Magazine article Sunset

Reunion Ranch

Magazine article Sunset

Reunion Ranch

Article excerpt

A getaway as a kind of camp-ideas for living in touch with nature

When former New Yorkers Peter and Betsy came back from a vacation, they had a great idea for a Northwest retreat: Make it part camp, part ranch. "They had this picture of a gathering place where people could come together as a group to sit, relax, and cook," says architect Joe Greene. "It reminded me of the classic cookhouse you'd find on a working ranch."

That image-paired with Peter and Betsy's fond memories of the summer camp their children attended on Washington's San Juan Islands-inspired Joe and wife Nancy, a designer, to create a compound for Peter and Betsy on property in the San Juans. To describe it in ranch terms, a reconstructed barn is the bunkhouse, an industrial shed serves as a cookhouse for eating and gathering, and a nearby sauna acts as a bathhouse and anchors a mini-campground for visiting family and friends. This arrangement makes it possible for the family to enjoy privacy, togetherness, and a connection to the outdoors.

Bunkhouse in a barn

Another factor in the project's development was an old barn Peter and Betsy had purchased-in pieces-and shipped to the site. The Greenes reconfigured it as sleeping quarters. The large, open space where farm machinery and animals were once kept is now a gathering-sleeping area that can open to the surrounding fir trees through barn doors on three walls, turning the room into a porch. The family uses it year-round, even in winter. "We sometimes open the doors and sleep out there and listen to the rain on the metal roof," says Peter.

Small, more private sleeping quarters are just off the larger communal room. In the parents' suite, the architects made sure there was ample reading and relaxing space. A large window seat provides a great place to curl up with a book. Upstairs in the sleeping loft, retractable "headboard" panels lift from behind the bed for reading and lower during the day to preserve the view from the stairs. …

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