FRANKFORT — The home of Andrea and Michael Mueller is a environmentalist's dream.
When the Muellers open their home and office on June 14 for the Living in History House and Garden Tour, they will likely inspire homeowners to create sustainable homes and building structures, and landscape their yards with drought-tolerant plants.
The contemporary house, designed to be environmentally friendly and sustainable, has geothermal heating and cooling; solar panels; bamboo and concrete flooring; and kitchen and bathroom counters made of reclaimed glass and porcelain.
The Muellers are owners of Inside Out Design, a landscape and hardscape design-build firm on Old Georgetown Road.
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The couple started their business in their home in 2007, and at the time, the house was 850 square feet. In 2009, they turned the tiny kitchen into a laundry room and built a large addition that includes an glass entryway and open living-dining-kitchen area.
Most of the new main level of the house was used as an office for their company, until an earth-berm office building was built a few hundred yards away in 2011. That building has reclaimed and repurposed interior furnishings and a vegetative/living roof. The driveway to the home and business is made of permeable pavers.
Inside Out Design, which builds sustainable outdoor spaces and installs gardens throughout Central Kentucky, recently was selected as the Landscaper of the Year by Total Landscape Care magazine and Case Construction equipment.
"I think building sustainably and building structures that last is a way that everyone can have impact whether you are remodeling or building a new home," Andrea Mueller said. "Any time you can use less resources, or save future resources or existing resources, is a way that we can all make a small impact for our future and for generations to come."
If they were building the house today, the couple say would do some things differently.
"We know a lot more than we knew then," Mueller said. "That's not to say we don't love our home, we do. But you always learn in the process.
"When we were building we were told we could not build a straw-bale home in Kentucky," she said of a type of construction that uses baled straw in walls covered by earthen or lime stucco. "I wish we had listened to our intuition and tried to build such a structure. But instead, we chose to build 6-inch walls with blow-in insulation. It is still good, but a straw-bale home would have been better and smaller."
The Muellers have two children, and their back yard has a play set, a hen house and raised vegetable beds.
At home and in the business, they are carrying on the legacy of Andrea Mueller's father, Charlie Wilson, who started Wilson's Nurseries more than 30 years ago. He died in a car crash in 2003.
The couple met while both were working for Wilson, "who instilled a love of horticulture, work ethic, and family in all of us," Mueller said. "Michael worked side by side with him for over nine years.
"My dad taught us to love what we do and to be passionate about our work, ... which is why our company was born and why we get to build the amazing spaces we do."