Mother Earth Living

Casa Natura: Building a Family-friendly Home

Following centuries-old building techniques using timber frame, straw, clay and earth, a mother designs a home for herself and her daughter that’s healthy, ecologically sensitive and naturally nurturing.

The 1,500-square-foot econest is snuggled in a forest of ponderosa pine overlooking a field of willows. Four-foot overhangs protect the straw-clay walls, a south-facing solar room helps heat the house, and a pent roof at the gable end protects the exposed wall from driving winds and rain.
Photos By Laurie Dickson
Straw-clay walls are one foot thick, providing lots of insulation and adding to the cozy, cavelike ambience.
Photos By Laurie Dickson
Thick straw-clay exterior walls add texture and keep the home comfortable year-round.
Photos By Laurie Dickson
The slate shower-surround and backsplash in the master bathroom are embedded with fossils. A skylight offers a view of the heavens. Fluffy organic cotton towels stand ready.
Photos By Laurie Dickson
Some interior walls are unfinished adobe brick, like this partial one, which makes a cozy nook to house the woodstove. Adobe acts as thermal mass, storing heat from the stove and releasing it after the fire burns out.
Photos By Laurie Dickson
Daryl Stanton is known in Santa Fe for her healthy, natural interiors and the natural products sold in her store, Casa Natura.
Photos By Laurie Dickson
When it comes to furnishings, Daryl’s style is natural and eclectic. Wood tables and chairs are antique or recycled. “I haven’t refinished any of them,” she says. Upholstered pieces are custom-made with organic stuffings and coverings. Daryl has had the handwoven all-cotton rug in each of her houses. Living room, dining room, and kitchen comprise one open sixteen-by-twenty-foot room.
Photos By Laurie Dickson
Although many chemically sensitive people cannot tolerate a gas stove, it doesn’t bother Daryl. In fact, she prefers it for cooking. Pine cabinetry and butcher-block countertop are solid wood, hand-rubbed with ecological finishes. Because kitchen cabinetry can be expensive, Daryl put doors only on bottom cabinets and left top shelves open, which is the way she likes it, anyway. The backsplash is slate.
Photos By Laurie Dickson
Locally harvested white fir posts and beams give a feeling of structural solidity to the interior. Walls are straw-clay, mixed together with a pitchfork and tamped into a temporary plywood frame. Windows are from Pozzi.
Photos By Laurie Dickson
Daryl’s bed is a model of composition—an organic mattress, hemp/silk sheets, organic cotton and wool blankets, a plant-dyed hemp/silk bedspread, and hand-dyed hemp/ silk pillows. The bed is a metal-free Samina Sleep System.
Photos By Laurie Dickson

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