porch, accessible through my office. More storage--for computers, wine, who knows!
The garage will hold four cars--two in the lower level and two in the upper level. Yep, a 2-story garage. Take the driveway to the east of the house to get to the downstairs garage and take the driveway to the west of the house to the upstairs garage. The garage is in the back of the house on purpose. We wanted it to shield us from the north winds and any noise from the trains (trains are actually quieter there and are audible for a much shorter time than in areas 1/2 mile away-- there is no rolling sound wave that lasts for the entire time that the trains pass through town and the tracks are below the ground barrier along most of our property).
The house is nestled in our own private woods among mature maple and oak trees. It'll have Sable Brown siding, Mission Brown shingles, and green trim. It should blend into the woods nicely. The land is just more than 7 acres--the woods cover about 4 acres and we just converted the remaining three or so acres from farmland to prairie. Melanie took countless walks past this spot for years and always dreamed of calling it hers. I suspect that she wasn't alone.