An unassuming home in Washington’s San Juan Islands is far more than meets the eye because it uniquely connects to the landscape while serving as a stylish canvas for the owners to display their new art collection. Designed by Seattle architects Tom Kundig, the home was conceived in a way that makes the most of scenic views and plentiful wildlife in the area.
The pitched roof has wide overhangs that also provide shade and shield the interior from too much direct sunlight or the effects of strong wind and rainstorms. While it includes a substantial amount of glass, the wooden structure takes its visual cues from agricultural buildings that already existed on the property. The exterior, as well as the interior, follow the design language of those buildings: The living space features a tall, wide-open area combined with loft space. The entire home is energy efficient and the light and solar heat can be adjusted by sliding the four, 20-foot-tall wooden shutters that feature on the western facade.
Overall, the structure seamlessly melds with its bucolic, wooded surroundings thanks to the restrained, minimal color and material palettes. Clad in wood boards that are applied vertically, the house has a refined, rustic feel, perfect for the rugged property. The ample use of glass windows provides unparalleled views of Haro Strait and the Olympic Mountains from the indoors, just as from the outdoor spaces.
The architects installed a super tall 15-foot entry door that pivots at the center, creating a unique element for the house. The owners have a large new collection of art that features prominently in the home’s decor and the design was created to highlight it. The interiors were designed by San Francisco’s Geremia Design studio. Stepping through the entry, guests are immediately greeted with John Eric Byer’s iconic block bench that is crafted from blackened maple, accompanied by a mirror piece, entitled “Seeing Glass” by Sabine Marcelis and Brit van Nerven.
Inside, the living area is essentially a single large space with a loft level for the bedrooms. It is very stylish and feels very open and airy thanks to the high ceiling and tall windows that let in lots of natural light. Throughout the interior, the finishes are natural and restrained, devoid of glitz or out-of-place glamour.
Besides supplying loads of light for the living spaces, the double-height, windows allow for unobstructed views of the landscape beyond — perfect for contemplation and inspiration at any time of day. The warm palette combines wood, concrete and metal in a structure that stands out yet is harmonious with the lush forest and bright bay.
The interior spaces are efficiently arranged and are conducive to entertaining as well as displaying the art collection. The decor is simple and restrained but is still very rich in feeling. The upper floor level wraps around the main living space, which opens up stunning outdoor views from both levels of the cottage. The living room furnishings include coffee bean tables by Holly Hunt, which are set off by a rust-colored silk Tai Ping carpet and a custom Living Divani Sofa.
Throughout the interior, a simple palette makes up the entire decor plan with pale wood floors and white walls, which help highlight the artful furnishings and other collector’s pieces. The decor was designed in its entirety by Geremia, which included choosing new artworks as well as contemporary furniture. In the sitting area, the open shelving credenzas keep the look light and are designed to align with the window mullions.
The surfaces in the kitchen also fit the restrained palette. Green soapstone countertops are paired with oak veneer cabinets, that are finished with hardware designed by Olson Kundig.
The adjoining dining area features a Nolan Dining Table and dark, vaguely industrial chairs. both by Troscan Design. A three-tier matte black light fixture by Mary Wallis hangs above a credenza crafted by Wüd Furniture. A Wintercheck Factory lamp sitting on the credenza gives off a warm glow, creating additional ambiance in the space. The total design is rustic minimalism at its finest. Extra storage and a mudroom are tucked away behind the kitchen area. A bedroom and additional storage areas are also situated on the ground floor,
The upstairs contains an additional living area, a master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom. In the master bedroom, the focal point is a custom leather and steel bed, that was designed by Geremia in collaboration with fabricator Tod Von Mertens. Another main feature in the master is the rolled steel and Thassos marble fireplace that makes lounging in the vintage Pamono club chair a delightful experience.
The design of the master bath follows the same restrained sensibility of the rest of the home, with neutral colors and plenty of natural materials. The very tall soaking tub is set in the corner atop a natural pebble-floored inset. A dual basin vanity and plenty of storage round out the bathroom’s design.
The additional living space upstairs has a very comfortable seating area and office-style workspace, ideal for working or studying. Here too, artful furnishings make the space very attractive and distinctive artwork provides color and additional interest. A minimum of open shelving along the top of the cabinetry allows for some display space, while the desk, drawers and other shelving are secreted away behind folding doors when not in use.
The second bedroom is also done in a neutral palette but adds its pop of color with bold but muted hues in the bedding and additional warmth from the amber globe on the light fixture. The hefty, natural wood bench and potted plant are interior reminders of the rugged landscape outside.
Demonstrating that good things come in small packages, the False Bay Writer’s Cabin — a 500-square foot structure — serves as a guest house and writer’s retreat on this property. The cabin features three wooden slat decks that provide ample outdoor living space. The owners wanted to be able to secure the cabin when not in use so the architect devised an ingenious hydraulic system that converts the decks to shutters for the house, which is largely composed of glass. A combination of hydraulic winches, wire rope, pivoting sheaves, and lead blocks make the mechanism function. Besides being used to secure the house, the three decks help to erase the divide between indoors and out when the sliders are open.
The cabin is simple yet very comfortable, with its sculptural Cowrie Chair by Made in Ratio, a TRNKTruss sofa and side table, accented with leather ottomans from Jayson Home and floor lamp by Holly Hunt. The Rodan coffee table is from Pinch. In addition, the fireplace rotates 180 degrees so it can be enjoyed indoors or out.