It’s an honor that our home is included this year in the Parade of Homes. Years ago, Tom and I visited several Parade homes, and came away with lots of great ideas for our own home building and remodeling projects. And we were impressed by the beauty of the homes – they were, in my mind, in the category of “designer-magazine” homes.

I’ve never thought of myself as a “designer-magazine” home decorator. I do know some principles of home design – but my goals in fitting out our homes through the years have been to (1) make our day-to-day lives simple, convenient and comfortable; and (2) to fill our homes with the things we love and find meaningful. Early in our married life I visited a friend who’d just completed a kitchen and living room remodeling project. She proudly showed off the pottery bowl on the coffee table, pointing out how talented her interior designer was to have purchased that for her. It was indeed a beautiful bowl – but I had trouble understanding how something acquired in that fashion could have the same significance, evoke the same memories, or represent a consequential event or stage in life, as an object found by us, perhaps on a trip, or created by someone we know, or otherwise connected to us in a relevant and personal way. I didn’t fault my friend for her style; it just didn’t resonate with me.

Painting by Lucas van Robays, AFS-Belgium host family brother-in-law (shameless publicity:

All the same, the team members who helped us design this amazing home, and then those who actually built it, have created an entirely enchanting building. It’s often during sleepless nights when I realize this, sitting in the dimly-lit living room and marveling at the stunning ceiling, the imposing hearth, the plain-and-simple and oh-so-practical-and-attractive ceramic tile floor, the connection between indoors and out . . . and more.

And then I also ponder with gratitude the far deeper value built into this home. As a (hopefully) certified Living Building, we’ve taken great care to build, not destroy, the ecosystem of the home site. We’ve examined, at considerable expense in time and research, the effect of every one of our construction materials on humans and on the environment, and on those who create and later dispose of those materials. The home’s operating systems are designed to enhance the environment – to allow the home to “live” fully in harmony with its surrounding ecosystem. And at the end of its life – several centuries from now, as we’ve designed it – it will return its components to the environment, building the soil, just as a flower at the end of its life provides nutrients for its successors.

My hope for visitors next weekend during the Parade of Homes is that they see and understand and be inspired by the environmentally regenerative aspects of this home. Not everyone can go to the extreme lengths we’ve been able to – but everyone can incorporate some nature-friendly materials and technology in their building projects. No single one of us will save the world with our building projects – but every one of us can protect and nurture the specific piece of the environment entrusted to us – and together our efforts add up to significant advancement toward living in harmony with the amazing creation of which we’re all a part.

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