A multi-award-winning, modestly-sized home on Chuckanut Drive was redone to get the most from a magical location looking out at Deception Pass and the San Juan Islands.

Share story

SHE WANTED a little place to get away. He grew up in Bellingham. And they found Shangri-La on Chuckanut Drive.

Trouble was, it wasn’t their idea of Shangri-La.

“The original house, a little place, was built in the 1940s. Then it was bought in the 1980s, and the guy added a giant driveway, fish pond, made the house about three times bigger and put two concrete lions by the metal fence that surrounded the whole thing,” says Loren Davis, poking a finger at the place where the lions stood guard.

“It was a real Shangri-La.”

Needless to say, as we stare, transfixed by emerald waters, lapis-blue skies and the velvet-green San Juans, “it was all about the property.” But Loren says it anyway.

Loren and Jane Davis, dentists who live in Seattle, spent a year going up to that big, old house, Loren often spending his time fixing this and patching that.

It turned out to be time well-spent. For it was during a roof-repair job that Loren discovered the view beyond the view: shoreline to the south and Lummi Island to the north.

That’s it, he thought. A little twist of siting and an upstairs master bedroom. “It was really great to be up there,” he says. “That was the beginning of the process.”

And the result: two bedrooms, two baths in 1,400 square feet of contemporary splendor designed by architect Bob Hull of the Miller/Hull Partnership with Jed Edeler as project manager, and built by Bill Miers of Emerald Builders in Ferndale. The couple was attracted to the firm for its small, simple houses; functional but far from plain. The architect was attracted to the project for its practically magical location. Plus, his son was a few miles up the road at Western Washington University.

“Ask them the whys,” their architect says. “Jane and Loren are very meticulous.”

But one need not even ask.

“I’m slightly crazy about conserving energy,” Jane volunteers. “You could call this a house of slider doors.” With this she hops off the couch and starts sliding the living room off from the rest of the house, three doors in all here. The little gas fireplace, one of four in the home, quickly toasts the room.

In warm weather, the reverse is true, and large sliders remove any separation between house and patio.

“I told Loren I’d like to compartmentalize the house, and he said, ‘Oh, Bob’s not going to let you do that.’ We brought it up in a meeting and Bob said, ‘Sure, I think I can do that.’ Just like that.”

From there it’s off to the kitchen.

“The whole idea was I sit at the counter while Loren cooks,” Jane says, laughing. But no matter where they are in the home, there is always the view. Even at the stove, with its see-through backsplash.

The upstairs master bedroom is a crow’s nest for sleeping. This is the spotting place for whales and eagles and all manner of creatures in between.

“We wanted a house where we can put our feet up on the couch and our coffee cups down on the table,” Jane says.

Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.