These sylvan homes, studios, and hideaways outside Seattle offer a simple counterpoint to modern life.
When two retired teachers decided to build a new home, they knew they wanted an energy-efficient, no-stress Passive House design that would support aging in place. The resulting 1,800-square-foot house is the first Certified Passive House on the San Juan Islands in Washington, and it’s only the fourth in the state. The home, designed by Olympia-based firm The Artisans Group, has a circular floor plan that centers around a prefabricated pod that contains the kitchen and two bathrooms.
A panorama of sylvan hills and ocean views surrounds artist Richard Brothers’s environmentally minded Orcas Island, Washington, home. Architect Michelle Linden worked with Brothers to create a minimalist house. Inspired by the inward-looking approach of Cistercian abbeys, Linden oriented the U-shaped structure around a courtyard.
Architect Tom Kundig’s assignment was simple enough: Build a tiny, Thoreau-like getaway for an Atlanta-based writer who owned ten acres on San Juan Island in Puget Sound. “The idea was not to clutter anybody’s thinking, especially a writer’s,” he said. So he designed a 500-square-foot retreat that’s both womblike and open to its surroundings.
To build a home on a remote plot of land in Olalla, Washington, former Angelenos Amy Staupe and Christopher Roy commissioned Method Homes to construct a highly personalized prefab structure.
On Vashon Island, about 20 miles southwest of Seattle, architect Seth Grizzle designed a 440-square-foot multiuse structure for his clients Bill and Ruth True. The “tiny but mighty” structure—as Grizzle describes it—packs a wealth of uses into a compact footprint.
On Puget Sound, activist and filmmaker Anna Hoover collaborated with Les Eerkes, a principal at Olson Kundig Architects, on a 693-square-foot studio in the woods. Using freecycled materials and a six-footed foundation to rein in construction costs, Hoover and Eerkes created a distinctive structure that treads lightly on the land.
Grunge band producer Adam Kasper enlisted the help of the firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson for his off-the-grid family home on Henry Island. He calls it “the house that Nirvana built.”