To build a home on a remote plot of land in Washington State, former Angelenos Amy Staupe and Christopher Roy commissioned Method Homes to construct a highly personalized prefab structure. "We had gone back and forth on prefab or custom so many times," Roy says. "A lot of the prefab we saw was either too expensive, didn't meet our needs, or it just didn't appeal to us. I had sort of given up on prefab, thinking that the market just wasn't ready for us yet." As he was driving on the freeway, Roy spotted a convoy of prefab modules and noticed that they were from Method Homes. "I thought, 'Hmmm… Maybe I ought'a give those guys another look,'" he says. The couple soon embarked on a year-long project to create a haven in the forest, which they documented in striking detail on ruralrebound.com. Staupe and Roy walk us through the finished product.
Christopher: Olalla, Washington, is a small rural community on the Kitsap Peninsula accessible to Seattle via ferry, or a long drive through Tacoma. We're about one mile from Puget Sound, one mile from a freshwater lake and a few miles from a popular sailing harbor. We're Olympic Peninsula adjacent, and, most importantly, we are less than 45 minutes from Amy's favorite oyster farm in the Hood Canal, Hama Hama. In addition to a family of deer, dozens of birds, and hundreds of frogs, our property is also home to occasional wandering coyotes and a very strange-looking creature that Amy has convinced herself is a chupacabra. There are cougars and black bears in the area as well, but thank God we haven't eyeballed them yet.
Amy: For us, the primary driver for us to move from Los Angeles and abandon our urban existence was our love of the property.
Chris: I work as a Director of User Experience at a Satellite T.V. company. I think that designers, for the most part (and UI / UX designers in particular), are systems people. They tend to be attracted to grids, taxonomies, hierarchy, structure, simplification, and explanation. Prefab housing (whether a quonset, an Ikea home, monolithic dome, container structure, or a factory built number) is partly manifestation of those sentiments into a living environment. I really find the systemization of home building intriguing.
Amy: The ability to customize was everything [when selecting a prefab builder]. A lot of the companies we evaluated claimed that customization was possible, but it came down to that personal chemistry and trust. Brian Abramson [Method's Co-Founder] told us that almost anything was possible, barring decisions that would compromise structural integrity. And believe me, we tried. We added large windows, transom windows for maximum airflow, two skylights and they even widened my closet a little and reconfigured the bathroom to fulfill my dream of a freestanding tub inside the shower. This caused them to have to lengthen the top module [which is the cedar-clad volume shown here].
Amy: We were very opinionated when it came to the siding as well. Hardie board was suggested because it's so economical and we did have budget realities, but we felt it was too played out. We feel it will look very dated soon. Cedar was always a must on top, so that the house would blend into the woodland scenery and grey and weather naturally over time. We selected a dark charcoal color to coat the reverse standing seam metal by Taylor Metals. It adds some subtle contrast in texture and finish.
Amy: Because winters in the Pacific Northwest are so long and dark, it was important that our interior be light and warm. Also, the spectacular scenery and wildlife is really the star, so we wanted the view out of the windows to be the main focal point. The design of our home is narrow so we can really capitalize on natural light.
Chris: I really like the flow of the house. Everything from the way you can easily move through rooms, to the way light travels, to the way air flows through on warm days. The insteon-powered lighting is also one of the best decisions we made. We pre-programmed settings like "movie time" and "middle of the night baby feeding" so that we can press a button on the wall or using our mobile phones and control the entire house.
The other major life saver has been the fireplace. It was something Amy really wanted, but it wasn't on our "Minimal Viable Product" list. However, when another design/structural challenge presented itself—the need to add a support beam between the dining and living open floor plan spaces—Method suggested we could integrate a fireplace to obscure the support. It's great. It adds cozy ambience, provides real heat when the power goes out, and provides slight separation between rooms without closing them off at all.
Chris: When we lived in California, we had a lot of dark woods and walnut floors, but that was too heavy for this climate. We took inspiration from Scandinavian design—especially the lightness, simplicity and minimalism. The floors were key. We leaned heavily toward a light maple, but in the end we landed on blonde bamboo—partially because the blonde coloring is a little unexpected and the bamboo for its sustainability.
The sink is Kohler, the faucet is Hansgrohe, and the cooktop and oven are GE. The countertop is Caesarstone's Pure White with waterfall detailing on both sides of the island.
Amy: Because I got pregnant shortly after we started the design process, it became clear that we would need details that weren't too austere, complicated, or unsafe. We use FLOR rugs throughout, knowing that spills are our new way of life—and changing out tiles makes it easier not to sweat it. The crib is from Land of Nod and the bookshelf is vintage, which Chris refurbished.
Amy: It was important for me to have a master bathroom that fostered a serene and relaxed feeling and Chris insisted that we add a little color therapy for those long, dark winter days. The floor and wall tile is by DalTile. The sink is cast concrete with a faucet by Danze.
Chris: The subfloor radiant heat tied to the Nest thermostat is one of the smartest decisions we made. We can really economize and scrutinize our energy consumption, and the heat distribution is amazing. Nothing beats stepping out on heated tile floors after your morning shower.
Amy: The original plan called out for planters on the upstairs deck areas, but we caused a few headaches by requesting greenroof areas instead. Our home's design features expansive deck spaces, so the marriage of inside and outside really creates an illusion of twice the space. Hands down, the windows are the best feature. As Chris puts it, we feel like we're outside all the time, but we're warm.