A Modern-Rustic Family Home Designed to Survive Wildfires

A Modern-Rustic Family Home Designed to Survive Wildfires

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A Modern-Rustic Family Home Designed to Survive Wildfires

It’s only a few hours drive from Seattle, but the Methow Valley on the eastern side of the Cascade mountains in Washington state feels like a different world. The beautiful valley gets ample snowfall in winter, making it a destination for cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. In the summer, the area gets very dry, and hikers and bikers enjoy miles of connected trails.

Colin and Alisa Sands and their three kids, who all hail from Washington’s western shore, built a second home here to enjoy all the valley has to offer. With the area’s dry climate in summer comes the risk of wildfires, so adhering to firewise design principles was a must. For help, the couple hired builder and friend Justin Hamlin, who suggested they bring on architect Dan Nelson. After seeing Nelson’s previous projects on his Houzz profile, the couple knew he was the right person to create a modern-rustic dream home that would last for generations.

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Sonny 62

Beautiful area and the home fits into the area just as beautifully. Love the patina of the walnut cabinetry especially around the refrigerator. Kinda makes that huge box disappear. At first I didn't understand the clerestory windows in the family room into the master bedroom. That is until I was actually inside the mb. Then the continuation of the windows along the outside wall into the family room allowing for a continued view outdoors (and more light) made sense. Sometimes it's the details that make all the difference in the world.

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olmama

Yes, this area is beautiful and the home fits with the style of most of the new second homes being built in the area, and it is very nicely built. I appreciate that they chose firewire materials and local contractors and artisans, and I don't doubt that this house was around $300/ sq ft. However, I question the assessment that "other homes in the area cost closer to $700 per square foot" to build - that number seems quite high. There may be a few, but likely not the majority, or even a large minority, especially for homes this size. It's a beautiful home and hopefully the owners spend enough time in the area to make an economic impact (and positive social impact!) on the community. I see photos like these and hope that the pristine, empty spaces in the photos aren't actually empty for most of the year. Especially when their neighbors who live and work full time in the area struggle to find permanent and (truly) affordable housing. On the flip side, areas like the Methow Valley simply couldn't thrive (in the same way) without money and influence coming in from the West Side. It's all a balancing act. Something to think about, but really, we're on Houzz to see beautiful homes, and garner inspiration, and this one fits the bill.

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abog
Very well done.
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Llanfairpwllgwyngyll Architects

Wow! I'm in the process of designing a retirement house right now, in a similar location and this is an inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

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debra0147
  • Is the corrugated metal siding repurposed? If not I am interested to know where I can purchase this material. Thank you for the information.
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atearse

Another site that would be perfect for a solar array, but there isn't one. Instead, we have enormous windows in an area where it gets really cold in the winter and hot in the summer. It's past time for architects, and owners, to prioritize alternative energy, PARTICULARLY when the design itself utilizes so much glass! And for those who wonder...the Pacific Northwest is a perfect place for solar energy!

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EuroLuxHome

The mixture of materials is beautiful, especially as so much of it is grounded by the rustic wood.

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Potter Construction Inc

This is beautifully designed.

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zagster

Smart, stylish, serene - the perfect house for the setting. I covet it.


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designmatters53

I would be interested also about the corrugated siding.

   
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P M

Beautiful! Nice use of materials and geometry! I especially like the drifts of rocks outside. My eye is stuck on so many brown/earth tones, though. If this were my home I would bring in some more saturated color. Maybe a painted accent wall. And third color to set against the orange/blue-gray accents (very good choice!) used. Olive green? Maybe add some large-scale art. But that’s just me. I need color, art, texture.

I can see a couple things that could be a problem in the hot season, even with the mentioned insulation and careful orientation. My home has a similar roof line and transom windows like this one (not nearly so high-end, though). When I moved in, my house was a hot box in summer, so I installed several operable skylights and made some of the transom windows operable. Only then did I get effective airflow (ceiling fans can do only so much). And when I see that wine rack built into an exterior wall, I am reminded that I had to store my wine in a dark closet on the north side of my house (under a dense tree canopy) before we got a wine fridge.

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P M

@atearse, I was wondering where these folks get their power. Magic? They are in the middle of nowhere, but I don’t see either power lines or a solar array. I see no water tank. It’s like the perfect house has just been photoshopped into a picture of a perfect field, and we have to imagine the practicalities. This is such a common quirk of Houzz features on isolated homes like this. I’ve begun to suspect that such unattractive things might get edited out of the photos! (I do realize the photos come from the designers and builders.)


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Reclaimed Lumber Products

Love this! We are getting ready to build our personal home and plan to utilize a lot of these same features. Thanks so much for sharing so we could see it in reality. For those looking for the sliding barn doors and hardware, we make several options,plus we offer free shipping.

Reclaimed Wood Paneling · More Info


   
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liasuz
Wonderfully designed home I would love to spend summers there!
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celestina89

@pfmaher: If you look at a map of their area, you can see they are not that far from any roadway, hence electric. They also may have underground utility service which isn't uncommon. I have it from the nearest junction 1/4 mile away.

