The Simple Life

It’s not unusual for us to field requests to design a home around a tree, but this couple added a few twists. They had found a great lot, and wanted to know if we could design their “unfussy” retirement home around an existing oak, a new flock of chickens, a great garden, and a restored ’54 Chevy pick up truck. Most critical to the interior was a comfortable reading chair with a place to rest a nice cup of tea.
The owners wanted a clean and uncluttered design for the next phase in their life. It was important that the home be energy efficient and healthy. In response, the house design follows Zero Energy Ready guidelines for Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality and is certified Fortified Gold for structural resilience.
The home’s distinctive color comes from a pine tar stain/sealer, a traditional Scandinavian wood treatment. The entry is built of sinker cypress, offering a pop of warmth against the chalkboard black siding and white trim. Interior finishes are minimal, with a simple palette of white, black, unstained wood, and steel.
High, south facing windows open the living and dining rooms to the sun, while a skylight washes the bare steel fireplace with northern light. The interiors really open up to the north, looking out onto a backyard, buzzing with bees.
A rainwater collection system irrigates raised beds, and a small flock of chickens of all varieties wander about. The outdoor shower boasts a galvanized funnel, a cheeky response to their son in law’s request for his own urinal in the new home. 
In their first season, the owner harvested 15 quarts of honey from their two hives. The first chicken was named by and for their first grandchild, and the outdoor shower is getting lots of use. The landscape was recently certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. The only missing piece is the ’54 Chevy, due to be completed in the spring of 2019.

Certified Wildlife Habitat

Project Type:  New Construction
Location:  Fairhope, AL
Role:  Architect

  • Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat
  • Designed to Zero Energy Ready program guidelines
  • FORTIFIED™ Gold Home Construction