Corvallis designer Rod Terry has spent a lot of time contemplating sustainability. Before it was fashionable, Rod was selling the concept of solar energy to Oregonians. In the early 80’s Rod worked as a consultant the Oregon Department of Energy traveling the state promoting solar energy.
In 1983, Rod and his wife Linda purchased their home in Corvallis. At the time, an unassuming little post-war house with no outstanding attributes – things have changed since then. As a veteran, Rod took advantage of a program that allowed him to trade work in the form of efficiency upgrades in lieu of a down payment. First came insulation in the walls and attic, and doors were replaced. To ensure a tight envelope (the shell of the house) Rod had a blower door test done – in 1983. A blower door test is where an exterior door is removed and replaced by a panel with a fan. The fan runs to pressurize the house and a “smoke stick” (like incense) is used to check for leaks in the shell. A tight shell is key to energy efficiency. Next came the removal of the archaic hot water heater, which was replaced by a more efficient tankless, on-demand system. Then the old furnace had to go, and was replaced by quiet, efficient radiant floor heat.
Having done basic energy upgrades, Rod was just getting warmed up – so to speak. In the mid 90’s things really got rolling. Rod added a second and third floor to the house and connected the floors with a unique spiral staircase housed in a fun, lighthouse-like tower. The second floor is now the master bedroom, with a beautiful tile bath and steam room. The third floor is Rod’s favorite, and no-doubt everyone else’s who visits. Level three is a glass enclosed sunroom / greenhouse. Rod pointed out, “ As you sit down, everything disappears except for the canopy of trees.” It is the perfect place for Rod and Linda to enjoy an evening martini together under the stars.
Off the living room, is a passive solar courtyard that has glass, south facing ceiling panels. In the summer, there are reflective, canvas curtains that roll out horizontally to reflect the sun’s heat. At the same time, the ceiling joists house the elements of a solar hot water system. Ingeniously, the solar hot water system augments the household hot water to provide heat to the radiant floor coils. Very well thought out, and very sustainable. In the winter, the canvas curtains are drawn back to allow sunlight to provide warmth to the house by warming the tile floor below.
Another sustainable feature of Rod’s home is his studio right outside his door. The commute to work is maybe 10 steps, and uses no fuel of any kind – well, maybe a little coffee. Rod’s home design business is done in his beautiful studio surrounded by a lush garden with sitting areas, vegetables and flowers, birds and a relaxing fish pond.
Another thing to like about Rod’s home, in terms of sustainability, is that it’s not a new home. When we talk about being green, and conserving precious resources, we like the idea of working with what we have rather than shipping tons of new materials. Not to mention, a lot of the beautiful wood in Rod’s home is just plain not available anymore. The lot was developed in the late 50’s and is in a fantastic spot, centrally located, and in a neighborhood of comfortable, mature trees. Rod’s house is in a quiet community of like minded neighbors, in fact next door is Rod’s daughter, in a beautiful house designed by, guess who… Rod Terry. We applaud the creative, artistic approach Rod has taken to his own residence. While it would be no problem for him to develop a new lot, design a “McMansion” and move in, Rod has taken the sustainable path, and now enjoys a unique and beautiful home that fits him to a tee – bravo.
With art purchased on their travels, or from friends, and beautiful architectural touches, textures and colors, Rod and Linda have created a home that just feels good. Rod’s view of sustainability dictates that a home must be comfortable, fashionable, and functional, or else there is no point. He lives his philosophy every day in the beautiful home he has created in Corvallis.