Oftentimes the juxtaposition between two opposites can create a result so masterful that the differences seem to fade. For this 3,395-squarefoot, 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath new home construction project in Bellingham, the outdoors was brought in and man befriended nature, marrying opposition and creating a design that was not only aesthetically remarkable but a design that told a story. 

Situated on nearly an acre of land at the top of Yew Street, this design intentionally highlights the homeowner’s love for the Pacific Northwest. Natural elements of rock, metal, and wood are all prevalent influences, creating a space that is connected to its surroundings. The property itself was originally home to a variety of towering old growth trees, the majority of which were succumbing to disease and decay. Out of necessity, they were removed prior to groundbreaking.

Photo by Dustin Crum

For homeowners Karl and Katherine Larsen, long-time Whatcom County residents and business owners, the decision to incorporate these timbers into the design—regardless of their damage—seemed like a natural choice.

 “For safety reasons, we knew the trees had to be removed,” notes Karl. “But we were struggling with the idea of cutting down 200-year-old trees and not finding a way to repurpose them somehow.”

Once the trees had fallen, it was a matter of finding the right person to mill the logs: an expert in old growth timbers who would understand and respect the intricacies of the grain and how to maximize each cut. 

Photo by Dustin Crum

Commissioned for the job was Tony Hawes, owner of Skagit Valley Slabhaus in Mount Vernon, seasoned sawyer and expert in old growth lumber. 

The couple had four mature Douglas fir trees on the property that were removed. In addition, they had salvaged equally aged Northwest maple and red cedar logs from a former neighbor on Samish Island who had dropped the trees and was going to use the logs as firewood.

“There’s something incredibly powerful about recycling and breathing new life into old growth wood,” adds Hawes. “If my purpose is nothing else, it is to highlight the beauty of old growth species and create a bridge through my work so that multiple generations can experience these trees before they don’t exist anymore. I like to call what I do tree-cycling; giving new purpose in its simplest form to old growth trees that are considered unusable in a manner that is efficient and elegant.”

Photo by Dustin Crum

The resulting design speaks for itself. The salvaged maple was milled in a tongue and groove fashion and incorporated as flooring throughout the home, while the cedar trees were milled for traditional exterior siding accents. Utilizing each of the four fir trees removed from the property, the design boasts solid fir structural posts and exposed beams throughout the floorplan. The extraordinary beams, each nearly 20 feet in length, are pronounced in a manner that is rustic yet modern, and between each beam are knotty pine planks that offer a continuation of nature from floor to ceiling. The design invites the outdoors in and lends a nod and a bit of homage to the land on which it resides.

Additional use of the centuries-old timbers can be found throughout the home design. The living room fireplace, built using rock transported down from Whistler, Canada, features a live edge mantle made from the maple. Another rough cut and planed slab of maple awaits its future life as a dining room table in the couple’s detached shop. Both items were milled by Hawes at the time of construction.

Photo by Dustin Crum

“The structural superiority and durability of old growth timbers is ideal for building projects,” concludes Hawes. “The Larsens had a vision for what they wanted their home to represent. It was a feeling more than an aesthetic. Yes, the trees and how they elevate the design are unmatched, but the vision the Larsens had and connection and respect for nature is what made this project unforgettable to me.” Every day, the home tells its story to anyone willing to listen.

Design: Paul Taylor Homes and Grand Myers Design Inc.

 Initial Millwork: Tony Hawes, Skagit Valley Slabhaus 15573 Beaver Marsh Rd., Ste. B, Mount Vernon, 360.789.1263, skagitslabs.com