Western Living Magazine
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Tree houses don't just have to be for kids.
For those of us who love nature and the fresh pine scent that doesn’t come from our car air fresheners, to live surrounded by trees and nature is the dream—and this home makes the fantasy come true. The Bowen Island cabin, designed by Simon Montgomery and his team at SMS Studio, is the perfect example of sustainable housing and design: here, respect for nature and innovation come together.
This is not your typical forest home. The exterior design says “modernist chic” more than “little cabin in the woods,” but the way its nestled right into the land makes it a perfect fit anyways.
The structure is suspended between two rocks, respecting both the client’s and the designer’s desire not to disturb the site; this engineering feat also elevates the house so it feels like you’re in the treetops. “It’s a house that really sits well within its location, its meant to be there with the site, and it disappears into the landscape,” says Montgomery.
One of the most driving and important parts of the whole project was its location and orientation toward the sun. Montgomery and his team scraped only the trees that were in the building footprint, and left everything else as natural as possible.
The house has tall and wide glass windows, which work to incorporate the outside landscape with the minimal and warm interior. “Lots of glazing allows you to feel like you’re in the forest,” says Montgomery.
The design goal for this house was to create a floor plan that was as small and efficient as possible. The house has two bedrooms, a den and a living space which all flow together. Next door, a second building acts as an office/studio area. “It allows the house to expand, and allows our clients the flexibility to work from home and have privacy,” says Montgomery. “The two volumes and how they play off with each other is really successful on the site. It’s bold, but also not too flashy.”
The kitchen is the heart of every home, and its design sets the tone for the rest of the house: this project is no exception. Montgomery incorporated Douglas fir and plywood into the cabinetry and island, and more wood touches are carried on throughout the space to create impressive built in storage.
The entire house blends in perfectly with its surroundings, and to design a forest house that is both modern and sustainable is worthy of admiration. “To execute a house like this, you can’t just have a good idea,” says Montgomery. “You need clients that are aligned and committed to that idea as well.”
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