Cool Cabins, Hot Rooms

Let It Snow — Or Not

After all the feasting it’s time for a change of pace and some fresh air for the new year, so here are two innovative and unusual mountain cabins by Seattle architect Tom Lenchek and his firm Balance Associates, to whet your appetite for an architectural escape. Let’s start with Tom’s own retreat near the

Methow Valley in eastern Washington. The strong shed roof profile matches the slope of the site. Inside, a dramatic double height great room rises from a glass

corner containing a cylindrical Rais wood stove on its own jagged stone platform.

Stairs lead to the balcony on the bedroom level. The kitchen counter boomerangs

around in a beckoning curve. A few years ago Tom gave me a tour of this house (for a story in Sunset Magazine) and I felt right at home: I like the way the design

celebrates its setting as a contemporary take on the snow shed. In summer the house opens to the terrace. It’s a great example of a design that is both warm and

sleek, regional and modern. Or how about this cabin deftly tucked between the conifers on a small knoll and reachable by a causeway. The bridge brings you by

a magical double height translucent-roofed screen porch — so arrival becomes

the main event. At the other end of the narrow house the simple gable roof shelters and frames another outdoor room — this time with its own soaking tank and shower tower. In a sense the design is all about making a progression from work to play — across a bridge, no less — and into rejuvenating nature. Time to fire up the hot tub and enter the new year with a splash! (All photos courtesy Balance Associates)



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