Seattle-based architecture studio Olson Kundig has produced some of the most unique cabins we've seen to date, from the 191-sq-ft micro cabin on an island to this steel-clad Olympic Peninsula fortress. Their recently completed Water Cabin, in Seattle's charming Portage Bay, adds another entry to that list. Yes, this cabin floats, but that's not the only reason it's worthy of your attention—this watertight home has style too, and lots of it.
Taking cues from weathered cabins on land and inspiration from the surrounding bay, Olson Kundig's design team created a cozy, understated home designed to withstand Seattle's notorious weather while also bringing inhabitants as close as possible to their watery backyard.
With just 1,580 square feet spread over two floors, the residence is small in stature and sits low to the water, easily camouflaged amongst a neighborhood of houseboats. Expansive ipe wood decking runs the perimeter of the house, while wide roof planes stretch outward overhead to shield walkways from inclement weather, and to provide shade on sporadic sunny days. The relationship between these two elements tempers the transition between indoors and outdoors, making it easy to pass between both.
Floor to ceilings windows and sliding glass doors throughout both levels also keep the bay close by, while details like a kitchen skylight, window nooks, and a complete window-wall in the primary shower create cozy spaces to enjoy rainy days.
The open floor plan on the lower level combines kitchen, dining, living, and office areas, and there's a cleverly disguised murphy bed for guests. Upstairs, the primary bedroom suite contains a peaceful bathroom, and an upper-level deck overlooking the bay.
Designers kept the materials and colors natural, with wood cladding featured throughout most of the house. The western red cedar exterior will silver with age, eventually blending with the galvanized steel and zinc framing. Inside, oak flooring and Russian birch plywood ceilings create a cabin feel and contrast with formal furnishings for an all-around dignified look.