A Washington Artist Retreat Boasts Mesmerizing Mountain Views

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By Lucy Wang
Borrowing from the local rural vernacular, a rugged yet modern artist retreat embraces the landscape.

After securing an 18-acre site with sweeping views of Mount Adams in Trout Lake, Washington, a creative couple turned to Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects to bring their long-awaited vision to life. 

The clients—one being a painter and photographer, and the other a textile artist and designer—frequently find their muse in the landscape, and yearned for a creative space that maximized indoor/outdoor living

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Located on 18 acres of an agricultural property in Trout Lake, Washington, the artist retreat is set just steps from the white Salmon River.

Located on 18 acres of an agricultural property in Trout Lake, Washington, the artist retreat is set just steps from the white Salmon River.

Continuing their award-winning approach to site-specific design, the team crafted Trout Lake Residence as a contemporary and understated collection of buildings that embrace the landscape at every turn. 

In addition to serving as a home and workspace for the clients, Trout Lake Residence can also accommodate visiting friends or serve as an artist residency. 

In addition to serving as a home and workspace for the clients, Trout Lake Residence can also accommodate visiting friends or serve as an artist residency. 

Because the couple wanted the studio space separate from the house, the 6,594-square-foot property was divided into four buildings arranged in two clusters. 

The property is clad in locally milled Douglas Fir siding and topped with a rusted corrugated metal roof. Both materials were weathered by the clients. 

The property is clad in locally milled Douglas Fir siding and topped with a rusted corrugated metal roof. Both materials were weathered by the clients. 

The first grouping is a T-shaped, two-story volume that comprises the main house, a woodworking shop, and a carport. A covered courtyard sits at the intersection of these three volumes. 

"The clients wanted a flexible space that could accommodate multiple programmatic functions, from artmaking to entertaining to hosting retreats and community-based art workshops," says Olson Kundig Architects. "The spirit of the project we were trying to imagine was more about the position of several buildings and the space between them, rather than it being a single big, extravagantly detailed building." 

"The clients wanted a flexible space that could accommodate multiple programmatic functions, from artmaking to entertaining to hosting retreats and community-based art workshops," says Olson Kundig Architects. "The spirit of the project we were trying to imagine was more about the position of several buildings and the space between them, rather than it being a single big, extravagantly detailed building." 

The second cluster—the freestanding artist studio with a covered courtyard that connects to a guest bedroom—is located northeast of the main residence and accessed via footpath. 

The raised roofs make room for clerestory windows that run the length of the building.

The raised roofs make room for clerestory windows that run the length of the building.

Drawing inspiration from the rural vernacular, the minimal yet modern buildings were constructed of low-maintenance materials such as concrete, plywood and steel. 

"The buildings recall the agricultural forms of the local built environment, but as is our nature in our designs, we sought to take that context and evolve it to a more emphatic modern language," explains Tom Kundig, design principal and owner of the firm. "We sought to design something that was exquisitely proportioned in a quiet, agricultural way." 

The two sets of 30-foot-long bi-fold doors installed in the home’s two main volumes are by Centor. The doors not only open the interior to the environment, but are also designed to accommodate the movement of large artworks.  

The two sets of 30-foot-long bi-fold doors installed in the home’s two main volumes are by Centor. The doors not only open the interior to the environment, but are also designed to accommodate the movement of large artworks.  

Deferring to the landscape, Trout Lake Residence also engages the outdoors in a spectacular fashion: four 30-foot-long bi-fold doors—two on either side of the main living area and the other pair on opposite sides of the artist studio—fully open the interiors up to breathtaking views of the snow-capped Mount Adams. 

The double-sided fireplace separates the open-plan living, dining, and kitchen area from the library. 

The double-sided fireplace separates the open-plan living, dining, and kitchen area from the library. 

The fireplace core is by Earthcore Industries (Isokern, Magnum 48 See-Thru.) Olson Kundig gizmologist Phil Turner designed the custom concrete surround, steel chimney flue, and rolling steel fireplace screens. 

The fireplace core is by Earthcore Industries (Isokern, Magnum 48 See-Thru.) Olson Kundig gizmologist Phil Turner designed the custom concrete surround, steel chimney flue, and rolling steel fireplace screens. 

A set of hidden steel stairs lead to a loft above the library. 

A set of hidden steel stairs lead to a loft above the library. 

"It’s here that the clients and their friends, family, and fellow artists can experience the beautiful agricultural and natural landscape, with Mount Adams in the distance and the White Salmon river flowing through the property," say the architects.

"It’s here that the clients and their friends, family, and fellow artists can experience the beautiful agricultural and natural landscape, with Mount Adams in the distance and the White Salmon river flowing through the property," say the architects.

A look at the main-level floor plan of the Trout Lake Residence.

A look at the main-level floor plan of the Trout Lake Residence.

Here is the upper-level floor plan.

Here is the upper-level floor plan.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Olson Kundig / Tom Kundig

Builder/ General Contractor:  Jepson West Design & Construction, Inc. / Jepson West 

Structural Engineer: MCE Structural Consultants

Lighting Design: O- LLC / Veronika Batho-Demelius

Interior Design: Skylab Architecture / Amy DeVall

Cabinetry Design: Olson Kundig / Tom Kundig

Olson Kundig Architects uploaded Trout Lake Residence through Add a Home. Add your own project for the chance to be featured.