Stepstone Pavers Connect a Sustainable Home to the Sierra Nevadas

Atmosphere Design Build.
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A sustainable property outside Nevada City, California, connects to its natural surroundings thanks to Stepstone's high-performance pavers.

Long before Mela Breen and David Good finished constructing their 2,400-square-foot sustainable home on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Breen already knew what she wanted to use for the landscape design: Stepstone pavers.

"I'm always looking for products that fit our aesthetic and meet our functional requirements," she says. "In the past, we've made our own pavers, so I was looking for something that was a bit more refined, large-format, and possibly made in California. That's how I found Stepstone."

Breen held on to the idea for more than a year, keeping Stepstone in mind as an eventual link between her family's home and its surroundings. She and her husband selected a rural site just outside Nevada City, California, and built a property in keeping with the zero-energy design and construction mandate of their firm, Atmosphere Design Build. "The house is an experiment in how far we can push architecture and still meet the highest level of performance," Breen says.

And when it was finally time to address the house's outdoor space, which consists of an entryway and a raised deck overlooking a rock outcropping, it became even more clear that Stepstone was the right choice. For more than 50 years, Stepstone has been committed to creating equally high-performance materials that have the strength to withstand challenging environments—like the weather of the Sierra Nevadas—and the versatility to blend into almost any setting. The company is an industry leader in handmade large-scale pavers, offering sizes up to 60 inches and are available in 12 standard colors for a uniform finish when paired with other products.

Breen selected 24-inch by 60-inch large-scale pavers for the walkway to the entrance and 24-inch by 48-inch pedestal set-roof pavers on the patio, both in French Gray. She was drawn to the way these pavers complement her home's structure and also add geometric interest on the ground. And she liked that the pavers support her home's challenging drainage system, too, without separating it from the blissful views.

"The porch is actually on a pan deck because of the drainage underneath it. I needed a very specific product, and I wanted there to be no transition from the inside to the outside," she says. Stepstone worked with Breen to get the concrete pavers just right, and had them prepared even before Breen was ready to receive them. And above all else, Breen says that they fit into her idea of sustainable building practices.

"Choosing products that are going to last a long time is part of the notion of sustainability and legacy," she notes. "So concrete pavers are a durable product that will have longevity."

And that's a good thing, considering that Breen and Good constructed this home as a dream hideaway for their family. As the years pass, its sustainable materials will continue to keep them comfortably tied to their surroundings—especially the Stepstone pavers, which Breen knew all along.

"It was really important to me that the building was connected to the outdoors," she says. "The color of the pavers works really well with the rocks, and I like how it slowly bleeds into the landscape."

Mela Breen and David Good set out to build a zero-energy property that blended into its surroundings in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
 

Mela Breen and David Good set out to build a zero-energy property that blended into its surroundings in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

 

Breen selected 24-inch by 60-inch large-scale pavers for the walkway to the entrance and 24-inch by 48-inch pedestal set-roof pavers on the patio, both in French Gray.

 

Breen chose large-scale Stepstone pavers that are 60 inches long, the biggest size the company provides. Stepstone also offers the pavers in 12 standard colors for a uniform finish when paired with other products.

 

The Stepstone pavers tie the home's outdoor spaces in with its indoor spaces, creating a seamless living area for the family to enjoy.

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