(Click on pictures for larger image)
Southern Illinois Bachelor Pad.
This is a Southern Illinois bachelor pad. Not what you'd expect to see out in the middle of prime farm country. Actually, when you first pull into the gravel drive, you don't see the house, it blends so well with the landscape. A creek runs by to the left and a farmhouse sits at the front of the property next to the road with a machine shed just at the rear and to the left of the house. These shield the underground house from the country road, not that there is much traffic even on busy summer days.
The home belongs to David (pictured above); artist, woodworker, farmer, architect, my first cousin, and yes, another red head. The picture behind him on the wall is one of his paintings. He works with his brother, Rick, designing and building furniture, cabinets and other projects in addition to the farming they both do. He designed this home for himself. It sits behind his parents house in rural Southern Illinois. While an engineer helped with a few of the technical plans, he and his brother did all the construction.
The front of the house is poured concrete and there is concrete under the two to three feet of earth overlying the house. All the stones in the facade were found in the many creek beds around the area. The wood used for both inside and in the window and door framing was recycled from old torn down farmhouses, barns and other buildings or was salvaged from dead trees, cut and made into the needed board size in their workshop. The door is extra wide and heavy, found at a barn sale. The windows down the front let in light throughout the day. In addition he has three skylights in the back of the house and it is wired for electricity although he has no central heat or air.
The house has a small living/dining area, kitchen, bath with shower and a place for a washer and dryer and two bedrooms. The front bedroom he uses for a study and exercise room. They built in bookshelves under the windows and his desk, bed, dresser, table and chairs have all been made of reclaimed wood in Ricks workshop. A large woodburning stove stands at one end of the living area. In winter, David stokes the stove at night and it heats the whole house for 24 hours. He said, that in summer he just opens the windows and occasionally turns on a fan but with the two to three feet of covering earth, the house stays cool. Another advantage: he has a built in tornado shelter.
I asked him if felt weird to know that you could walk up the little hill and be on his roof. Yes, he mows the grass on his roof and he has planted several types of evergreen trees around the base and on top of the house. I didn't see any flower beds on top, but it was January. The stove vent with a thin wisp of smoke is there near the right front. It's a great little home for a single guy, warm, sunny, peaceful, inviting and low maintenance (except for the mowing in the summer). I guess the railing along the top is to keep any nieces or nephews from accidentally falling off. If they are like we were as kids, we would be rolling down that hill like crazy.