AIA Seattle Home of Distinction: Cozy and Comfy


This story is featured in the January issue of Seattle magazine. Subscribe here to access the print version.

Sometimes it is the artist’s job to get customers out of their comfort zone. It is not common for home architects to be asked to do the same.

But that was the challenge faced by Syndicate Smith LLC, a residential and commercial property architecture firm in Leavenworth.

Seattle residents Paul Carpenter and Steve Bartz wanted a retreat on their pristine 5.5-acre property on the lower slopes of Nason Ridge, about a 15-minute drive from Wenatchee.

They were looking for a structure that would blend in with their surroundings, and Syndicate Smith is one of the best-known authors of the Austro-German and mountain architecture that dominates the region, including numerous local projects for Icicle Brewing Co. The goal for the shared cabin was one Take a break from the city, which was also to serve as an outdoor recreational base camp.

“We didn’t want to stick our 3,000-square-foot home in Seattle as a vacation home on a mountain,” says Carpenter.

It was the first time Carpenter and Bartz signed a house, who spent a lot of time studying Scandinavian and other European mountain house designs. They found that the structures were usually very cozy, but not overly comfortable. The purpose of an outdoor vacation is to connect nature and people, explains Carpenter.

“In winter we ski,” he says, “and in summer we wanted the guests to be able to enjoy the breeze, the beautiful view, the rustling of the leaves.”

The result is “Split Cabin”, so named because the structure is divided into an entertainment area and a sleeping structure, which are separated by a central covered courtyard. Equipped with a 20-foot high pizza oven / fireplace and a sectional couch and heaters, the terrace serves as the central organizational node of the cabin: it is the entry point, traffic space between the wings and an outdoor living room.

In winter, the outdoor fireplace becomes the focus, in keeping with the great tradition of western camps. In the summer, a stackable glass door can be expanded into a single large entertainment room.

“During the early design iterations with the client, we were all drawn to what sets a cabin apart from a home,” said Steven Booher, Syndicate Smith’s lead architect for the project. “The little inconveniences that add to the forest stay experience are what kept coming back to my mind – chopping wood, walking down a path to the outbuilding, and generally a more direct connection with nature. Against this background, the overall arrangement of the program elements was driven by the idea of ​​adding a little inconvenience as an allusion to these more classic cabin typologies. “

There is no outbuilding in the

1,289-square-foot, three-bathroom split cabin, but primitive tech seemed like an attractive option

in one place. Winding a drain pipe

The septic breakthroughs in the native granite turned out to be the most challenging aspect of the project. Excavating the granite from the home site was also difficult, but provided the raw materials for some impressive retaining walls and other landscaping elements. Landscaping accounted for $ 131,000 of the $ 724,000 total cost of the project.

In the 550 square meter living area, supporting pillars were set back to allow a continuous flow of the windows and to further blur the distinction between inside and outside. The floor is made of polished concrete.

The bedrooms have been built to be as compact as possible with no space to walk around

the bed and only 24 square meters of standing space. “You’re supposed to sleep in the bedrooms and that’s it,” says Booher.

“You don’t need a walk-in closet for a travel bag.”

A minimalist gable and dark Shou-Sugi-Ban sidings give the bedrooms a stately sleeping house feeling. Split Cabin is one of a growing number of high end architectural projects in a region where mountain homes have historically been custom built by owners or contractors.

Todd Smith, director and founder of Smith Syndicate, is working to bring more recognition to architecture in east Washington.

“We don’t get a lot of attention from the architectural world. We’re trying to get a better sense of the area’s architectural aesthetic, ”says Smith. “It’s a pretty hostile environment, especially in the mountains, very hot in summer and sometimes below zero in winter. The seasons are severe. “

This single family home was selected by a jury of architects for the AIA Seattle Home of Distinction program because it has creatively transformed the experience and views of this home towards an all-encompassing design, all within the existing floor space. Are you dreaming of a home design project and not sure where to start? AIA architects can help. Visit