When most architects sit down to sketch out the plans for a new home, they often take inspiration from two major sources: the site and its owners. They craft the edifice to fit the local terrain while framing the views, then create every room and surface around the owners’ specific needs and wants. Architect Dave Dykstra certainly did that for an expansive contemporary floating above the Yakima Valley. But in order to give his design an even stronger direction right from the start, he added a third element to the mix: a symbolic meaning. “This house is spreading its wings outward and upward like a bird spreads its wings in flight,” he says.
One wing houses the master suite, while another encompasses the entertainment-scaled great room, with a second-story overlook providing a bird’s-eye view of the voluminous space. Completing the flock of structures is a third wing containing the children’s bedrooms, and a separate guest cabana. Sloping roofs, and layered walls and piers reinforce the sense of movement, of flight. “We created a fluidity that allows the home to change as you move around in it,” Dykstra says.
Local Tenino sandstone, vertical-grain Douglas fir and sandblasted steel were used on the house both indoors and out. “Using identical materials throughout creates a shared experience,” the architect says. Dykstra also optimized the nooks and crannies that were created by the angles to nest interesting exterior courtyards.
In one rests an outdoor seating area, another sports the swimming pool, and stretching out from a third lies a grassy playing field for the owners’ children. The landscape strategy was simple. “We kept things tightly ordered near the house,” says landscape designer Bryan Bailey, formerly of Bioscape Pacific. “As you get farther away, the plantings become more casual and rugged.” With the area’s scant annual rainfall in mind, Bailey utilized a drought tolerant plant palette of phlox, dogwood, potentilla and ornamental grasses.
The construction presented a few challenges, starting with the build firm having to blast the site to break up the bedrock that was close to the surface. “Constructing all the angles and elevations made for a complex process,” says builder James Sevigny. There are 208 windows and glass door panels, he says, many of them trapezoids, and everything lines up, one to another, down to the sixteenth-inch. “Everyone on the job was working at his or her highest skill level,” he adds.
The final result is a highly refined gathering of volumes. “The house has a sleek, linear feel, which responds to the owners’ love of geometry,” says interior designer Kitty Berg. Here, they started out by asking her simply to edit some selections—and the next thing she knew, she was designing the entire interior scheme.
Berg presented the homeowners with two color stories. One centered on earth tones harvested from the nearby landscape; and the other incorporated a rich set of jewel tones focused on the wife’s favored hues. “They preferred the simplicity of the connection to nature, so we went with the earth version,” Berg says. Shades of taupe, cream and beige cover surfaces not sheathed in sandstone, wood or steel.
Simple, sturdy shapes characterize the furniture throughout. Berg chose leathers for upholstery because they wear well for active families and have the engaging textures the owners enjoy. “The furniture is contemporary but comfortable,” she says.
And the steel used throughout is most definitely contemporary. The architect used it in different ways in different areas, but it is always a focal point: as the breast of the fireplace, scaling the volume of the kitchen to a more human fit, and creating a connectedness between the terraces and the wide-open western sky. “The steel accents are this home’s signature,” Dykstra says.
Though the home’s signature may be steel, it indeed has a co-signing symbol of wings. “The undulation of the wings creates a collection of spaces of prospect and refuge,” the architect muses, “volumes of nesting and soaring.”