As for a well or "water tank", they did not show all sides of the house. And the well or water tank can be located inside a barn or building on the property and you would never know it unless you stepped inside. My well (water tank) is located in a building and is unseen by anyone unless they enter that building. The pump and tank do not take up much space. It's possible it's located in the breezeway. It could also be of the back side of the garage that you don't see.

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vmbluelemur

Love the outside, inside a little bit less (too minimalistic and a bit stark for me), but overall inspiring. The corrugated metal and heated floor of polished concrete look great. Even if they might not need it for heating, a fireplace would have looked (and felt) so much better than this little oven that seems lost in the corner next to the TV. With all that grey floor and greyish walnut wood, I would have avoided having so much grey furniture on top of it.

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cranberri99
Thanks for including the approximate building cost, which is pretty much a key detail all that is left out of most every description of construction or remodels.
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woogies3

wow.

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Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects

I would like to thank everyone for the great comments about the Mazama Meadow house !

Here are answers to some of the questions asked about this home:

The clients do use the house year-round. They are a very active "outdoor " family that enjoys bicycling and hiking in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter.

The metal siding is corrugated A606 weathering steel washed in vinegar to enhance the ageing.

Currently the house does not have a solar array but the panel is set up to accept solar in the future.

The home is located in an area that has a community water system and there is power and water in the road that leads to the house. All utilities are underground.

The home has no air conditioning and stays very comfortable in the summer months. The sun sets behind the the mountains to the west and evenings cool off fairly early in the evening in this area. The operable window and door systems do take advantage of the cross breezes, and the ceiling fans enhance the air movement.

Last summer I attended an open house that had over 50 people in the home at any given time and the great room space remained comfortable throughout the day with the doors open and the fans going. The outside temperature was about 80 F.


Take care everyone !



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Joanna

Pięknie. Krajobraz rajski. Wszystko mi się podobało ale chyba bym się bała tak bardzo na uboczu. Piękny dom i cudowna rodzina dbająca o dzieci.

   
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Shoshana Bloom

Do the bedrooms and bathrooms have blinds or curtaining. ? Even if they are far from their neighbours they have kids and to me privacy is essential.

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juliann hudson

The giant Scrabble board! Where do I get one?

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ausmike

Glad to see someone design a near-fire RESISTANT HOUSE (Hurricane-proof) housing examples.

Giddy everyone,

Happy to see this article/post especially since the recent publicity of Australian BUSH/Wild-Fires" in USA & Canada TV news. Although I grew up in Australia and lived there nearly most of my working life- I recently moved to accommodate my wife's new posting by her employer to USA & Canada.

Australia has had for many years the "FIRE-RESISTANT BUILDING" codes setup and ENFORCED in many area's of "outback" and "outer-city" area of residential areas. Also present is the "hurricane-resistant" codes for houses build in Tropical & area;s more prone to hurricane and strong winds. These codes from memory have been enforced to EVERY NEW BUILDS from 1990's.

Having to se your home go up in flames is very sad and heart-wrench experiences ( .....Amen ) I wish that those builders/home owners would get to posting some of their 'learned-experiences' here .> will be very helpful ! I know there are 1000's of examples in Australia and around the world!

Some of the (fire-resistant) building materials that have been developed / and building materials companies are :

Roofing & Siding = https://colorbond.com/    ; https://www.ullrich.com.au/rolled/roofing.php   ; https://www.interlockroofing.com/metal-roofing/tile/

Wall/ Studs:: = https://www.buysuperstud.com/      etc

NOTE:: I am not employed by anyone of these above companies , NOR my intentions to speak for their product & services.

In my experience; having built a house in Cape Cod area of MA, (finished in 2006) PLUS building a house in ONTARIO CANADA (holiday house finished in 2013) there was NOT one requirement from Building codes in Canada & USA - NOR any codes applicable in STATE & FEDERAL BUILDING CODES for residential use. And it seemed anyone I spoken to to add stuff to make my house fire & hurricane resistant - was often in fact told - your add-on might be 'pink-slipped' thus making me not able to live in that house!!

I am so glad to see that the posted article did have a large area of 'brush-free/near clear' area to stop fires from reaching the house. That is one of the major 'lessons learned from Australian home owners. Less fire-fuel means easy controlled space from fire progressions.

Nope not a builder - nor contractor - just a self-builder - having a
"structural engineering degree' from USA - put to use after working for
years in a very different field of work and not anyone related to my
engineering qualifications.


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Michael Mallon

Responding to Aterse; The state of Washington is one of about 12 that have adopted the strictest of the recently updated energy codes. The loss of energy with the glazing must be offset by extra insulation in other areas, probably the roof plane/system where high R value spray foam can be used. No point in living in that beautiful valley without being able to "bring the outside in". MM; Entiat Valley, WA.

