Stories A Contemporary House Plan Realized
The owner of this contemporary Lindal home built in Washington State is a tech executive in his 40s whose work travels pre-Covid took him to Japan and Europe for two weeks out of every month. A modern architecture aficionado, he commissioned architect Jim Cutler – a luminary in the world of Pacific Northwest-based architects – to design his previous home. Cutler’s resume includes the design of Bill Gates’ home in Medina, WA. Cutler also partnered with Lindal Cedar Homes to design Far Horizons, a modern wood home.
Following a divorce, the homeowner decided to build a new house near his former residence so that his children could easily commute between the two. Passionate about modern architecture and contemporary house design, he subscribed to Dwell Magazine, and was impressed by the images of modern prefab Lindal homes he saw in Dwell. On the Lindal website, he browsed through the contemporary house plans and home styles, and discovered the blog of Michael Harris, owner of the bicoastal Warmmodern Living Lindal dealership. When he first contacted Michael, the client had already hired an architect from Los Angeles to design a two-story house for him. However, he asked Michael to come and look at the location he had purchased to see whether it could accommodate a Lindal home.
Architectural Home Design
The site—with views of the Seattle skyline through the trees from the upper story windows—is one of three lots on a steep hillside and posed some unique challenges. The property is wide but fairly shallow, with a somewhat flat area where the home was ultimately built. There is an easement drive with woods on one side and neighbors high on a 20-foot embankment on the other. The embankment extends around to the back edge of the buildable lot. None of these challenges were insurmountable for Michael—a graduate of the MIT School of Architecture and longtime Lindal dealer. Well-versed in the challenges of building on a steep slope, Michael has a proven track record of designing beautiful and functional high-end modern prefab homes for clients with varying lifestyle needs and site restrictions. The homeowner was impressed by Lindal’s reputation for high quality materials and craftsmanship, a system-built approach to modern post-and-beam home design, and a lifetime structural warranty unmatched by any other company. After discussing the exciting possibilities of the site and design, he hired Michael to create his new home.
Modern Style Architecture with the Lindal Elements System
Michael designed the 3,782 square foot, modern two-story house using the Lindal Elements system. The system is based on the use of modular units aligned on a horizontal and vertical grid that allows for great flexibility in the placement of doors and windows, the configuration of the modules themselves, and the roof style.
The original floor plan of the home, pictured above before an addition was added over the garage, comprises four rectangular volumes that gain in height as you venture through the home. The lowest is the garage. Second is the main entry with stairs down to a lower level. The third volume, on the far left, is the master suite. The highest volume in the middle is the great room which is very simple in shape and only one inch below the allowed height limitation.
A pond in the back yard absorbs rainwater runoff from the roof and sloped site.
Siting the House for Optimum Functionality
One of the advantages of designing a custom home is the ability to tailor it to your site. This includes not only designing for challenges such as a steep lot or nearby neighbors (both of which were present in this home project), but also to take advantage of natural airflow and the seasonal trajectory of the sun across the property. Careful planning and home placement ensure that you harness these natural physical heating and cooling elements for maximum benefit.
Solar Studies and Strategic Overhangs
During the design phase, a solar study was done to determine which trees to remove and which to retain for shade.
As a result, removal of some trees and the addition of a five-foot overhang allows sunlight to penetrate five feet into the great room during the summer and fifteen feet in winter.
High-Efficiency Windows for Natural Heating and Cooling
In the great room, awning windows along the floor open to allow cool air when needed. Some of the high clerestory windows also open to allow heat to escape. No air-conditioning is needed—even in the heat of summer. The windows have superior insulating qualities and are made with argon filled low-e glass.
The homeowner chose a large, custom built pivot entry door that makes a contemporary design statement and sets the stage for the rest of the home.
Contemporary Home Design Features
The Entry: Changing Ceiling Height to Delineate Different Spaces
The eight-foot ceiling in the entry area is designed to increase the impact of entering the 17-foot-high great room.
The adjacent kitchen cabinets are all the same height as the entry.
Walls of Glass
A full wall of windows show how Lindal can execute its signature walls of glass—so popular in Lindal’s classic prow front designs—in a modern home.
A Peaceful Palette of Neutral Colors and Natural Wood Tones
The clear cedar cathedral ceiling, beams and cedar windows are all lightly stained the same color. Similar color for all the woods, including the shelves and custom cabinets, soften and calm the minimalist space, making it warm and inviting.
In the living room, the sectional can be rearranged to accommodate anything from lounging to game night to cocktail hour.
Long lean lines and covered appliances ensure a minimalist and clutter-free appearance.
A Minimalist Kitchen
In the kitchen, the refrigerator, dishwasher and ovens are faced with cabinet doors. Other appliances are hidden from view on the back side of the center island. This kitchen is not only a stylish entertaining hub but a functional workhorse. A coffee bar at the far end has its own alcove. Small appliances are easily pulled for use and powered by conveniently located outlets at the base of the counter backsplash. The Cor-ten steel backsplash will patina with use and includes under-cabinet illumination. The palette of colors for the home is gray, creamy white and the many nuanced colors of cedar.
Effortless Transitions from Indoors to Out
Connecting to the views both visually and literally, the great room seems to be built more of windows than walls with its high cathedral ceiling. The large accordion door past the dining area opens to the elevated terrace. The seamless transition is reinforced by the continuation of the porcelain tile flooring for both indoor and outdoor spaces.
In the master suite, two 16-foot Lindal fir bi-fold doors open to the elevated terrace.
Relaxed low-lying outdoor seating and gas firepit, oversized glass doors and a glass rail offer unobstructed views of the trees.
Deck Placement for Unobstructed Views
Whenver possible, Michael avoids the conventional practice of placing a deck between the interior and the view. Glass deck railings allow for further extension of sightlines. The homeowners enjoy the terrace as an extension of living space and a great shortcut to the kitchen for morning coffee. The terrace floor is a continuation of the porcelain tile used throughout the upper level of the home.
The outdoors becomes the main décor, changing with the seasons and the capricious Pacific Northwest weather.
Remodels and Additions
One of the benefits of the Lindal Elements system is the flexibility in the placement of the modular units. When the client remarried, he needed to remodel the home to accommodate his wife and her two children. He turned to Michael and Lindal Cedar Homes to create an additional bedroom and bath. The 469 square-foot room added over the garage allows for each child to have their own room as well as a guest suite, and integrates with the existing design. The siding is open-joint clear cedar. The garage is clad in gray 16” square cement board panels to shorten the appearance of the home.
The home does full justice to its park-like setting and the final result is an integrated synthesis of location, materials, and design. The client and his family absolutely love their modern Lindal home, designed with fresh and innovative architectural details and wrapped in the warmth of wood.