House on the Cove blends with coastal Washington setting
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington

Stephenson Design Collective designs House on the Cove to blend with coastal Washington setting

This residence in the Pacific Northwest by US firm Stephenson Design Collective features exterior walls clad in weathering steel and black-stained cedar, along with large windows that offer sweeping views of the mountains and sea.

House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington

The House on the Cove is located in the coastal town of Bellingham in northern Washington. The residence consists of a main dwelling and a detached structure that houses a garage and music studio.

Together, the two rectilinear buildings form an L-shaped plan.

House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington

A primary goal for the design team was to respect and embrace the natural surroundings. The elevated, wooded site offers sweeping views of the Puget Sound, San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountains.

"We had to maintain this environment with minimal intrusion when adding the structure," said Seattle-based Stephenson Design Collective in a project description. "It is hard to discount the fact that we had a great opportunity to destroy this site if we weren't considerate and thoughtful."

House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington

To help the home blend with its surroundings, the team wrapped exterior walls in weathering steel and black-stained cedar The house is intended to be a "shadow among the trees".

The entry elevation is fairly opaque in order to conceal the interior and the spectacular views that lie beyond. Windows are carefully placed to bring in light and provide a connection to the neighbourhood. The home's interior stairwell is hinted at on the street-facing facade by angled metal cladding and a trio of skylights.

House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington

In contrast, the rear facade has large stretches of glass that draw in the scenery. Rooms open onto terraces that provide opportunities for taking in the ocean air.

Rising two storeys, the main dwelling encompasses 2,504 square feet (233 square metres). The ground level contains public spaces, along with a bedroom and an office. The upper level houses the master suite and a dimly lit nook for relaxing.

House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington

"We knew the house would be bright, so we created a 'nest' behind the main bedroom that could be completely closed and dark for refuge in the heat of the summer," the team said.

A neutral colour palette was employed throughout the dwelling. Finishes include wood and concrete flooring and a fireplace column sheathed in grey stone. Textured rugs, wooden tables and fluffy pillows help create a cosy atmosphere.

House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington

To the north of the home is the separate two-storey structure. The upper level of the 765-square-foot (71-square-metre) building houses the music studio, which can also be used as guest quarters.

The lower level contains the garage and a small workshop for metal fabrication. The client is a blacksmith by trade, and the shop acts as "his escape to create without demand".

House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington

The architects note that their initial site meeting with the client entailed "drinks, dogs and music". The meeting began in the afternoon and stretched well into the evening.

"The client requested that we watch the movie Minka and listen to Marc Cohen's Olanna before beginning the process," the studio said. "He needed his home to spark the same emotions that these pieces inspire."

House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington

The client had no set expectations regarding the home's size. His focus was more on the experiential qualities.

"We continued the design process as a discussion of experience and interaction," the architects said. "We never established a 'goal' square footage or size, only what needed to happen within the home and how it would take place."

House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington

Sustainability was an important concern for the clients. In turn, the team incorporated a range of eco-friendly features including radiant concrete floors and high-performance windows. In the winter, a fireplace and its pipes provide instant heat.

Washington is well-known for its lush forests, snow-capped peaks and beautiful coastline. Other homes in the state include a waterfront home by Prentiss Balance Wickline that consists of cascading boxes with green roofs, and a dwelling by David Coleman that cuts into a hillside "like a rusty blade".

Photography is by Andrew Pogue.


Project credits:

Architects: Stephenson Design Collective
Builder: Indigo Enterprises NW
Engineer: Malsam Tsang Structural Engineering
Metal fabrication: Indeco
Manufacturers: Thermador, Zola, Victoria and Albert, Kohler

More images and plans

House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
Site plan
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
Ground floor plan
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
Upper floor plan
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
Sections
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
Sketch
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington
House On The Cove residence by Stephenson Design Collective in Bellingham, Washington