SOME THINGS I CAN WRITE
SOME PIECES I'VE WRITTEN
All of these feature articles were written for the regional magazine Homes & Lifestyles of South-Central Indiana.
A Flock of Her Own: Bloomfield fleece farmer shares love of fiber arts
Published in Homes & Lifestyles of South-Central Indiana, February 2012
Operating her wooden spinning wheel, Pam Kinnaman gently pulls a clump of white fleece with an effortless technique as she watches it transform into yarn. Just outside, a pasture and barn are home to her very own flock of sheep and camelids — llamas and alpacas — whose names and personalities she knows like those of her own children. On her Bloomfield, Ind. farm, with her husband Tim and host of fiber-bearing animals, Pam is living out her dream.
Eleven years ago, the Kinnamans purchased the farm that they found online. Midwest transplants from Florida, Pam began populating the farm with sheep just a couple years later. She started to accumulate Camelids more recently and says she’d like to have more. “I’m going crazy,” she says, about her acquisition of llamas and alpacas. “I just can’t stop. It’s an addiction.”
Her so-called addiction to adopting and fostering camelids has created a necessity for a larger pasture. Tim and the Kinnamans’ high school-aged farmhand, Brian, dig holes for new posts that will allow the remaining expanse of land to be fenced in and stop every so often to ask Pam for help. She willingly obliges, temporarily putting her spinning on hold.
All of the llamas and alpacas on the farm are males because Pam doesn’t keep them for breeding purposes, but solely for their fleece. “I keep them for their fiber and for them to have a home,” she says. In the barn, she points out Chico, Ishy, Orion, and Hombre, among others, and explains where all of them came from and the qualities of their fiber. Pam fosters llamas on behalf of the Southeast Llama Rescue, an organization that exists to protect abused and neglected llamas, in addition to the camelids she personally owns. “I’d love to adopt them all,” she says. “But I have to control myself.”
Looking to the other side of the barn, Pam tells stories about Princess Diana, Larry Bird, Prince Charming, and Angel, just a few of her sheep. “I want to downsize to a spinner’s flock,” she says. She hopes to sell some of her Shetland sheep and acquire different types of animals, particularly Wensleydale sheep, to have more of a variety in the fleece she procures.
The Little Guy
Two years ago, Pam started the Indiana Fiber Producers Association (IFPA) in the hopes that she would be able to provide a venue for “the little guy” — local fiber artists who sell their materials and finished products. Members’ products are sold at various events as well as in Pam’s shop It’s About Fiber, a small white building at the back of her property.
In the back room of It’s About Fiber, Pam pulls products from the shelves and explains the materials used to make each one. There is a selection of roving, raw fiber that will be used by spinners to make yarn, or by felters. Multi-colored skeins of yarn fill the cubby hole shelves, all of which are hand-dyed by IFPA members. Some are left in their natural state, like a skein of pure black yarn that Pam adores. “I get excited about black fiber because my sheep don’t give me all-black fiber,” she explains.
Some knitted and crocheted garments are displayed around the room including a shawl and small selection of scarves and gloves. “I don’t have a lot of finished product here because I’ve sold so much,” she says.
Prices vary, depending on how the fiber was spun, the weight of the skein, and the type of fiber. A 16 ounce mill-spun skein of alpaca wool costs $9.60, while a larger skein of handspun Wensleydale yarn, the “high end stuff,” according to Pam, costs $38.
The side room bursts with bags full of fleeces from both sheep and camelids. Members with their own flocks sell raw materials at It’s About Fiber, too. Every bag displays a picture of the animal from which the fleece came, its date of birth, and the farm’s name. Pam peaks into a bag with a picture of an alpaca named Buster on the front. “I’m buying Buster,” she says. Members also sell fleeces at the IFPA booths during fiber events throughout the year.
“That’s Moe, Abel, Val,” Pam says, pointing out the bags of fleece taken from her own flock. She pulls apart a small clump of fiber from one of the bags and runs her fingers over the impurities that will remain until the fleece is cleaned properly. The cleaning process is lengthy and is typically done in a bathtub, using nylon netting as a filter after most of the vegetation is picked out by hand.
Pam and the IFPA participate in festivals and fairs, typically in the spring and fall, with booths paid for by members. Some events, like the Hoosier Hills Fiber Arts Festival and the Bloomington Spinners and Weavers Guild Fiber Arts Show and Sale target a specific audience. Others, like the Linton Freedom Festival, allow Pam an opportunity to operate her spinning wheel at the booth, displaying her craft for curious patrons who may be less familiar with the fiber arts. “It’s an education,” she says. “People don’t really know there are so many of us out there.”
