Avid outdoors enthusiasts, a couple was looking to build a modest year-round retreat in Washington’s Cascade Mountains in order to make the most of the region’s vast network of hiking and cross-country skiing trails. But extreme weather conditions posed a challenge. Located in the Methow Valley near Winthrop, Washington, the area can reach thirty degrees below zero and experience three to four feet of snow in winter, and up to 110 degrees and dry conditions in summer. Balance Associates worked to create an 850-square-foot cabin with commanding views that's well-adapted to the region.
While it was tempting to embed the cabin into the hillside, Balance Associates sought a smarter solution. By elevating the project on two concrete walls, the clients could avoid a costly foundation, improve their view of the landscape, and stay above the thick winter snowfall.
The cabin is clad in clear-stained exterior-grade plywood that’s economical and blends in with the area’s foliage in summer.
Deep eaves prevent the entrance from being buried in snow. The clients can see directly into the valley and mountains below.
The entrance is immediately flanked on its left by a mudroom for hiking gear and the bathroom.
The bedroom is to the immediate right of the entrance; the architects selected plywood for interior surfacing for the warm tones it provided. The aluminum spacers allow for easy installation—they have greater tolerances for gaps as compared to other joints—while doubling as a decorative element.
This neutral palette of the kitchen and living room allows the balcony’s vista to take center stage.
While the home is well insulated on all sides, the hearth can provide extra warmth when necessary.
Supported by steel strips, the balcony extends outwards to meet the valley below. Fully-glazed sliding doors and a clerestory window provide a view.
Balance Associates architect Tom Lenchek says the project’s success was enabled by a clear vision from the clients: the couple “identified what they wanted and stuck to that,” resisting escalating the project’s scope and cost. This enabled the architects to craft a consistent and simple design.