When Sonya and David Liu bought an open, south-facing property (just shy of 1.5 acres) in Point Roberts with a water view and a scattering of mature maple trees, they were clear about one requirement for their future house: It would need to capture every scrap of daylight, even in winter. “Light all day long as much as possible really helps the mind and body feel good,” says Sonya. The couple had previously lived in a rental in the woods and were ready to emerge from the gloom.
They also wanted their home, built in 2010, to fit into the rural community of Point Roberts, population 1,314, where the architecture tends to be agrarian and fairly humble. Located on the peninsula south of Vancouver, British Columbia, Point Roberts falls below the 49th parallel and is an anomaly: part of Washington state, though not connected to it geographically. Living only 40 minutes from Vancouver, where David is an interventional radiologist specializing in cancer therapies, the family can enjoy the rural lifestyle—including horseback riding—while remaining within commuting distance.
Interiors designed by Rhodes Architecture + Light create a bright, sophisticated interior featuring wide plank flooring, exposed wooden beams, and well-insulated window-walls to allow an abundunce of natural daylight to combat seasonal depression during the fall-winter seasons
Seattle architect Tim Rhodes, of Rhodes Architecture + Light, responded to their needs with a long, low design for the 5,253-square-foot house, which features an L-shaped plan he describes as “a series of wings, expanding laterally into the land,” with major spaces situated on an east-west axis, and secondary spaces—a laundry room, mud room and additional storage space—forming a supporting wing. Light pours in through large glass-windowed walls, which also provide David, Sonya, and their 5-year-old twin daughters with views of the Strait of Georgia and the Gulf Islands from most rooms.
A form of metal solar shading built into the home structure, called a brise-soleil, was designed for this latitude, to protect the interior from too much direct sun in summer, while allowing winter sun to warm indoor spaces. Deep trellis overhangs allow the family to keep doors and windows open even in the rain. “The house feels like it’s part of the outdoors, and allows the outdoors to come in,” says Rhodes. Basic forms (think kids’ building blocks) on the upper story reflect simple agrarian themes, a nod to Point Roberts and to the American farmhouse style of Rhodes’ Kansas City childhood.
While David says, “There’s still a lot to learn about how materials in our homes could be affecting our longevity,” he and Sonya wanted to create a salubrious environment for their family. This included using healthy home finishes in the interior, which was also designed by Rhodes Architecture + Light with abundant client input. Specifications included natural and low-VOC materials, such as prefinished reclaimed oiled oak flooring, porcelain tiles, no-VOC cabinet box construction, natural counters of quartzite and Caesarstone, and water-based paint finishes.
The Lius’ farmhouse kitchen features open cabinetry and modern appliances combining rustic and contemporary elements
The wine room on the ground floor
A master-bedroom bathtub with a view
“We tried to choose materials that were very natural but still clean and modern,” says Sonya.
The house is heated with an in-floor radiant heating system, fans and fresh air ports, which eliminate areas of differential temperature; reduce air circulation and the resulting distribution of dust, allergens and pollen in the house; and significantly reduce the use of energy to heat the house.
It’s a bright, clean space for an active family—but with beguiling views to the outside, no one stays indoors for very long.
A peaceful scene in one of the home’s five bedrooms, painted in healthy water-based paint
Rhodes Architecture and Light
Planning, architecture, interiors and landscape architecture
Tim James Rhodes, R.A., AIA, lead architect; Mark Vaughan, associate architect; 206.933.1257
Swenson Say Fagét
Ryan Reichman, lead structural engineer; 206.443.6212
LightWire Lighting Design
Susan MT Rhodes, lighting designer; 206.292.8177
Joey deBoer, general contractor; 360.815.6279