A Family Retreat Built On A Pristine Island In Washington State

View all 14 Photos

Although there was no home on this piece of rugged shoreline in Washington State’s San Juan Islands National Monument, a couple held strong ties to the site. They had owned the land for seven years by the time they contacted Heliotrope Architects. Principal Joseph Herrin sums up their request for construction with a succinct adage: they wanted a property that presented quality over quantity. The pair wished for their two preschool-aged children to grow up relishing a small setting on the sea, where indoor spaces are open to nature and there’s just enough space for guests to come by and enjoy the views. The couple also wanted to be aware of certain neighbors, the endangered wild salmon and orca who are also dependent on this place, and they asked Herrin to build a hamlet that did little harm. “The form of the house was a result of two primary elements: our desire for a garden roof, and a form that related to the slope of the land when seen from the water,” Herrin says. The family’s new address fits in well with its surroundings—so much so that it almost disappears from sight behind the trees.

This article first appeared on Dwell, text by Kelly Dawson

“There had been two or three primitive cabins on the property in the past, which resulted in a clearing that we utilized for the site,” Joseph Herrin says. “This allowed us to avoid any further tree removal for construction, and provided an opportunity to begin to restore that portion of the property with native landscaping.” – Photo: Sean Airhart
“The layout and openings allow ample flow to the exterior, and paths and decks have been developed to ‘flatten’ the sloping site enough to create generous outdoor gathering areas,” Herrin says. “These areas take into account sunlight at different times of day as well as protection from prevailing wind,” he adds. One-by-six-foot ipe planks comprise the decking, and hemlock end grain by the Oregon Lumber Company was installed indoors. – Photo: Sean Airhart
“The home is quite small, but designed in such a way that you don’t feel it,” Herrin says. Lift-slide openings by Quantum Windows & Doors, which were fabricated fewer than 50 miles from the house, make the main living space seem larger. – Photo: Sean Airhart
A sofa from Design Within Reach opposes a Hi Turn chair by Bensen in the living room. – Photo: Sean Airhart
A Design Within Reach bed is steps away from a Second Floor sink by Duravit that’s outfitted with an Essence Grohe faucet. Benjamin Moore’s Templeton Gray is painted on the master bathroom’s wood paneling. – Photo: Sean Airhart
One of the main goals of the construction was to do as little harm as possible to the existing environment, which includes waterways that salmon depend upon. Herrin and his team created a garden roof that covers the full extent of the home to meet this objective. “This helps control storm water runoff and also replaces lost insect habitat—insects being a critical food source for juvenile salmon,” he says. – Photo: Sean Airhart
“The liberal use of wood roots the structure in the landscape and provides the owners with an experience strongly connected with location,” Herrin says. The exterior’s Western red cedar shingle siding has a semi-transparent stain, half Fieldstone and half Burnt Hickory from Cabot. – Photo: Sean Airhart
Three 28.1 Single Mini pendant lights by Bocci hang above a dining table that was custom-built by the owner and her father. Bikappa dining chairs by Kristalia mirror the clean lines of the vintage chair in the living room. – Photo: Sean Airhart

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Featured Products Explore new arrivals at the Gessato Shop

Take me there

  • Boat Rooms on the Fuchun River

    A creatively designed retreat that celebrates an ancient local tradition. Built on the banks of…

  • andBeyond Vira Vira Lodge

    A serene retreat set on a working farm in Chile. Back in the early ‘90s,…

  • Eastwind Hotel & Bar

    A cozy upstate New York retreat in the Catskill Mountains. The brainchild of a group…

  • The Kumaon

    A serene mountain retreat in the Himalayas. Located 1600m above sea level in the Village…

More for you

                array(5) {
  ["post__not_in"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    int(177546)
  }
  ["tag__not_in"]=>
  array(2) {
    [0]=>
    int(16203)
    [1]=>
    int(9208)
  }
  ["posts_per_page"]=>
  int(12)
  ["caller_get_posts"]=>
  int(1)
  ["cat"]=>
  int(6178)
}
            
  • Caldeireiros Houses

    17th-century dwellings become modern apartments. Clínica de Arquitectura’s Caldeireiros Houses project began with the refurbishment…

  • Cerna Voda Mountain Lodge

    A compact cabin that complements its dark cladding with a warm interior. Nestled in a…

  • The Freycinet Lodge Pavilions

    A coastal retreat that immerses guests into nature. Located in a stunning natural landscape in…

  • Sydney Cottage by Panovscott

    A small house in an urban space becomes welcoming cottage linked to nature. The owner…

  • Casa Xólotl

    From a house in disrepair to architectural gem. Located in Mérida, Mexico, Casa Xólotl is…

  • Dancing Light House

    A modern dwelling that celebrates the desert, mountains, and light. Located in Paradise Valley, Arizona,…

  • Villa Monoi

    A dream getaway in Costa Rica. Built right near a beach between Playa Tamarindo and…

  • Trautenberk Microbrewery by ADR

    An old mountain lodge modernized into an elegant retreat. Located in the north-eastern part of…

  • House In Neveklov

    A black wooden house that hides a bright and airy interior. Minimalist and restrained, this…

  • The Mylla House

    A wooden cabin with a creative pinwheel design. Built on the top of a hill…

  • TL House

    An extension that expands both indoor and outdoor living spaces. Built in the 1970s in…

Close Cart