August 7, 2012 (Hillsborough, NC) — The National Wildlife Federation recently certified the John and Stacy Crabill property in Hillsborough, NC, as a natural habitat.
The Crabills bought the five-acre property in 2010 with the intention of building a simple, modern home in a clearing amidst a lush forest. They wanted the house to disturb the natural environment as little as possible.
To reflect the verdant surroundings, Tonic Design + Tonic Construction, a design/build firm in Raleigh, used simple, inexpensive materials and references to agricultural structures in a modern architecture composition. Recalling old farm sheds, the weathered COR-TEN® steel exterior, both solid and perforated, is “a constantly evolving element in the landscape,” said Tonic designer and co-owner Vinny Petrarca.
COR-TEN is a group of steel alloys developed to eliminate the need for painting.  The steel forms a stable rust-like appearance if exposed to the weather for several years.
“This is a house for a creative and passionate family to live and work in,” Petrarca noted. “It’s a house for a family that values design and that wanted something special.”
The Crabills also made it a priority to accommodate the natural wildlife.
“Our forest is special because of all the unique animals and plants that, together, make up a habitat,” wrote the Crabill’s young daughter, Madison, in her application for the natural habitat designation. “Since living here, we have seen animals and other wildlife that we have never seen before. We commonly see deer, lizards, frogs, raccoons, and other animals that all live on the same land that we call our home. We are always doing the best we can to create a habitat for the animals around us.”
To become an officially certified wildlife habitat, the Crabills had to prove that their land provides food sources, water sources, cover (a thicket, rock pile, bird houses), and places where wildlife can raise young (such as dense shrubs, nesting boxes, etc.).
“The wildlife in our forest occupy a different niche, and all together they make up a habitat in our forest,” Madison said. “The most important thing that I have learned from living here is that it is important to share land with the wildlife living all around us.”
For more information on the Crabills’ home, visit www.tonic, click on “projects” then on “Crabill Modern.”
For more information on the National Wildlife Federation and natural habitat certification, go to