A couple rebuilds a green, raised floor home with southern charm. Check out this article from the Sun Herald.

Back in green
By TAMMY SMITH – tmsmith@sunherald.com
msBack in green
TAMMY SMITH/SUN HERALD The home of Julia Weaver and Robert Wiygul in Ocean Springs evokes small-town Southern life while incorporating energy saving elements. The family is keeping the landscaping as natural as possible.

When Robert Wiygul and Julia Weaver rebuilt after Katrina, they knew they wanted to rebuild as “green” as possible. They also wanted their new home to reflect the cherished styles of older Southern neighborhoods.

They got both.

Their two-story sunny yellow home sits on a small hill on Lovers Lane in Ocean Springs. The landscape is intentionally kept as simple as possible, with native plants and trees in profusion and natural topography retained. Water has a natural path for draining, and a charming little footbridge spans that area. Flowers dear to Southern gardeners’ hearts have their places to shine, too, and a small turtle habitat is near the house.

“We have clover out here because it helps put nitrate in the soil,” Weaver said. The clover is one of the several plants that serve as ground cover.

“I’m getting out of the lawn mowing business,” she joked. “More time to fish.”

Since they moved in just over a year ago, the family has thoroughly made the new house their home. Designed by Ocean Springs architect Dennis Cowart, the house seems to hide its practical side behind its charm.

“The biggest energy efficiency issue in a home is cooling,” Wiygul said. “So we wanted deep porches to help with passive cooling.”

The front porch is indeed deep, with plenty of room for furniture and gathering. To the right is the screened porch, with access from the front porch as well as the kitchen/dining area. Seating and dining areas there welcome crosscurrent breezes while keeping pests buzzing outside.

“It’s also shady here, so we can have lots of windows,” he added.

The house’s exterior walls are 11-inch wide insulated concrete form with fiber cement siding over that.

“It’s extraordinarily quiet, a great sound buffer,” Wiygul said. ICF is also used for energy efficiency.

The metal roof system is designed to withstand strong storms, and walls are wind-resistant. The attic also holds clues to the house’s economic appeal. A foot of foam insulation is sprayed into the interior of the roof. There’s also a surprise.

“The attic is not ventilated at all,” Wiygul said. “It’s completely sealed, and that’s much more efficient. It also reduces the risk of moisture.”

The family is looking into a solar water heater in the future.

“Julia did the floor plan,” Wigyul said, grinning as he looked at his wife. “There’s not a space in the house that’s not used every day, so there’s no wasted heating or cooling space.”

But that attention to practicality doesn’t deter from attractiveness. The wide hallway echoes to another period, as does the large window and window seat with storage on the staircase landing. A gas fireplace in the living room releases fewer pollutants than a woodburning one. Bamboo floors give the feel of hardwood.

“These are commercial grade,” Wiygul said. “They’re really no more expensive than hardwood, and they’re made to take heavy use.”

Weaver pointed out pocket doors.

“Dennis added these,” she said. pulling one of the doors out of the wall between the living room and the dining/keeping room. “We had 17 people here for Thanksgiving. We just added the leaves to the table and opened the pocket doors, and everybody fit. In older homes, you would see pocket doors all the time. You can open up room when you need it and close it off when you need to.”

Daughters Amelia and Caroline add nature to their rooms through accessories, and the master bedroom is tranquil in soft blue and white with linen accents.

“We originally had a two-story ’70s house,” Weaver said. “We moved in in November 2004, and then Katrina happened in 2005. This house, we just love the way it feels.

“It’s like a Sears home from decades ago. It feels good.”

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