Architect David Hall turns the focus of the home inward, to a private, peaceful and protected courtyard.
SHE RUNS. He bikes. The kids are almost out of the house.
“We wanted a house that was easy to live in,” says Monica Ochs. And by that she means no driveway 60 steps down from the door. A place in town, not miles from anybody and outside (or on the far reaches of) Anacortes. A house half the size of the 4,000-square-foot number they did own but used only partially.
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“We wanted an area to throw all our muddy shoes and our biking shoes. We didn’t want to block anybody’s views, and we wanted an upstairs master,” says Monica, who at this very moment is enjoying a sunny afternoon on the private flagstone courtyard of her family’s new home, 2,110 square feet with three bedrooms, two baths and fit onto a tight lot in Old Town Anacortes.
And with those requests, plus, “the only kind of style that Monica mentioned was ‘beachy,’ ” their architect, David Hall, was off. His reaction? “I love tight lots, they’re fun to do.”
The couple, Kristjan (biker) and Monica (ultramarathoner), knew Hall’s work from a remodel the previous owners had done of their old house. They found this lot, a few short blocks off the Guemes Channel with views of the island itself, before it hit the market. The couple was thinking remodel, adding a second story to the place already there. But building codes in Old Town are protective — of heritage, scale and neighborhood character — and, thus, deliberately complicated.
Hall, planning for big views from an upstairs master suite, turned main-floor views inward. To the courtyard. Restrictions prevented a traditional garage on the alley property line, so the architect created a separate storage building and carport. He connected them with a south-facing and translucent cantilevered roof. These two structures enclose and make private the outdoor living space.
Large sliding doors (from Quantum Windows & Doors) pull away to connect the main living space and courtyard. Directly outside is a reflecting pool with a cedar bridge. A large boulder, found when the old house was removed, has a new home here. Floors inside, heated concrete, are practically as indestructible (and barefoot friendly) as the flagstone outside.
Hall ushered light into the home through a balance of skylights, clerestories and pop-outs. And he kicked it around through a shiplike ceiling structure of fir ribs. Acoustical material in the ceiling holds sound to a minimum.
Easy living means function first. “I like that they had modest requests for the bathroom,” says Hall. Bedrooms are for sleeping, the kitchen is a command post with lots of workspace, storage and connection to the living/dining room. There is no lawn except for the parking strip. Grasses and other plantings were chosen and placed by Simply Yards.
The kitchen counter is concrete, poured in place. The outline of a biker and a runner have been inlaid in bronze there, by friends and artists Anne Schreivogl and Al Currier. A small and most personal touch.
Now the Ochs have no more than they need in a flexible home that will serve their needs into the future. “We use every square inch of this house,” says Monica. “This is huge for us.”
Well, mostly no more than they need.
“My husband has a lot of bikes,” says Monica, eyeing the barn doors of the storage shed out back. “Six, seven, I don’t even know. Isn’t that horrible?
“But,” she says turning her attention back to the house, “now we walk into town for a movie or dinner, or ride the bikes to the store.”