A Design-Inspired Life With Living Stone Construction 9

Sean and Laura Sullivan share a beautiful life. The husband and wife team own and oversee partnering businesses Living Stone Construction and ID.ology, a comprehensive team whose focus is eco-friendly homes. Though their green-ness may be on trend, environmentalism is much more than a passing fad for them. The Sullivans know that environmentalism is beneficial to personal and family wellness — not to mention their customers’ utility bills. Their whole-systems approach to building and design ensures that all of their clients’ interests are considered for the elegant, bespoke living spaces they create.

Laura, an artist and interior designer, works with eco-friendly principles for stylish and uplifting touches in every room. Calling her style “organic mountain contemporary,” she selects items that fit naturally with the surroundings of each of the buildings in which she works. The interior design company she owns, ID.ology, offers furnishings, home goods and more to ensure that every last detail of her clients’ living spaces are not only chic, but comfortable and health-supportive. True partners, the Sullivans call on one another to create the best possible experience for everyone they serve: ID.ology’s designers often consult with Living Stone clients to ensure that home furnishings are as environmentally sound as the structure itself.

As a full-service outlet, Living Stone take customers from “tree to key,” meaning they assist them with everything from property selection to finishing details. They also pride themselves on offering a personal touch. “My job from the moment someone walks in the door is to start evaluating their wants and needs, to perceive their personality,” Sean says. “From there, I decide what team I’m going to assemble around them. That’d be the right realtor, architect, and superintendent. We prescribe a team to work around each individual client.”

Developing insight-based client relationships is a priority for Sean and Laura. In the twenty years since Living Stone Construction was founded, they’ve learned a thing or two about green building, knowledge they’re sure to pass along to their community: “One of the things that we do is educate” says Laura. “This way [clients] really understand the benefits from the practices we’re putting into place.” Seven years ago, Living Stone became an Energy Star Partner, with a commitment to certify every home, although they note that Energy Star certification is only one component of green building. They also source their materials locally and emphasize the long-term impact of their buildings on the people who live inside them. Good indoor air quality is a prime concern for them, as is selecting furnishings ideal for each customer’s unique physical needs.

One client-wellness specialty they offer is a practice known as “aging in place.” “Aging in place” involves making a home or a space practical for someone to live there as long as possible,” Laura explains. “Asheville is a retirement destination; many people are moving into the home they want to be in for the rest of their lives. This would be an option for them as opposed to going into a nursing home.” As it turns out, aging in place basics are beneficial to people of all ages. Accessibility features such as wide doors, obstruction-free showers and first-floor bedrooms are helpful to anybody for whom mobility is a consideration and can also assist families as they transition into different phases of their lives.

Offering aging in place features is just one of the ways the Living Stone Construction emphasizes lasting value. “We talk a lot about value and value decision,” Sean says. “In the short term, something may cost more — but it’s healthier for you. And sometimes it doesn’t have to cost more.” Long-term home value often comes as a function of quality over quantity: when it comes to making key design choices, Laura emphasizes materials that will maintain their integrity over time, as well as a sharp eye for details.

This keen attention to detail is particularly important when it comes to working with small spaces, a challenge the couple was faced with during a very important recent project: their own home! Though the main floor itself is only 1,450 square feet, it feels larger. Sean elaborates: “We used architecture to make the floor plan feel bigger,” he says. “When people walk in, they can’t believe it’s only 1,450 sf.” And if their impressive portfolio and range of client testimonials isn’t proof of their commitment to lasting quality, their new home certainly is. It was their “most challenging and rewarding project to date,” says Sean. Laura explains that, as with all Living Stone homes, it is Energy Star certified and as close to “net zero” as you can get with a renovation project. The house is also fully custom and designed with as much attention to the finishing touches as Laura and the ID.ology team offer their customers — “not compromising style,” she says.

This may go without saying. Laura is a working artist and certainly wouldn’t skimp on aesthetics. She uses studio space in the lower level of her new home to create artworks that can beautify any living space. Working in the mediums of acrylic spray, oils and gesso, she calls on her wealth of natural creativity to create the perfect addition to beautifully-designed interiors. “Art makes such a big difference on the personality of a space,” she says. Sean is clearly in agreement. Both are on the Design Committee of the National Association of Home Builders; Sean is in rotation to chair in 2018.  The two travel to trade shows around the country to ensure that they’re looped into the most exciting trends of the industry.
Without a doubt, the Sullivans see aesthetics and eco-consciousness as complementary elements of a life well-lived. “Design is the most critical element to functional and beautiful living,” Sean says. “It really determines what the outcome of the house is. We’re here to put as much design into the home as the client wants, both inside and out,” he says. Indeed, a peek through their portfolio speaks to this. Their history, current work, and overarching philosophy on life radiates boldly through each and every beautiful home they create.