A compact home on a bluff boasts picturesque views on Whidbey Island


This spectacular compact home was designed by Shed Architects, perched on a high bank waterfront property on Whidbey Island, Washington. Created with both views and privacy, this home also has a flex space for a couple who is slowly transitioning into their retirement years.

A shed roof provides refuge to 915 square feet of living space with a 281 square foot flex space. There is also a “dogtrot” — a sheltered breezeway that overlooks Saratoga Passage with views to Mt Baker and the Cascade Mountains.

DESIGN DETAILS: ARCHITECT Shed Architects CONTRACTOR Jade Craftsman Builders STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Davido Consulting Group INTERIOR DESIGN Signe Sterner


The house was sited to not only take advantage of the views, but also create privacy from neighbors and a busy rural road. The architects took on this challenge by positioning the house just west of an existing garage, creating a forecourt that serves as a rain garden and landscaped buffer to the parking area and road.

The structure consists of three parts: a concrete plinth that cascades down to the site as steps, wood-framed volumes dimensioned by timber bents, and a large shed roof inclined to the view.


A wood boardwalk leads to the breezeway, which gives access to the living and flex rooms and allows passage through to the waterside of the house.


When designing this refuge, the challenge was to create a compact shelter for that is budget-friendly, low-maintenance, and maximizes the natural beauty of its surroundings. Additionally, the home needed extra space to host family and friends, hobbies, music, and a home office.


This refuge is separated into two sections via the dogtrot — one with the primary suite, living, kitchen, and dining area, and the flex space. Both zones live under one roof while maintaining a direct circulation to the water.


An exterior bench continues into the entry along a concrete wall while careful detailing of windows and doors connects the interior of the house to the outside.


The owners were highly collaborative in the selection of interior finishes and fixtures, in particular the design of a concrete and steel fireplace and bench as well as the reading nook’s steel shelving. Utilizing a limited material palette, this refuge seeks to amplify the experience of living on the site through an economy of means.


What We Love: This compact home provides a soon to be retired couple with an incredible island escape. With fabulous views of Puget Sound and beyond to the mountains, this would make for a relaxing refuge. We are loving the compact yet spacious layout of this home. The project team did a fabulous job of creating a comfortable and inviting shelter for the owners and their guests.

Tell Us: Would this island house be your idea of the ultimate place to retire? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below!

Note: Have a look at a couple of other fantastic Whidbey Island home tours that have been featured here on One Kindesign: Charming beach cottage on Whidbey Island gets beautifully refreshed and Glass house surrounded by a tranquil forest setting on Whidbey Island.






The exterior facade of the shelter is protective of the interior featuring narrow vertical and horizontal slot windows cut into the stained cedar siding. The house is a singular, orderly form with a separated reading nook bump-out on the side.



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Molly Porter
2 years ago

Beautiful place with just the right amount of space for my needs. I wonder what their idea of budget friendly is? Are the architects’ plans available to purchase?

2 years ago

Nice house! Well done! Love
The wood with the steel. Spot on!