Little House by Mwworks

Nestled in the lush forests of Seabeck, Washington, the Little House is a testament to the power of minimalist design and a deep connection with nature. This modern retreat, designed by Mwworks and Avery Cox Design, is perched on a north-facing bluff, offering breathtaking views of the Hood Canal and Dabob Bay. The 1,140 square foot (105.91 square meters) structure, built on an existing foundation, is a masterful blend of simplicity and elegance, with its stark exterior contrasting beautifully against a warm, bright interior.

The Little House is more than just a weekend house; it’s a sanctuary. Its design is intentionally restrained, with large carved openings in both the roof and walls that selectively embrace the views and natural light. The exterior is clad in taut oxidized black cedar and blackened cement infill panels, while the interior is warmed by lightly painted MDF panels and soft pine plywood. This retreat is a testament to the essence of the modern cabin—small in size but much larger than its boundaries.

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About Little House

A Modern Architectural Marvel: The Little House

Perched on a 1.7 acre site (approximately 74,052 square feet), the Little House is a gem of modern architecture, tucked away in a verdant second-growth forest on a north-facing bluff. This tranquil retreat overlooks the serene Hood Canal, offering distant vistas of Dabob Bay.

Innovative Design on an Existing Foundation

The Little House, spanning just over 20 feet (approximately 6.1 meters) square, was ingeniously designed to repurpose an existing foundation. Its simple form stands as an abstract silhouette against the forest backdrop—a stark exterior that contrasts beautifully with its warm, bright interior.

A Dream Retreat for Houston Residents

The owners, who reside full time in Houston, Texas, have spent many summers with their family at a nearby property outside Seabeck. They were captivated by the untamed beauty of the southern Canal and envisioned a small retreat here of their own.

The Essence of Modern Architecture

The design discussions for this modern structure centered on creating a compact, affordable, and straightforward building. The concept was intentionally restrained to an existing footprint of 1,140 square feet (approximately 105.9 square meters), evolving from a simple box with large carved openings in both the roof and walls. These openings selectively embrace the views and natural light, embodying the essence of modern architecture.

A Harmonious Blend with Nature

Visitors approach the site from the south, where a thin canopy marks the entry and frames views of the Canal below. The more transparent north and west elevations pull the landscape and distant view into the space. With primary views toward the water, the south and east elevations remain mostly solid, shielding views from the driveway and neighboring properties.

Innovative Use of Materials

Skylights carve into the roof, bringing light and views of the stars over the bed and into the shower. Taut oxidized black cedar and blackened cement infill panels clad the exterior, while lightly painted MDF panels and soft pine plywood warm and brighten the interior.

Connecting with the Landscape

On a sunny western corner of the house, a large patio extends into the landscape, connecting the building to the larger site. This patio also serves as a starting point for the trail system that meanders down to the water’s edge.

The Power of Restraint in Design

The small footprint of the Little House served as an effective tool to govern the design process. Focus was placed on the essentials, and extras were edited out by both desire and a very humble budget. The resulting project captures the essence of the modern cabin—small in size but much larger than its boundaries, a true treasure of modern architecture.

Photography by Andrew Pogue

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- by Matt Watts