A delight of this retreat in Washington State is that it does so much with so little. It is modestly proportioned but generous in volume, so that it is comfortable whether it has a single visitor or welcomes a gathering.
A gate in a long dark wall marks the transition between the owner's urban life, the world of cars, work and frenetic activity, and the beauty, nature and serenity of the heavily wooded site. As you pass through the front gate, the house yields to the forest and opens to the meadow beyond.
Just inside, a boardwalk runs the length of the house, connecting the two major living spaces, one interior and one exterior. The two spaces mirror one another, each with a fireplace and one wall that is open to a view of the meadow. In winter, the interior living room is primary. During the milder months, the outdoor courtyard serves as the center of the home, with a stainless steel fireplace to warm up cool evenings.
Exterior finishes are resilient and fire-resistant, and the roof is steeply sloped to shed snow. Shutters improve the home's energy efficiency when it is unoccupied. At the start of each visit, the ritual of opening the shutters becomes part of the transition. Exposed concrete floors are warmed with radiant heat, and are controlled remotely so the house is warm by the time the owner arrives from the city. The home provides her comfort from which to view the woods and wildlife in all seasons.