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Small Space, Great Design

This family's Coeur d'Alene cabin offers 4 seasons of fun
By Fran Sigurdsson
Published: November 8, 2010
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Photo by Roger Wade Studios
Geocaching enthusiasts Dale and Jane Scott found the best buried treasure 10 years ago: the perfect site for a cabin.
   
After years of city life, the Seattleites yearned for a retreat of their own – somewhere they could
commune with nature and indulge in four-season outdoor fun. And where better than his family’s land in Coeur d’Alene (CDA), Idaho, a five-hour drive away?
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The Scotts’ four-season retreat is sited on a knoll with a 180-degree panoramic view of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Photo by Roger Wade Studios
The Property, The View
   
The Scott family’s land includes a site that overlooks Lake Coeur d’Alene from a 2,800 foot elevation. Dale had hiked on the land countless times as a boy, accompanied by his father and grandfather. From a special knoll, they beheld a 180-degree view of the lake.
   
But 10 years ago, the knoll and the panorama that Dale had remembered from his youth had somehow vanished. Or rather, the knoll was hidden by dense brush that blocked the lake view. Armed with a chainsaw and a GPS unit, Dale and Jane hacked through undergrowth. The couple will never forget the eureka moment when they discovered the knoll. “We climbed a tree to see what the view was like,” says Dale. “Just as Jane said  ‘This will do,’ … she fell out of the tree.”
   
Over the next five years, the couple labored to restore the meadow. During the process, they installed a road and underground power.
   
The Scotts chose to forgo ornamental landscaping in favor of pasture and native wildflowers. “The intent was to blend in with the setting,” explains Jane. “We encourage animals to come. There are moose, bear, elk, deer – all kinds of animals. We didn’t want to detract from that.” Apparently, “Miss Molly” approves. The resident moose grazes nearby, unperturbed by the couple’s presence – or their Labradors, Brody and Liza.

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Expanses of glass in the great room and hallway flood the cabin with natural light. At the end of this hallway is a home office. The office space was modeled after the Scotts’ wooden boat, with low windows to give the feel of sitting on a captain’s deck.
Photo by Roger Wade Studios
The T-shaped Cabin
   
Today, the Scotts’ cabin perches on that knoll. Built in 2006, the low-profile getaway seems like a natural outcrop in the pristine mountain meadow. The exterior features vertical board-on-board cedar siding, with Douglas fir beams, posts and rafters.
   
John Hendricks, an AIA-licensed architect in Sandpoint, Idaho, designed the cabin in the shape of a T. The orientation maximizes views without compromising natural grading or vegetation. The great room is at the bottom of the T, facing the lake. Every window in the cabin frames a lake or mountain vista; even chores like folding clothes are occasions to savor the scenery.

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The Scotts’ vacation home is T-shaped. A central front door is at the top of the T, facing the great room. To the left, the hallway leads to a guest bedroom and bath. To the right, the hallway continues past a pantry and laundry room to the master suite.
Photo by Roger Wade Studios
Winter Wonderland
   
Not that the Scotts linger over laundry. Keeping the cabin to one level lets them step directly outdoors. At this time of year, the outdoorsy couple can be found snowshoeing on the 80-acre property. An old chairlift mounted onto the front porch makes a convenient launch for snowboarding down the meadow. (“You have to hike back up,” Jane notes with a laugh.) Both are expert alpine skiers. The chairlift is from Snoqualmie Pass outside Seattle, Jane’s hometown. Dale, a native of Kellogg just east of CDA, grew up skiing at Silver Mountain Resort.
   
After the day’s adventure, the Scotts bask by the stone fireplace in the great room. Old growth eastern white pine planks reflect the glow. The pine flooring extends through most of the cabin, protected by a tung oil finish. Western red cedar in various color grades accent great room walls and the pitched ceiling.
   
The 2,000-square-foot cabin is open and airy, with daylight entering from multiple directions. Clean lines, natural materials like wood and stone, and expanses of glass create an understated, minimalist look.
   
Uplighting celebrates a cedar canoe suspended overhead. The Old Town craft belonged to Dale’s grandfather. It evokes a boatload of memories, spanning three generations of Scotts on this lake.

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A unique dining room table: This table was actually made from an antique teak door. Jane chose benches instead of chairs for a relaxed, picnic-style feel.
Photo by Roger Wade Studios
Summers on the Lake
   
Like his father before him, Dale spent boyhood summers on the water. “It was extremely serene before the advent of fiberglass,” Dale muses. “Waterfront property was not in demand, and boats were far and few between.” When he was eight, Dale and his grandfather spotted a sunken pram, a small rowboat with a flat bow like a dinghy. Restored and fitted with a 1.5 hp Hiawatha motor, it became Dale’s first boat.
   
Fiberglass boats appeared on Lake Coeur d’Alene in the mid-1950s, water-skiers in tow. Before this, Dale and his young chums rode on wooden “Coeur d’Alene boards,” as they called them.
   
These days, Dale still loves water sports. When the snow melts, the couple heads for the shore. If they’re not motoring in a mahogany 22-foot inboard, they’re canoeing or kayaking. In between, the active couple hikes and bikes.
   
Trap shooting on the property is a favorite pastime. So is inline skating with the dogs on the nearby North Idaho Centennial Trail. And the GPS unit is put to good use on geocaching forays.*  
 
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The olive green chandelier in the kitchen is a French flea market find. Jane had it converted from candle to electric.
Photo by Roger Wade Studios
Hosting the Family
   
The couple has four grown children and two grandchildren who often share in the fresh-air fun. “We pitch a tent, and they come,” says Jane.
   
She preps hearty meals for the gang on a large center island with a mesquite top. The other kitchen countertops are Formica with extra thick edges, fabricated to look like cement. “I didn’t want the typical granite,” says Jane, drawing on years of professional experience as an interior designer. “It’s cold.”
   
Pop-up outlets (retractable towers) are pulled up from the countertop as needed. A bronze strip of plug molding underneath the cabinets provides more outlets. “I’ve done so many years of tile layouts, it was frustrating to have to work around outlets,” Jane explains.

An antique teak door serves as a dining table. Jane chose benches instead of chairs for a relaxed, picnic-like vibe.
   
When the guest room is occupied, Jane and Dale re-arrange great room furniture to accommodate sleeping bags for the overflow. “In the world of mountain houses, the cabin is very small,” says Jane. “At the time we built this, everyone was doing 10,000-square-foot houses with spas. We didn’t want a big mansion – we wanted people to come and feel welcome.”

Fran Sigurdsson cleared brush at her Adirondack home last summer. Unaided by GPS, she found an asparagus bed, eight golf balls and a thriving pumpkin patch growing in the jack-o-lantern graveyard.

* Not familiar with geocaching, a high-tech scavenger hunt? See the article in the August 2010 issue of Cabin Life.


Reader Resources:
•  Hendricks Architecture Inc., www.hendricksarch.com.

• Jane Scott Design, Inc., www.janescottdesign.com.



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