Located in a floating home community on Portage Bay, just south of the University of Washington, Water Cabin establishes a cabin sensibility in an urban environment. Low to the water and small in stature, the home creates a platform from which to enjoy and engage with the surrounding waterway. A delicate galvanized steel structure supports generous roof planes and large areas of glazing that open to dramatic 180-degree views and blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces.
The home’s interior program is thoughtfully arranged across two levels to maximize connections to the surrounding marine environment. On the lower level, an open living space combines dining, kitchen and office functions, with a hidden murphy bed for guests. A glass corner and large sliding doors connect this space to exterior patios with rich Ipe wood decking, where large roof overhangs support year-round usability.
The master suite on the upper level frames prospect views to the water and creates a cozy lookout, set back into the home’s footprint, for a sense of refuge. A roof deck and richly planted container garden continue the indoor/outdoor porosity established on the ground level, extending the bedroom outside.
Water Cabin’s materiality draws inspiration from the weathered informality of a cabin. Lightly stained knotty western red cedar exterior siding will weather over time with minimal maintenance. The siding’s thin, vertical wood slats are arranged in an irregular articulated pattern, recalling the random composition of trees in a forest.
Durable, low-maintenance metal elements like galvanized steel and flame-sprayed zinc nod to the demanding marine environment. These metals will complement the color of the siding as it silvers with age, as well as the shifting blues and greys of the surrounding bay.
Wood continues to feature heavily throughout the home’s interior, with warm oak flooring and casework balanced by cooler silver and black metals. Russian birch plywood ceilings extend to exterior soffits, further breaking down barriers between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Knotty wood wall finishes in the main stairwell – which also acts as a lightwell to capture natural daylight – and master suite likewise weave exterior materials into the home’s interior. This informal, low-contrast interior supports a sense of the home as an oasis, despite its location in a bustling community.
Project Team: Jim Olson, FAIA, Design Principal; Jason Roseler, LEED® AP, Project Manager; Betty Huang, Architectural Staff; Christine Burkland, Eunice Kim and Hunter Van Bramer, Interior Design Staff
Key Consultants: Dyna Contracting, General Contractor; Voelker Engineering, Structural Engineer; Brian Hood Lighting Design, Lighting Design
Exterior and interior siding: Stained Western Red Cedar, tight knot #2 grade
Exterior decking: Ipe
Ceiling: Stained exterior Birch plywood
Columns and downspouts: Galvanized steel
Metal eyebrow at roof edge: Flame-spray Zinc
Entry door and fireplace surround: Blackened steel with clear coat finish
Interior flooring: Northern Wide Plank engineered flooring, White Oak Iconic Collection, color Shore
Interior cabinets / doors: Rift White Oak
Kitchen backsplash: Brushed stainless steel
Stair rails: Wire brushed mild steel with clear coat finish
Counters: Quartzite stone
Bathroom / shower floors: Daltile Ever porcelain tile, color Earth EV05
Shower walls: Heath Ceramics tile, color M66 Shade Light