Whether you’ve fantasized about island living or are seeking a sleek, turnkey vacation retreat, this Guemes Island home might just be the perfect fit. Tucked into 2.5 acres of old-growth cedar and spruce on Guemes Island in the San Juan Islands of northwest Washington, the 1,185-square-foot abode was thoughtfully built over 15 years by a married couple.
The two-level home rests on a lush property surrounded by 80-foot-tall trees. Simple black steel siding lends texture to the home’s facade.
After living on various islands in the San Juans for three years, Eric and Wendy finally decided it was time to buy property on the land they fell in love with. Having only a tight budget to work with, the couple spent a few years simply searching for the right site.
The home’s open floor plan allows for easy flow between the living room and kitchen. Tall ceilings make the property feel much larger than its actual size.
“We wanted land and privacy, but never considered waterfront or water views as it was just too darn expensive and the land too small,” explains Eric. “Thus, we looked for a bit of land that was dry and had a few neighbors with good wells. The land we bought was perfect—high (dry), center island (good water), and covered in 80′ cedar and spruce.”
Expansive doors open the the kitchen up to the forest on two sides.
Once the couple closed on the land, they turned to their friend, architect Cara Piscitello, who had just graduated from architecture school a few years prior. “We asked her to design the house, then worked with her for about a year collaborating,” says Eric.
The long kitchen table, which can comfortably sit eight, has been handcrafted from salvaged cedar. Birch and chalkboard barn doors effortlessly hide any unwanted clutter.
“At the time, we were broke and had no budget so the design process was centered around keeping the home simple, inexpensive, and easy to maintain,” states Eric. Aside from painting the drywall a crisp white shade, the couple have kept the space open and raw. “We didn’t want to paint the trim around the doors, windows, floors, or ceilings—instead we wanted to stay true to the materials and leave everything as is.”
The living room, located just steps away from the kitchen, offers ample seating. The leather couch, wood furniture, and polished concrete floors allow for easy cleaning.
When asked how long the residence took to build, Eric jokingly adds: “A whole lot of time—like really long. We’ve probably put in anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 hours of our own labor, on top of the builders who built the shell, and Cara, the architect who helped with the design.”
A fir beam stairway leads to the second floor. Open shelving provides additional storage.
In the main bedroom, fir floors and simple fixtures add to the minimal design. Custom-set windows thoughtfully frame the nearby forest.
After tenderly crafting the home for 15 years, the couple are saying goodbye to the property so they can start a new adventure in Barcelona, Spain. “Knowing that we built this residence just makes me smile,” Eric notes. “It’s truly a reflection of our lifestyle and needs—it fits us, and other folks have enjoyed it, too.”
Steps from the bed is a private balcony, providing a cozy spot to soak up the tranquil setting.
Scroll ahead to see more of the stunning home, currently on the market for $513,000.
Cable railings extend across the open loft area, while open shelving houses colorful art.
On the other side of the open loft is a quiet yet spacious office with custom birch storage.
A built-in Murphy bed easily converts the office into a private guest room.
A pop-out nook on the second floor provides a cozy place to curl up with a book.
Speckled blue floor-to-ceiling tiles line the spacious bathroom shower, which also includes polished concrete and richly textured wood ceilings.
Surrounded by a thick forest, the property has a lovely private picnic area. The low-maintenance meadow grass does not require any mowing.