Mother Earth Living

Simply Perfect: A Straw Bale Home in Wilmington, Vermont

This straw bale home—built with innovative green architectural design—fulfills this family's dreams of a serene and sustainable lifestyle in wintry Vermont.

The stained glass in the interior window, originally from France, was purchased at the Vermont Salvage Company. Michele and Dale found their dining table covered in cloth and knick-knacks at an antique shop in Cambridge, New York.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
Chickens and guinea hens, which share a building with the solar panels and batteries, provide a regular source of fresh eggs.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
The Doucettes relied on architect Joseph Cincotta for innovative ideas, including the gentle oval curve on the deck, that add beauty to the plain rectangular structure.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
The arched, main-floor entrance to Michele’s office includes wood doors that Dale made.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
In the morning, Dale cooks breakfast and Michele makes school lunches in the open kitchen. The glass-block island provides the main work space as well as a place for the family to eat.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
Straw bale creates a healing environment for Michele to do her energy work. She says her patients claim to feel better before she even puts her hands on them.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
Southern light fills the living room. Dale, inspired by carousels around the world, carved the rocking pig.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
Soapstone makes a sensuous, durable countertop and sink. Dale built the cabinets from ash grown in nearby Jacksonville, Vermont. The drawer pulls were fashioned out of rocks from the driveway.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
Left to right: LineSync Architecture’s Joseph Cincotta, principal architect, and his wife Julie Lineberger, owner, with homeowners Michele and Dale Doucette.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
The bathroom is filled with Dale's custom woodwork, including the carved branch from native pine. He created the shower from leftover materials: The soapstone trim comes from the kitchen countertop's end cuts, and the glass block for the partial shower wall was another kitchen remnant. Dale bought 200 square feet of discarded tile for $20--it had been returned to the store by someone who didn't like the color.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
With 1,600 square feet of upstairs living space, the Doucettes wanted to maximize their storage space, so they built these drawers right into the walls.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
Dale made the bed, and his mother sewed this Irish chain quilt.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker
The property is currently powered by 10 solar panels, a wind turbine and a propane generator for additional heat in winter.
Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker

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