HE WANTED a contemporary in the forest. She wanted a traditional home on the water. They owned a substantial piece of Orcas Island along its northern beaches that could swing either way.
“My Great Aunt Jean’s house was a Victorian,” says Louise Boone.
“Richard’s dad was in the military; he grew up in Japan. The other side of his family was Norwegian.”
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“So that’s basically Japanese with herring,” says Richard, firing off a rimshot of a joke from his arsenal. And then, “I tend toward simple and easy to maintain, very contemporary with clean lines, open.”
And from Louise, “We got it all.”
No small feat, this, their Craftsmany sort of contemporary, open and simple yet cabin comfortable, a place 3,650 square feet on the beach designed by Orcas architects Susan Stoltz and David Kau of Stoltz Kau Architects.
Reporting that “there isn’t one thing we’d change” in the three years they’ve lived here so far, the Boones are the beneficiaries of having architects who prefer to limit surprises to birthdays and Christmas. Stoltz and Kau presented the couple with a long questionnaire that, when finished, left no doubt about what their disparate clients desired in one home.
“We wanted to be able to both be in the kitchen and not fight,” says Louise.
“You really don’t want two people in a tight kitchen with knives,” lobs Richard.
And, so, their kitchen is large and open with a welcoming waterfront nook. Garbage bins are on both sides of the prep island. Lots of cabinets. Also, Richard points out, “we’ve got outlets every six inches.”
The room is in one of the home’s two narrow-gable wings, which flank a central, largely glass common space of living and dining rooms. The living room stretches upward two stories to allow more windows for views toward Sucia and Patos islands (the lights of Vancouver, B.C., in the distance).
The east wing, meanwhile, two bedrooms and a large multipurpose room, can be closed off via a pocket door. The west holds the master suite. The whole deal is designed for aging in place, wide doorways, counters easy to reach, electrical in place for an elevator.
Window seats in bedrooms and upon stair landings offer places to curl up with a good book and bad weather. They are yet another benefit of the client questionnaire: “One of the things we told David was that we didn’t like buying furniture, and we don’t,” says Richard. “Even the bed is built-in.” Island cabinetmaker Mark Padbury of Buckhorn Farm worked his craft in every room. Where furniture was purchased it was selected by interior designer Sandie Pope, of Perch Design on Orcas.
The Boones retain a fondness for the printed word, and the architects have provided space for it with a long and low library along the sky bridge tethering the wings.
Out every window are beachfront views like you see only in travel brochures, and yet there’s something for Richard, too: The dining room rests on the forested side of the property, the custom table there once a madrona tree.
This project was no mere residential folly. Louise Boone grew up on this land (18 in her high-school class, many of whom she still sees in town), their home now close to the spot where her dad built his own family’s home.
Do the views ever get old?
“I thought they did,” she says. “But I remember when I was a student at the UW, coming home for the first time, and it was such a treat getting on the ferry and coming up here.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.