Cabin in the Woods

Highline Construction 

Design by Johnston Architects  

Nestled in the heart of the forest is a wood cabin made by Highline Construction, although “cabin” doesn’t begin to explain the splendor of this home. With fir cabinets and trim, cedar siding and a timber frame, this dwelling immerses you in nature while keeping you warm and cozy. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room place you amongst the trees, perfect for bird watching or sitting back with a glass of wine to watch the sunset. A concrete floor keeps this place modern, but not cold — a tall fireplace will make sure you’re kept at the perfect temperature. A kitchen island is lit up by blown glass ceiling lamps that float in the air like glowing teardrops. The bedroom has wide windows that let the daylight in with a loft above the bed which could be used for storage, lounging, or both. This cabin is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature without leaving modern conveniences behind. 

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A Pacific Northwest Retreat

When I first met owners Ken and Lisa Chovil, they were looking for a general contractor that could work well with their designer, Christine Coder, to upgrade their home in Bellingham’s Ridgemont neighborhood. It had long been their dream to update the interior and add more storage. Over the course of the project, there were many great collaborations that transformed the Chovils’ ‘80s home into a modern retreat.

In the end, we were able to accomplish their vision within a sensible budget. Christine spent months designing every aspect of what is now a perfect oasis. Our team truly enjoyed working alongside Christine as well as the homeowners, employing creative solutions and ingenuity to make the final details shine.

This home features many modern upgrades from glass tile to custom fir built-ins, bringing the outdoors in and culminating in a true Pacific Northwest retreat.

Contractor: CB Premier Construction LLC
Interior Designer: Christine Coder
Photography: Peter James Photo Studio

Exterior Entrance: Bold colors and sharp lines shape this mid-century modern feel, with 3-inch clear cedar bevel siding and tigerwood decking with a contrasting radius face. The new front entry addition really added a whole new look to an old home. With large windows and a rounded hardwood step, this entry is one-of-a-kind.

Interior Foyer: A fabulous touch sets the exterior cedar against the beautiful texture of natural slate flooring. Our goal was to bring the outdoors in using flagstone flooring and cedar accents.

Master Bath: One of the home’s highlights is this walk-in shower wrapped in sea glass tile featuring dramatic glass panels and a rainfall showerhead. The counter-to-ceiling one-piece mirror adds to the dramatic effect and makes the room feel even bigger than it already is. To pay homage to the clients’ love for marine sporting, we added stainless nautical cleat hardware on the double sliding doors. This room also offers heated tile flooring and floating, under-lit cabinets.

Living Room: After removing a few existing walls, we were able to bring the original fireplace back to life with large-format tile and a built-in fir mantel and
shelving unit. We kept the existing wood-burning fireplace and added fir cabinetry and tile. With the under-lit hearth, this room lights up with a warm glow even without a fire burning.

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Shaw Island Timber Frame Home

Set on idyllic Shaw Island, snuggled among the trees, this finely detailed timber frame home really captures the imagination. As with many Pacific Northwest contemporary homes, it masterfully blends a clean, simple, even minimalist aesthetic with warmth from the naturally finished wood throughout.

Even the home’s traditional timber-frame-style skeleton and Douglas Fir tongue-and-groove ceilings give a nod to modern times by using glue-laminated posts and beams.

As owner-builders, the homeowners chose our knowledgeable and experienced team of craftspeople to help them build their dream home. The timber frame raising and subsequent building shell construction was great fun. Nearing the end of the project, there was even more excitement in our shop as we set up the jigs to put together the solid maple stairs.

The home finished out beautifully and, with its intentional use of glass walls, provides a comfortable space that feels like you are perched on a branch in the forest.

Builder: Bellingham Bay Builders

Architect: Brad Cameron, Level Design

Photographer: C9 Photography

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Lake Whatcom House

The stunning views of the lake, city, and Puget Sound set the stage for a spectacular home that blurs the line between the indoors and outdoors. Our clients came to us with three overarching goals for their home: execute a clean, modern aesthetic; use our experience to optimize the home’s high-performance chops; and maintain discipline for the overall construction budget. In our humble opinion, these three goals – beauty, high performance, and budget restraint – are a great starting point for most home renovation projects.

In the cold, wet winter months of the Pacific Northwest,when we spend many hours indoors, we all appreciate a home that has great indoor air quality, consistent, comfortable temperatures, and does it all without high utility bills or a big carbon footprint.

