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  • Writer's pictureCheryl McIntosh

Point Roberts Residence–A Rural Family Home

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Point Roberts is a geopolitical oddity, part of Washington State and the 48 continental states but not actually connected to them. As a southern suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, it requires the crossing of two international borders to approach and has a population of just 1314 US Citizens.

A young professional couple who wanted to add kids to their lives contacted Rhodes Architecture + Light in May of 2010; they wanted a large, sophisticated house to fit into the humbly rural landscape of this sleepy peninsula. The two of them were engaged in the design and very excited; they wanted a house permitted and under construction in 2-3 months.

The land that we walked together in early May of that year was a simple undeveloped .4 acre field facing south toward the water of the Strait of Georgia and the San Juan Islands.

Working very closely with the owners, we designed a 5,253 square foot house laid out around a long “L”-shaped plan that took advantage of an interior court and placed major spaces along an east-west axis facing the Strait. A large trellised terrace was laid out and angled to the best views of the San Juan Islands and southern sun.

Secondary, pragmatic spaces (laundry, mud room, dog-washing, storage and garage entry) were grouped and carefully combined to create a supporting working wing for the house. The first floor houses a sophisticated farmhouse kitchen, pantry, storage, wine room, living and dining, a media room, and an office and bedroom suite. The second level houses two kid’s rooms, a kid’s bath, and a master suite. An unfinished space above the garages was left for exercise and storage.

The difficult challenge was creating a form and expression for a house that is both a complex dwelling for urban clients and appropriately nestled into the landscape of a rural, simple place. We used a very linear, classical plan with open piers in lieu of walls and exposed wood beams to create a bright sophisticated interior. The exterior of the house was expressed as a series of lower wood trellises using large beams and supporting an upper story that uses archetypal forms (think kids’ building blocks) to suggest agrarian structures. The upper 12:12 pitch standing-seam metal roofs, simple horizontal siding, metal solar bris soleil, and large, simple punched windows all rise above the base of the house into the surrounding rural landscape to suggest a village of basic parts.

The lower roofs of the Point Roberts house were structurally designed by Swenson Say Faget to support “green roofs”, a future addition. The large trellis (and interior) beams are structural to support the roof garden loads, not decorative.

The interiors of the house were designed by Rhodes Architecture + Light with a lot of input from the clients. The interior incorporates stained, wide-plank flooring, wood storefront (glass stile + rail) doors, barn doors, simple modern and weathered tile, stained, traditionally finished cabinetry, wood beams, custom lighting, and incorporates the client’s art, collected during their world travels.

This house was designed and permitted in 3 months and built in 10 months. Twin girls arrived the year after completion to occupy the upper bedrooms and are growing up in the halls and on land that is now gardens of grasses and raised beds for harvested foods. The house was a collaboration between Rhodes Architecture + Light, Swenson Say Faget Engineering, LightWire Lighting Design, and the builder, Joey de Boer Construction.


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