Last fall, Pam and members of the IFPA participated in Worldwide Spin in Public Day, an international event that centers on such an education. They gathered on the sidewalk outside the Monroe County History Center in Bloomington, operating their spinning wheels and drawing a crowd of inquisitive passersby. “I hope to have a lot more people this year,” Pam says. “I want to have food and beverages and make it more of an event.”
Occasionally, Pam invites the public to her farm for Rooing and Shearing Days. Rooing is the process of removing an animal’s fleece by hand using a plucking technique. “It draws people out,” she says. “We do it to get people out here.” Pam’s enjoyment of educating the public about fiber arts is also evident in the schedule of classes provided at It’s About Fiber. Classes range from spinning and felting to weaving for children, beginning knitting, and dying.
The newest event that Pam plans to organize will take place on her farm, as well. This fall, she hopes to begin hosing Fiber Retreats, a bed and breakfast-style weekend for fiber artists that offers classes and workshops from Friday to Sunday. “We’d feed them, sit on the front porch and spin,” she says. “A group of friends could plan to come down and do it. We could sleep six.” Pam’s eyes light up as she talks about the possibility of hosting fiber artists in her home. “My husband has not been as enthusiastic about this, but I’m going to do it,” she says.
Though she has lived most of her life in an urban environment, she now embraces her rural lifestyle, her dream. “It’s cool because I have animals and I can be creative using their fiber,” she says. “I always wanted a farm and critters. I wish I had gotten into it ages ago.”
Where the Wood Wills: Rustic furniture maker enhances nature’s perfect imperfections
Published in Homes & Lifestyles of South-Central Indiana, February 2012
Holding a digital camera, he scrolls through photos of his creations that have already found homes. He flips to a photograph of a table with walnuts embedded in the surface, a pleasant surprise discovered upon sawing the wood. “Squirrels put them there!” he says with a laugh. For this primitive furniture maker, what others may consider to be nature’s flaws are simply perfection when it comes to his craft.
Robert Hamm, 77, has worked with wood for most of his life but began selling what he calls primitive or rustic furniture just 13 years ago. “I like to take wood that nobody else would use,” he says of his building materials. His Bloomington home is a showcase of his work, from the coffee table in the living room to the hutch and dining table in the rear of the house.
He traces his fingers over a deep groove that runs through the middle of his dining table. “If a piece of wood has a hairline crack, I’ll make it bigger because it sells better. I’ll make it bigger than what it was,” he says. Using a Dremel rotary tool, Robert often accentuates grooves and cracks in wood for his customers because he knows they are in the market for pieces that showcase such imperfections.
Robert seeks out materials with knots and unique grain lines and doesn’t discriminate based on the type of wood. His collection spans from cedar to maple, and every piece has a signature all its own. “No two pieces are alike,” he says. He points out some dark spots on the hutch where he used a knife and saw to remove the bark but preserved the effect the bark had given.
He recalls a time when a customer wanted to purchase one of his large tables but preferred a lighter stain. Because Robert’s pieces feature so much design at the surface, he had to be careful when removing and replacing the finish. “If you take it all the way down, you ruin the character,” he explains. He sands each surface so that it is smooth but with a technique that leaves a bit of texture and marks for visual appeal.
Where the Word Happens
Robert’s wife of six years, Wilma, rests her feet on the living room coffee table he made and kindly declines an invitation to join him for a trip to his wood workshop. He removes a khaki-colored fedora hat from the closet and places it on his head before he exits the house. “He’s got to have his hat,” Wilma says with a smile.
He makes the drive to Whitehall every day to work in his barbershop and wood workshop in the connecting garage. A barber for over 50 years, he tells stories of how he hitchhiked to barber school in Indianapolis. “I was barbering uptown when they put in 37,” he recalls. Though he comments on how much the surrounding area has built up in his lifetime, his property in Whitehall, marked with a “Hamm’s Barber Shop” sign, appears almost preserved in time.
Inside the adjacent workshop, pieces of lumber and raw wood lean against every wall. Saws, sanders, a planer, dust catcher, and drills are spread around the workspace, sprinkled with sawdust. Robert holds up a piece of wood that had rested near the door. “Here’s a huge piece. One piece for sale at Big River is like this. That’s junk wood,” he says, jokingly referring to how others have categorized the piece.
