This peaceful Orcas Island retreat is in perfect harmony with nature

modern house exterior with a pathway

This peaceful island retreat was designed by Heliotrope Architects, located on Orcas Island, Washington, part of the San Juan Islands archipelago that sits in the Salish Sea/Strait of Juan de Fuca between the USA and Canada. This 3,000-square-foot retreat residence is on a 26-acre site comprising a mature Douglas fir and Pacific madrone forest, with occasional rocky clearings and several small ponds.

The clients sought a home that minimized site impacts, utilized their favorite materials (wood and concrete), and connected them intimately with the land and the view. The home is positioned where the forest gives way to a large rocky clearing with views of the Salish Sea, a waterway straddling the United States and Canada.

DESIGN DETAILS: ARCHITECT Heliotrope Architects INTERIOR DESIGNER Heliotrope Architects with the Owners LIGHTING DESIGNER Heliotrope Architects CONTRACTOR Ravenhill STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Swenson Say Faget LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Garden Artisan

The house is wrapped around a prominent rock outcropping and carefully situated to require minimal tree removal. The long, narrow footprint of the home allows every room a view of the sea while retaining a strong connection to the surrounding forest. The low-slung curving form helps to nestle the house into the landscape itself.

modern house exterior with a pathway

The material palette was chosen to harmonize with the colors and textures of the natural surroundings and consists of wood from the forest (Douglas fir and madrone), concrete, zinc, steel, and glass. The interiors serve as a neutral background to the art featured throughout the home, most of which is the work of the homeowner.

modern house exterior

Strict site access protocols were put in place for the duration of construction to minimize site disturbance, and the landscape has been carefully restored to a natural state.

modern house exterior with a pathway leading to the entry

What We Love: This peaceful island retreat is completely integrated with nature, with expansive walls of glazing capturing views at every turn. We love the indoor-outdoor connection throughout this home and the covered patio for al fresco dining — the ultimate spot for entertaining family and friends. The front entry facade with its curved walls and roofline is also a fabulous design feature of this home.

Tell Us: What details do you like most in the design of this island getaway home? Let us know in the Comments below!

Note: Be sure to check out a couple of other fabulous home tours that we have featured here on One Kindesign on Orcas Island: Dreamy Orcas Island retreat set atop a bluff with coastal views and Idyllic modern shelter for family getaways on wind-swept Orcas Island.

modern house exterior entry with a pivoting door

modern great room with a large window

modern kitchen

modern kitchen

modern bedroom with a built-in furniture and tv

modern home office

modern home office

modern bathroom

modern family room with a fireplace

modern hallway

modern covered porch with dining furniture and an outdoor kitchen looking out to nature

Above: Al fresco dining with a view. The dining table was custom-made piece by the project carpenters.

modern outdoor fire wood storage

modern island house exterior

modern house exterior surrounded by forest

modern house exterior with a pathway surrounded by forest

PHOTOGRAPHER Sean Airhart, Benjamin Benschneider

modern island house regional view diagram

modern island house site view diagram

One Kindesign has received this project from our submissions page. If you have a project you would like to submit, please visit our submit your work page for consideration!

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Robert Sweet
3 months ago

Not a fan, looks very cold.

3 months ago

Another cement bunker with all the warmth and charm of a WWII anti aircraft site on the coast of France in WWII. On the numerous overcast cold days….
i am sure some loves it. Not me.

3 months ago
Reply to  DCR

Yes, cement, but all the large windows bring in the outdoors and even fog and overcast days have their own beauty.