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Architectural House Plans

Mountain Gable – Featured Home Plan

Natural Home Magazine
September / October Issue, 2004

"Natural Home" is collaborating with Architectural House Plans (formerly Healthy Home Designs) to offer home plans that enable readers to build a healthy, environmentally responsible home from the ground up. Architectural House Plans has been providing detailed construction drawings for healthy and green homes since 1994. In each issue we’ll feature a different plan, created by an award-winning architect, available for purchase at


Mountain Gable

Because it was designed for the demanding climate of northern Idaho, energy efficiency and durability are hallmarks of this beautiful 2,525-square-foot home. With its passive solar design, Mountain Gable takes advantage of a southern exposure that fills each room with natural light. The floor plan is simple, compact, and exciting. Interior spaces can be adapted to meet changing family needs. The home office, open loft, multi-use bathing facilities, large porches, and separate garage create a home that’s spatially efficient, flexible, and healthy.

Twelve-inch thick walls encase large double-hung windows that fill the open gable rooms with light, while the interior windows, open staircase, and open loft provide natural summer ventilation. The home features an entry porch that opens into a slate-tiled foyer, and the island kitchen features natural stone counters, a pantry, and a laundry room. The western porch off the kitchen and dining areas provides a protected outdoor room while blocking the western sun.

Mountain Gable was built using recycled timbers, wood ceilings, and trim; forged steel railing; and healthy finishes. The tinted gypsum plaster applied to interior walls eliminated the need for paint.

Exterior walls are constructed of Rastra (recycled foam) and insulating concrete forms (ICFs) made from 85 percent recycled material. This green building system combines efficient insulation with a high degree of thermal mass and sound protection. The exterior finish is cement stucco applied directly to the ICFs, and because it’s half the thickness of normal stucco, without reinforcing, this method also minimizes construction materials. Reused timbers protect the house from the demanding northern climate and support the gable porches and large overhangs.

The roof is made from structural insulated  panels (SIPs), which have high thermal values and are now widely available using polystyrene and natural borate-based insect treatments. Additionally, the prefabricated roof system and the leave-in place concrete wall forms decrease construction waste and on-site labor time.

What Makes This Home Healthy?

Architect Info
Bruce Eugene Millard Studio of Sustainable Design
Sandpoint, Idaho

Bruce Millard focuses on designing with an ecological approach, aiming for a closer relationship between people and the earth. He designs human environments while protecting the health and beauty of the surrounding natural environment. Millard is president of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild and lectures on ecological design. His work has been featured in numerous regional and national publications.

Meet the Architect

What were you hoping to achieve in this home design?
The focus of the design was a compact house of connected, multi-use spaces that could adapt to a changing family while responding to, and blending with, the demanding natural environment of the mountains of northern Idaho. The owners wanted the house to be energy effective, durable, naturally finished, and constructed with recycled materials. In addition, the design program required a house that let in the warmth of the sun and the mountain/lake views, within a traditional form.

What are your favorite features?

The central fire hearth and loft connects and divides the spaces without walls and creates framed views and vistas of the open floor plan. Also, the blend of manufactured recycled wall systems, reused wood beams, and unpainted surfaces, enclosed by a multi-roofed and multi-porch structure, creates what I think is a timeless home.

This article refers to the "Mountain Gable" home plan available on this site.