“A church member gave me that,” he says, pointing to an oversized cross-section of a tree stump, bark and all. “I won’t do much more to it. That’s what sells.” Using his handheld sander, he takes a moment to work on a smaller piece of wood. After the hum of the sander dies down, he holds it at an angle to see the texture he has created. “See how much differently it smoothes out?” he asks, comparing his technique to the way a traditional tabletop would be sanded.
A Family Legacy
In a one-room house on the same property, referred to as Hamm’s Family Cabin, Robert keeps some finished pieces. End tables, a foot stool, candleholders, wall shelves, and even a small table and chairs for children are spread around the cabin’s tables. One wall shelf is adorned with antlers, a technique Robert says he has used only sparingly. Buckets of varnish on the tabletops are evidence of his works in progress.
Outside on the porch, he keeps a rustic wall shelf that features a tree branch as a decorative accessory. This piece, like all the others, is slightly asymmetrical and even has a hollow spot created naturally by an original hole in the wood. The porch is littered with antique tools that surround the doorway. “These all came from the shop where my great granddad worked,” Robert says. His great grandfather made wagons, buggies, and wagon wheels — a woodworking legacy that has been passed down through generations.
“Woodworking is in my blood from way back,” he says. Robert’s father built houses, and his uncle was a finish carpenter. Growing up on a farm, he says he helped with building projects as a kid, which progressed into more and more time spent in the shop as a high school student.
Every Piece Tells a Story
Walking over a gravel path, Robert stops at the front of a large metal storage barn behind the barbershop and wood workshop. After he slides open the oversized door, he makes his way past the old farm equipment to one of the largest dining tables he has ever made. Peeling back a tarp, he reveals more chairs, including a tiny children’s rocking chair, all constructed in his signature style. Though he still sells 45 to 50 pieces of furniture a year, most at Big River Tackle & Timber in Nashville, Ind., the pieces in this storage barn have yet to sell, so he keeps them tucked away safely.
Every one of Robert’s pieces tells a story, he says. He tells stories through pieces of wood that would typically be discarded, showcasing their blemishes by making them beautiful. “I keep busy,” he says. “God grew the tree and gave me the ability to make rustic furniture.”
Going Off Book: ‘Book Artist’ uses old texts to create new art’
Published in Homes & Lifestyles of South-Central Indiana, October 2011
Talia Halliday’s table rests under stacks of books instead of place settings. The hutch in the corner is a home for art supplies – not fine china. Shelves burst with vintage books, photo albums, and small plastic shelves full of art supplies. Two sewing machines rest on a desk among a clutter of boxes on the floor and paper lanterns hung from the ceiling. Her dining room as become her studio.
Two years ago Talia turned her bookmaking hobby into a career. In the fall of 2009 she opened Conduit Press on Etsy.com and has been operating her business out of her home ever since. A self-proclaimed “book artist,” her signature pieces are hand bound leather journals, vintage book safes and clutch purses, all made from recycled and repurposed materials.
She never set out to own and operate her own business. It just happened. “I would always make books as gifts for friends and things like that. It was always just something to do on the side,” she said. After graduating from Indiana University in 2004 with a master’s degree in education, she decided not to go the teaching route.
As an employee at both Kinko’s and Author House in Bloomington, she tapped into her creative interests that bloomed in high school when she was a part of a literary magazine staff. Sitting at the table, she thumbs through the original “zine” that she and her friends created as an unsanctioned supplement to the official publication. “We wanted to publish things that (our adviser) didn’t want to publish, so we made our own,” she said. “It’s funny when you go back and look at it now, it’s just bad high school poetry.”
At IU she enrolled in a course through the Collins Living and Learning Center called “Creating the Artist Book” where she learned the binding techniques that she uses today (though now she says she uses “her own rules” when it comes to book binding.) In the class, she created what she calls “artist books” – collage-style photo album-inspired books with a painted cover and pages. She decided to pursue her interest in photography at the same time and filled the pages of her books with her own photos.
Starting Her Business
Talia knew that with the birth of her son, Griffin, in 2009 that she wanted to work from home. When organizers of the Bloomington Handmade Market discovered Conduit Press on Etsy.com, she was recruited as a vendor for its first indie craft fair – an event featuring work from local alternative artists and crafters. This would be the event that would give Talia the momentum she needed to operate Conduit Press as a business instead of a hobby.
“I had just had Griffin, and I was going through a little bit of post partum and a little bit of cabin fever and a little bit of what am I going to do? The (Bloomington Handmade Market) is what got me out of it because I was like now I have to make stuff to be in this fair.”
