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August 14, 2014
When two retired teachers decided to build a new home, they knew they wanted an energy-efficient, no-stress Passive House design that would support aging in place. The resulting 1,800-square-foot house is the first Certified Passive House on the San Juan Islands in Washington, and it’s only the fourth in the state. The home, designed by Olympia-based firm The Artisans Group, has a circular floor plan that centers around a prefabricated pod that contains the kitchen and two bathrooms. In order to achieve its Passive status, the residence features an air-sealed exterior shell that provides insulation, efficient windows and doors, and a heat recovery ventilator to keep it warm in the winter. In the summer, careful window placement and shades ensure the space won't overheat.
Shaw Island Prefab Passive House exterior.

The kitchen, two bathroom spaces, and a good portion of the mechanics were prefabricated and brought onto the property by a crane. The design turned into one that the homeowners loved for its peaceful feeling. “The design was a really good practice in restraint,” says Tessa Smith, a certified Passive House Consultant who co-owns the Artisans Group. “It is quite difficult to do things that look simple. We wanted the place to avoid overstimulation.”

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Shaw Island Prefab Passive House kitchen.

The kitchen boasts maple wood, modern Radianz quartz countertops, along with a Pental tile backsplash and Moda Vetro Glass Stone tile. “The homeowners really wanted the space to glow and one of the best ways to do that is to keep the finishes light,” Smith said. Custom cabinets throughout the house were designed by the Artisans Group and built by Beech Tree Woodworks.

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Shaw Island Prefab Passive House bedroom with sliding door.

The bedroom offers the couple a relaxing place to unwind. “The headboard is a free-floating circular element, just like the center of the house,” Smith says. The home’s circular floor plan also means “not having any dark corners,” explains Smith.

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Shaw Island Prefab Passive House workout area.

The exercise space contains ample storage and a convenient door for days when the couple wants to practice yoga outdoors. The blue Frank Gehry Left Twist Cube adds a pop of color to the space.

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Shaw Island Prefab Passive House office with red chair.

The home office features Ikea’s red Patrik chair and an original sculpture from artist Don Freas.

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Shaw Island Prefab Passive House garbage and recycling area.

Unsightly garbage is hidden behind cabinets. An Eames bird and a sculpture of glass and metal by artist Pino Cherchi add visual interest.

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Shaw Island Prefab Passive House exterior.

The kitchen, two bathroom spaces, and a good portion of the mechanics were prefabricated and brought onto the property by a crane. The design turned into one that the homeowners loved for its peaceful feeling. “The design was a really good practice in restraint,” says Tessa Smith, a certified Passive House Consultant who co-owns the Artisans Group. “It is quite difficult to do things that look simple. We wanted the place to avoid overstimulation.”

Architect 

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