This Breezy Floating Home Makes the Most of a Tranquil Setting Along Seattle’s Portage Bay
Seattle’s tradition of floating homes and houseboats is often romanticized in popular media, but not without warrant. In their introductory project, the team at Studio DIAA epitomizes the archetype’s enchantment with a design that captures the lightness and serenity of waterfront living. Although just 650 square feet, the home maximizes its dreamy location along the banks of Portage Bay with expansive doorways and a wrap-around deck overlooking the adjacent garden.
"Arriving home feels almost like visiting a spa," says Suzanne Stefan, the homeowner and a principal at Studio DIAA. "From the parking area, the house is reached by a path descending downward through a lush garden to the dock. The sound of the water lapping against the shore instantly creates a calming atmosphere."
Suzanne and her partner, who is an avid sailor and boat hobbyist, desired a home that connected them with one another and the surrounding environment. "We were trying to generate a feeling very specific to this place," Suzanne explains. "Looking out from the kitchen, we see our sailboat docked on one side and the garden along the other. The feeling is one of leisure and solitude."
When designing the connection between indoors and out, Suzanne and her team incorporated multiple sets of swinging and sliding glass doors from LaCantina.
"We were originally considering large windows instead of floor-to-ceiling openings," she comments. "But then we connected with the LaCantina team, who recommended custom-sized doors to fit each room—including a zero post corner door in the living area. It was a game changer for the design."
The use of large-scale doors from LaCantina also provided ample opportunity to consider how sunlight would interact with various areas of the home. "We wanted the interior to act as a canvas for natural light and convey an overall appearance of lightness," explains Suzanne. "So, we not only considered surfaces that would enhance the sunlight, but also thought about the weight properties of materials as well."
"The large glass doors and skylights also set up beautiful interactions between the sunlight and interior—from reflections off of the water to filtered light coming in through one of the adjacent trees," Suzanne adds. "To observe these candid moments on a daily basis feels like time is slowing and causes me to pause."
Shop The Look
"We moved in August and had the end of summer to enjoy the deck, as well as paddle boarding and kayaking on the lake," Suzanne adds. "Since many of the sliding doors pocket into the wall, there's essentially no threshold between the inside and out, and, as such, we unexpectedly found ourselves using the deck as a sort of corridor to circulate between rooms."
LaCantina is a pioneer in designing and manufacturing large opening door systems, offering a comprehensive range of folding, sliding, and swing doors in a variety of sizes and finishes. To learn more, please visit their website or check out @lacantinadoors for inspiration.
Architecture & Interior Design: Studio DIAA / @studiodiaa_design
Structural Engineering: BUILT Engineering
General Contracting: Dovetail General Contractors / @dovetail_gc
Interior and Exterior Finish Construction: Forrest Taylor and Geoff Gamsby
Photography: Kevin Scott
TopicsHome ToursSmall Spaces
Get the Pro Newsletter
What’s new in the design world? Stay up to date with our essential dispatches for design professionals.