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.


| January/February 2007



DouBed04

Dale made the bed, and his mother sewed this Irish chain quilt.


Michael Shopenn and Meghann Decker

Although it took Michele and Dale Doucette five years to plan their straw bale house and two years to build it, they agree it was worth the wait. Their home reflects the life they live: simple in design and elegant in detail.

Set on 22 acres in Wilmington, Vermont, the 3,200-square-foot house fits right into the landscape. Local stones set in the stucco perimeter around the base connect the house to the earth. Locally sourced timber and straw bales make up the frame and the walls. The indigo metal roof mirrors the surrounding mountain peaks at dusk.

When imagining their home, the Doucettes knew they wanted to live close to nature’s cycles and to conserve energy. They read everything they could about solar power, visited many straw bale homes and decided to go off the electrical grid. They also paid close attention to the way their family moves. “Bodies and houses are very similar,” says Michele, a chiropractor and Zero Balancing energy worker. “You can optimize the way energy moves through both for better health.”

To transform their ideas into workable blueprints, they turned to architect Joseph Cincotta of LineSync Architecture, a longtime friend who also lives in Wilmington. “The design evolved from Michele and Dale’s initial idea of having separate work and living spaces to one barnlike structure that houses both efficiently,” Cincotta says. Michele’s chiropractic office and Dale’s woodworking shop both are located on the main floor. Their living space, which they share with their sons, Justin and Beau, is on the upper floor.

The family’s sun-drenched living space includes an open kitchen and a living room that accesses a deck. The master bedroom and a full bath are at one end of the house; at the other end, the boys share a large suite that includes a living area, loft and small private alcoves with beds and desks.

Cold comfort





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