One Family’s Cabin Retreat in Washington Takes Inspiration From a Native Bird
Located atop a bluff on the western shore of Washington’s Hood Canal is Hood Cliff Retreat, a cluster of family cabins that include an original, 20' x 20' cabin; an addition connected by a glass link; and a new bunkhouse nestled on the northern end of the site.
The retreat’s owners—Pat Troth, a hydrologist and forester with a deep love for trees, soils, and the beauty of the natural world, and her husband John Troth, a wildlife photographer—live in Indiana, and were looking to create a gathering place in nature where they could visit and spend quality time with their two adult children who live in Toronto and North Carolina.
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"As avid bird watchers and naturalists, the Troths wanted an indoor/outdoor family retreat that would immerse them in the stillness of the forest and capture the delicate Washington sunlight and views toward Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains to the west," says architect Matt Wittman of Seattle–based practice Wittman Estes Architecture + Landscape.
According to Wittman, the architecture of Hood Cliff was inspired by the native killdeer bird. "Unlike most birds, the killdeer doesn’t bring outside vegetation to build its nest—it pulls away the existing brush, burrowing into the existing forest, and nesting on the ground," says Wittman, who designed Hood Cliff Retreat to feel both connected to, and protected from, the natural elements—like the bird’s nest.
The Troths owned a dark and opaque cedar cabin on the site, which had been built in 1962, but felt that this old cabin did not do justice to the stunning site. They wanted their new retreat to better connect them with the outdoors, and to include three additional sleeping areas for their extended family.
The new retreat was designed as three single-story volumes that defer to the landscape with glass sliding doors and continuous decks that connect the three structures to the greenery and trees outside.
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Salvaged cedar beams were used for the countertops, casework, and parts of the exterior cladding.
"We sought to dissolve the barriers between the inside and out; between forest, garden, and structure."