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Aurelia Hall

Pottery Barn has wall-sized scrabble

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Ronald Bryant

Instead of wood siding i would have opted for a cement fiber siding. wood siding is okay except where the gaps shown in the picture are perfect for embers to land and catch fire. I would also enclose the eaves no exposed rafter tails, that is allowed but for fire and maintenance reason I would enclose the eaves or use greater than 2x rafters

   
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Becky Harris

@ausmike, Dan Nelson has designed many resilient homes I think you'd enjoy reading about. This one was built to stand up to tsunamis, this one mudslides, this one was designed with outdoor spaces sheltered from wind.

There have been a lot of changes to building requirements since Hurricane Sandy. Homes in different flood zones are required to have the main living spaces up higher, like this one that was saved and raised up one story in New Jersey. And this one in Connecticut that had to be six feet off the ground. And I think based on your comments you'd find the resilient architecture of this home in Florida of interest. The engineering of the piers that hold up these homes is vital to their resilience when storm waters flow beneath the main living space.

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Julie Sheer

LOVE this! I've been wanting to visit the Methow Valley. This reminds me of the Rolling Huts rentable cabins. Love that NW design. And that giant Scrabble board! :)

   
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Donette Hohensee

We recently moved into our retirement home in a very rural area of Wyoming. I designed the home and we hired a local contractor for construction, unfortunately we had to fire the first contractor for multiple code violations and fraudulent activities. We lived over 3000 miles away in Alaska at the time and our plan was to just be able to move straight into the home after my husband retired. Even after interviewing and asking references, the original contractor was a nightmare for us both mentally and financially. Fortunately we were able to find another local contractor to come in and repair all of the original issues caused by the first guy and complete the home. We were able to bring power to the home underground, have a well dug and a septic system installed. After researching alternative power sources, solar (which takes 30 years to start paying for itself), wind (not cost effective due to no wind in our valley 85% of the time. Shock!) and geothermal (which only takes 7 years to start paying for itself but unfortunately we could not find anyone to come to this rural location to install it). So the home is designed to have any alternative power added in the future. It is one floor with in-floor heating, passive solar, R-60 insulation in the ceiling and R-39 in the walls. The inspector and contractor said “we would be able to heat it with a match and cool it with an ice cube” and this has proven to be close to the truth. The home is designed to be fire resistant with metal roof and siding, exterior landscaping with no plants within several feet of the house, and very low maintenance inside and out. Our biggest challenge is communications, there is no land line within 8 miles of the home (we could pay $85,000 to have it brought to our location) and we have to drive 10 miles just to get cell phone service. But we now use a satellite dish and Wi-Fi calling to connect with the outside world and absolutely love our new home.

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ForestWaif

Beautiful. And thank you, Houzz, for keeping the background music in the background so we can focus on and enjoy the story. Nicely done. Thank you for sharing.

   
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artsllc

I especially love the wall-size game boards and that they have other games to play and read..

   
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Maria Aragon

A side note: I wouldn't want to live without curtains, even in a house so nice. It just weirds me out thinking about WHAT may be watching me...and I mean more than your regular two legged bipeds.

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ekwilkins

I love the outdoor metal art pieces! Are they Cor-Ten with the designs laser cut?

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Kendrah

Best fire safety measure of all: Don't build in a "dry area that is vulnerable to the threat of wildfires." When will we learn?

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drheidi64

It's all absolutely gorgeous, but how do they make it dark in that master bedroom?

   
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marsia

We live in the woods in California, and the insurance just tripled our rates so they are now astronomical. I love this so much because it is so beautiful and practical. It's amazing it cost less to make it fire resistant!

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celestina89

@drheidi64: I'd take an educated guess that they either have hidden screens/shades in recessed tracks that drop down on demand for the windows, or have electrochromic glass that will change from clear to opaque, also on demand.

   
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Kimmi

This entire project including the property and surrounding area are just Stunning! Curious question? Mom mentioned they spend 4 to 5 months there during the winter. Does she homeschool the kids?

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Amal H.d

Wenderfool

   
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celestina89

@Kimmi: According to the written article, they enroll the children in local schools during the winter months they are at the second home in the Valley. They eventually plan to move to that new home.

There is more information in the written article than just listening to the video. :)

   
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rhbrunk

Gorgeous house! Can you tell me more about the fire pit? Is it a custom design or is there somewhere I can source it? Thank you!

   
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Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects

Hi rhbrunk,


The fire pit was custom designed and fabricated by Alpine Welding in Twisp, WA.


Thanks for the great compliment !

Dan


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Joyce C

I love the house, except the roof. It appears that there is a lot of flat roof space. I would be concerned about snow collapsing the roof. Manama is on the eastern side of the mountains and is fairly dry, so maybe that isn’t a concern.

   
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Rafael F. Bermejo

What a beautiful video and inspiring story. Congratulations to the US Houzz editorial team. ¡You rock!

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traderdave

Awesome home! Where was the wood stove in the living room sourced from ?

   
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Hassan Charafeddine

Beautiful

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Rick Schultz

Thank you. Fire danger is real and defensible space is a must. I have evacuated twice in 7 yrs(I live in Northern Nevada). Remember, if wind speed is high no amount of resources will save your property so plan ahead and make adjustments for fire safety.

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Dorene Morris

Incredible. I love it. Wow.. would be my dream home!

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