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North Bluff Residence

Location: Whidbey Island, WA 

Size: 2,250 SF (Residence) 900 SF (Garages)


Set on the west side of Whidbey Island, this Washington glade is surrounded by five acres of forest. The North Bluff Residence owners asked for simple, light-filled space of robust materials and finishes focused on the land. The resulting western “longhouse” defines private areas (bedroom, bath, gym), public core (eating, gathering, kitchen and guest space) and work areas (garages/craft/tool space) with two integral breezeways. Open spaces are functional providing connection + separation, wood storage, access to working areas of the house. 

Morning light floods the home, providing views of land, trees and gardens and the forest edge. The linear design insures light and ventilation while deep roofs and an active front porch provide shelter + usable outdoor space even in Pacific NW rain; the functions of the house lend it form.

Low-maintenance materials are hardy and sustainable. Simple ground concrete floors support high-efficiency hydronic radiant heating, walls are finished in wood panels and mineral paint, a metal roof supports a future energy-producing photovoltaic system. The rain-screen siding and exterior insulation-weather barrier system exceeds the Washington State Energy Code requirements while reducing sound transmission (from adjacent Naval Air Station aircraft). A U.S.-made low-maintenance siding fabricated from recycled rice husks, and Shou Sugi Ban clad the home.

The owner’s work, life, craft and community guided the design. Breezeways shelter garage/workshop mudroom and pantry connections and separate the bedroom and bath while a linear progression of space ensures that all places within have access to air, light, and greenspaces. The owner’s offices are purposely tucked into the edge of the native forest. A central fireplace/hearth provides masonry mass for a high-efficiency stove burning downed and pruned wood from the land, also providing for ample wood storage. Simple clerestories in the sheltering roof bring sunlight into the center of the house. The North Bluff House is meant to be used, lived in, kicked around….and built to last for many decades.

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