Taking a dramatic turn toward spectacular views, a couple’s lakefront home also shows consideration for a special neighborhood.

Share story

THIS IS A STORY with lots of angles. It begins and ends, as so many stories do, at home. And in this extra-special case: Even the home has lots of angles.


John and Cathy live in a close, connected neighborhood near Woodinville.

There’s a gate to get in, but otherwise, not one single suggestion of “suburbia”: not in the relaxed weekend cabins, the full-time homes or the community clubhouse; not in the tranquillity of a meaningful tree farm caressing the motor-free lake; not in the historic, rustic-cool vibe.

“People from Seattle used to drive here to fish and hunt,” says John. “In 1920, they plotted around the lake.”

In 2000, John and Cathy claimed their own lakefront plot, along with a “gut and remodel” 1928 cabin that had endured four or five random additions over the years. They rented it out for a decade or so initially, well aware that just getting in is a win.

“Probably half the houses that sell here don’t hit the real estate market,” John says.

This is the kind of place where everyone gathers at the clubhouse for the community’s “Great Gatsby”-themed 90th anniversary party. Where neighbors step up “if you need some olive oil or eggs or tools,” John says. Where, before demolition of John and Cathy’s 1928 cabin, neighbors playfully covered it in graffiti — and one neighbor tucked still-secret treasures into a new hollow steel beam, as a kind of community time capsule. Where every spring, folks chip in on Tree Farm Day to hack brush and replant.

“It’s a big volunteerism community,” Cathy says. “You may not intimately know them, but you are with them.”

“All that played in,” says Mike Butrim, the architect of John and Cathy’s considerately contemporary modern farmhouse. “It was the cabin idea: keeping the scale, and not being too formal or perfect.”


Of course, “community” represents much more than a geographic neighborhood; it’s people and relationships and trust — and here, those connections came together rather perfectly:

• Best friends from college live right next door, Cathy says, separated only by a “neighbor-friendly hedge,” specifically cut for easy doggy back-and-forth.

• Contractor Mike Bohannon of Tip Top Homes: a friend of a neighbor.

• Interior designer Ruthie Cook: “our dear friend,” Cathy says.

• Architect Butrim, also connected: He works for David Vandervort Architects. “We knew David’s sister-in-law,” Cathy says.

“Everything about this house is friends or acquaintances,” she says. “It’s got so much love in it.”


There’s a lot in it to love, too — starting with one foundationally creative plot twist.

“Mike turned the house,” Cathy says.

Excellent call.

“The view straight out is the least interesting; the better view is at the angle,” Butrim says. “We did seven schemes; the problem was, they didn’t relate to the street and the neighbors. The angles came out of both. The skewed plan allows the house to relate well to the street while orienting for the best views of the lake.”

From the outside, John says, the house sits four feet lower than the road and blends right in. “It’s low-profile rather than being up; it’s not overpowering the neighborhood. The garage is square with the street, and the house is turned. Angled stairs bring it all together.”

On the inside: All those just-right angles add up beautifully — but not always easily.

“You have a challenge with the angles,” says Cathy.

“When it was staked, it looked like the prow of a ship,” John says. “We thought, ‘How can we soften that?’ We ended up with an H, but parts of it turned.”

Angles convene discreetly inside a first-floor laundry closet. In the super-angular master bathroom, there were “multiple, multiple things,” John says: Tiling the floor was so challenging, he cut the shapes out of paper and spread them out to work out the seams.

The payoffs are enormous: an entire great-room wall of glass facing the lake, just beyond an anticipation-setting entry wall. In the master bedroom, with the bed centered directly on the view, “When you lie [there], you can see the next-door neighbor’s boat bobbing,” Cathy says. And in the kitchen, she says, “I remember Mike saying [during construction], ‘Cathy, stand behind this line’ — where the kitchen sink would be — and it worked.”

But it’s perhaps the deck off the kitchen where all the angles — of the home, and of its story — intersect most profoundly.

“It’s our most-utilized spot,” says John. “It’s so close to the kitchen, the sun and our neighbors. People stand at the wall with a beer,” or, Cathy says, drift up in their boats for a glass of wine.

“We love our home,” she says, “and this place and this community of neighbors is just absolutely wonderful.”