Video: Where the Trees Made the Rules

The Retreat

Where the Trees Made the Rules

The power of place.

Home is secure, resilient; be it a retreat, cabin, or full-time dwelling, the home can manifest the power of a place in its design and construction through scale, site placement, materials, and configuration. The land has a story and incorporating that into the design of a home or retreat can give it permanence, comfort, tradition, and being from the beginning. The steps below outline an approach to creating a vision:

Site science: The science and engineering of the site can influence the design. Due diligence with technical understanding of the site early in the process will minimize setbacks and define hidden building costs early in the process. This step can be performed before purchasing the property or before design happens to outline constraints in balance with expectations.

Landscape: Locating the dwelling with site character is imperative. The building can provide the framework for the best views and landscape experiences. Moving the building out of the viewshed and creating a layered experience adds dimensions to the experience of the place. The best place to watch the sunset or take in the full view might be best left outdoors. Creating a framework for experiencing the beauty of the landscape can be more rewarding than a single framed view through a window.

Right sized: Just enough can make the experience that much sweeter. Balancing size, quality, and character can fulfill a wider spectrum of returns.

Adaptability: design for accessibility, guests, gatherings, and seasons. Think about how the place will age and choose materials to fit. Built in storage, and layers of storage types will support families and friends over time.

Builders: Working with your design team to discuss construction early in the design process is important to identify budget, what values to identify, site costs, and schedules.

A great kitchen: Design for good food, gatherings, and easy cleaning. Gatherings always migrate to the kitchen, and materials and lighting shine in this space. Is this a forever place? Design can consider for a range of abilities and access.  

Fire: Fire can be the hearth – whether in a centerpiece, fire ring, outdoor fireplace, gas or wood stove, or in the kitchen, it connects humanity to its primitive roots and can become the center or aligning factor to the home or retreat. Stone and concrete can be the grounding formal elements of the retreat based on the hearth.

Outdoor space and gathering: Framing outdoor space with building volumes, decks, covered areas, and windows expands the experiential footprint of the home or retreat and connects to the place it inhabits. Looking outward is expansive. Being outside under cover offers connection to nature in a safe environment.

Well made, durable and elegant shelter that is intentionally designed to fit within the place, be it near a forest, creek, mountain, shoreline, or meadow speaks to legacy, family, and resilience. It is through this connection to the landscape that spans generations, that experience and memory become the result of the effort. Time stops as the retreat becomes integrated into the nature of the place.