Now she keeps a wheeled crate packed in her garage – an extension of her dining room studio – for weekend craft fairs. She participates in other regional indie craft events like the Handmade Promenade and the Indieana Handicraft Exchange in Indianapolis and Déjà vu All Over Again in Columbus.
The Conduit Press craft fair display is a physical manifestation of Talia’s Etsy shop. Her signature book safes and clutch purses appear, at first glance, to be unaltered vintage books littering the shelves. But opening the front cover of a book safe reveals a hollowed shape cut through every page, which Talia fills with an item to fit the shape. Some of her most popular book safes come with a flask or a toy gun hidden inside.
Locally, Conduit Press books are available at Farm, Barefoot Kids, Paper Crane Gallery, and Book Corner in Bloomington. Over the last two years, she has expanded her scope of brick-and-mortar stores to include Wholly Craft in Columbus, Ohio and Magpie in Summerville, Mass. among others. “It’s nice to get out of the Midwest,” she said.
Details of Her Work
Her vintage book clutch purses are lined with fabric and made so they don’t open wider than 90 degrees. They fasten with a magnetic closure. Talia acquires most of her vintage books from Public Library sales and giveaways, discards from auctions, and thrift stores. “When I get rich and famous I’ll have to become a giant donor to the library because they’ve definitely helped me,” she said with a laugh.
The unfinished mini journals stacked on her table are intended for an upcoming children’s craft fair. Pieces of yellow, maroon, and purple leather are wrapped around three-inch by five-inch notebooks, waiting to be stitched. These journals will be refillable, unlike the traditional journals she makes with the pages sewn in.
Talia uses repurposed leather acquired from an upholsterer in Tennessee. She requests colors, but sometimes receives a box of surprises. “In this shipment, he sent me some gold, which I’m not a fan of, so I turned it inside out. It’s the first time I asked for pastel colors,” she said.
For her larger hand bound journals, she prefers a more rustic look with long, exposed stitches on the binding. She creates patterns on some covers with an embroidery sewing machine. Some are adorned with leather cut-outs of a tree, a whale, and even a mustache. Others are topped with a skeleton key or other vintage trinket.
An even smaller version of her hand-stitched journals also serves as a necklace “pendant.” Just one-inch by two-inches in size, the tiny book necklaces are exact replicas of her larger hand bound books. “I had these small pieces of leather and knew I couldn’t make a book out of a piece that small,” she said. “I just try to find ways that I can use everything.”
Talia said her work is always evolving. She is planning to unveil a vintage book jewelry box in the near future to add to her existing repertoire of recycled book art. Her combination of aesthetic preferences leads her to create beautiful utilitarian pieces for her customers. “My customers inspire me to make things for them – pretty things for them,” she said.
“Everything inspires me, so sometimes I feel like there’s a lack of cohesion in my work because I’m inspired by so many things. I really like old, vintage books. But I also like awesome, long contemporary lines, and sometimes I find it hard to merge those two things, but I’m learning,” she said.
The Conduit Press logo is a tree. A similar figure is stitched into a burlap tapestry hung on Talia’s dining room studio wall. Among her inspirations, this image is a reminder of what sets her work apart and keeps her interested in it. “I’m inspired a lot by nature in general,” she said. “That’s why the tree is kind of my thing, and I try to recycle as much as I can.”
Bloomington by Hand: Local artists create a market for the unconventional
Published in Homes & Lifestyles of South-Central Indiana, October 2011
A basket of plush walruses and whales rests in the corner of Paper Crane Gallery & Boutique in Bloomington. Linocut and watercolor prints are displayed neatly, and the far wall is home to a host of handmade patterned baby bonnets and bloomers.
“I would definitely wear those,” Mia Beach says, admiring the tiny garments.
Today, though, she, Sally Harless, and Nicole Wolfersberger are all wearing black adult-sized clothing. They laugh, but hardly seem surprised at their coincidental wardrobe coordination. Perhaps, they say, it is their similar tastes that brought them together to plan Bloomington’s premiere independent craft fair.
Welcome to the Market
The Bloomington Handmade Market was born in 2009, the brainchild of these three women who share an interest in alternative crafts and Handmade Culture.
“We are an indie craft fair,” Sally says. “I don’t think we really call ourselves that, but we cater ourselves more toward artists and crafters who are putting a different spin on traditional techniques or traditional mediums.”
