This Southern-style, certified green home in Woodlands Edge graced the pages of our July issue. Click here to read more about how Jen and Bret Franks, of Bret Franks Construction, turned their vision for a traditional green home into a reality.
Homeowner Lyndsey Lewis of Little House in Little Rock is back for the second installment of her ongoing blog series with At Home in Arkansas! We’re giving you the inside scoop on her journey of building a certified green home in Little Rock, from planning to building to interior design. Check our her first post here, and read on for today’s lesson on getting a green home game plan together.
Builder Bret Franks and me on ground-breaking day: August 22, 2011
Since I decided to build, many people have expressed excitement and interest in the project. Consequently, I have become accustomed to strange looks and interesting questions about my house. Commonly heard? “Wow, that’s really small… will you be able to live in there? Why don’t you just make the [kitchen, bedroom, etc.] larger? So it’s a âGreen Houseâ… what’s that supposed to mean?”
If you’re thinking of building a tiny home of your own, be prepared for both. Having a detailed and organized game plan will make it easy to shake off negative vibes that may come your way.
Planning is the longest and most crucial stage in building. I first toyed with the idea of building a Tumbleweed House in December of 2010, but almost nine months passed before I was actually ready to break ground in August of this year. It took time to figure out:
1) How much space do I need?
2) Who will build it?
3) Where will I build my house?
4) Who will finance my project?
5) What materials will I use?
It is really important to spend ample time planning how much space youâll need– doubly true in a small house. You have to think of every inch of the house and think, âWhat will I be doing in this spot?â
I also examined my belongings. I asked myself, âDo I need this? And if so, “Where should I put it?â This helped me to pare down my things while creating an organized living space. Keep in mind: form has to coincide with function in order to make small living work.
Next, it was time to find a builder. I researched the Arkansas Home Builders Association web site, read profiles online, talked to my friends, and finally sat down to chat with prospective contractors. In the end, the most important attribute in a builder is a shared vision.
Financing a small house can be tricky since the value of a home is based on comparing it to similar properties. (Good luck with that oneâ¦) So if you go to a bank for financing, be prepared for a hefty down payment. Many people, like this high school student building a Tumbleweed himself, choose to pay-as-they-build because of this.
Throughout all of these phases, I hunted and collected supplies for my home. I was seeking unique, beautiful, responsible materials. I found new, used, and (basically) âtrashâ goods that fit the bill. It took time, but I enjoyed the process.
Now that construction is underway, I have made most of my decisionsâ¦ which means less stress, less budget surprises, and more of getting the house I need.
Do you know the average height of a pair of shoes? Okay, if you answered yes, you either (a) really need to get out more or (b) must be building a 708 sq-ft house. After my period of personal inventory, I went about shedding my extraneous belongings. The final step was to simply measure what was left and make sure that I have a place for it in my house, with the help of Bret and Jen Franks. These are Jen’s drawings of my closet plan, completely customized to hold everything that I plan to store in it.
This wall sconce from Restoration Hardware will be used instead of a bedside lamp, saving space on a small night stand.
I found this magazine stand at an antique/flea market in El Dorado, AR. It will be used as my TV console in addition to a magazine rack. (In the background you can see other materials, etc. currently stored in my garage.)
These 5âx5â granite slabs were salvaged from a building being renovated in downtown Little Rock. Now they will serve as countertops in my kitchen.
This vintage phone niche was purchased at Fabulous Finds in Little Rock. Instead of housing a traditional phone, it will serve as a docking station for my iPhone, iPod, and Garmin watch.
For anybody who thinks salvaged materials don’t make for stylish interiors, homeowner Lyndsey Lewis of Little House in Little Rock is here to set the story straight! She’s been sharing the story of certified green home, being built by Bret Franks Construction in Little Rock, in a series called At Home with Green Design. Check out her first two posts (here) for more info about the construction, because today she’s getting down to specifics with sinks, hardware and wallpaper!
One of the biggest perks of building my little house it that splurges in design choices pack a major punch without blowing my budget. Iâve planned for extensive trim work (bead board walls, wood planked ceilings, etc.), custom storage units, unique hardware, and many other upgrades that wouldnât be feasible had I chosen more square footage.
Iâve been collecting furniture, art, accessories, and fabrics throughout the entire planning phase of construction.
My very first purchase was a pair of stained glass windows from Antique Warehouse of Arkansas, in Botkinburg, AR. One pane will be hung inside my kitchen window. The larger glass will be installed on the wall that divides my master closet from the bedroom. Itâs difficult to imagine, but this window placement will highlight the design of the closet space.
Imagine the above stained glass installed on one wall of the galley closet picturedâ¦ I lose a bit of storage but the awesome factor makes it totally worth it. (Can you tell the closet is my favorite âroomâ in my house?)
At Architectural Salvage by Ri-Jo in Mena, AR, I found a truckload of amazing salvaged doorknobs. There were ceramic, metal, and glass knobs to choose fromâ¦ and I ended up buying a few of each.
To be able to utilize the knobs for my interior doors, I had to find mortise locks for the knobs. These locks fit antique spindles and can be found at specialty hardware stores. Unfortunately, each lock cost more than $70. But when you only have 4 interior doors, the cost isnât really a huge extravagance. Knobs that arenât used for doors will be mounted to use as hooks for the entry or master closet.
Bathrooms are a great space in any home to add some extra âwow.â Unfortunately, bathrooms are also an area to add LOTS of extra spending.
Luckily for me, I found an amazing corner-mounted sink at Architectural Salvage for only $100! Not only will it save space in my 5âx7â bathroom, it will also bring a vintage feel to the space. Plus, the allowance in my contract for my bath vanity faucet alone was $145, which I deleted by using the existing hardware on the sink. Free and cute? Whatâs not to love here? (Note the crack in the front of the sink: I had this checked out by a professional glazer. He told me that the sink is completely usable, but the crack cannot be cosmetically âfixed.â I was actually excited to hear this, since I love the defect. Adds characterâ¦)
Wallpaper has really made a comeback since the floral mess that adorned my sisterâs bedroom in the early 90s. Iâm planning to paper my foyer ceiling with a watercolor-style print I found at Anthropologie. Since most wallpaper sells for over $100 per roll, Iâm very thankful for my 5âx5â entry. Less is so more.
Go inside the making of Lyndsey Lewis’ certified green home in Little Rock! Through her At Home blog column, Lyndsey invites you into the planning, construction and interior design of her house, as it’s being built by Bret Franks Construction. If you haven’t been following, click here to learn more, and watch as this exciting project unfolds through the eyes of its owner…
The construction of my Whidbey is scheduled to take 6 months total. To date, we are just past the half-way point. So I thought this would be a good week to bring readers up-to-date on the progress.
After grading the lot, framing began in early September. This stage was the first time I was able to walk through the actual-size space where Iâll be living. I had visited rooms with similar dimensions as my rooms, trying to get a feel for the scale. But walking through the framing was pretty exciting.
After the framing was covered in protective sheeting, roofing was underway.
From this rear view of the house, you can see the opening for my backdoor. (Note the bins for scraps and recycling on the job site.)
This picture of my detached garage with carport is taken from my backdoor. There will be a walkway leading from my house to the covered patio. And yes, the garage is almost as big as my house!
I chose to upgrade my design with wood-clad windows. The grids and trim will be painted to complement the house. (These windows also have LowE insulated glass for increased efficiency.)
From the interior, these front windows provide tons of natural light for my guest bedroom. Although the space is only 9×10 feet, the walls of windows keep the room from feeling cramped.
Next, the installation of Hardiboard siding and trim began. (Hardiboard is a cement product manufactured in strips similar to finished lumber.) This stage is a labor-intensive process that involves cutting each piece of board to size and then attaching it to the house. When painted, the Hardiboard will look like wood siding.
And with that, you are up to speed on the little house. In the coming weeks, the interior will start to take shape as the sheetrock is installed and the trim work begins.
This piece of art was a gift for my 30th birthday and will adorn my mantle. Itâs an original family portrait by Lewis, my 4-year-old nephew.
It’s been so fun tagging along as homeowner Lyndsey Lewis and Bret Franks Construction build Lyndsey’s certified green home in Little Rock. Lyndsey’s sprightly personality is really beginning to shine through! Especially today, as she shares a few of the fun details slated for the interior design. It’s not easy furnishing a 600 square foot home, but with the help of Jen Franks, Lyndsey’s searching high and low for everything she’ll need to achieve her vision. See what you think!
I have to admit that flying solo and being the last and only word when choosing design details for my home is really great. Ok, itâs beyond great: itâs awesome. Every square foot of my little house will be a reflection of my personality, my routine, my preferences.
Egocentric? Probablyâ¦ but thatâs just where Iâm at in my life, and Iâm going to find the joy in it. Going it alone has made the decision making process simple and given me the opportunity to really let my imagination run.
Iâd like to share some of my favorite wild card picks for the Whidbey. Many of them will probably leave you shaking your head and wondering just what I was thinkingâ¦ but I present them to you anyway.
Mexican plaster horse head:
Why a horse head? Why not? I saw it while on vacation with friends in Mexico. I originally left it behind, but drove back the next day to purchase it. After seeing my horse, several people have asked if Iâm going with a Western motif. No.
I found this heavyweight fabric at a discount upholstery store. When I chose it, the gentleman ringing me up said, âMan, no one has bought any of this in a long time!â He explained that many teachers used to cover bulletin boards with the map print. I responded by telling him I plan to use it to make a curtain that will serve as my closet door (in the master bedroom). He stared at me blankly.
Closet light fixture:
My master closet is turning out to be one of my favorite areas in the house. I want it to be organized and usable. By adding a âfancyâ fixture, Iâm hoping to highlight all of the details and planning that are going into the space. Hopefully it will turn out to be more of a dressing room than a cramped closet.
When a professional flooring salesman caught sight of my wood floor sample, his question: âYou do know thatâs shop-grade, right?â No, actually I didnât know that. But I really appreciated an accurate way to describe the product. After searching high and low for the perfect flooring for my little house, I finally found exactly what I had imagined: wood flooring that looks like plain old wood. And it came with a gigantic plus: less $2 per sf! (Apparently not many people share my love of âwoodyâ floors.)
So, you ask, what makes a green home “green“? We’ve been following the construction of Lyndsey Lewis’ home in Little Rock (click here for the full scoop), and she shares a few of the many reasons that it’s certified green. Grab a pen and notepad, and read on!
Pop quiz: Which flooring choice is considered more sustainable for a home in Arkansas, bamboo or hardwood? The answer: hardwood. Did this surprise you as much as it did me?
Green building is all about creating a structure that will stand the test of time while utilizing (and wasting) the least amount of resources possible. Bamboo flooring, if itâs made of the quickly maturing variety of the plant, is soft and not very durable. Also, since bamboo is primarily manufactured outside of the U.S., its transportation to a jobsite in Arkansas utilizes a significant amount of fossil fuel.
âGreenâ as a concept is everywhere. People use it to talk about everything from recycling to car buying. Before undertaking the project of my little house, I really didnât understand what truly makes one thing a better choice, from an environmental perspective, over another thing.
For green certified home builders, a green scoring tool is used to quantify the âgreenâ level achieved for a project per the National Green Building Certification. I was surprised to see where my Whidbey racked up pointsâ¦ for things I wouldâve considered just âgood common sense.â
(Salvaged knobs to be used on my interior doors)
My builder Bret Franks (of Bret Franks Construction) says, âOnce I became familiar with the specifics and intent of the homeowner on this project, working to certify it as an NAHB Green home was a no-brainer. The project epitomizes what residential green building is all about.â
As expected, green building often includes utilizing Energy Star appliances and light fixtures, installing rainwater collection tanks, building minimal square footage, utilizing salvaged materials, and other commonly known practices. But here are some of the less obvious criteria used to qualify a home for green certification:
- Indigenous materials used for major elements of the building
- Access to mass transit and pedestrian activity promoted
- Community resources (6 or more) near home
- Natural water/drainage features are preserved
- Entries at exterior door assemblies are covered to prevent deterioration
- Continuous physical termite barrier installed in areas with termites
- Built-in recycling collection space and pick-up space are implemented
- Dedicated bins for sorting/reuse of scrap building materials provided
- Food waste disposer installed in kitchen sink
- Carport or detached garage utilized
- All penetrations to living area are sealed to prevent contaminants and improve indoor air quality
- Heat/air ductless system, similar to those used in hotels, utilized to greatly improve indoor air quality
- Â Moisture content of lumber, insulation, etc. meets moisture control standards before installation
- A building ownerâs manual is provided and owner is familiarized with green building practices and trained regarding equipment (i.e. air filters, thermostat operation, water heater, etc.)
âAt the completion of this project, there will be a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that the home was built while making the least impact of the environment as possible. And the operation of the home will be very efficient for the homeowner for many years to come.â âBuilder Bret Franks
Homeowner Lyndsey Lewis is back with an update on the little “green” house (eco-friendly and painted a shade of green too) she’s building in Little Rock through Bret Franks Construction! My, how far her cute little house has come since Lyndsey first started this series with us in November! Stop by next week for a FULL update, part of which you can see on Lyndsey’s personal blog, Little House in Little Rock, right now.
Itâs go-time now. Weâre near the finish line on the little house (less than a month out), and boy is the pressure getting to me. I have projects for my projects at this point! I lie in bed at night, unable to sleep, going through to-do lists. I dream about furniture arranging.
Â Jen Franks [the wife in my husband-wife building team of Bret Franks Construction] told someone, âSheâs a real go-getter. Sheâs doing all kinds of projects for the house and still working her ârealâ job.â
Me: âNo, Iâm actually just a really bad judge of time. I always think thereâll be more of it.â
I decided to try my hand at upholstering my own headboard and ottoman. The headboard was donated by my big sister, Lola, after she decided to upgrade from the covered plywood. The ottoman was actually a wicker storage cube I bought at Big Lots during pharmacy school. The fabric and supplies I purchased for less than $20. Iâd say it’s a decent DIY for an amateur.
Tip: For a bargain on upholstery fabric, try Rushin Upholstery on Roosevelt in Little Rock. They have a whole wall of fabric thatâs less than $10/yard. Is it fancy? No. Does it have to newest prints in Elle DÃ©cor? No. But it is a fun, fun place to hunt and get creative. And no, Iâm not a paid spokesperson… my aunt does commercial upholstery work and told me about the place.
Iâve barely gotten a good start on the twin bed for my loft. (I purchased two twin-sized beds at Habitat ReStore for $50.) Stripping paint is no joke, readers! But, when the bed is decently cleaned, I plan to paint it a color then white-wash it. I may paint words on the footboard tooâ¦ perhaps âSLEEP TIGHTâ or âDREAMâ or âG NIGHTâ in industrial stenciled letters. (Or is that too kitschy?)
Â My mother and grandmother gifted a couple of family quilts to add some extra cozy to my beds.
Ok, back to work for me. I still have to sew curtains, create a skirt for my bathroom sink, stain my dining tableâ¦
Iâve got plenty of time, right?
If you’ve been following our “At Home with Green Design” series, you’ve gotten to know homeowner Lyndsey Lewis, as she’s been writing since November about the certified green home she’s building in Little Rock. Today, the experts at Bret Franks Construction (comprised of Bret and Jen Franks) talk about the process of building Lyndsey’s sustainable home. The key, they say, is in the planning.
PS- Tour Bret and Jen Franks’ own certified green home in our July 2011 issue, here!
The Whidbey, the home plan for Lyndsey’s own green home
Building a custom home always takes careful planning and forethought. Building a tiny home takes the importance of planning to another level. Then throw in Certified Green and Energy Star Qualifications, and it requires special attention to detail to make the dream a reality. In addition to the design, colors, fixtures and finishes that need to be determined, there are building code requirements, space planning, and Green points to consider.
One important aspect of planning a tiny home is to verify that the home plan and location meet the International Building Code Requirements. Bret met with the City of Little Rock Planning and DevelopmentÂ Department before construction began to confirm that Lyndsey’s Tiny Tumbleweed home plan would conform to local residential buildingÂ and neighborhood design requirements.
The design and location of the garage was also critical – not only for the aesthetics of a visible corner lot but for the storage needs of the homeowner. We felt it was important for the garage to be just as unique as the home without overpowering the diminutive size of the home. After discussing the storage needs with the homeowner (including a desire for covered space for two cars), Bret and I designed a single car enclosed garage with an attached carport – sometimes called a “lean-to”. The design was inspired by our recent trip to the South Carolina low country and incorporates space for a single car, a large amount of storage on two levels, a covered area for a grill, and a carport space for a second car which can also be used for outdoor parties with recessed lighting and a ceiling fan. Multi-purpose spaces are integral to tiny homes and their garages!
The kitchen design also required considerable thought and planning. Before the initial cabinet sketches, we had many discussions with Lyndsey about what was most important to her – from the coffee pot location to the built-in trash can (a must when you have two curious dogs living with you!). And small space appliances from GE were also determined before the cabinet design was finalized. Everything in the kitchen was scaled to fraction of inches – because every “tiny” bit of storage space counts when your building a little house.
Our April color issue is out! We had such a fun month photographing and writing about these colorful places, including this color blocked kitchen in Conway, at The Village at Hendrix, in a home built by Bret Franks Construction.
It’s the home of Melanie and Bill Siegel, and we’re smitten by the colorful tile backsplash from Clayhaus Ceramics. Sherwin-Williamsâ Mindful Gray coats the cabinets, with Creamy on the ceiling and trim. Counters are Caesarstone Organic White; the sink is from Whitehaus, with a Danze faucet. Hudson Valley Independence pendant lights hang above the island, and a McCoy fixture from Rejuvenation hangs above the sink. Knobs and drawer pulls are from etsy.com.
We think the Siegels chose a terrific mix of items–stylish, unique, creative…
And a great place to get cookin’. You can see more and read the full story here.
After seeing its progress on the At Home blog, we were all anxious to see how Lyndsey Lewis’ adventures in green design would turn out. Finally, in July’s “Green Living” issue, we got to see the final result of all her hard work. So we asked Lyndsey to come back to the At Home blog and tell us what it’s like living in Little Rock’s adorable Little House! Take it away, Lyndsey!
The little house project was less about downsizing my stuff and more about restyling my life. The process of building (and blogging) my home really woke up my left brain and reminded me to make time to be creative.
With less time spent working (or driving to work) and less money going to housing, Iâm free to try out new things. My garden, started from seeds, has been a success! Not only does it provide fresh, organic groceries, but it makes the yard look like a domestic oasis.
Cooking has always been a hobby, but it has a whole new dimension now that Iâm using produce from the garden. I also experimented with sewing (see kitchen cafÃ© curtains), which is frustrating, challenging, and extremely satisfying when things actually turn out (mostly) correct.
Living in the little house, I really challenged myself to redesign the norms of my day-to-day tasks. For instance, caring for the âgirlsâ (see photo above) reminds me to think twice before choosing meat over other foods. I also try to make time to walk to work in the mornings now that Iâm living close to work.
Even the way I do my laundry has been modified. Most of the time, the sun does the work instead of my dryer. Besides saving electric energy, thereâs something really pleasant about watching clothes flutter on the line.
Having less space has meant buying less stuff. Iâm struggling to master the art of window shopping. However, I do not count bartering as shopping. Mandy Keener (At Home Stylist) swapped me an awesome pillow (see photo above) for a box of glass pharmacy decanters like the one on my side table. I rescued the containers from the âtossâ pile at workâ¦And voila! I now have style in the living room for free. (Thanks Mandy!)