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14 Reviews
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful photographs and great design ideas
I have been very interested in building a straw bale house for a few years now, but the thing I've lamented most was the lack of pictures! There are pictures out there that show exteriors, walls in the process of being built, and small individual wall shots, but I wanted to see larger "whole room" pictures. I wanted to see the different types of interiors that...
Published on May 10, 2001 by Jennifer Piersol

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DATA WOULD SAY..."Please, I want some more."
A wonderful little book that will go right beside it's big sister, "The Straw Bale House"... my bible while I was building my own straw bale home, which is just about at the stage of finishing. So, the timing couldn't have been better for me! But, MORE...I wanted to see MORE! Straw bale is a wonderful (if not labor-intensive) building method with infinite...
Published on May 22, 2001 by I. REDMAN


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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful photographs and great design ideas, May 10, 2001
By 
Jennifer Piersol (Porterville, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have been very interested in building a straw bale house for a few years now, but the thing I've lamented most was the lack of pictures! There are pictures out there that show exteriors, walls in the process of being built, and small individual wall shots, but I wanted to see larger "whole room" pictures. I wanted to see the different types of interiors that could be accomplished - I'm not a very rustic person, so could a straw bale house be made to look a little more refined than than in most of the pictures I'd seen? The answer is YES! The gorgeous pictures in this small (but wonderful) book show many different design possibilities, ranging from bale walls simply (but minimally) plastered, to bale walls barely looking like they are made of straw at all. If you're interested in the theory of building a super-insulated strawbale house, but have some questions about how it will *look* when you're done, you MUST buy this book. Most (if not all) of your questions will be answered.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb new book!, January 27, 2001
By 
Daniel Chiras (Author of The Solar House, Superbia!, and EcoKids, Evergreen, CO USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes is an extremely beautiful, well-written, and informative book. I was so drawn in by the book that I read it in one sitting. I'm eagerly awaiting a chance to reread it and share it with friends. The photographs are elegant and awe inspiring. If you've been thinking about building a straw bale home, this book is a great place to look for creative design ideas. The Steens have also provide valuable information on earthen plasters, wall finishes, moisture, and ways to retrofit a home with straw bales in this delightful gem of a book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DATA WOULD SAY..."Please, I want some more.", May 22, 2001
By 
I. REDMAN "cloudhorse" (Taos, NM United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A wonderful little book that will go right beside it's big sister, "The Straw Bale House"... my bible while I was building my own straw bale home, which is just about at the stage of finishing. So, the timing couldn't have been better for me! But, MORE...I wanted to see MORE! Straw bale is a wonderful (if not labor-intensive) building method with infinite possibilities for being beautiful...this little book shows some of that to you!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straw-Bale Wannabe's Delight, August 20, 2003
By A Customer
To be frank, the chance that I'll actually build and live in a straw-bale house is very slim. For those of us who like to look -- and figure we can pick up a few enviro-friendly ideas along the way -- this is the perfect book on straw-bale. The color photos are very high quality, detailed, and appealing. "Recipes" for green-friendly plaster and paint are a fun feature. And practical information about straw-bale is useful as I consider "Well maybe one day ... ?"
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars some good photos, some good tips but not a build it guide, February 3, 2001
By 
A. Burchfield (Conway, Missouri USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I expected this book to have pictures but I'd hoped for more information on how to build a straw bale structure. The Steen's first book, The Straw Bale House, did much more for the person needing information. This book is good for someone just starting to get into the subject but if you actually want to build a home and don't know much about construction or carpentry you'll have to go elsewhere for that information.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Photos, March 26, 2005
This book is almost a coffee table book. The photos are beautiful and include everything from small,simplistic homes in Mexico to high-end beauties in California. You won't find much info here but you can get some good ideas for your own home. If you want specific info on building (especially in colder, wetter climates) get "Serious Straw Bale-A Home Construction Guide for All Climates" by Paul Lacinski and Michel Bergeron.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get a copy!, August 12, 2005
If you want to convert your friends to strawbale... if you are sick of the Three Little Pigs comments... get this book. I did and one of my friends stole it so now I've had to buy it again - that's how good it is! Nearly everyone I show this book to is entranced by one or more of the houses... and many people love LOTS of the buildings. I love this book. It's portable, which is an asset, but mainly it's inspiring... thanks Athena!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine book of ideas, January 13, 2009
I thought this book was beautiful, and really gave me some good ideas to think about when designing my home. I like the great variation of projects that it shows. I was getting a little worried that all straw bale houses looked the same. I was very interested to see that a home can be retrofitted with strawbales, and also that a person can make their own paint. Those are some good ideas. It is not, however, a book that will teach you every step of the building process.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Odd little book, July 13, 2012
By 
Richard Schmidt (San Luis Obispo, CA, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes (Paperback)
This is an odd little book. Not really informative, not really about beautiful homes, it's sort of a Reader's Digest gloss on a rich and large topic that it never comes to grips with. Anyone who already knows about straw bale building will find it boring. Almost all of the buildings illustrated here are illustrated better elsewhere in the straw bale literature. Anyone who knows little or nothing about straw bales, in my opinion, might be turned off because a lot of the examples aren't beautiful, but are the ugly sorts of thoughtlessly designed constructions that give any building technique a bad name. (Some, however, are truly beautiful -- it's just that "beauty" isn't the focus in this book whose title purports it to be about beauty.) Nowhere does the book focus on the genius of straw bale beauty -- the plasticity with which bales may be worked into form and surface that is truly beautiful and unique. Instead it burdens us with out-of-context images and enough don't-do advisements to turn us off.

The book's format is a page or two on a building. After a dozen or so examples, the pictures pause for another page or two to discuss some topic -- superficially, at a level that might open a newbie's eyes to an issue, but not in sufficient depth to be meaningful. Then the pictures resume. The one-building-after-another snapshots become tiresome about a quarter of the way through the book. Just as you're beginning to become interested in one building, it's gone and another is thrust into your face. You don't get to know any of them -- just a shot or two to suggest something or other. In terms of understanding the buildings, the book is useless. There's not a single building plan in the entire book, for example. Just superficial snapshots. We end up not understanding much about any of the buildings included.

In terms of detailing straw bale construction, which is where the medium's beauty resides, the book is a virtual blank. I've wondered if this might be because the authors come from the southwest's adobe country, and subliminally they have adobe and straw bale all mixed up in their heads so that straw that imitates adobe is to them the norm? That might explain a lot about this book's oddities.

Another failure is the book ignores the rich straw bale practices in other countries (the authors early on dismiss this as a matter of space and scope and the responsibilities of parenthood, rather lame excuses it seems to me). Even at the technique discussion level, just including the Canadian and Australian approaches would have much enriched this rather tight little discussion.

Given the authors' much better original book, book buyers might be deceived into thinking this is a similarly comprehensive large format book. It's not -- the pages are a stingy 8" x 8", and there aren't very many of them.

As I said, it's a curious book. One has to wonder why it was even published as it contributes little to the vast straw bale building literature. At its list price of $25, it's way overpriced -- one can do much better for that amount. I paid $4.95 from Hamilton Books, which is about right, but even so had I known how superficial the book is, I'd have spent it elsewhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflects natural subtle style of straw bale construction, February 17, 2013
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Reflects natural subtle style of straw bale construction. Ms Steen did a good job of showing different design methods and how they blend living areas into each other. Delivery was timely.
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The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes
The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes by Athena Swentzell Steen (Paperback - January 1, 2001)
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