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Alabama Home
In these penny-pinching days, the idea of building, rebuilding or just renovating your house yourself sounds mighty appealing — and finding ways to save on materials is even better. Last year, I met Robyn Griggs Lawrence, the editor of Natural Home Magazine, at a video shoot, and she told me all about this home she’d discovered in rural Alabama.

The family, the Bakers, had hand built their 1,100-square-foot, cabin-style abode almost entirely from salvaged materials. Now, I don’t mean old mismatched shingles or carpet scraps. But rather, the homeowners took five years to collect leftover tin, wood and other materials from at least 75 different sources (it helps that the husband was a contractor). The home has elements from old barns, sheds and even an old church — plus some locally sourced slate.

I thought it sounded too incredible so I begged for photos. When she forwarded them along, I was floored. This place definitely didn’t look like trash or a hodgepodge mess. It was quite a work of craftsmanship — with unusual lines and texture and cozy, rustic character. I would think 1,100 square feet would be kind of small for a family of five (we Americans do like our expansive domains), but they pack a lot in a little space. Even better, the husband-and-wife duo drafted their three kids into the project and everyone had a hand in building their home.

I’ve been eager to read the final piece after seeing the pictures, and now in this month’s issue, this re-creative space gets a full spread. If you can’t find the magazine on the racks, you can check out the story online here. The Bakers also have some interesting tips for how to build (or rather, survive building) a house in your spare time with only family as crew. (I’m sending them to my mom right now — my stepdad is building their new home all by himself. The process has been three years and counting…)

Be sure to click the “Image Gallery” link under the Article Tools to get the full effect.

Have you gotten re-creative with old materials? I’m curious to hear others’ stories of resourcefulness.


Green Living

22 Responses

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