Unlike traditional fine arts fairs, the Bloomington Handmade Market is an event that showcases accessible, affordable handmade items such as house wares, greeting cards, knitted garments, books, apparel, and a slew of other oddities and trinkets. Twice a year, new and faithful patrons alike make their way to the Bloomington Convention Center to purchase treasures from the creators themselves.
Saturday, Nov. 12 will mark the Market’s fifth event — no small feat, according to the women. “It’s time consuming,” Mia says. “And because we’ve done several of them now, we’re doing the same things over and over, and it feels like we’ve done more than we actually have.”
Though they admit that the planning and execution of the Market can be stressful, the women are in agreement that the end result has been worth it every time. “It looks more now like I wanted it to look initially. The word has gotten out, and we’ve been getting a better quality of artists,” Nicole says.
The winter Market will feature around 45 vendors, the same number juried into the first event. The BHM has changed little in size and scope over the past two years, but word of mouth among the artists has brought an influx of regional applicants, giving the women more vendors to choose from each time around. They’re not planning to expand just yet, but as the event’s popularity grows, the women know they may have to reconsider.
“Last time we go over 100 applicants, and we only had space for 46 people,” Mia says. “If that number increases, and it gets to the point that we’re turning too many people away, I’d be happy to make it bigger. We’re taking it in baby steps.”
“That’s the way to go,” Sally agrees.
Making it Happen
Mia, Sally, and Nicole laugh when asked about making money from the Market. Financial success has never been their goal.
“We pretty much break even,” Nicole says.
“It’s one giant volunteer effort,” Mia chimes in.
Local businesses have had a hand in the Market from the very beginning. Atlas Bar, Bloomington Bagel Company, and Yarns Unlimited, among others, purchase ads in the BHM program, and businesses such as Bloomingfoods provide snacks to sell at each event.
“That money will go toward securing the space at the Convention Center, which is our single biggest expense,” Nicole says. “We don’t want to ask people for money all the time, but we also want to keep our booth spaces low for the artists.” By placing the focus on the artists and their products, their hope is that the community will do the same.
“We get a lot of people who wander over from the Farmers Market,” Nicole says. “Overwhelmingly, it’s been really positive. They say they’ve never seen anything like it.”
Sally names Purple Hippo Stitches, a repeat BHM vendor, as a prime example of what new patrons may find so fascinating and refreshing about the event. “Purple Hippo Stitches is cross-stitch, a really traditional thing that your grandmother probably did,” she explains. “But she uses it in a different way. She uses a lot of snarky phrases and pop culture references.” The booth’s display showcases traditional-style cross-stitch patterns that read I Hate People and Negative Nancy among other humorous phrases.
Mia, Sally, and Nicole seek out vendors who have something new and interesting to offer in their high-quality handmade products. As word of the BHM has spread, the applicant pool has grown to include more and more out-of-state and regional artists, some applying from as far away as Minnesota, and many more from Chicago, Louisville, and Columbus (Ohio).
“There’s this girl Abbey Christine who makes pop culture finger puppets who applied last time, and I was really excited about it,” Sally says.
“I was really excited when she applied,” Mia chimes in. “I really wanted my John and Yoko finger puppets.”
In 2010, Sally and Nicole opened Paper Crane Gallery & Boutique. The space serves as a virtual Market, contained in one room, giving BHM vendors a chance to sell their handmade goods outside of the biannual event.
“A lot of the people who sell stuff for Paper Crane are also vendors we have for the Handmade Market,” Sally says. Artists sell their items on consignment at the shop.
According to Nicole, Paper Crane has a community focus similar to that of the BHM. “We wanted to offer a place for local artists that were kind of in transition —who weren’t super established in the art scene but who are maybe out of school and want a place to showcase and sell artwork,” she says.
Artists themselves, the local community of artists and crafters is near and dear to these women’s hearts. One benefit of the BHM, Sally says, is how it has unified Bloomington’s alternative artists. “It’s bringing the crafter community here closer together,” she says.
“It’s cool,” Mia adds. “It’s also brining in bigger people from out of town, which is making Bloomington more prominent in the craft world.”
As Mia, Sally, and Nicole prepare for the winter Market, they hope that even more locals will come to see what it’s like to be a part of the community they have invested so much in.
Shoppers can expect to find plenty of knitted winter wear, ornaments, holiday-themed cards and unique stocking stuffers. “We do have something for everyone,” Mia says. “And you’ll get a chance to connect directly to the artists. You can meet the person who made the scarf you’re buying.”