During the summer months, when we’re out manically recreating, we appreciate cool, airy indoor spaces and the absence of home maintenance. Not only does this home on Lake Whatcom have it all year-round, but it’s also downright beautiful.

For more stories like this, check out our Habitat section here. 

Bellingham Four Square

The staple features of an American Four Square include a simple floor plan, elegant square shape, large windows, and solid woodwork. These classic homes also typically have two or two-and-a-half stories, a roof with at least one dormer, a symmetrical facade, and a generous front porch with columns and wide stairs. Four Squares were popular during the turn of the 20th century, namely from 1895-1930, and for good reason. Their form makes them energy efficient, easy to replicate, and affordable to construct.

This classic Bellingham Four Square, built in 1906, was once the home of a prominent lawyer. When the current homeowners approached Lisa Staton Interior Design, they wanted to update and revitalize the interior while honoring the home’s original architecture and detailing.

To give the house a more spacious and airy feeling, the design team relied on light-colored furnishings and fittings to contrast the home’s rich wood features. They also repaired the plaster and applied a new coat of white paint throughout the home. To pay homage to the home’s long history while embracing a more modern aesthetic, the team incorporated a mix of vintage pieces, modern silhouettes, and soft, neutral textiles.

The living room is both chic and comfortable for kids. A Moroccan-style rug pairs perfectly with the modern coffee table. We then added vintage safari leather chairs and paired them with a vintage sofa (still in its original upholstery!) from the client’s grandmother.

Simple sheep skin throws warm up the vintage suede safari chairs making them both cozy and kid friendly.

The dining room is a mix of antique and vintage with a dash of modernity provided by the art.

We kept it unexpectedly casual in the great hall, with custom wood, a black- and-white-stripped rug, and a bronzed center table boasting vessels and greenery.

— Lisa Staton

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Art and Play in the Fountain District

A perfect blend of high-performance detailing and traditional, craftsman design, this Broadway Park Neighborhood home fits seamlessly into its well-established surroundings. The bright, inviting color palette and warm timber frame details begin at the curb and continue into the interior.

The open floor plan and expansive walls allow ample space for the home owners’ artistic details and displayed artwork to take center stage.

As this home was designed for family living, abundant closet and cabinet storage space make it easy to stay organized. The cavity beneath the staircase also makes for a great toy storage area, or a tiny hide-out in which kids can play.

The exterior insulation, heat pump technology, and a heat recovery ventilation system keep the interior healthy and comfortable for everyone in the family.

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The Twin Peaks Passivhaus + ADU

The Twin Peaks Passivhaus + ADU, which appeared as part of this year’s Northwest Green Home Tour, started with countless hours of research on the owners’ end. Their main goal: to minimize their ecological impact in the face of climate change. From there, they assembled the dream team—[bundle] design studio and Bellingham Bay Builders—to finalize their plans and build a home that meets the rigorous standards of a Passive House.

This sustainable home uses cutting-edge technologies and strategies, such as solar energy with battery storage and a complete high density foam insulation wrap for the foundation. It features a heat recovery ventilator, air-tight building envelope, and durable surfaces that ensure amazing air quality for years to come. For the owners of Twin Peaks Passivhaus + ADU, the house’s net- positive energy performance is perhaps the most exciting feature. The energy profile of the home with its ADU will have a small offsetting effect on greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

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Skagit Bay Waterfront Home

This stunning Skagit Bay waterfront home was once a comfortable weekend cabin that offered a retreat from Seattle city life. But as its owners approached retirement, they turned to principal architect Dan Nelson and project architect Matt Radach of Designs Northwest to transform the cabin, with its low ceilings and multiple additions, into a primary residence that invites abundant natural light and maximizes the property’s incredible location.

Built atop the original foundation, the result is a classic beachfront home with modern, low-maintenance materials.

Located on the north end of Camano Island, the home’s main living spaces offer expansive northern views of the bay, especially the first level’s great room, which comprises the kitchen, dining room, and living room. The kitchen’s warm wood tones and stone textures create an earthy dimension to the great room. The master suite on the second level enjoys waterside vistas, too.

The loft-inspired family room, also on the second level, opens to the back deck through French sliding doors. Adjacent to the front entryway, a curved wall of Core-Ten steel houses the stairs while windows flood both levels with warm, southern light. Throughout, the home is bright, lofty, and a masterly blend of classic and contemporary style.


