An Energy-Efficient House Revels in Views of a Lush Forest

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By Lucy Wang
In a protected Oregon forest, a sustainably minded retreat crafted for a pair of empty nesters connects deeply with nature.

Having sent their two grown children off to college, Pedro and Claudia were ready for a change in scenery. Eager to put down new roots in a home that would offer a shorter commute to work and all the comforts of aging in place, the couple purchased a heavily forested 1.2-acre lot in Wildwood, a neighborhood located just minutes from downtown Portland. Next they tapped local firm Giulietti Schouten Architects to design their primarily single-level home.

A true "forested retreat," the home is accessed via a private entry road through the woods.

A true "forested retreat," the home is accessed via a private entry road through the woods.

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"The goal was for a modern open plan, with clean lines—but warm, inviting, and bright with an emphasis on outdoor living throughout the year," the architects explain. "They wanted the new home to be a place to bring the family together, even though the kids would be away most of the year, and to be able to entertain large groups while still having the home comfortable for daily life."

The contemporary home is marked by long horizontal planes and clean lines. Giulietti Schouten Architects crafted it with an eye for timeless design.

The contemporary home is marked by long horizontal planes and clean lines. Giulietti Schouten Architects crafted it with an eye for timeless design.

Yet the beautiful woods that drew the clients to the site also posed major challenges. Located within a protected forest area, the property faced strict regulations that dictated the building location and footprint. Moreover, the lot to the south had been donated as an environmental and watershed preserve, and came with its own set of rules.

"Great care was taken to preserve all fir and maple trees on the site and to compliment the new landscaped areas to highlight the natural setting," the architects note of their site-sensitive approach.

"Great care was taken to preserve all fir and maple trees on the site and to compliment the new landscaped areas to highlight the natural setting," the architects note of their site-sensitive approach.

As a result, great care was taken to preserve the existing trees and to funnel the home’s stormwater runoff into a stormwater basin, shared with neighboring properties, which ultimately drains back into the local watershed.

A view of the outdoor walkway that connects the patio to the master bedroom. The exterior is clad in traditional stucco and tongue-and-groove vertical cedar siding.

A view of the outdoor walkway that connects the patio to the master bedroom. The exterior is clad in traditional stucco and tongue-and-groove vertical cedar siding.

In addition to reduced site impact and responsible stormwater management, the architects also took an environmentally friendly design approach to the home. With numerous insulated windows, 100 percent LED lighting, and a building envelope with insulation levels above and beyond code minimums, the Wildwood House has achieved an Oregon energy performance score of 109.

The entry leads directly to the open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room, where full-height sliding doors extend the living spaces to the outdoors.

The entry leads directly to the open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room, where full-height sliding doors extend the living spaces to the outdoors.

A waterfall-edge quartz-topped island creates a dramatic statement in the minimalist kitchen. A window cutout behind the sink overlooks forest views to the west.

A waterfall-edge quartz-topped island creates a dramatic statement in the minimalist kitchen. A window cutout behind the sink overlooks forest views to the west.

The sleek kitchen is fitted with a Miele dishwasher, Miele oven, Wolf Cooktop, and Sub-Zero refrigerator. The cabinetry is white oak.

The sleek kitchen is fitted with a Miele dishwasher, Miele oven, Wolf Cooktop, and Sub-Zero refrigerator. The cabinetry is white oak.

An abundance of clerestory windows and sliding glass doors flood the long and linear home with natural light during the day—and they're also strategically placed to take full advantage of the lush, forested surroundings. Outdoor terraces extend the living areas out to the landscape and are protected with large overhangs to allow for year-round use, even in the rainy season.

Indoor/outdoor living is emphasized throughout the design. Pictured is the protected terrace with Restoration Hardware seating, a Marbella Metal Rectangular table, and acid-washed concrete flooring.

Indoor/outdoor living is emphasized throughout the design. Pictured is the protected terrace with Restoration Hardware seating, a Marbella Metal Rectangular table, and acid-washed concrete flooring.

Along with the walls of glass, the interior's warm wood surfaces and clean lines also pull the outdoors in. Open-plan spaces ensure continuous sight lines with the outdoors while providing plenty of space for entertaining.

Mosa porcelain tile clads the central hearth in the living room, which is furnished with a Como sectional chaise by Giorgio Soressi from Design Within Reach and a Noomi swivel chair designed by Susanne Soresso.

Mosa porcelain tile clads the central hearth in the living room, which is furnished with a Como sectional chaise by Giorgio Soressi from Design Within Reach and a Noomi swivel chair designed by Susanne Soresso.

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The sculptural stairway is fitted with white oak floating treads, a steel stringer, and a glass guardrail.

The sculptural stairway is fitted with white oak floating treads, a steel stringer, and a glass guardrail.

The small second floor includes two bedroom suites (for the client's visiting children or guests), a lounge, and a covered terrace.

The small second floor includes two bedroom suites (for the client's visiting children or guests), a lounge, and a covered terrace.

"The house accommodates a large number of guests for parties and events, while still being intimate and comfortable in its spaces for daily life with modern, clean lines and a warm interior," the architects said, noting that the primary living and sleeping areas are all located on the main level. "The organization of the program is tailored specifically for the family and the way they live."

Sliding doors in the master bedroom open to an outdoor walkway that connects to the outdoor spa, patio, and garden.

Sliding doors in the master bedroom open to an outdoor walkway that connects to the outdoor spa, patio, and garden.

Mosa porcelain tile lines the bathroom floors. Pictured here is the ground-floor master bath, with massive walls of glass framing forest views.

Mosa porcelain tile lines the bathroom floors. Pictured here is the ground-floor master bath, with massive walls of glass framing forest views.

The master bath includes a Badeloft freestanding tub and Aquabrass fixtures.

The master bath includes a Badeloft freestanding tub and Aquabrass fixtures.

A view from the kitchen to the study on the south side of the house. White oak hardwood floors feature throughout, while the ceiling is tongue-and-groove cedar.

A view from the kitchen to the study on the south side of the house. White oak hardwood floors feature throughout, while the ceiling is tongue-and-groove cedar.

The cozy study is furnished with custom timber shelving, a Gus Modern Jane sectional, a Womb chair, an ottoman designed by Eero Saarinen for Knoll, and a Noguchi table.

The cozy study is furnished with custom timber shelving, a Gus Modern Jane sectional, a Womb chair, an ottoman designed by Eero Saarinen for Knoll, and a Noguchi table.

A peek inside the guest bath next to the entry.

A peek inside the guest bath next to the entry.

Wildwood House floor plans

Wildwood House floor plans

Wildwood House sections

Wildwood House sections

Wildwood House site plan

Wildwood House site plan

Related Reading: 10 Outstanding Prefabs in the Pacific Northwest

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Giulietti Schouten Architects / @gs_architects

Builder/ General Contractor: WA Hughes Construction

Structural Engineer: Madden & Baughman Engineering

Civil Engineer: NW Engineers

Landscape Design Company: Dennis' 7 Dees

Cabinetry Design/ Installation: L & Z Specialties

Windows/Doors: Portland Millwork Inc.