Taking the ‘LEED’: Couple puts environmental concerns where their home is
Published in Homes & Lifestyles of South-Central Indiana, August 2011
Their home on West 8th Street doesn’t immediately stand out among neighboring houses. Except for a sign in the yard declaring its Platinum Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design (LEED) certification, it fits in as a complementary structure in its near west side neighborhood, quietly nestled between homes of similar size and stature.
What sets David and Carol Gulyas’ home apart is the way it was built. With environmentally conscious building practices and materials as the top priorities in the construction process, the Gulyas home is different from any other in Bloomington, and David and Carol themselves were a part of the design and construction from inception to near completion.
The Benefits of LEED Home
“The benefits of being much more comfortable and healthier in a house like this far outweigh the difficulties to making it happen,” Gulyas says. These difficulties include an exhausted budget, which has put a hold on finishing touches to a master bathroom and a detached garage. As he gives a tour of his home wearing a hat supporting “Friends of the Forest,” it is clear that his focus is on what has been completed since construction began in late 2008, as well as the energy savings and environmental integrity that his house will sustain for hundreds of years to come.
Upon entering the house, visitors first pass through an airlock sealed vestibule, which is replicated at the rear entrance. The Gulyas home, modeled after the German Passive House, emphasizes insulation and natural air circulation. “Germans are crazy!” David says, laughing. “They try and achieve as close to zero net energy without any pumps or furnaces.” Though he describes German designers as “crazy,” David himself says he hopes for a day when homes don’t just achieve zero net energy, but produce more energy than they use.
In the guest room, David peels back a towel from what appears to be a crate on the floor, revealing, instead, a piece of the insulation used to frame the entire house. He refers to the insulation as SIPS or structural insulated panels. These panels are 12 inches of thick polystyrene, surrounded by wood on both sides. “Heat comes from us,” David explains. “It’s trapped with nowhere to go, and it becomes embedded in the (floor) slab and drywall.” Because the walls of the house stay warmer, they don’t pull out a person’s body heat, which typically can typically cause someone to feel cold.
The floor of the Gulyas home has the same effect and is also modeled closely after the German Passive House. David points out that the concrete floor slab directly under a visitor’s feet is “thermally decoupled” from the SIPS and sub-slab, in other words, “floating in insulation,” he says. The slab functions as a way to absorb moisture and humidity that may enter from the outside. “The house dries out pretty quickly,” David adds.
Implementing New Technologies
The Gulyas home is visibly absent of any carpeting, tile, or wood flooring, which was done to achieve David’s desired aesthetic in addition to the intended insulation benefits. “From the design standpoint, it makes sense to have continuity, a narrative of the materials touching everything,” he says. The deep red-brown stained concrete flows effortlessly from the open dining room, kitchen, and living area into each of the home’s three bedrooms.
Despite the expansive concrete slab and open floor plan, the house is void of expected echoes. The Gulyas home’s acoustics even breathed new life into David’s lifelong passion for music. “I never realized when I moved here that I’d be drawn back into music this way,” he explains. His living room has served as a recording space for local jazz musician and IU alum Jeremy Allen among others. Strumming “Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael, David shows his appreciation for homegrown musicians, not just homegrown food and building materials.
An office at the front of the home is painted yellow and flooded with light through two windows, one on the south wall and one on the west. The windows are designed to maximize the amount of light in the house as well as insulate according to season. This “daylighting” technique, achieved through windows in the walls as well as solar windows in the ceiling, keep the house naturally lit, eliminating much of the need for artificial lighting inside the house during daytime hours.
In the early evening, shelves of photographs and books are still illuminated, as are David’s guitar and stand-up bass. It’s not until the sun has almost completely set that David needs to flip the light switch.
David’s next big project is to install a system of LED lights that will be suspended high above the doorframes throughout the house. David, a trained designer, looks forward to the aesthetic qualities of the lighting system he has in mind. “You want lighting to have flexibility in design,” he said. “You want it to illuminate the walls because that’s what your eye sees first.” He plans to display art on the walls upon completion of the project and says lighting is key to doing that properly.
Even though it is the Gulyases’ goal to have their home as tightly sealed as possible, fresh air is constantly circulating through it. A mechanical energy recovery ventilator (ERV) is a wheel with “pie pieces” that resemble the texture of steel wool. As hot air from outside touches these filtering pie pieces, the heat is absorbed, and cool air flows into the house instead. According to David, the house “literally has a set of lungs” which covers 95 percent of the heating and cooling for the entire home.