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A Hidden Sanctuary

Bellingham Couple Transforms Yard into Asia-Inspired Escape

When Terry and Jackie Lehmann moved to their Bellingham home, just north of Lake Whatcom, the backyard consisted of little but grass and a small deck. After 25 years of work, it has been transformed into an oasis, inspired by Terry’s appreciation of Chinese and Japanese culture.

“For me, it’s so tranquil,” he says. The Lehmann’s interest in travel grew with the garden—they’ve now been to China five times, each trip sparking new ideas. Terry spends the warm months perfecting this ongoing project. He builds something new each year—a patio, a gate, a structure for sitting.

He goes to all the seminars and design classes he can and is part of the Whatcom/Skagit Bonsai Society, where he has learned to nurture and trim small trees, like Japanese maple and jade. “I’ll be done when my body’s done,” he says.

A traditional Chinese tea house was constructed in the back of the garden. Built out of bamboo poles, it is the perfect place to sit and listen to the relaxing sounds of the waterfall.

Sculptures stand guard over the trees and plants. Terry has acquired them from several places over the years, including antique stores and the Seattle Home Show, which he attends every year.

A stone path meanders underneath a trellis covered with climbing hydrangea. Terry’s daughter, Heather, was married under the trellis, and he took it home after the wedding.

Terry stands in the sunlit greenhouse, where he cares for some of the plants before putting them in the garden.

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Chuckanut Crest View Home

Modern Rebuild Offers Technology and Versatility

Located on beautiful Chuckanut Crest with sweeping views of the bay, this modern home was designed with intent. The kitchen has multi-purpose features, such as the island built on a metal frame with rollers that allows it to serve either as one long island, or, if pulled apart, a separate formal dining area. The homeowners frequently host dinner parties with high-profile guests in the culinary industry, so ensuring the proper entertaining space was key. The table can also roll out onto the patio through the floor-to-ceiling lift and sliding glass doors. The homeowners ordered this glass specifically from Poland; it’s difficult to get cuts of glass this large in the U.S. At the top of the stairs, a quaint library nest makes for a cozy nook where, below the bookshelves, low, large windows allow for the perfect natural reading light.

This reading nook (above) provides cozy contrast to the home’s sharp, edgy design. The room’s low window helps provide the perfect natural reading light. Fluffy pillows, bookshelves, and a wooden side table add an extra level of warmth and comfort, just right for curling up with a good book.

It was imperative that the homeowner, a big player in the cooking industry, had a kitchen that was functional, accommodating, and state-of-the-art. The table, on rollers, can be joined with the island or separated for more formal dining. The patio overlooks the water, where the table can be set for gorgeous views.

Sleek edges and a chiseled look highlight the home’s exterior, with wood and metal features combining to produce a modern-industrial aesthetic. The home, a new build, is surrounded by landscaping carefully selected and placed, with room to grow.

Architect | Ryan Stephenson, Stephenson Design Collective
Builder | Jerry Richardson, Indigo Designs Northwest
Photographer | Radley Muller

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Build Cabinets, Throw Axes

Northwest Woodslayer

Three years ago, Mathew Blubaugh was carving wood in his garage with hand tools. Now, he’s the owner of one of Bellingham’s premier woodworking businesses.

Northwest Woodslayer specializes in custom cabinetry mainly for kitchens and bathrooms. Woodslayer has its own designer and its staff is equipped to install any project. The workshop features state-of-the-art machinery and tools that help get projects done typically within a couple of weeks.

A third-generation woodworker, Blubaugh says he had always worked for someone until he decided to quit and start his own business.

“Going back to my garage was a huge step back for me,” Blubaugh says.

He says having his own workshop with high-quality equipment was his five-year goal and he’s ahead of schedule thanks to hard work. Woodslayer has five employees and is booked six months in advance, says Blubaugh.

Blubaugh says they’ve recently worked on kitchens that are valued at $15,000 and $60,000. Typically, he’ll have a site meeting, then sit down with clients and review design plans several times before anything goes to production.

“It’s a little bit more involved than just cutting a bunch of stuff out,” Blubaugh says.

While Woodslayer doesn’t stray far from the cabinetry realm, it will do projects such as custom tap handles for clients that have already done work with the business, Blubaugh says. Woodslayer also helps local businesses that don’t have the same equipment in their workshops.

