Modern ski cabin in Washington State: The Ranchero

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The Ranchero is a modern ski cabin designed by CAST Architecture nestled at the edge of a subalpine meadow in the small community of Mazama in Washington State’s the upper Methow Valley. The Ranchero is a base camp for a family of four, offering year round outdoor adventure and a social hub for gatherings of friends and family. The architects responded with a simple, rugged design that is responsive to the environment and low on maintenance, letting the family focus on the outdoors. The open plan home offers 1,600 square feet of living space plus 800 square feet of covered outdoor space.

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The deep veranda, over-sized entry and ski wax room provide family and guests a functional landing zone between activities.

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A view from the south shows how the house is split into two components linked by a single sloped roofline. To the right is the 1,400-square-foot main house, and on the left is a 200-square-foot sauna. The sauna area includes a covered wooden shed and a wax room for preparing skis in the winter.

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A simple material pallet focuses on highly durable, low maintenance solutions such as Cor-ten steel siding, aluminum clad windows and a concrete skirt that protects the structure’s base during the winter snowpack and spring snowmelt cycle.

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With a spine that is aligned along an east west axis, the home is designed to take advantage of passive solar heat gain in the winter while minimizing solar heat gain in the summer.

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Crisp white aluminum ceiling panels reflect light into the home and help blur the line between the indoors and outdoors.

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The plan emphasizes simplicity, abundant natural light and a strong connection to the surrounding peaks and adjacent aspen grove. The public wing features an open floor plan with an expansive patio that sets the stage for relaxation and socializing. The corridor beyond the kitchen leads to the three bedrooms as well as the bathrooms, laundry and a small office.

Made from low-maintenance, paint-free aluminum panels, the white ceilings reflect sunlight into the home to make the interior brighter and less reliant on artificial lighting throughout the day.

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The furnishings throughout the house pick up on the ruggedness of the architecture as well as the character of the landscape. Mild steel and integrally colored fiber cement panels clad the interior walls for a durable, paint free finish.

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Peeling of steel also occurs at the entry, creating a shelf for keys, wallets, hats and so forth.

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Low VOC finishes, concrete floors, and a heat recovery ventilator insure clean and healthy air.

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Many of the unique details that take advantage of the materials are very subtle. In one corner of the kitchen, for example, the steel peels up to hold chalk for writing notes or drawings pictures on the wall.

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The home features regionally crafted custom finish details, casework and furnishings throughout.

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The private wing offers a master suite with an extra day bed, a ship’s berth inspired bunkroom, and peaceful getaway nooks.

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Built at a modest scale with super insulated walls and ceilings, energy efficient windows and systems, the home is intended to minimize energy consumption.

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A balance of rugged materials, a simple plan and clean lines help focus this mountain retreat on the place, people and adventures.

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Photos: Courtesy of CAST Architecture

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