The amount of supplementary heat needed, for example, is equivalent to what a single room unit would provide. David describes his home as a “One Watt House,” meaning that it takes one watt per square foot to heat the whole thing. Even on the coldest day of the year, just over 1500 watts are required, which is the equivalent of a hair dryer.
An Ongoing Process
In addition to major installments like insulation and the ERV ventilation system, smaller details in the Gulyas home prove just how environmentally intentional the building process was. The kitchen countertops are made from Indiana limestone, and the cabinets are made from wood harvested in Ohio. Each of the two toilets have a .6 gallon flush option in addition to the normal 1.6 gallon flush, and David designed a special closet in the laundry room for drying clothes to eliminate the need for an electric dryer. Even paint and lacquer treatments that go on must be taken into account with a LEED certified home.
Although the Gulyas construction budget has been exhausted for the time being, David and Carol can enjoy the benefits of energy efficiency by saving money on monthly electric bills. According to David, for his nearly 1800 square foot home, he pays between $40 and $80 each month in utility bills, which includes a monthly $8 Green Certification fee.
Looking out his back door from the kitchen, David sees the meadow grasses he planted that have now grown tall. He describes the deck that will eventually fill part of the back yard and some future landscaping plans. “I’ve got my work cut out for me,” he says. For David Gulyas, even when the construction of his home is complete, he will never be finished seeking out innovative, environmentally conscious ways to design and build. “I want to feel like I’m connected to the neighborhood, maybe inspire someone,” David says. “I’m a little older, so I feel like I have a responsibility to do that.”
Travel, Home: Worldwide adventures accent family’s sterling woods home
Published in Homes & Lifestyles of South-Central Indiana, October 2011
Beverly and Dennis McGuire love to travel with their children. Recently returning from a trip to South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore and Badlands, they relax together in the comfort of their family room. When they’re not busy traveling, the invitation for visitors is open. Hospitality is their way of life and the driving force behind a home that doesn’t require guests to take their shoes off — unless they’d be more comfortable that way.
The McGuires have always called Bloomington home. Four years ago, they decided it was time to move into a more spacious home that would better suit their lifestyle, one that revolves around family and friends. “As the kids grew older, we needed more room. We wanted to build and personalize everything,” Beverly says. They decided to purchase land and build a home in Sterling Woods.
Dennis, a partner at CPA firm BDK, jokingly interjects that the family refers to their home as “The House that Bev Built,” but Beverly, a retired school teacher, insists that she wasn’t the only one to give input on decisions. “I pretty much got what I wanted, though,” she admits.
Working closely with builder Larry Ingram, the McGuires set out to create a space completely their own, from the floor plans to the lighting design and even details as small as cabinet hardware. Their children, Patrick, 28, Christopher, 24, and Megan, 18, were the inspiration behind much of the building layout, especially the full walkout basement.
Christopher, home for the summer from the University of Michigan, sits on the basement couch in front of the big screen TV, unbothered by his parents’ presence at the neighboring wet bar. “We designed this area specifically so the kids can play,” Beverly says. She and Dennis recall Megan’s many sleepovers with friends who commonly referred to the basement guest area as “Hotel McGuire.” Though Beverly considers the basement to be a work in progress, the space is used often, especially as an entrance to the pool deck.
The McGuires’ sloped lot lends itself perfectly to a walkout basement and pool / hot tub area, Dennis says. Shawn Eurton of Mother Nature Landscaping worked with the McGuires to create the landscape design around the textured stone pool deck. “We have nice privacy with our landscape,” Dennis says. “But we also have great neighbors.”
White columns support an upstairs screened-in porch that can be accessed from an outdoor spiral staircase. The screened-in porch opens from the kitchen and also leads to an exposed deck that connects with the Beverly and Dennis’ bedroom. “We spend a lot of time out here,” Beverly says. “We see a lot of critters.” Fox, raccoon, deer, and skunk are among the “critters” Beverly mentions.
When Megan returns home from her shift at the Bloomington Carwash, she goes upstairs to the room she helped design. Covered in a blanket, she watches a movie from the chair and matching footstool she chose as part of her bedroom set. “We wanted the kids to pick out their own furniture so they can take it with them someday,” Beverly says. In Megan’s connecting bathroom, the cabinet handles are small figurines of places she’s visited. “The Eiffel Tower, Big Ben,” Beverly says, pointing them out on the doors below the sink.
