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Building a Dream Timber Home in Washington

A Canadian couple crosses international lines to build their dream timber home in Washington State.

Written by Stacy Durr Albert
Photography by Heidi Long


After living overseas for 21 years, Bob and Christy Gallagher were ready to return to North American soil. Though living in exotic locales across the Pacific was certainly exciting, the Canadian couple craved the comforts of home and family togetherness. Upon their return to Vancouver, B.C., they initially settled into a condo, but they quickly set their sights on creating an expansive summer getaway. “We’d always dreamed of having a big place for everyone to gather together,” shares Bob. “My wife was raised in a family that always had a summer cottage, and she cherishes those memories. We wanted to create a similar setting for our children and grandchildren.”

Deciding on the type of home they wanted was easy — the couple had long admired the timber homes that grace one of their favorite local winter areas, Whistler Mountain. “We just love wood and timber, and we thought it would look good on a lake, too,” says Bob. After poring through timber and log home magazines, Bob and Christy came across a house plan they loved.

The design, offered by PrecisionCraft Log & Timber Homes of Meridian, Idaho, offered exactly what the Gallaghers were looking for: a spacious layout that could easily accommodate guests while also serving up plenty of intimate spaces. “They came to their initial design meeting with photos and layouts from a couple of existing designs, but in the end their home was completely customized to fit their needs,” says Stephanie Johnson, marketing manager at PrecisionCraft.

“The design, created by Celeste Raygosa, the head of our in-house design firm, M.T.N. Design, was centered around creating a cottage style with a layout that worked equally well for when they were there alone and also when family came to visit.” Finding land proved a bit more challenging, though the couple knew exactly what they wanted: a flat site with lake frontage and a great sense of community. Though they initially searched in Canada, their quest brought them further and further south, until they discovered a gem in Washington’s Okanogan Valley.

“We didn’t want to be too isolated,” reveals Bob. “We found a wonderful development in Oroville on a lake that is halfway in the U.S. and halfway in Canada. Our site offers 160 feet of lake frontage and affords the west-facing orientation that we wanted, plus breathtaking views of the lake and the Eastern flank of the Coast Mountains beyond.” The next step was finding a decent contractor — not an easy task in such a quiet corner of Washington.

Though they finally found a local contractor to start the job, he struggled with the project; much of his work did not meet local building codes, and some components were prematurely covered before inspection. After many trying months, the Gallaghers received a recommendation that would completely reverse the course of their ill-fated project: Rick Cavaliere of Cavaliere Construction in Bellevue.  “Rick and his crew were simply amazing,” says Bob, reflecting on how Rick saved the project. “They had to renovate parts of the house before we ever lived in it, and the millwork they did was simply outstanding.” When Cavaliere and his colleagues, Rod Frederickson and Steve Campbell, first visited the job site, they were shocked at the state of the house, but the local building department worked with them to get everything up to code, and a quick glance at the resulting house reveals it was more than worth the effort.

The dark timbers of the stunning 9-by-9-inch Douglas fir frame from PrecisionCraft contrast beautifully with lighter walls, and the lapped shingle siding outside imparts a decidedly cottage flavor. With 2,800 square feet of living space plus an additional 1,300 square feet of outdoor living areas, the house feels like anything but a modest cottage. “People laugh when we call it a cabin or a cottage,” shares Bob. “Our son-in-law and young grandson jokingly refer to it as the ‘Taj Mc Cabin.’”

Though its square footage is certainly generous, the house still retains an intimate atmosphere, thanks to its inviting decor and careful attention to detail. The owners did all of the interior decorating themselves, filling their home with treasures from their years abroad, including furnishings from Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines. One of the home’s most noteworthy features actually has U.S. roots — the wood used on the kitchen island is wood that was left over from a staircase built in the home of Bill Gates.  “So we have a bit of celebrity in our house,” says Bob, laughing. “I said, ‘if it’s good enough for Bill Gates, then it’s good enough for Bob and Christy.’” The great outdoors also take center stage at the home, since lakeside living is all about enjoying the water, playing on the beach and soaking up spectacular sunsets.

Outdoor amenities were given careful thought. “The outdoor living area is probably our favorite part of the home,” says Bob. “We enjoy eating outside, water sports, and simply relaxing — you can always find someone snoozing on the outdoor sofa midday.” Whether they are sailing, enjoying water sports or touring nearby vineyards, the Gallaghers are thrilled that they have created a place where memories can be made. One of their favorite annual activities is celebrating Independence Day — of two nations.

“On July 1st, we sit outside and look north to view the Canadian fireworks,” explains Bob. “Three days later, we turn our chairs around to face south to take in the Oroville 4th of July fireworks.” Having a home that straddles international lines couldn’t be more fitting for a couple whose lives have been defined by living halfway around the world and back. 


Home Details

Square footage: 2,800

Builder: Cavaliere Construction

Designer: M.T.N. Design

Timber provider: PrecisionCraft Log & Timber Homes


See also Simple Design in a Washington Timber Home

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