Home Improvement Special Section: Designing a house for optimal living

Published on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 by Craig L. Telgenhoff

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What happens when you combine creative thinking with a piece of property that has unrealized view potential? The result was a distinct home built on Salish Road, situated on Kwann Lake, with views of Mt. Baker, the Twin Sisters, a community park and golf course.

At first glance the property appeared to be an average corner lot with little view potential, which would explain why the lot was overlooked for so many years. However, the owners saw a great opportunity to build their dream home and worked in conjunction with CLT Design/Build to make their dream a reality.

The goal of the project was to design a home that captured the many views the site offered. As a result, the building has 30 corners in the foundation, whereas a typical home has six corners, resulting in an L-shaped box. By allowing the building to move within the landscape, it was able to capture views, create meaningful interior and exterior spaces and architectural interest. The end result is a building that blends with, rather than imposing itself on, the landscape.  

The main design features of the home include the entry porch, large clearstory great room and 18- by 20-foot waterside window wall. The great room became the anchor of the design because it created a strong vertical component in the center of the home. Located on the main floor of the great room is an entry foyer that includes a two-story chimney and a see-through fireplace with views into the dining and living rooms.

Just off the great room is a large 325-square foot professional kitchen that includes custom cabinets, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The 5- by-10-foot center island was designed to entertain guests while preparing meals.

A second floor loft space within the great room was constructed of steel, wood and glass. It features a 360-degree view from the clearstory windows, a second floor fireplace, sitting room and an office. From the loft, a steel bridge leads to a deck that extends outside through the window wall as if it was floating in the air.

The nexus of public activity within the home occurs in the living room, dining room, kitchen, loft, outdoor decks and patios. Utility spaces were pushed to the rear of the home, and the private spaces were placed in secluded areas. Through thoughtful space planning, the interior space was organized in a meaningful way that allowed the maximization of views, light, airflow, social interaction and privacy.

For the exterior, board and batten was used along with lap siding to articulate the distinct architectural features of the façade. The great room façade featured architectural metal siding along with a metal soffit, sill and window trim details. The roofing material was metal on slope and shed roofs and rubber membrane on the flat roof. The goal was to have exterior finishes that were low maintenance without sacrificing aesthetics. The use of color helped to articulate the different architectural features of the home, creating a harmonious composition.

Achieving good design starts by designing a home that fits the site and is in harmony with its surroundings, resulting in a home that is experienced not just occupied. Thoughtful design may take a little more time and commitment, but what you get in return will pay for itself many times over. Each project, commercial or residential, deserves fresh eyes and thought, not stock details and plans. The last and perhaps most important ingredient of all is a client with the willingness and commitment to work through the design and construction process in collaboration with the designer.

Craig L. Telgenhof is the owner of CLT Design/Build Inc. established in 2002. If you need help designing and building your next project, he can take your project from conceptual design through construction. For more information, visit

www.cltdesignbuild.com or call 360/933-1770.