Next door, Christopher’s room looks out over the pool deck. The large wooden headboard and desk were his to choose, as was the location of his room —after Megan had her pick, he says. A connecting bathroom and shelf of recognizable structure figurines, including Mount Rushmore and Fenway Park are more fond reminders of the family’s travels.
The third upstairs bedroom — Patrick’s — mimics the style of the other two, but is mostly empty of personal belongings since he currently lives in Indianapolis, working as a research assistant at IUPUI. Beverly explains that the goal with the kids’ bedrooms was to provide privacy now and into the future. “When they bring guests home, and eventually mates, we want them to feel like they have their own space,” she says.
Downstairs, the front entrance sets the tone and color theme for the home. “Red is just my favorite color,” Beverly says, explaining that the kids sometimes tease her for her color palette of choice. Tones of crimson and maroon are dominant in the home’s front rooms, from the rope border pattern in the carpet to the floor-length drapes. The unity in the color scheme was intentional, Beverly says, in case she wants to make slight design changes down the road. “It’s nice because you can switch accessories and make the room different, but it’s still your stuff.”
A black and white marble floor is a modern contrast to the patterned carpet, which also runs up the wood and wrought iron staircase. “We did it with a lot of personality,” Beverly says, standing next to the first of many rounded corners that serves as a transition from room to room. “I like the softness of it as opposed to the rigidity of a square corner,” she explains.
All of the front windows of the McGuires’ home are arched. Working with Carolyn Stevens, an interior designer from Carmel, Ind., Beverly decided on window treatments that would highlight the arches from both the inside and outside. A sheer curtain is pulled across the dining room window, but the drapes are stationary to the left and right, hanging from hardware that resembles oversized doorknobs.
Looking through the dining room hutch, Beverly recalls where she acquired the silver and china that line the shelves — some from Italy, England, and Ireland, some inherited from a great aunt. “We travel a lot and always try to pick up things we can use in the house, not things that just sit there,” she says.
The neighboring front room was intended to be a formal living area but turned into a piano room after Dennis bought a reconditioned 1891 Steinway grand piano for Beverly as an anniversary gift. Dennis, a marathon runner, purchased the piano in New York after a race. The piano occupies the majority of the space in the room, facing the front arched windows that flood the room with light.
The kitchen is where Beverly says she spends most of her time. She walks around the center island to flip on lights that illuminate the cabinets, buffet area, prep sink, and patchwork backsplash above the stove. “We have lights everywhere in this house,” Beverly says. The McGuires worked with Bishop lighting during construction, every room complete with dimmer switches and multiple levels of illumination. Two hanging lamps above the island are a focal point with a wrought iron base and crystal beads that spiral up toward the ceiling — the exact same fixtures that can be found at the West Baden Hotel in French Lick, Ind., according to Beverly.
The kitchen leads to a breakfast area that overlooks the McGuires’ pool and wooded yard, the family room, the master bedroom suite, and one of Beverly’s favorite parts of the house — the powder room. “It has a French flare to it,” she says, pointing to the textured brownish-gold wall treatment, red ceiling, and white and gold leaf trim. The towel bars and sink handles in the powder room are adorned with Swarovsky crystals to match those on the leafy sconce light fixtures. The same black and white marble tile covers the powder room floor.
Just across the hall, Beverly and Dennis step into their master suite, complete with a swivel chair seating area that overlooks the back yard and a touch-activated sound system. Though Dennis says he can often hear the racecars from the nearby speedway, he and Beverly both find their bedroom to be a peaceful place they can go to relax.
The attached his-and-hers bathroom area features a linen closet in the space where a bath tub would typically go. With just a stand-up shower and separate sink areas, Beverly says they have all they need to “get ready without bumping into each other.” She opens the door to her closet — Dennis has an identical one near his sink — revealing built-ins and cedar walls. Beverly says she wanted crystal doorknobs and cedar closets because she grew up with them and when given the chance, she wanted to incorporate the memory into her own home. The far wall of each closet is another arched window that faces the front of the house.
The Best Part of Life
Though Beverly still considers some areas of the house to be works in progress, including an upstairs bonus room and parts of the basement, she and Dennis are both happy with what they have been able to achieve with their home. “There aren’t many things we’d change,” Dennis says.
“It’s very livable, comfortable, and family-friendly,” Beverly agrees.
More importantly than their home, the McGuires take obvious joy in spending time as a family. “We work and play and take care of the kids,” Beverly says. “That’s the best part of life.”