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Mountain Modern: A Contemporary Timber Home

Nestled into a hillside in Washington's Cle Elum River Valley, a timber-frame house mixes modern design and traditional materials with precision.

Photography by Heidi Long

Longtime friends Chris Jansen and Adam Eaton had a vision: to build a timber-frame home like no other in the Cle Elum River Valley. Known for its breathtaking vistas, beautiful forests, abundant wildlife, sport fishing and golf, the area located in Washington state is the perfect destination to build a second home. Chris and Adam also thought it would be the perfect place to get away from the typical mountain lodge style and build something more modern. “We wanted to deviate from the norm of Western resort-style architecture,” says Chris, co-owner of Nine Pine Developments, a custom builder in the area. “So many mountain lodges across the West have adopted the same, boilerplate architectural guidelines — we wanted something fresh.”

To bring their vision to life, they contacted architect Matt Franklin of M.T.N Architects (the in-house design firm for PrecisionCraft Log & Timber Homes) after seeing home plans called “Suncadia” that the company had designed. “We wanted to take those plans and expand on them,” says Adam. Surrounded by evergreens, the sloping site sits elevated on the edge of a valley with an amazing panoramic view of the Cascade Mountain Range, offering a secluded spot to build. “We knew that we wanted to maximize the views as much as possible with large windows and doors,” Adam adds.  

See also Compact Hybrid Timber Frame Home Design

From there, the team began customizing the plans for the site. “For the most part, the 4,700-square-foot home incorporates the same organic materials and features that we often see in a traditional mountain home, such as stone, board and batten, and Douglas fir timbers,” notes Franklin.  “What makes this home unique is that we also incorporated steel elements.” Exterior panel cladding, cross-truss and support-beam braces, and channel headers above the door are all made of steel and offer a modern, industrial look.

Apart from the steel components, another modern twist to the traditional design includes soaring Douglas fir rafters that project beyond the roofline. The rafters are intended to draw the eye up and across the valley to the Cascade Mountains. Another important visual element is found in the home’s entrance. Instead of timber posts running perpendicular to the support beam, all vertical supports are in the shape of a “V,” which brings an unexpected twist to what is typically a simple structural element.

Because this house was designed on spec, the team had to imagine the family that might purchase the property. “The layout would easily accommodate two families on a weekend getaway from the Seattle area, which is just on the other side of the Cascade Mountains,” notes Chris. “We developed an open concept with plenty of room in the public spaces to encourage social gatherings as well as two distinct master suites.”

As you approach the home, you enter under a low-slung covered entry into the foyer and great room. Directly across from the entry is a generous view through a 19-foot-wide folding wall. To the right of the great room are more public spaces: the dining area and kitchen, as well as utility areas. To the left of the great room are the private spaces: two luxurious master suites as well as two additional bedrooms. The home can also be accessed from the garage through a beautiful connector that features metal sculptures created by a local area artist.

Along with the modern components, natural materials were introduced into the design. Moose Mountain stone, slate and rustic pine floors are all found throughout the interiors. “Those materials, in combination with the natural surroundings, are conducive to casual weekends away from the hectic work week,” notes Chris, “which is what we were trying to achieve.” Mission accomplished.


Square footage: 4,700
Architect: M.T.N. Architects
Builder: Nine Pine Developments
Timber Provider: PrecisionCraft Log & Timber Homes


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To create the “modern rustic” look they were striving for, Chris Jansen and Adam Eaton combined natural materials (think Douglas fir beams and pine floors) with more contemporary choices, such as textured tiles, steel and glass. “The Seattle area is very much a hot bed for contemporary architecture so we wanted to appeal to those tastes by using more modern forms and splashes of man-made materials along with the traditional elements.”



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