We have just returned from a week-long* trip to Asheville, NC and boy was it a great trip! We visited this magical city nearly a year ago and fell in love with the misty mountain mornings, the cool fresh air, the sounds and sights of nature, and the copious waterfalls and beauty everywhere. After a long summer of much disjointed family time due to Andrew’s travels, we decided we needed a solid block of time away from everything (including internet, if you wondered why I was unreachable). Such breaks are absolutely necessary for my mental health, and I found that I welcomed the reprieve from email and blogging and mindless perusing online. That time was easily filled with books and long walks, great music, playing with the kids, and more books! This time around, Andrew did some searching and found a really special spot in Leicester, about 15 miles outside of downtown Asheville: this straw bale home that has been featured in several books and magazines, and was voted one of the greenest homes in Western North Carolina. It was truly a special place, and I enjoyed exploring every nook and cranny, as well as reading about its construction, which was a thoughtful, conscientious endeavor every step of the way. I especially enjoyed reading about how Nelle and Doug, the owner/builders, camped out in a travel trailer on site so they could get to know their land before building on it. This way, they were able to note drainage, sun patterns throughout the day, and other natural aspects of the land before starting construction. The views from the top floor are breathtaking, and the amount of natural light in the house was lovely throughout the day.
Above: The house as featured in The Good House Book
One of our favorite spots was the front porch area, a covered but open outdoor space with a porch swing, plenty of seating and pretty strung lights, surrounded by gardens full of morning glories and black-eyed susans and flanked by a pretty little shed. We spent most of our time between here, the creek, and the light-filled living room.
Above: The “truth window,” a tradition for straw bale houses, shows the insulating bales within. Straw bale homes are at least twice as energy efficient as traditional stick-frame construction and, contrary to popular belief, are quite fire resistant. Read more about this type of home here.
The upper floor of the house has a large master bedroom and bathroom and beautiful views of the mountains and farm land (see below), though we ended up all sleeping downstairs to be close to one another. It was just such a relaxing, restful place.
The outdoor area had all sorts of great surprises, like the hops growing up the side of the house, and the abundance of tomatoes and peppers in the garden, as well as a little creek running through the back part of the property. There was also an awesome kids’ play house on stilts (seen in the picture of Milo below, also on stilts!) that had clearly received a whole lot of love. The house itself was/is (?) home to two children who put their touches on the land and the home. Great kids books abound… our kind of place!