A Seattle guy with a traditional bent hired his old pal to design a getaway cabin on the Olympic Peninsula. The pal, Greg Bjarko, is an architect with a contemporary bent. What he came up with is a seamless meld of the two — a cabin with big views, lots of wood and stone and...
photographed by Benjamin Benschneider
“HOME IS where your story begins.” That’s what the decorative doodad in the back of the hardware store in Kingston says.
But it’s true.
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And this one begins with a row boat, coolers, kayaks, bikes, all-terrain vehicles, floats and crab traps — on Dabob Bay, out where the air is mountain-menthol crisp even on a sunny day. Where roadside ferns nod “yes, yes, this is the way.”
“I just want to warn you — lots of moving parts here. First day of shrimping season, my father’s b-day, my brother and his wife from Montana are passing through . . . my sister’s family from Poulsbo. And we will be cooking up shrimp for lunch.”
An invitation for action-packed relaxing. This is how it goes at Dr. Eric Froines’ getaway place, a cabin of contemporary bent on the Olympic Peninsula designed by his pal-since-junior-high, Greg Bjarko of Bjarko-Serra Architects. A home that sits at the end of a ridge, surrounded by ravines on three sides. To the south and west, over the treetops, it is all water and mounts, Constance and Townsend.
Froines, who lives in Leschi, is a traditional guy; Bjarko, a Seattle architect, skews contemporary.
The cabin offers the best of both.
“I wanted something that still felt traditional,” Froines says. “It’s made of nice materials, but we use it really hard. It’s definitely lived-in.” The evidence: A driftwood bench on the deck is a family totem carved with names. Shells and rocks are carried home, brought inside, become decoration. A hot-pink guitar pick is wedged into a window frame. A sister-made quilt of sunflowers hangs on the wall.
What you see here are this place’s glamour shots.
Bjarko’s modern interpretation in 1,900 square feet contains three main elements: the entry, great room and a sleeping tower, inspired by U.S. Forest Service lookouts. The home has the traditional gabled roof, and stone and wood finishes. But this post-and-beam structure supports walls of glass and heavy sliding doors for transparency all around. Darkened concrete floors help with heating and cooling.
The fireplace, hearth, entry wall, pathways, terrace and pizza oven are all made of Tenino sandstone. Doug fir walls. Cedar shakes. The cabinets cherry, counters soapstone.
The design is striking, but what the architect most wants you to know about the cabin is this: It’s the house that Kory built.
The contractor, Kory Mathis of Korben Mathis Woodworking in Kingston, “prepared the site, framed the house, fabricated all of the soapstone countertops and backsplashes, set the stone patios and even made the beds, the dining table and the chairs. He made the massive cherry front door. This was in addition to siding the house and roofing it.
“He literally did everything on the project except the concrete work, the plumbing, electrical, heating and some of the stonework.”
The extra effort paid off.
“Every room is different and special and has a different view,” Froines says. “It ended up being a very special place.
“My boys (13 and 16) are so hooked into computers. Here there’s no computer, no TV, no phone. They come in and say, ‘Let’s play some cards.’ “
Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.