Living Shelter creates places that cultivate health, comfort, and joy based on your unique spirit and style.

We design multiple project types and scales with sustainable missions, including:

  • Custom Homes

  • Commercial and Residential Renovations

  • Accessory Dwelling Units

  • Commercial Buildings

  • Neighborhood Design and Prototype Homes

  • Non-Profit and Community Buildings


Additional Offerings

Expert Consultation Services

We understand that some clients may be looking for a design expert to guide them through the start of a project or through a very specific issue, such as locally-sourced building materials, before moving ahead with a full architectural design. To fill those diverse needs and serve you better, we offer a variety of consultation services on an hourly basis.

These low-cost, no commitment consulting services include guidance on site selection, project specific code research, sustainable building methods and materials, existing building structural studies, and other ways of setting your project’s priorities, budgets, and timelines up for success. We are also happy to join - or help form - a larger team seeking expertise on sustainability. Read more about our consulting services and see a more extensive list of offerings here.

Hands-On Straw Bale Workshops

Participating in the building process is a unique learning experience and a great way to forge connections. Our straw bale projects often present workshop opportunities where homeowners and participants can learn.

Our workshops are suitable for anyone who has an interest in exploring the craft of home construction utilizing alternative materials and methods. A range of topics is covered both in the orientation sessions and during the hands-on demonstration and construction. Please contact us if you would like us to consider a workshop on your site.

Master Planning and Charrettes

When a business or community project and its site is more complicated, Living Shelter recommends bringing together all stakeholders for an inclusive planning charrette. Decisions are worked through in real-time, with the deliverable of sketches and/or a written outline that helps organize future project phases.

Presentations and Educational Programming

We strive to make sustainable design affordable and accessible. As part of our ongoing commitment to community, we share our knowledge frequently through design and construction programs.

If you would like to invite Living Shelter to present to your organization, please email terry (dot) phelan (at) If you would like to be notified when Living Shelter is presenting an open educational session, join our newsletter.

Our Design Process


We approach design not as a product but as a collaborative process. It takes thought, research, coordination, and time to create the right place for you, your budget, and your site. This process is completed in phases, giving many opportunities to discuss and adjust the project direction from the big picture at the beginning through the small details at the end.

We advocate for an Integrated Design Process, which identifies key team members early in the project to achieve your design goals, maximize energy efficiency, and deliver significant cost savings. We work with you to build the team and service package to fit your project, style, site, and budget. At your initial consult, we’ll discuss this process in detail to identify what works best for you.

For most projects, the phases below cover our basic services. The first two phases are done on an hourly basis and help define the scope and associated fees for the remainder of our services. For planning purposes, our total fee usually runs from 7 to 12 percent of your project budget. Programming and Preliminary Design time uses about 15 percent of that total fee, or 1 to 2 percent of the project budget.

Phases of Service