A Little House in the Big Woods
A roof-wide skylight brings light and drama to a small house inspired by a Pacific Northwest Indian village.
Synopsis: Designer/builder Victoria Holland’s Native American-inspired longhouse was more than 15 years in the making. For a decade, she lived on her property in a small cabin — once her childhood playhouse — while she built homes for others. Building her own home, a longhouse with peeled-log framing and a metal roof with a 5-ft.-wide skylight cutting through it, was a five-year-long process. The interior is a clean mix of glass, concrete, and hemlock. A zen bathhouse located a few steps from the main house includes a radiant-slate floor, Japanese-style shoji screens, and a compact laundry.
In my childhood, I grew up in a quiet, wooded place where I became accustomed to seeking solace among great fir and cedar trees. Bellevue, Washington, has since become much busier, and although many of Bellevue’s trees have been felled to make way for roads and buildings, the land my parents own there is still a refuge for me.
In 1980 I purchased a small parcel of the land, a heavily wooded site filled with cedar trees and sword ferns. For the next decade I lived in a tiny cabin there—once our playhouse—while working as a building contractor. After building houses for others and living in that tiny cabin, I finally mustered the resources to build my own home, a five-year-long process.
I knew my future house had to be an open space with a lot of light. I also wanted to capture the wonder and the sense of possibility that I had once felt as a child playing in the woods. Above all, I wanted to remain connected to nature and to explore my own ideas about materials and design. I found that considering resale value or matching neighborhood styles inhibited my creativity.
Massive logs provide both setting and structure