Organic Meets Industrial at a Canal-Side Washington Home

As a Seattle few approached retirement, they decided to create a brand new atmosphere for the transition. About two and a half an hour from Seattle via ferry and driving, this beautiful spot along Washington’s Hood Canal serves as the setting for the next phase of their lives.

“My customers opted to construct a relatively modestly sized house that was closely tailored to their requirements and was in line with the not-so-big-house philosophy,” says architect Nils Finne, speaking to writer Sarah Susanka’s powerful set of publications. Susanka doesn’t espouse dwelling in the smallest home potential but instead sizing a home for comfortable spaces its residents really use, and designing it to fit the owners’ lifestyles.

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at a Glance
Who lives here: A few transitioning into retirement
Location: Port Ludlow, Washington
Size: 2,450 square feet, two bedrooms, two bathrooms

The left side of the house includes the living room, dining room and kitchen. The narrow tower which juts out to the right of this includes his-and-her offices piled one atop the other. The wing on the far right contains a guest suite on the first floor and the master suite.

Large overhangs extend over the clerestory windows, offering protection from direct sun and rain. “The siding intersperses wider and narrower corrugated steel to provide the industrial substances a residential scale,” explains Finne. “The juxtaposed patterns are unexpected.”

Throughout the house Finne utilized a mixture of natural and industrial materials to create a lively relationship between nature and technology.

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The main living space feels much larger than it is, because the majority of the walls are glass. Sliding glass doors which are 8 feet wide and 8 feet high open into the front deck. The floors are ipe inside and out, making a seamless transition between the two areas.

“During the hot summertime, the living area feels like a large, open porch,” Finne states.

The deck expands around the corner. Tucked over on the far left side is a grill; an elongated 7-foot overhang provides protection against the weather.

The house has a number of sustainable features, including thicker 2-by-8 wall construction, which provides 40 percent greater insulation value. Others include:Generous glass regions to provide natural lighting and organic ventilationLarge overhangs for rain and sun protectionRecycled steel siding for maximum durabilityA heating pump for maximum energy efficiencySustainable interior finishes and materials, including linoleum floors, low-VOC paints and organic wool carpetsArmchairs: B&B Italia; coffee table, rug: custom layout from Finne; woodstove: Rais

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Sten Layered Glass Coffee Table

Finne’s custom-designed java table was motivated by the form of boulders. The Sten (Norwegian for “rock”) table unites natural kinds and industrial technology, and can be topped with ultraclear Starphire glass. The top and the steel foundation are both cut with water jets, and the etching and layers manipulate form and light.

FINNE Architects

The exterior materials are a mixture of metal, glass and wood, and are maintenance free. The metallic siding has a ZACtique II complete, which resembles zinc. “I desired the metal to look inherent and not painted,” Finne states. The roof is standing-seam metal.

Red cedar on the bottom of the overhangs warms the metal and glass from above. To the left, the exact same narrow tower which includes the piled offices around the water side includes the staircase on the land side.

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The entrance sequence is brief but adds a lot of drama. Front door leads into a small vestibule — parallel to and blocked by the perspective — then you turn to input and take in the vast views throughout the main living area.

The staircase continues the combination of metal and wood seen on the outside; stainless steel railings are filled with sapele wood. The stairs themselves are the exact same ipe as the floors. The wood is 11/2 inches thick and jobs out from the plane of the drywall.

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Finne warmed the interiors with wood, complementing the vast views from the water and trees. The cupboards are zebrawood with sapele end panels which divide the stripes and include comparison.

The tasteful granite and quartz countertops add to the organic texture. Two serving shelves attached with stainless steel brackets are produced with satin-edged glass — a substance used throughout the house, including on interior panels and doors. The pendant lights are blown glass out of Seattle company Resolute.

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Wanting to prevent “ceiling acne” and also to present a wood accent overhead, Finne organized the speakers and monopoint lights to inset sapele wood panels. The lines punctuate the ceiling wood, similar to the way wood beams the aluminum window system.

FINNE Architects

The spouse’s upstairs office has a custom zebrawood and sapele built-in desk. The lofty perch provides a superb view of Hood Canal.

“Hood Canal is a really odd, long, narrow body of seawater that branches off from Puget Sound,” Finne states. Considered a “driveway” to the Bangor naval submarine base, the waterway provides occasional glances of hulking nuclear submarines heading back to their home base — yet another rather intriguing mixture of nature and technology.

Vase: Annika Finne; seat: Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair, Design Within Reach

Welcome into the upstairs is the modest-size master bedroom, which features glass pocket doors to the right of the mattress and also an interior clerestory that conveys light together with the workplace. “The use of glass makes the area look much bigger,” Finne states.

“The fact that the house was designed not-so-big is one of the most sustainable factors — one which can be overlooked,” he adds. Since the home is just the right size for the owners, it consumes much less energy than a house full of unused spare bedrooms and additional wasted area.

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