Architect David Coleman drew up a unique cabin: A green polycarbonate skin, 53 feet long, connects two modest halves, giving the entire home substance.

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“I LOVE MOUNTAINS. I always knew we’d move where they have mountains.”

So says Mark Malone. He and his wife, Joan DeClaire, sit at their dining table and are surrounded by them. Their Marblemount neighbors, tall and steep, are the peaks Big Devil (7,055 feet) and Davis (7,051), Lookout Mountain (5,719) and the rest of the cast from the Cascade range, northwestern foothills. The Skagit River rumbles past. Sometimes a black bear.

It is truly a wild place.

Quite the vision for a pair from the prairies of Oklahoma.

“Thirty some odd years ago we had the hippie dream that we’d move to the sticks, grow our own food, have goats, and live on nuts and berries,” Malone says. DeClaire laughs. “It feels full cycle: We’re not living on our own, but we are out in the mountains.”

Making their dream reality was no simple feat. The couple parlayed their typical city house into this otherworldly contemporary one.

The home, sharp angles and elemental shapes, takes its cue from the mountain peaks. From here the couple can hear the Skagit River rushing past, the howl of coyotes, eagles crying. John Piazza Jr. Construction & Remodeling in Mount Vernon built the house’s shell. (Benjamin Benschneider / The Seattle Times)
The home, sharp angles and elemental shapes, takes its cue from the mountain peaks. From here the couple can hear the Skagit River rushing past, the howl of coyotes, eagles crying. John Piazza Jr. Construction & Remodeling in Mount Vernon built the house’s shell. (Benjamin Benschneider / The Seattle Times)

“We’re not wealthy by any means,” says Malone. “We had a crackerbox in Wedgwood for 27 years. You have a house in 1983 and you sell in 2009 . . .”

Also, Malone is a furniture maker who applied his skills here, crafting the cabinetry, flooring, deck, tile work, and doing the painting and wiring.

Spring Home Design

The couple bought the land in 2007, then set about interviewing architects. They chose David Coleman because Malone had toured the architect’s own home in the early 1990s and “it stuck in my mind.”

“Our vision for the design was two small buildings connected by a covered but not enclosed walkway,” says Malone. “My original vision was that you don’t even see the guest building, but David wanted them connected. He wanted a more substantive structure on the property. It took me awhile to warm to it, but now I love it.”

It was the architect’s way of giving substance, in a secluded setting, to the cabin’s two modest halves: the 890-square foot cabin with its great room, bathroom and sleeping loft; and the 1,000-square-foot studio, housing a music room for Malone and his friends, workshop, bath and guest loft.

With only bears as occasional gawkers, privacy was not so much of a concern. It was the views. The sleeping loft is clad in glass and hovers over the kitchen. All rooms open to the distant mountain views. “You don’t have to be outside to enjoy the outdoors here,” is how DeClaire puts it.

Coleman placed the halves in an architectural ying/yang. They meet in a rain garden, a place where the water gathers (and there is a lot of it here) and flows toward the Skagit. The whole of it, sharp angles and elemental shapes, takes its cue from the mountain peaks.

The sun sweeps across the house. Windows are Milgard. (Benjamin Benschneider / The Seattle Times)
The sun sweeps across the house. Windows are Milgard. (Benjamin Benschneider / The Seattle Times)

The western terrace steps down into the earth, leading to a soaking tub set behind a glass wall. The porch and covered stairs are large and wide for a home made to be “seasonally expansive.”

The most adventurous feature is the cabin’s long and reaching grass-green polycarbonate skin. By day, it causes its rooms to glow. By night, and seen from outdoors, it’s as green as a traffic light on go.

The roof is must-have standing-seam metal, also on display. The slope of the studio-guest wing ends precisely at the dining-room window line and offers quite the show in a downpour.

Says Malone, “Early on I thought, a 53-foot-long green plastic wall . . . I don’t know. “

“But we saw it on another home, and we were sold,” says DeClaire. “We had to be willing to go there and to be a little adventurous.”