Inspiration from a Medford Couple’s Sustainable Home
written by Melissa Dalton
Around 2011, Steve and Dawn Castellanos compiled a retirement bucket list. It included building a sustainable home on a few acres and spending as much time as possible outdoors, whether on skis, bikes or hiking through the woods. They wanted to live in a place with a “college-town feel” and cultural attractions. Since they were planning on relocating from Portland, they definitely wanted better weather. After considering Bozeman, Bend and the Big Island, a friend suggested they check out the Ashland area. When they did, they quickly realized it checked all their boxes. “We just fell in love,” Steve Castellanos said.
They found a 6-acre parcel with 300-degree views of mountains, wineries and the city of Medford, which was only a ten-minute drive away. “It was the perfect piece of property,” Castellanos said. “But it had a house on it.” Not only that, the 1970s house did more to block the incredible views than embrace them. Still, the site was too good to pass up, so the couple bought it with the intention to eventually build a sustainable h0me in place of the current house.
Oregon Dream Home: Bringing the Outdoors Inside
In doing so, their priority was to build thoughtfully and better connect the home to its setting. “We wanted to be mindful about the house’s overall square footage,” Castellanos said. “Yet still have a sense of abundance with the interior. Creating and connecting to outdoor spaces does that.” In 2014, the couple teamed up with Jason and Kelly Eaton, co-owners of the design-build firm Conscious Construction. The firm’s strength in sustainable home construction and landscape architecture was an ideal fit. “Our approach, more than anything else, is making sure that the indoors ties to the outdoors and everything’s complementing each other,” Kelly Eaton said. To that end, once the old house was dismantled and its components recycled or donated, the Eatons fashioned a new home where the boundaries between the inside and out are fluid. For instance, a 9-foot door in the living space folds open to outdoor lounging and eating areas, gracefully covered by two steel and cedar pergolas. A similar 10-foot concertina window at the kitchen sink facilitates easy al fresco dinner parties. The long counter on the exterior side can be used for buff et or to return dirty dishes after everyone’s done eating, making a separate outdoor kitchen unnecessary.
Several “nooks and crannies” designed into the landscape beckon people outdoors.
Meander down a winding path at sunset and there’s an intimate seating area tucked away from the house’s lights, creating the ultimate conditions for stargazing. On the south side of the house, another pair of seats stays toasty from the sun, making it a preferred spot for catching up with a book. And then there’s the Bocce court, perfect for an afternoon game with friends and a cocktail in hand. Whether the couple is hitting the outdoor shower after a long bike ride or admiring the Medford city lights from the back patio, they’re discovering how the new house lets them savor retired life. Said Castellanos: “It’s one of those places where you don’t have to do much to be content.”