Waterfront retreat built for entertaining on the San Juan Islands

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An intimately designed retreat lies nestled in a dense, wooded shoreline site, the imagination of Olson Kundig Architects, located on the San Juan Islands, Washington. The 1,700 square foot home was designed as a place for family and friends to enjoy throughout the year, but especially during the warmer summer months. The most important goal of this retreat is that is be low-maintenace and have a light impact on its naturally vegetated site. The house melds into its surrounding environment through its horizontally designed proportions. The cedar siding clad on the exterior facade was done through a traditional Japanese technique referred to as shou-sugi-ban. This method helps to preserve the wood so that is less of a target to insects, rot and fire. It also gives it a nice aesthetic, with a dark, slightly silvery hue, which changes over time.

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The space was designed by the architects to make it extremely flexible for its occupants so that it could have several different uses during all of the seasons. In the warm summer months you are able to completely open the pavilion window walls to the outdoor elements. This is done with a walk-along hand wheel, which means that you have to walk while you turn it. This helps to create a more expansive indoor-outdoor entertaining space and to blur the lines between indoors and out… not to mention helping to maximize the breathtaking water views!

RELATED: Modern lakeside shelter in the woods

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What We Love: This beautiful waterfront retreat is packed full of amenities for a small home, everything you could possibly need and want for a vacation retreat. Full of glass windows to maximize the views and walls that roll away to melt the indoors with the outdoors, we absolutely love this concept. This home would be a delight to entertain family and friends in the summertime. We especially love the private rooftop master bedroom suite with views of not only a green roof, but the spectacular surrounding environment. How about you, what are your thoughts on this cabin retreat?

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RELATED: Inspiring Writer’s Cabin on San Juan Islands

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The exterior features a hard shell of steel and charred siding, which contrasts nicely with a soft interior palette of pine and exposed wood rafters throughout the space.

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According to the architects, “a hand-cranked wheel connected to a set of gears and chains, like those of a bicycle, allow the nine-foot-tall glass walls—the largest of which is 20 feet long—to move effortlessly. When open, the window walls unite the living and kitchen areas with the expansive deck whose size nearly equals that of the building footprint.”

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In the kitchen, a cantilevered counter extends out onto the deck when the walls are open, adding to the flexibility of this space.

RELATED: Steel-clad cabin on stilts in the rugged wilderness

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On the upper level, the master bedroom cantilevers out over the volume below, creating a covered outdoor storage space below. This space looks out over a green roof that helps for added privacy from the public zones below.

RELATED: Fascinating modern dwelling on the San Juan Islands

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The bedroom above was designed to be very flexible, with a Murphy bed that can pop out for kids to have a sleepover. It is also a great place to escape to!

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Photos: Benjamin Benschneider

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