Seeking a quiet retreat, a couple builds a 1,600-square-foot property where simplicity reigns.
Although there was no home on this piece of rugged shoreline in Washington State’s San Juan Islands National Monument, a couple held strong ties to the site. They had owned the land for seven years by the time they contacted Heliotrope Architects. Principal Joseph Herrin sums up their request for construction with a succinct adage: they wanted a property that presented quality over quantity. The pair wished for their two preschool-aged children to grow up relishing a small setting on the sea, where indoor spaces are open to nature and there’s just enough space for guests to come by and enjoy the views. The couple also wanted to be aware of certain neighbors, the endangered wild salmon and orca who are also dependent on this place, and they asked Herrin to build a hamlet that did little harm. “The form of the house was a result of two primary elements: our desire for a garden roof, and a form that related to the slope of the land when seen from the water,” Herrin says. The family’s new address fits in well with its surroundings—so much so that it almost disappears from sight behind the trees.