A world-traveling Seattle couple, enthusiasts of art and design, wanted to downsize their home and learn to live with less. They found a small forested property at water’s edge in West Seattle with an 18-by-80-foot open lot—and engaged local architects Suyama Peterson Deguchi to design a house strictly within those confines so as not to fell a single tree.
The firm, with principal George Suyama at the helm, designed a house of just over 2,000 square feet, containing everything his clients needed—and nothing they didn’t: The house has one bedroom, one bathroom, and a deck at each end, plus a lofted, multipurpose office that can accommodate overnight guests.
Photography by Charlie Schuck, courtesy of Suyama Peterson Deguchi.
The art objects along the back wall were collected by the homeowners; the red hutch is a Japanese mizuya tansu chest dating from the mid 19th century.
To capitalize on Seattle’s temperate climate, the architects designed a deep covered porch at each end of the house; one for morning sun, and one for sunset. At the western, water-facing end of the house, the architects intentionally did not design a path to the beach, in order “to maximize a sense of refuge,” according to George Suyama.
On the wall at right is a hanging sculpture called “Dark Light: Wall” by Lead Pencil Studio.Tall banks of windows maximize natural light and views of the surrounding forest. “Instead of the typical design solutions with unobstructed views to the water,” the architects say, “the central tree becomes dominant, and accentuates views and vistas by blocking some while slowly unveiling others.”
A bent-steel surface runs along the house’s northern wall. It has multiple uses: In the living room, it’s a bench. At right, on the other side of the Japanese hutch, it becomes open kitchen shelving.
The interior of the house is entirely open: There’s only one door—to the bathroom.
The house rests on columns to minimize its impact on the sloping forest floor and the root systems of nearby cedar trees.