An Off-the-Grid Island Home for a Seattle Music Producer

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By Erika Heet / Published by Dwell
Grunge band producer Adam Kasper enlisted the help of the firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson for his family home on a small island northwest of Seattle. He calls it “the house that Nirvana built.”

On a 24-acre parcel on Henry Island, in Washington State’s Salish Sea, is the home of Grammy-winning producer Adam Kasper, one-third of what he describes as a "tight three-piece family," including wife JJ and daughter Sofia. Designed by Peter Bohlin of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the 3,000-square-foot house "incorporates the natural world by allowing one to experience the temperature, sights, and smells of the island as you travel through the house," Kasper says. He calls it "the house that Nirvana built," from his time as a producer for the world-famous band, along with their Seattle grunge brethren Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and the Foo Fighters.

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The 3,000-square-foot house sits partially on stilts to tread as lightly as possible on its natural island site.

Site challenges abounded in this project, among them the fact that the crew needed to work carefully around sensitive Native American archeological sites—including midden and rock-cairn burial sites—of the Lummi tribe, which necessitated the family inviting tribal members to the property many times to approve and bless the process. And, notes Kasper, "every single item had to be brought in by barge or boat and driven by gator to the site."

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All the materials were brought by boat via the Salish Sea, so materials were carefully considered by the team.

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A boardwalk extends from the side elevation. The architectural team implemented glue-laminated fir rafters, plywood decking, cedar slats, steel columns and beams, and weathered steel siding.

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The boardwalk is an extension of the elongated horizontal forms throughout the house.

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The house was conceptualized as a series of living, dining, and bedroom pavilions.

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Hardy plywood panels and decking withstand heat, moisture, and weather changes on the island.

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Bay and clerestory windows from Window Craft abound throughout.

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I-beams extend beyond the house and add a perpendicular gesture to the otherwise elongated home. With virtually no neighbors, the family enjoys a private indoor-outdoor lifestyle. The doors throughout are from Northstar Woodworks.

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The Kasper family furnished the interiors simply, with an Isamu Noguchi lamp and a Crate and Barrel sofa for the living area and a live-edge table from CB2 surrounded by Eames chairs for the dining area. The house has underground power and a buried 1,000-gallon propane tank.

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The opposite view reveals a modest open kitchen.

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Dominated by a massive concrete fireplace, the living room overlooks the sea. Radiant-heat concrete floors keep the house cozy during winter.

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A low-slung breezeway connects the main living area and kitchen to the bedroom wing. “The idea was to experience the outdoors and island as you walk through the house,” says Kasper. “The design has worked out great for entertaining, because if people want to go to bed , they will not be disturbed by the action in the main living area.”

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A horizontal sliver of window allows light into the bathroom, with tile by Ann Sacks, a Zuma Collection C Series tub, a Kohler tub filler, and an Elkay faucet.

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The house glows at night.

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From the water, the house blends into the landscape, which was the intention of the owners and the architectural team.

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With its natural materials and horizontality, the house has a Wrightian vibe.