Coming Home: Building a Green Dream Home

Natural Home & Garden publisher Linda Ligon and her husband settle into their dream home.

| September/October 2005

  • Linda loves cooking in the bright, beautiful kitchen. A small LG Energy Star-qualified refrigerator easily holds enough food for the couple. The kitchen also features a Viking stove and an Asko energy-efficient dishwasher. The dark island countertop is slate; the sink and dishwasher countertops are made from maple butcher block.
  • “We discovered truths about our personalities and how we live that are finding expression in the house—in how spaces balance and interconnect, in how the inside and outside flow together. I think the process has actually made our relationship stronger and more tolerant.” -Linda Ligon (“Home,” March/April 2002)
    Photography by joe coca
  • Designed by David Barrett’s wife and business partner, Betzi Bliklen Barrett, the downstairs bathroom offers charm and utility in a small space. The raised sink bowl, made by Kohler, is set into a local sandstone countertop that rests on a stand made of locust wood from Thomas and Linda’s old home.
  • A windowsill opens into the kitchen from the hallway.
  • In a wall niche rests a beautiful turned basket made from natural materials by Joan Carrigan of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Opposite: A Turkish kilim covers the floor of Linda’s weaving room. Against the far wall sits her Schacht forty-inch floor loom on which she weaves functional fabrics, including blankets and lap robes. Above the loom hangs a Guatemalan huipil.
  • In a wall niche rests a beautiful turned basket made from natural materials by Joan Carrigan of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Opposite: A Turkish kilim covers the floor of Linda’s weaving room. Against the far wall sits her Schacht forty-inch floor loom on which she weaves functional fabrics, including blankets and lap robes. Above the loom hangs a Guatemalan huipil.
  • Native buffalo grass grows profusely on the 1.5 acres that surround the Ligon house. Rainwater captured from the home’s roof runs through an underground pipe to a pond that’s becoming a local wildlife sanctuary. Wanting a more woodsy feel to the land, Thomas and Linda planted trees along the north side to protect the house from winter winds and to the south to screen out views of neighbors’ houses. The trees also provide habitat for birds and other wildlife.
  • In a wall niche rests a beautiful turned basket made from natural materials by Joan Carrigan of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Opposite: A Turkish kilim covers the floor of Linda’s weaving room. Against the far wall sits her Schacht forty-inch floor loom on which she weaves functional fabrics, including blankets and lap robes. Above the loom hangs a Guatemalan huipil.
  • In a wall niche rests a beautiful turned basket made from natural materials by Joan Carrigan of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Opposite: A Turkish kilim covers the floor of Linda’s weaving room. Against the far wall sits her Schacht forty-inch floor loom on which she weaves functional fabrics, including blankets and lap robes. Above the loom hangs a Guatemalan huipil.
  • In a wall niche rests a beautiful turned basket made from natural materials by Joan Carrigan of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Opposite: A Turkish kilim covers the floor of Linda’s weaving room. Against the far wall sits her Schacht forty-inch floor loom on which she weaves functional fabrics, including blankets and lap robes. Above the loom hangs a Guatemalan huipil.
    Illustrations by Gayle Ford
  • Hanging on the wall in the living room is a pair of doors that Thomas and Linda’s son and daughter-in-law found at an antique flea market in Beijing.
  • In a wall niche rests a beautiful turned basket made from natural materials by Joan Carrigan of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Opposite: A Turkish kilim covers the floor of Linda’s weaving room. Against the far wall sits her Schacht forty-inch floor loom on which she weaves functional fabrics, including blankets and lap robes. Above the loom hangs a Guatemalan huipil.
  • ABOVE: The living room features Douglas fir ceilings, an energy­efficient fireplace built into winged walls, and polished cement floors, into which a radiant in-floor heating system has been built. The concrete floors were ground smooth, then retroplated in a glass-like sealing process so they never need to be waxed. Alden Amos made the spinning wheel.

When Natural Home & Garden president Linda Ligon and her husband, Thomas, envisioned building a new home, they imagined using “the really fine, sustainable materials and methods that we write about all the time in this magazine,” Linda says. Having lived for thirty-five years in their previous house—where they raised three kids, buried beloved pets in the backyard, made myriad green improvements, and planted beautiful trees—they also wondered how long it would take to call this new place “home.”

For their new home, Thomas and Linda chose a 1.5-acre site near a lake, bordered on two sides by a wildlife preserve. Their bare, treeless lot differed starkly from their old home with its scores of majestic trees and mature landscaping. Fortunately, architect David Barrett knew their old house had lots of history and soul, and he challenged himself to create a new home that would shelter and nurture this vibrant, visionary couple. He envisioned the home and workspaces as a small collection of farm buildings grouped together on the open prairie.

Speaking the same language

The Ligons are both doers and makers. Linda is founder and creative director of Interweave Press, a successful magazine and book publishing company, and Thomas owns ARC Science Simulations, a company that creates visualizations of planet Earth for museums, the National Weather Service, and other commercial applications.



Barrett asked Thomas and Linda to study A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein (Oxford University Press, 1977). The book enabled the three of them to construct an idiom for planning and building their home from 253 patterns (building concepts) such as window place, workspace, sleeping to the east, and entrance transition. Barrett also designed the house using some intersecting “L” and “T” shapes (for their initials), with an eye to connecting, yet separating, public, semi-private and private spaces.

“There is a continuity of spaces in the house,” says Linda, “and a lot of opportunity for being by yourself or with others.” And nature is always nearby. “It’s easy to feel connected to the outside from anywhere in the house.”



Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds