Green Kitchen in a House of Straw

Custom kitchen for this straw bale home is earth and family-friendly.

Sunny kitchen has walls made of straw bales.

Sunny kitchen has walls made of straw bales.

Using straw bales to construct and insulate their home—including sunny kitchen—stacked up well for the Eichler family. Photography by Jim Wieland & Styling by Melissa Haberman

Tile mosaic above range has eco theme.

Tile mosaic above range has eco theme.

The tile mosaic, created by a local artist, celebrates native plants and animals, perfectly suiting the kitchen’s earth-friendly nature. Photography by Jim Wieland & Styling by Melissa Haberman

Emerald green door pulls accent cabinets.

Emerald green door pulls accent cabinets.

Special touches, like these emerald green door pulls, glow against the cream cabinets. Photography by Jim Wieland & Styling by Melissa Haberman

Island's slide-out drawers are handy.

Island's slide-out drawers are handy.

The versatile island lets guests and cooks chat as meals are readied. Photography by Jim Wieland & Styling by Melissa Haberman

Kitchen island has storage galore.

Kitchen island has storage galore.

This island has plenty of storage, making it practical and family-friendly. Photography by Jim Wieland & Styling by Melissa Haberman

Sill is covered with tiles shaped like river stones.

Sill is covered with tiles shaped like river stones.

Big windows highlight a cascade of tiles shaped like river stones. Photography by Jim Wieland & Styling by Melissa Haberman

Truth window reveals straw bale construction.

Truth window reveals straw bale construction.

Most straw bale homes have a truth window. The inscription here, Veritas, is Latin for “truth.” Photography by Jim Wieland & Styling by Melissa Haberman

Wide window ledges provide comfy lookout spot.

Wide window ledges provide comfy lookout spot.

Wide window ledges are a dreamy place to gaze at rural vistas. Photography by Jim Wieland & Styling by Melissa Haberman

The Eichler family enjoys their earth-friendly kitchen.

The Eichler family enjoys their earth-friendly kitchen.

Many cooks. Monika and David Eichler, shown with Elyse, 3, and Lauren, 8, planned their kitchen as the heart of their straw bale home. It offers plenty of room-—not just for adults to work and entertain, but also for the girls to help. Photography by Jim Wieland & Styling by Melissa Haberman

Eichlers' kitchen floor plan.

Eichlers' kitchen floor plan.

Layout for the Eichlers’ earth-friendly kitchen.

 

Forget the Three Little Pigs jokes.  Nearly 10 years after building their sturdy straw bale home outside Lawrence, Kansas, Monika and David Eichler know it’s there to stay.

Their welcoming kitchen is both earth- and family-friendly, from warm-toned flooring of renewable bamboo to full-spectrum lighting overhead. The cabinetry, with built-in recycling drawers, was constructed locally, without formaldehyde-based glues or pressboard, and painted with low-VOC paints that release a minimum of volatile compounds. Appliances, like the Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer, are energy-efficient, and window treatments are insulated. The family uses glass or ceramic containers instead of plastic.

Both Monika, a university researcher, and David, a public school behavioral consultant, enjoy cooking. Daughters Lauren and Elyse help, at the central island designed to resemble an expansive farmhouse kitchen table.

The kitchen, with room for multiple cooks, was designed to be the heart of their first floor, David says, and flows into the dining and living areas. That makes it easy to host weekend brunches, or meals with families from the local Waldorf School they helped co-found a decade ago.

Monika says the nature-themed decor reflects the Waldorf philosophy of surrounding children—and adults —with truth, beauty and goodness. A local artist created their bright backsplash mural of handcrafted tiles. It features native plants, like mullein and oak trees, as well as frogs, smooth river stones and even a hawk feather.

The kitchen also holds their truth window, a common element in straw bale homes, which shows the straw within the thick, stucco-covered walls. A woodworking friend carefully crafted theirs to look like something straight out of a fairy tale.

But Monika finds the most enchanting part of the kitchen the view from their bank of wide-ledged windows—acres of rolling countryside. “Looking out into that vista every day restores my sense of calm and peace. It inspires me,” she says. “It’s exactly why we moved to the country.”

To see photos of how the Eichlers built their straw bale home at their website.

 

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