off the grid, up in the mountains
Located on a remote 25-acre forest property, this design of this cabin was inspired by the local vernacular of the wildfire lookout towers. The cabin is perched up on a mountain subject to very hot summers and several feet of snow in the winter. There is only access by car in the summer, in the winter a snowmobile or snow shoes are the only way to get there. It is totally off the grid, there is no cell phone, internet service or electricity.
Our client set out to build a small footprint house that would feel open and accommodate many guests from time to time. Aviathar Pemberton of Warm Homes Construction built the house. He has a creative head for details and added much to the project, for example felling the trees that had to be cleared and milling them to be used for siding and flooring. He lives off the grid himself and was the first to suggest building the house from solar panels which remained to feed electricity to the house.
The cabin features three levels; a basement, used for storage and to keep the house cool (the basement is always at 50 degrees), and first floor for guests, and the upper floor is the main living area. The Contractor rigged up a genius simple air conditioning system with 2 pvc tubes and a very low energy fan. In the winter the heat that collects in the highest point of the ceiling is blown down into the guest quarters to supplement the heat, and in the hot summer, the cool air from the basement is blown up into the living space of the top floor. It is very successful. The house has a wide covered deck the entire length of the house, which gives wonderful views of the mountains and birds and allows one to sit out in blankets in the winter. One of the owners owns a mosaic studio so we incorporated some unusual details of glass into the project. The house took 2 years to build because of the snowy conditions in the winter. It is heated by an efficient wood-burning stove which they also use to cook, with back up propane heat to satisfy Washington State Codes.
Contractor Warm Homes Construction
Cabinets Jim Lopresti
Photographer Alice Hayes