• breeze house meadow
    • breeze house
    • breeze house
    • breeze house fireplace
    • breeze house great room
    • breeze house bookcase
    • breeze house kitchen
    • breeze house
    • breeze house window
    • breeze house truth window
    • breeze house outdoor shower
    • breeze house mudroom

Mill Valley Straw-Bale Residence

Mill Valley, CA

Set against the western edge of a goat pasture, this 1860 SF passive solar straw-bale home illustrates solutions to ecological living. A compact four-bedroom plan also allows for a future office addition in the cupola.

Although oriented on a north-south axis to maintain neighbor’s views, the interior temperature of the home stays within 5° of 68°F without additional heating or cooling. The roof is insulated with cellulose (recycled newspaper) insulation and sheathed with ‘Meadowood’ rye-grass straw-board. Straw-bale walls with PISE (sprayed-earth) finish are balanced by fiber-cement clad conventionally framed walls in appropriate locations (i.e. plumbing, bays and the high cupola walls).

A structural wall of exposed framing provides ample storage for books and art while dividing the living and sleeping areas. Bedrooms all feature bed-sized window bays, and two of the children’s bedrooms are separated with movable wall panels, adding further flexibility. Other ecological features include built-in composting and recycling (hatches in the backsplash allow recyclables to be placed in bins which are accessed from the outside), high efficiency lighting, Fire-slate countertops and many reused doors throughout the house.

Awards and Publications

Vassallo, Marc, The Barefoot Home, The Taunton Press, 2006
Roberts, Jennifer, Good Green Kitchens, Gibbs Smith, 2006
Alanna Stang & Christopher Hawthorne, The Green House, Princeton Architectural Press 2005
Environmental Design + Construction, Excellence in Design Award 2004
Casaviva, "il Fienile che respira", June 2004
Sunset/AIA Special Design Award 2003
Sunset Magazine, 2003-2004 Western Home Awards: "Sustainable Success", August 2003
Wanek, Catherine, The New Strawbale Home, Gibbs Smith 2003
Real Simple, "Natural Habitat", April 2002
Plans available from Straw Bale Plans

Design Team

Contractor: Neil McDonald
Photographer: Edward Caldwell