Sculpting a Life: An Oregon Cob Cottage

Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley have crafted a beautiful home and garden out of Oregon mud. But there’s more—so much more—lurking behind these cob walls.

| September/October 2002

  • The sculptural possibilities of cob are evident in this fireplace, which warms the patio just outside Linda and Ianto’s cottage.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Rustic beams are perfect for drying herbs in the garden shed.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • A fire warms the garden shed, where Ianto and Linda store produce.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Curves and circular rooms are one of Ianto’s trademarks, giving the cottage a romantic, almost medieval feel.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Ianto and Linda’s cob cottage is one large room, with a loft bedroom and built-in benches that save space.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Cob construction allows the builders to mold arched windows and nooks. The window is salvaged.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • A cob wall snakes around the property, creating a courtyard atmosphere.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Students attending one of Ianto and Linda’s cob workshops crafted these “butterfly” windows in the garden shed.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • An outdoor cob bread oven bakes perfect loaves.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Linda Smiley and Ianto Evans live a simple, yet visionary, life in Oregon.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Linda and Ianto are able to eat from their garden all year-round.
    Photo By Susan Seubert

The morning mist hangs low over Ianto Evans’s and Linda Smiley’s cob cottage retreat in the rolling countryside of Cottage Grove, Oregon. A fire crackles in the outdoor fireplace; another warms the bread oven. Ianto and I sit on a cob bench facing the garden, a bountiful plot rich with kohlrabi, leeks, parsnips, rutabaga, broccoli, and fava beans, all frost-hearty vegetables that keep the cob cottage residents in fresh produce year-round. There are flowers bursting with bright colors; purple snails; yellowjackets; bright-winged butterflies; and a handful of Steller’s jays, one of which has appointed itself Ianto’s personal alarm clock and hiking companion. And all around us, cob structures—a cottage, a greenhouse, an oven, a fireplace—are tucked behind a rambling cob wall.

“How much does it cost to build a cob cottage?” I ask.

“How long is a piece of string?” Ianto counters.

We share a laugh as I realize that if I am to understand life behind these cob walls, I’ll need to abandon my usual way of thinking.

Building of necessity

It has been twelve years since Ianto, born in Liverpool and trained as an architect, and Linda, a native Californian and recreation therapist, built their first cob structure, an experiment that grew both out of need and curiosity. That first venture was an L-shaped addition to a wood cabin.

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