The Seattle architect considered the property's gently rolling pasture, which halts on a tree-lined bluff. The concept was born of this contrast.
SUE AND DALE Roundy are no island homebuilding rookies. They’ve been there (finding architect Bob Hull) and done that (to design for them an architecturally sensitive house at Eby’s Landing on Whidbey Island).
So, kids grown and gone, when they decided to use their investment property on Lopez Island to invest in themselves, they knew just what to do:
“We wanted to have a house we could clean in no time,” says Sue.
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“We wanted small, sustainable, energy-efficient, but we also had to see the view from Fisherman Bay to Shaw Island.
“We wanted to use all American or local companies; you know those 100-mile diets? I wanted to do the 100-mile house.
“We’re gonna be old in this house. We’re going to have, hopefully, grandkids in this house.”
And, with all of that, Hull, of Miller Hull Partnership, went back to work for the Roundys.
Jackson and Frida, rescued redbone coonhound mixes, wrestle at Sue’s feet. Fur, slobber, muddy paws; the terrazzo-tile floor can take it. Walls are glass, frames for a watercolor come to life: golden meadow; distant firs; blue, blue water; bluer-even sky. The kitchen cabinets are from Henrybuilt in Seattle, the sofa from Ferndale, the terrazzo from Wausau in Wisconsin. Hot water comes courtesy of the sun.
Hull considered the property’s gently rolling pasture, which halts on a tree-lined bluff. The concept was born of this contrast. The T-shaped house creates a wind break. The living area, entry porch, “tower” (art studio/office) and garage stretch north/south along the bluff. The private spaces travel east/west, opening to a protected garden area, terrace and pasture. Doors open onto a south-facing porch with a clear polycarbonate roof. The design captures passive solar heating and provides shade. A rooftop solar hot-water array provides hot water for the home and augments the hydronic boiler for the in-floor heat.
“People say, ‘Oh, you’re in a big house,’ ” says Dale. “But it’s not. It’s 1,964 square feet of heated space.”
Credit the breezeways. They lead everywhere, like architecturally carved paths through a meadow, from indoors to out, then in again. In the summer, the Roundys throw the doors open, leave them that way.
And the glass. “We feel like we’re outside all the time,” Sue says. “It can be the darkest day of the year and it’s still light in here.”
Indoor/outdoor at its most blatant, and subtle. At once.
“There are two kinds of architects,” says Sue. “There are engineers, and there are artists. Bob Hull is an artist, and we admire that greatly. When we hire him, I sit on my hands.” It is likely that Sue Roundy is not one to sit on her hands. She is an interior-design specialist and former rep for Knoll furniture.
The Roundys’ bedroom is small, peaceful. The bathroom is a function-first wet room. The two guest rooms, each with a built-in desk and Internet connection, share a bath.
Dale, a lawyer, climbs the “tower,” at the home’s junction, to work. His office is a perch overlooking their six acres on Lopez’s west edge.
The Roundys are invested in their new island. Sue is board president of the Lopez Community Land Trust. Landscape architect Jessica Roundy, the couple’s daughter and owner of jsr.design+scape in Seattle, is working to blur the edges between natural and contemporary spaces by using a plant palette based in grasses and by restoring the meadow and an orchard there.
The more native their island lives can be, the better, says Sue.
“I’m a locavore. If you buy local, you’re going to have a vibrant community.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.