“A lot of the bigger contractors in town know our work,” Blubaugh says. “There are probably six or seven small cabinet shops in this area that bring us stuff to cut or edgeband.”

Most of Woodslayer’s work is done on three machines: a table saw, an edgebander, and a powerful computer numerical control machine, or CNC for short.

The table saw is a Martin T60C that cost Woodslayer $40,000. Blubaugh calls it the “Lamborghini of table saws.”

However, he says a lot of Woodslayer’s work is done on the CNC. It can be programmed to make precise cuts on flatwork that might be difficult to make manually. Their in-house CNC, the C.R. Onsrud M-series, costs about $150,000.

The CNC has mostly eliminated the table saw’s effectiveness because it’s as simple as plugging in the specifics of the cut into the program, placing the wood slab on the vacuum-powered surface so that it can’t move, and then pressing start.

“It’s fun having a robot employee,” Blubaugh says.

From there, the wood is streamlined to the edgebander, a Holz-Her Uno that cost $40,000, where the edges get sealed off and prepped for building.

Oh, and did we mention the workshop has an axethrowing station? Blubaugh says employees use it as a stress reliever and clients are welcome to give it a whirl.

I gave it a try and on my second toss saw an axe slam into the wooden target and instantly felt less stressed.

If you need custom cabinet work done, we highly recommend Northwest Woodslayer. And make it a point to throw at least one axe.

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3965 Hammer Dr., Bellingham
360.734.0643 |

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Kitchens + Spaces


Our spaces are where we live. Our rooms, from living rooms to bedrooms to bathrooms to closets, reflect our personalities. In many cases, they reflect the Pacific Northwest’s best qualities—its natural beauty and a culture of innovation and creativity. In a place where sunshine is at a premium, we covet whatever natural light the daytime gives us. The spaces here reflect that with striking views, high ceilings, and open floor plans. Bringing the outside in, via windows and skylights, is a common theme. That’s understandable. With all the beauty that surrounds us, why wouldn’t we? Take a look at these spaces we’ve selected for the style, originality, and inspiration they give us. – Meri-Jo Borzilleri


This living room’s ceiling slopes up to the house’s view side, where a 14-foot-high window wall of glass frames a spectacular sight—Saratoga Passage and Whidbey Island.

Photo: Steve Brousseau


A “view-through” fireplace provides a window—and equal heat—to the home office on the opposite side.

Photo: Benjamin Benschneider


This home near Yakima was inspired by the farmhouse-chic trend. With a ruffle bedspread and the rustic-wood accent wall, this is the perfect space to get a full night’s sleep.

Photo: Nic Aston


Part of an addition to an older Bellingham home, this room has extra height, classic windows, and French doors.

Photo: C9 Photography & Design


Large, multiple windows flood this master bedroom with natural light and a lake view. Pull the floor-to-ceiling curtain shut for shade and privacy.

Photo: Benjamin Benschneider


Separated from the living area only by the stone fireplace, this sleeping area is highlighted by custom-built night tables and a sliding barn door.

Photo: Lucas Henning


Tile plank flooring and custom shower barn door bring some “rustic” to this master bath. Beautiful tub and chandelier make it dreamy.

Photo: Jeff Krewson

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A hand-polished cast iron tub and marble tile floor with mosaic inset gives this bathroom an elegant appeal.

Photo: C9 Photography & Design


This sleek lakeside bathroom was designed to showcase the incredible view. With a standalone tub and seating facing the lake, this room is the perfect relaxation retreat.

Photo: Benjamin Benschneider


A lake house that’s home to four kids needs a large laundry room. This one has outdoor access, meaning wet clothes can be dropped right into the washer.

Photo: C9 Photography & Design


Mirrors, chandelier lighting, and natural wood provide a rich, light touch to this custom walk-in closet.

Photo: Benjamin Benschneider


Wood from a large cedar tree with sentimental value to homeowners was used to create a stunning bathroom countertop.

Photo: Kenny Nichol


Small space, big impact. This striking accent wall of marble cutout tile flows seamlessly into the shower. Pendant lighting adds glamor.

Photo: Jeff Krewson


A level-entry shower has aging-in-place features like a fold-down seat and hidden niche for toiletries or a shaving shelf.

Photo: Jim W. Smith

Continue reading our Kitchens + Spaces feature here.