Straw Bale Women

by Christina Nellemann on September 22nd, 2008. 9 Comments
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There is something feminine about straw bale homes. The warmth, curves and color of these natural spaces act like a hug when you walk in the door. While these profiled straw bale homes are small rather than tiny (most are around 400-800 square feet) they were envisioned, designed and built by women that I feel epitomize the beauty of the straw bale house.

Most followers of strawbale building and other natural building techniques know of the Canelo Project and Athena Swentzell Steen.

Carolyn Roberts and her straw bale home

She and her husband Bill run this small non-profit organization that is dedicated to the exploration and development of living systems, including growing food and building homes that creates friendship, beauty and simplicity.

Straw bale cottage at the Canelo Project

Straw bale cottage at the Canelo Project

Interior of straw bale cottage at the Canelo Project

Interior of straw bale cottage at the Canelo Project

Their latest book is Small Strawbale, which covers everything from building walls and open shelters to small and exquisite homes built out of straw bales.

Carolyn Roberts also wrote a book detailing the trials and triumphs of building her own straw bale home outside of Tucson, Ariz. A House of Straw: A Natural Building Odyssey profiles the challenges of passing her county inspections, the issues of building a house as a single woman while trying to raise two children, and the wonders of creating her own space and the friends she made along the way. Her website breaks down the cost of each part of the building process, and her total for the home (land not included) came to approximately $50,000. Because of the thick walls and use of passive solar, her electric bills average about $35 a month.

Interior of Carolyn Robert's straw bale house

Interior of Carolyn Robert's straw bale house

Caroline Coalter Wilson built her house, Paca de Paja, to also serve as a small bed and breakfast. She works at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and runs the B&B part time. She was previously a park ranger and naturalist with the National Park Service and has written several publications on natural history.

Paca de Paja

Paca de Paja

I really admire these women who have tackled the building process from the ground up and utilize the beauty of natural products in their homes. More information for my fellow female dreamers and builders can be found in the book
The House That Jill Built.

By Christina Nellemann

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9 Responses to “Straw Bale Women”

  1. Cool, I love the staircase and loft! ;-)

  2. Thanks for posting this cowgirl cabin designed and build for and by a woman!

  3. ????? says:

    It‘s so cool?I love it .

  4. JL says:

    May I ask what the average water, gas and electricity bills are?

  5. Christina says:

    Hi JL. If you go to Carolyn’s website, there is a YouTube video of her house and she mentions that her utility bill is about $35 a month. I think she is on a well.

  6. hz says:

    re: loves staircase & loft..
    wait till you have to vaccuum up there and change the sheets

  7. May says:

    I’ve loved the idea of strawbale building since the 70s. Now I’m active old! I want to move to Montana’s banana belt. Lots of straw up there! But would it sustain the winter with a lot of snow?

  8. Athena did a great job on that house, I would love to build a place like that!

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