Coming Home: Building a Green Dream Home

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

| September/October 2005

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.”

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