For this month’s installment of “Evergreen homes” — a series of posts in which I spotlight great green homes from my home state of Washington — I’m once again stepping away from the green building hotbed that is Seattle (the projects that I featured in March and April were both within Emerald City limits). Nearly 400 miles away from May's "Evergreen home" is the Boneyard House at 1250 Reser Road in Walla Walla. Yep, Walla Walla — the Southeast Washington burg best known for its sweet onions, wineries, prison, liberal arts college, and for being the stomping grounds of both Batman himself and one Ms. Tonya Cooley. Walla Walla really is "the town so nice, they named it twice."
Spotted over at Jetson Green
, the Boneyard House was designed and built by Dirk Nelson of Free Range Building Company
(an expansive team
collaborated on the project) and features numerous salvaged elements each with a unique “story
” to tell: light posts
, once part of the McNary Dam, plucked from a scrap yard, sandblasted, and transformed into structural columns; wood beams
rescued from the decommissioned Harris Pine Mill in Pendleton, Ore., and brought back to life with tung and linseed oil; wood siding
salvaged from local homestead-era cottages; corrugated metal siding
taken from chicken coops and agricultural outbuildings; cabinetry
handcrafted from fallen black locust trees; and the list goes on and on...
With salvaged building materials on the brain
lately, I'm tempted to compare the 3,000-square foot Boneyard House to Phonehedge West
, a jaw-dropping residence/folk art project in Southern California that’s recently received national media attention — I featured
it yesterday — due in part to builder Alan Kimble Fahey’s run-ins with authorities over building code violations. Both incorporate unique salvaged materials (Phonehedge West includes over 100 unused utility polls, French doors “donated by Danny Devito”, and a yurt from “The Scorpion King”); both are nestled on off-the-beaten path acreages at a remove from the urban hustle; and both feature imaginative, somewhat unconventional design work and beautiful, folksy craftsmanship.
But that’s where the similarities between the two salvaged material-heavy residences end. With its "sustainable building practices" and "gourmet aesthetics," The Boneyard House, unlike Phonehedge West, is not a ramshackle earthquake/fire trap and is, as far as I know, up to code. And it better be — the home, a "historical collage of the inland Northwest," is for sale for $1.25 million.
In addition to the numerous salvaged structural and decorative elements, the energy-efficient, four-bedroom abode features a green roof, a geothermal heat pump, radiant flooring, 10-inch thick Durisol block and earth-bermed walls, EnergyStar appliances, motorized windows, and more. It’s also designed for the future installation of grid-tied solar panels. According to the folks at Free Range Building Company, Nelson is not pursuing LEED certification at this point although it’s a possibility in the future. Take a room by room photo tour here
And on the topic of the future, Nelson’s next project is a more affordable one — priced at under $300,000 — that employs the same detail-oriented, low-impact building and design philosophy
as the Boneyard House. Inspired by game-changing American architects Malcolm Wells
and Samuel Mockbee
, Nelson is designing the home for the young proprietors of a local organic farm, Stones Throw Organic Farm
. Watch Nelson salvage for materials for that project while explaining his design process here
With the expensive — and for good reason … the home is a painstakingly crafted work of art — “go all out” Boneyard House under his belt, Nelson’s goal, according to Sarah Koeningsberg from Free Range Building, is “is to maintain that level of authenticity and environmental responsibility, but to hone it all in, make it accessible, make it attainable.”
I can’t wait to see what’s next.
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