Adam and Ambre Crockett get many questions about their modern, environmentally friendly home. “Is that a house?” wins the popularity contest. “It’s the question I get more than anything,” says Adam. “Delivery driver, the UPS guy – everyone says they’ve never seen a house like this in Indiana.” The linear flat-roofed house north of Williams Creek may stand out from its gabled and clapboard neighbors and is more than just in the eye. The space under the green roof purposely reflects Ambre and Adam’s clean lifestyle.
If Ambre’s name sounds familiar, it could be because she and Adam own and operate Ambre blends and sell oils and bath products worldwide. The crocketts are based on natural, organic ingredients, and even the product packaging is minimal, simple and environmentally friendly. They put much of the same thought into the design and construction of the house. “It reflects the way we live, how we eat, and how we take care of our bodies,” says Ambre.
It was challenging, however, to create that sheer feeling in her four bedroom, five and a half bath home. While Ambre and Adam describe themselves as progressive, environmentally conscious people, their standard aesthetic styles are very different. Adam leans towards industry and prefers “concrete boxes” with glass windows and leather furniture. However, Ambre is a retired massage therapist, exceptional yogi, devotee of aromatherapy, and a fan of crystals – in other words, a free spirit whose style is earthy, organic, and full of texture. Think of Himalayan salt cliffs, crystals hidden in the walls, an olive wood headboard in the master bedroom, and 18 foot high bamboo stalks in the entryway.
For most people, bamboo is a non-standard characteristic. But for the Crocketts, it’s a carryover from their previous home in Fishers, where they planted bamboo in a first-floor terrarium that was originally for the 1960s house. However, the problem with 18 foot plants on the first floor is that the leaves are on top. Ascent. Clete Kunce, director and owner of One 10 Studio, pondered this when she designed the Crocketts’ new 5,600-square-foot home. “It was a cool feature, but you had to stand in the foyer and look up at the sky like a turkey waiting for rain,” he says with a smile. “So I said, ‘Why don’t we put the bamboo in the basement?'” The green tips would be visible on the main plane. In order to give the slim stems vertical space, Kunce and his architect Patrick Kestner designed a plant fountain that extends from the lower level to the second floor. After the bamboo arrived from Oregon (via Indy-based Engledow Group), it was grounded in the “Zen Cave” on the first floor, where Ambre practices yoga and her children use a “calming corner” instead of taking time off. When the stems extend upward, willow leaves create a visual screen for the front window of the house, eliminating the need for frosted glass. The leaves also cast shadows in the entrance hall, all the lines and angles in an otherwise simple space. But perhaps the best perk to multi-tiered bamboo – at least for a family running a fragrance company – is the aroma. “Some people can actually smell it when they walk through the front door,” says Ambre. “It gives off a clean, sweet scent.”
The bamboo also purifies the air and represents the other green features of the home. The garage has electric charging stations. The Austrian white oak floor is formaldehyde-free and FSC-certified. The wood comes from a sustainable source. Colors from ECOS Paints from South Carolina are also chemical-free. Soy-based spray foam insulation, which does not generate chemical by-products, has as many (if not more) energy-saving properties as conventional insulation. The house has both solar energy and a double capacity geothermal heating system that uses the temperature of the earth’s surface as a heat source in winter and as a heat container in summer.
Back above ground, a green roof system improves rainwater retention and reduces the heat island effect, a term used to describe the collective energy use of a neighborhood that can generate higher temperatures. It also hides the energy efficient but boring looking TPO roofing material. “It was really ugly to look at,” says Ambre. Now the pollinator-friendly roof attracts bees, butterflies and once the little daughter of the Crocketts. Late that night, Adam received a notification that the little girl’s bedroom window had been opened. It turned out that she decided to go for a walk on the roof at night.
The daughter has her own bedroom and bathroom on the second floor, as does her older brother. The master suite, however, is on the ground floor and has a large steel fireplace and enough storage space to make a shoe-addicted tap dance dance. There are no internal doors on any of the three levels except those that close the bedrooms, bathrooms and an office. “Our last house was so separate,” explains Ambre. “We didn’t really use the rooms in the house because we wanted to be together.” A combined kitchen, dining room and living room now give them the sense of community they were looking for. But if the Crocketts are being honest, there’s one thing they haven’t thought of when it comes to their open floor plan. “Modern life is loud,” says Adam with a laugh. “Especially when you have hard surfaces.” Ambre interferes: “Especially when you have a noisy husband.”
Since public areas can be very lively, One 10 Studio designed the dining room to stand out from the crowd. “I wanted the dining room to be a kind of cocoon,” says Kunce, who placed the area around the corner from the entrance. “To eat you have to have this intimate, personal space and not be in the middle of a gym.” The 10 foot long table was made to measure from a poplar tree that stood where the living room is now. Brian Presnell of Indy Urban Hardwood milled the wood and made the piece.
The table is just another example of Adam and Ambre’s appreciation for natural, organic textures. They plan to be home forever, even if people mistake the brick and stucco exterior for an office building. “People are amazed at the architecture and don’t see or ask about the green aspects, which I consider a large part of modern design,” says Adam. Kunce agrees, saying that modern design is hard to sell in Indiana. But, he adds, people are becoming more aware of design and starting to ask questions about how to make contemporary living comfortable. All he has to do is point them out to Adam and Ambre who are hoping that the popular question, “Is this a house?” Will spark the same curiosity about eco-friendly features.