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Featured Project

Turtle House

Turtle House is situated on a private, open site along the Huron River, surrounded (mostly) by woodland. It's a fantastic site. The home was originally built in the 1970's (as you can no doubt tell from the pictures!), and was recently purchased by our clients for a complete renovation. This renovation includes the entire interior and exterior, and includes the addition of a new garage, entry, entry porch and back porch. Our clients wanted the new design to be a reflection of favorite elements from their individual backgrounds, specifically the New England seaside, and rural Ohio. We therefore came to think of the new design as a Farmhouse Cottage, bringing together our favorite elements of Seaside Cottages and Traditional Farmhouses for a new Riverfront Home.

Part of our intent was to incorporate as many aspects of Sustainable Design as possible (with the intent of having a net-zero carbon footprint in the future, after the addition of some solar panels), some of the more significant elements included:

- Building a new roof overlay above the existing roof assembly to allow for R-44 dense packed cellulose insulation, with R-49 cellulose insulation in roof assembly at area of addition.

- Furring out existing exterior walls to allow for R-21 cellulose insulation.

- Installing a Geothermal Heating and Cooling system.

- Using reclaimed barnwood (from the clients family farm) for the hardwood flooring.

- Using no-VOC interior paint.

- Installing wool carpet with natural jute backing and felt padding in areas with carpeting.

- Purchasing as many materials and fixtures as possible from local manufacturers.

- Using triple glazed, low-E, argon filled glass for all windows and exterior doors.  

Our clients have been keeping a great blog to follow the construction, so if you're interested you can get lots more information by visiting our client's construction blog.

The team:

Steven Varnum, lead designer

Mandi Wise, interior design

Giraffe Design Build, builder (

Here are a few pictures of the existing structure before construction began:


Here is the Exterior after construction:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Photo Credit - Liz Brauer  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Photo Credit - Liz Brauer

Interior Images Before Construction:

Interior Images After Construction:


Exterior Elevations and Floor Plans (presentation):