Tucked into the edge of a densely forested hillside on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest, home to a mix of artists, craftspeople, farmers, and sea captains, Whidbey Farm was conceived as a nature retreat for a multi-generational family. Overlooking pastoral farmlands, a fishing pond and the family’s turn-of-the-century barn, Seattle studio mwworks have taken advantage of its scenic location to immerse the house into the landscape in a discrete manner that honours both the timelessness of the forest and agricultural heritage of the site. A palette of local, durable materials and natural finishes, combined with the modernist ethos of less is more, subtly imbues the house with a rustic aesthetic that nevertheless feels contemporary.
At the owner’s request, great care was taken to preserve the large firs trees on site so the house’s mass slips between them as it wraps around a modest clearing at the edge of the forest.
Defined loosely by a locally sourced, low stone wall, the clearing has been subtly transformed into a natural courtyard filled with native shrubs and ferns and crossed by pathways. Built around the courtyard, the house consists of two modestly-sized rectilinear volumes that separate the living areas from the private quarters, and a third volume that functions as a guesthouse.
A palette of muted woods, warm concrete floors and rich plaster textures are used in the private areas of the house. Despite the minimalist décor, the house was designed with the family in mind, with several of the interior doors and wall art having been carved by the family patriarch decades ago as a young doctor filling his time between patients. The pieces instil a meaningful connection between the family’s past and present as well as encapsulate their enduring relationship with the site.