Mother Earth Living

Shaping the Seasons: Eco-Friendly Home Plans

An environmentally friendly version of the New England saltbox
By Natural Home Staff
July/August 2004
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A balcony off the master bedroom overlooks the garden to the rear of the home. With natural cedar stain and green trim, this home blends well with its wooded surroundings.
Photography By Linda Moody

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Designed and built by architect Linda Moody as her personal residence in Pepperell, Massachusetts, Shaping the Seasons is an environmentally friendly version of the classic New England saltbox. Wood clapboards, double-hung windows, and gables are contextual features of this design. A garden room on the home’s southwest corner is a two-story passive solar space with about ninety square feet of south-facing glass and a crushed stone/bluestone floor that absorbs and stores the sun’s heat, then slowly disperses it at night. On the second floor, the master bath features a whirlpool tub surrounded by windows. In the master bedroom, cathedral ceilings and triple French doors give a feeling of expansiveness.

Though the floor plan is open, it allows for intimate spaces, including bump-outs for a piano nook and a reading alcove off the dining room. Varying ceiling heights and planes make each space feel different. The kitchen, for example, has a low ceiling of tongue-and-groove one-by-six pine and is open to the living room, which has a pine cathedral ceiling. An upstairs mezzanine overlooks the living room.

A brick masonry woodstove provides most of the heat for the house. It burns efficiently and cleanly, and the brick acts as thermal mass, retaining heat to release throughout the day and night. Passive cooling is provided through a combination of ventilation and shading. The roof’s large two-foot overhang provides summer shade, as does a large screened porch on the west. Along with operable skylights in the cathedral ceilings, a viewing turret above the second floor expels hot air at the high point of the house. With its double-hung windows, 270-degree view, and skylight above, you feel as if you are sitting on top of the world.

Meet the architect
Linda Moody
Linda Moody & Associates Architects
Pepperell, Massachusetts

What were you hoping to achieve in this home design?

I wanted to feel a connection to nature from anywhere in the house. I wanted my home to have a spacious, open floorplan (nothing claustrophobic!), but with intimate spaces and a seamless transition between nature and tempered indoor space. There is no place inside my home that you can’t see outside to nature. In addition, I wanted a home that was reasonable in cost to build and economical to maintain.

What are your favorite features?

My personal favorite is the garden room—it’s a great remedy for cabin fever! It pulls in natural light and feels as if it’s outdoors, yet it’s warm, cozy, and comfortable. The open mezzanine above the living room provides a wonderful spacious perspective on the entire home.

What makes this home healthy?

• Use of properly placed windows, doors, and operable skylights create natural air circulation and provide temperature control.

• Passive solar design helps reduce the need for combustion heating appliances and their toxic byproducts.

• The garden room brings in passive solar heat and fresh, oxygen-rich air from the plants.

• Abundant natural light reduces the likelihood of mold growth and fosters a healthy spirit.

• Hardwood and other solid-surface flooring eliminate the need for carpeting.

• The steeply pitched roof with large overhangs quickly sheds water away from the building envelope, reducing the likelihood of mold.

• A mudroom at the entrance acts as an airlock entry and creates a handy place to remove and store dirty shoes.

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