Mother Earth Living


The Tallest Little Straw Bale in Texas: An Eco-Friendly House With an Organic Atmosphere

A couple of empty nesters throw caution to the wind by building a three-story straw bale house on the banks of Lake Travis.



The home of Joanne and Ken Long lies close to Lake Travis in central Texas. Their backyard stair-steps down, with limestone terracing, to the water’s edge. The couple worked hard to understand the energy and layout of their property before even beginning to build this house.
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
The home of Joanne and Ken Long lies close to Lake Travis in central Texas. Their backyard stair-steps down, with limestone terracing, to the water’s edge. The couple worked hard to understand the energy and layout of their property before even beginning to build this house.
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
Joanne wanted a water element in the front of her home, so she built this koi pond, an echo of the lake behind the her house
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
Joanne wanted her home to be nontoxic—“both chemically and spiritually”—and the dining room captures this ethic. The room’s furnishings are largely heirlooms, antiques, or handmade items from around the world. Joanne’s Irish descendants have eaten on this table for generations.
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
The home embodies the powerful positive flow of energy plus a sense of the sacred. The Buddha icon on the window sill was purchased at Marco Polo’s Attic in Austin (512-236-1320), and the hand-carved table is from Indonesia.
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
This chair is an antique from Belgium and sits beneath one of Joanne’s own paintings, “King David’s Israel.”
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
Earthen floors, poured in place, bring the spirit of the outdoors into the home. Tumbled river stones are handset to accent the floor.
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
The native cedar used in the porch proliferates in central Texas. The deep eaves help protect the home and reduce energy needs during the scorching Texas summer. The Longs’ energy bills are remarkably low considering the size and location of the home.
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
Native bluestone surrounds the stove; the hanging light hails from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The kitchen is rich in texture and warmth.
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
This writing desk, a family heirloom, is more than 150 years old. Connecting to family roots is an essential part of the home’s character.
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
The bathroom has a sculpted shower, an antique stained glass window, and a metal ceiling salvaged from an old Texas pharmacy.
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
Joanne and Ken Long spent many months looking for the right property before finding the site where their straw bale home now stands. They put much time, energy, creativity, and intention into its design and construction.
Photography By Paul Bardagjy
The home of Joanne and Ken Long lies close to Lake Travis in central Texas. Their backyard stair-steps down, with limestone terracing, to the water’s edge. The couple worked hard to understand the energy and layout of their property before even beginning to build this house.
The home of Joanne and Ken Long lies close to Lake Travis in central Texas. Their backyard stair-steps down, with limestone terracing, to the water’s edge. The couple worked hard to understand the energy and layout of their property before even beginning to build this house.
Illustrations by Gayle Ford
The home of Joanne and Ken Long lies close to Lake Travis in central Texas. Their backyard stair-steps down, with limestone terracing, to the water’s edge. The couple worked hard to understand the energy and layout of their property before even beginning to build this house.
Illustrations by Gayle Ford





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