Any Seattleite would dream of having a view of both the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. When a young Washington family saw the property of their dreams located just steps away from the coastline, they had to jump at the opportunity to build their forever home.
The problem? The property’s location, though lovely, was on a somewhat busy street that faced the late afternoon sun and fell victim to the punishing winds from the southwest.
Enter Heliotrope Architects: A Seattle-based firm that, according to co-founder and principal Joseph Herrin, is “[known for their] west-facing, Puget Sound and Olympic Mountain-view, house on a hill” aesthetics. One need only look at their portfolio rife with projects like the “Cascade Residence” to see that the group was up to the task.
The key was creating a home that was private enough to be secluded from street view, but open enough to enjoy the Pacific Northwest scenery. A house that blurred the lines between indoor and outdoor living without being too exposed, and a contemporary, stylish space that was still cozy enough to act as a family home.
Heliotrope met these challenges and then some. Through the use of more layered design, they managed to overcome the paradox of protecting the home from the elements while also welcoming them in with open arms. An open, water-facing dining and living area is tempered by deep overhangs, while “smaller, ‘punched’ windows provide more of a feeling of protection,” according to Herrin. As a result, the afternoon sun peeps in the windows just enough to reflect off the Sound for a “here comes the sun” feel that’s a welcome balm to those ever-cloudy Washington days.
The clients also wanted to enhance the “Fauntleroy” home’s sense of privacy without making it feel too sheltered. To address this, the firm built a sturdy cedar fence that’s virtually indistinguishable from its surroundings. The result is a quasi-courtyard formed from a clever combination of the fence, juxtaposed walls, hedges, and a water feature that not only creates a private space, but the perfect outdoor lounge.
Inside, the home’s theme of indoor/outdoor living is continued through ocean-facing rooms dominated by warm tones that make the perfect backdrop for the stunning views. White oak floors, floating wood benches, and a connecting garden/porch/side window further enhance the feeling of letting the outside in.
As for the outdoors, Heliotrope wanted to maximize the location’s beach proximity, so they created the perfect haven for going from porch to ocean and vice versa — an unfussy space exposed to the elements, yet elevated with creature comforts like an outdoor shower, fire pit, sauna, and wine bar. Best of all, the space sprouts organically from the main structure, a natural addition that also blends seamlessly with the scenery.
As Herrin says, “While there is a natural desire to open up to [the weather from the southwest], there is also a need to protect oneself from it.” Thanks to the Fauntleroy home’s thoughtful design, the occupants will undoubtedly be able to weather any storm for years to come.