The Darby House represents Chuck Johnson’s vision of a state-of-the-art eco-house. It was fashioned as a fusion of contemporary and arts-and-crafts styles. Designed by Chuck Johnson and wife Carolyn McAleavy collaborating with Ken O’Connor.
ENTRANCE . . .
The home is set on a south-facing hillside with a sunken northern-entry courtyard that provides protection from the prevailing westerly winds. The south walls feature extensive glass for passive solar gain.
Walking down the steps into the sunken northern-entry courtyard, you will experience one of the first micro-climates of the Darby Residence. This shaded, moist area has been cut into the hillside and is flourishing with plant life and a pond. This coolness is relied on during hot summer days when the house needs a cool air source. At the bottom of the courtyard stairs, you enter a custom door made with reclaimed old-growth redwood.
CENTRAL ATRIUM. . .
This opens up to the central atrium of the house, which is complete with a water feature. To the left, you will see a helical, spiral staircase constructed with black walnut treads, quilted blue eucalyptus risers, and redwood stringers and railing.
LIVING ROOM. . .
What may catch your attention more, however, is the 14′ wall of operable glass in the living room. A European masonry heater is central focus of the room. Skylights and glass brilliantly light this main area of the house. From the living room, the “Nana” glass door system bi-folds to open the entire 14-foot length onto the acid-stained concrete patio with gorgeous panoramic views. The walls are artistically uplifted with lazuring, a multi-color glazing from the Anthroposophical
KITCHEN. . .
The kitchen is oriented east for morning sun advantage. The cabinets in the kitchen are made from reclaimed Douglas fir boasting lovely golden and red hues. The house features a slab-on-grade main floor with integral-colored concrete as the finished flooring with radiant heat tubing.
BACK PATIO. . .
The landscaping comes right up to the edge of the house, blending the house with its surroundings. This is accomplished with a 3-foot stem wall base around the whole house constructed with the “Insteel 3-D” panel system. This provides a virtually maintenance-free function to an area easily damaged by sun and water when it is constructed with wood.
EL GROTTO. . .
The grotto wine cellar and office provides a cool, dry space to take a nice afternoon nap in the summer. The wainscoting is made of recycled fir. The deep forest green-glazed walls create a soothing, healing atmosphere.
BEDROOMS. . .
All of the bedrooms have wool carpeting, to enhance indoor air quality. The master bedroom has Old World plaster wainscoting.
BATHROOMS. . .
The bathroom counters are all done with the Cement Plus Plaster System — there is a custom shade of color for each situation. The cabinetry is made of recycled fir.
HEATING & COOLING. . .
The house is heated by passive solar as the first-tier heating which is comfortable from late spring to early autumn. Then kicks in the second tier of heating via the European Masonry Heater. As a back-up and low-effort option, there is radiant floor heating on the third tier. The convective cooling system for the house involves a function where cool air entering north side windows forces hot air up and out of the operable Ellis skylights.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY. . .
For the health of the workers and residents, indoor air quality was taken into high consideration during this project. Air-borne particulates are kept to a minimum with a central vacuum, wool throw rugs, and radiant heating. Our initial toxic input was also curbed by the use of low-toxic paints and finishes, and the absence of particle board. Both a solar photovoltaic electric system and a solar water heater are used for domestic needs and space heating.
ECO DESIGN. . .
Two-thirds of siding of the house is constructed from salvaged logs. Two-thirds of roofing material is reused, salvaged lumber. The house is laid out in a butterfly floor plan, with two wings facing south for maximum solar gain in the winter months. There are generous three-foot overhangs that keep the house cool in the heat of summer.
ELEMENTAL BUILDING. . .
The house is an example of what Artisan Builders calls “Elemental Construction”, that is to say it is integrated with the elements of earth, air, fire and water.
Earth – The north side of the house is embraced by an earth berm. It is the base or root of the house, and there is even a hole in the bottom of the house that taps directly into the soil for planting a tree to exemplify this connection.
Air – The flow of air through the house has a dynamic and healthy circulation, yet there is protection from the more severe westerly winds.
Fire – This house abounds with warmth from the sun, masonry hearth, and radiant-heat floors.
Water – There are multiple water features designed into the home, all channeled to maintain the integrity of the soil and provide sound wildlife cultivation.