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healing greenhouse

A Gorgeous Greenhouse Heals a Family

By Tobias RobertsRise Writer
May 23, 2019

Plants are something we are naturally drawn to one recent study revealed that about half of all Americans have gardened within the past year. While only a few people actually own a greenhouse, building a small greenhouse or hoop house is a simple DIY project that almost any homeowner can do. RISE recently sat down to talk with Megan Vaughan (once part of the 50 percent who did not garden) to learn about her process of dreaming, planning, building, and now using their absolutely gorgeous greenhouse—and how it fulfilled a very personal need.


Megan and Mitch Vaughan run a family business called Vaughan House, an umbrella company for several different business ventures they partake in as a husband and wife team, including wedding photography and videography. Recently, they hand-built a beautiful 14 by the 22-foot greenhouse in their backyard that has allowed Megan to cultivate and mature her love for plants. The greenhouse has 9.5-foot walls and the glass roof peaks at about 14 feet high, making for a magical indoor space that the Vaughans intend to rent out for weddings, receptions, and photoshoots. It has the ability to seat about 20 people, making it an ideal size for people looking for a natural setting for small events.

Vaughan House Greenhouse
Photo Courtesy of Megan Vaughan Photography

Part of the enchantment of the picturesque greenhouse is that it is a perfect example of biophilic architecture, allowing an enclosed living space to open up to the surrounding natural world. The construction was built over a period of seven months by Mitch, using cedar beams and old, white, wooden windows. The flooring is natural grass, which allows the greenhouse to blend into the surrounding landscape of the Vaughan’s yard. While not yet winterized, the Vaughans have incorporated a wide array of beautiful flowers and houseplants that keep the space covered in greenery through much of the year.

greenhouse indoor plants
Photo Courtesy of Megan Vaughan Photography

The Benefits of a Greenhouse

There are a number of benefits that come with incorporating a greenhouse into your sustainable landscaping solution. For people with a green thumb, even an un-winterized greenhouse can significantly extend the growing season. An attached greenhouse is a great space for gray water recycling strategies, allowing homeowners to send the water from their showers, sinks, and washing machines into an environment where plant life can benefit from the excess water and nutrients throughout the year.

When a greenhouse is attached to the south-facing side of the home, it can also be a fundamental part of a passive solar heating strategy, especially when thermal mass is included in the greenhouse construction. Greenhouses also allow for a more controlled growing environment, helping homeowners to avoid the need to utilize pesticides or other chemicals to control pests. A household composting system can also be incorporated in or near the greenhouse to recycle organic waste back into the local landscape.

The Interview

How did you and Mitch come up with the idea for the greenhouse?

The idea to build the greenhouse was born out of personal loss. I used to joke about how I had a black thumb. I couldn’t even keep fake plants alive. It was always a running joke in our house. Succulents died the second I looked at them so there was no way I could keep anything leafy and green alive. For years, we had a plantless house and we were just fine with that.

Then we miscarried. My best friend, Sarah, left some daffodils on my doorstep. I wasn’t expecting them. But when I passed by the door, I saw them sitting there. They were bright yellow and orange, smiling up at me. I loved them immediately. I got it into my head that I was going to keep these alive because that was the life I could control. I looked up how to care for daffodils. I loved tending to them and they always seemed so happy to see me.

I decided I wanted plants. Lots of plants. All under my control, all things I could keep alive. My mother-in-law and I researched house plants and how to care for each of them. Then we went shopping. I got all the pots, the right dirt, set timers on my phone for when to water them, and when to fertilize them. It eventually got to the point where I didn’t need the phone reminder anymore. 

We decided to try again. Month after month. Negative pregnancy tests.

I wanted… no, needed… more plants. More things to care for that I had complete control over. I never seemed to have enough. Each month we had a negative test, that day I’d go to a nursery or Home Depot or Lowe’s and get more plants. I’d take my time walking through the plant isles. I’d run my fingers across their leaves, waiting for one to call out to me. Sometimes I’d go with Max (our son) and let him pick one. Sometimes I just wanted to go alone. This was an errand where I couldn’t be rushed. I needed to take my time and let the minutes, sometimes hours, in the company of plants work their magic. 

Our house had slowly evolved from a plant-friendly home to the home of someone who clearly has a mild plant obsession. I needed a place to keep them all.

greenhouse frame
Photo Courtesy of Megan Vaughan Photography

I woke up one morning at the beginning of June 2017 with this thought in my head. Greenhouse. I want to build a greenhouse. I pitched the idea to Mitch and after a little convincing, he was on board.

I like to believe the baby we lost sent me this idea, so in some way, it serves as a memorial. Its sentimental value is so much more than what people see. They just see a pretty structure, but when we look at it, we see everything we went through—the good, the bad, and all the miracles that happened. It’s such a beautiful reminder of God’s love and His promises.

greenhouse baby
Photo Courtesy of Megan Vaughan Photography

Was it professionally designed, or did the design process occur?

We designed it ourselves! We visited Mitch’s parents in Texas in July 2017 and sat on their deck with the iPad and sketched out what we wanted it to look like. We brainstormed, planned, and saved.

What types of plants are you growing in the greenhouse right now?

Mostly house plants. The only thing we have planted in the ground are two wisterias. I’d love for them to grow and take over the back wall of the greenhouse!

greenhouse plants
Photo Courtesy of Megan Vaughan Photography

What would you say is the greatest benefit of having the greenhouse in your yard?

The peace it brings us. I love looking out the window and seeing it. It’s the perfect getaway spot right in our backyard.

Have you had weddings or other events in the greenhouse?

We’ve had several proposals! Photographers rent it out for sessions. We’re hoping to host a couple of weddings this year. We’ve received several inquiries and have tours scheduled!

greenhouse wedding
Photo Courtesy of Megan Vaughan Photography

What would you recommend to other homeowners interested in building a greenhouse of their own?

Plan for it to cost much more than you’ve estimated! We also had to get permission from the county because of its size, and it had to pass several rounds of inspection.

Would you do anything differently the second time around?

We thought long and hard about this question, but we wouldn’t change a thing! Because we built it ourselves, we were able to make changes as it was being built. When the windows went in, they couldn’t be opened. This year, we did take some out and hinge them to allow for better airflow. Having a grass floor has been a learning experience, but we’re taking it all in stride and making changes as we go!

greenhouse windows
Photo Courtesy of Megan Vaughan Photography

Can you share a story of a special moment that you and your family shared in the greenhouse (either during construction or after completion)?

Wow, so many! Two incredibly special moments come to mind. After an entire year of trying and getting negative tests, on the exact day construction was completed, we found out we were pregnant with our rainbow baby.

So technically, on the day the greenhouse was done, the idea and dream that was born from our loss is the day we found out. I joke with Mitch and tell him all he had to do for us to get pregnant was to finish the greenhouse! All the planning, every set back with the building, every good weather day, every bad weather day, every minute that was spent outside, every piece of material that had to be saved up for, ordered, get to our house and installed…it all added up and was timed perfectly for us to find out on THAT day.

Our daughter’s name is Marigold, named after the plants that brought us so much healing.

greenhouse family
Photo Credit: Kelsey Schwenk

More pictures and videos of Megan and Mitch’s stunning greenhouse are available here.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-10T05:53:49+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.