Barry and Anne had already moved into what could have been their final single family home, but it just wasn’t quite right. Although it was located in an active adult community with lots of opportunities for social interaction, they found they were not taking advantage of the gatherings and just were not too happy living there. For years they’d been fans of the annual Green Home Tour, sponsored by the Green Home Builders of the Triangle. They had attended at least six tours and met many of the movers and shakers in the Triangle’s green home movement. A stand out individual for them from early on was Michele Myers, President of M Squared Builders & Designers.
“We asked around, and quickly learned that Michele Myers is a name many people know,” says Anne. “She’s respected. We were told that she listens to her customers and that if we were not a good fit to work with her, she’d tell us up front. We met with her and I think she was as intrigued by us and what we wanted to accomplish as we were with her. We had decided that we were not going to think about building a home in the traditional sense of square footage and specific room requirements. Instead, we wanted this last house we plan on living in to be as comfortable as possible in accommodating the activities we most enjoy.”
“We took the path of Sarah Susanka in The Not So Big House,” Anne continues. “We asked ourselves, ‘what do we need the space for and what are we going to do with the space?’ We let the space be determined by our activities, not the other way around.”
Anne took a drawing she’d sketched out on graph paper to Michele. It didn’t show rooms so much as space, furniture, and details of specific built-in “oddities”
“Michele and her designer did a bang up job with my drawing,” says Anne. “The house is no bigger than it needs to be. Activities have been combined for rooms and I’m delighted to have simplified my life. I’ll no longer have to clean, maintain, or pay taxes on a huge home. It’s liberating!”
This 1,848 square foot home consists of three bedrooms and two baths, with two of the bedrooms also functioning as offices. In place of a formal dining room, an oversized nook will accommodate the Weston’s drop leaf dining table. Using the table leaf and the kitchen bar, they can seat 10 for a meal, and have a place for overnight guests to sleep in their offices if needed.
The kitchen/nook area is reminiscent of Barry’s grandmother’
The great room features a high efficiency wood stove which will produce 90% of the heat the home will need from wood on their property. With this output of heat, the stove required protection on the wall behind it. A lovely slate was selected, and with Michele’s help, Anne was able to incorporate tile made by a friend. The end product is beautiful and unique.
“Michele also worked with us to include bathroom mirrors from our grandmothers and re-purposed items from Habitat for Humanity. I don’t think we could have done these and other things with most builders,” says Anne. “I needed the washer/dryer room shelving to be low enough for me to reach. ‘Not a problem,’ was Michele’s response. She and I are close to the same height, so she checked and made sure the shelves were where I’d be comfortable in reaching them. Barry and I are both elated about our upstairs storage… We’ll no longer have to deal with pull-down attic steps. We are so done with those! The stairwell takes up some space, but it will be well worth it. The storage room upstairs is huge.”
“Michele knows the building codes in all of the area counties, and she knows the right people to help her find what she needs for unusual client requests,” Anne comments. “We wanted stone and mortar to look just like what you see at Duke’s West Campus for our front columns. Michele found it! She also introduced us to a composite siding that we like even better than what we’d requested… Plus, it’s local and comes in longer lengths, meaning less waste material. Michele’s attention to detail and quality is just amazing. Her relationships with other builders and vendors in the market culminate into a tremendous collaboration of bright ideas. It’s been fascinating to see how our requests have come to fruition.”
The Weston home at 1304 Blackberry Lane in Hillsborough is on the 2014 Green Home Tour, taking place May 3 – 4 and May 10 – 11, noon – 5:00 pm at new and remodeled green certified homes throughout the area. This article doesn’t begin touch on the numerous green features included in the Weston home, such as its Net Zero status with a solar photovoltaic system that will allow the Westons to produce as much electricity or more than they will use. Visit the home on the Green Tour to learn more about these and other green and energy efficient features.
“We knew that Michele was a huge advocate of green building,” says Anne. “This, combined with her excellent design/build abilities and her interpersonal and communication skills have made our home building experience a thrilling adventure. We’re happy to have our home on the Tour, so that others can see that their dreams can become a reality too.”
To visit 1304 Blackberry Lane during the Green Home Tour: From I-85 in Durham, take Exit 164/Hillsborough. Turn left on S. Churton Street, which becomes Old Chapel Hill-Hillsborough Road/Old NC 86. Turn right on Oakdale Drive; then left on Orange Grove Road. Take the first right on New Grady Brown School Road. Take the first left on Arbor Lane Drive (just past 1310 Grady Brown School Road). Take a slight left on Blackberry Lane. The home is on the right.
For more information on M Squared Builders & Designers, visit www.msquaredbuilders.com, or call 919-620-8535.