October 3, 1997 in Features

No Rules, Just Right Inspiring Projects Like This Unconventional West Side Home Sought For Inland Northwest Home Awards

By The Spokesman-Review
 

1997 Inland NW Home Awards

Victoria Holland broke almost every rule designing her dream house.

The home has no interior walls - just one, big 26-by-32-foot light-filled space, with a bedroom loft suspended over the sunken living room.

There’s no garage, and no sidewalk leading to the porch. Holland mows a path across the lawn for guests and lets the rest of the grass grow tall. The front step is a 5,000-pound chunk of granite.

Inside, another rock rests Zen-like on the hardwood floor. The kitchen countertops are concrete, the baseboards green slate.

Oh, one other thing: the bathroom is in a separate building a short walk beyond the back door.

Holland should have known better. After all, the 41-year-old Bellevue resident has been building houses since she was 16, and dealing with loan officers since launching her own construction company in 1980.

But despite her business acumen, years of building experience and a disarmingly sweet smile, at heart Holland is a subversive.

“I didn’t even try to get a (construction) loan,” she says. “Having worked with bankers on other jobs, I knew they’d have to approve my plan, and I didn’t want to be influenced by society.”

Nestled in a densely forested area just two miles from upscale Bellevue Square shopping mall, Holland’s cottage in the woods was featured in the summer issue of Fine Homebuilding magazine. Since then, more than 50 readers have tracked her down to seek advice, request copies of her plans, or simply congratulate Holland for being bold enough to build something distinctive.

Holland’s design is unique, but her desire to improve upon the typical contemporary home is not. To reward those with similar desire and recognize excellence in residential design, The Spokesman-Review sponsors the Inland Northwest Home Awards.

Any project completed since Aug. 1, 1995 - whether new construction, remodeling or historic restoration - is eligible.

Entries will be judged by a panel of five jurors: Washington State University architect David Wang, Spokane Art School director Sue Ellen Heflin, Cheney Cowles Museum history curator Marsha Rooney, landscape architect Dave Nelson, and Walt Carlson, head of North Idaho College’s Division of Applied Technology, Trade and Industry.

Jurors will consider how well the designs address the owners’ specific needs, site conditions and, in the case of restoration projects, historic integrity. Winners will be chosen in several categories, and the best projects will be featured in The Spokesman-Review starting in mid-November.

(The winner of our 1995 Inland Northwest Home Awards - a hillside retreat near Hope, Idaho, designed by Seattle architect Charles Anderson for his parents, Ted and Judy Anderson - recently won top honors in Sunset magazine’s 1997-98 Western Home Awards.)

The Inland Northwest Home Awards contest is only open to homes within the newspaper’s circulation area. But Holland’s Bellevue residence is a wonderful example of doing so many things “wrong,” yet ending up with a space that feels right.

Her vision began taking shape during a trip to Vancouver Island, where she visited a replica of a Northwest Coastal Indian longhouse. “I knew instantly that was (the overall look) I wanted.”

Then she added her own twist - a 5-foot-wide skylight cascading from the ridge to the eaves, dividing the roof in half and welcoming sunlight into the home.

To save for her unconventional house, Holland lived for 10 years in a 14-by-16-foot cabin on the wooded acre and a half she bought from her parents. And it was from this property that she cut five large Douglas firs that became the peeled-log posts and beams of her home.

Constructing her new house on the property took Holland three years, working when she could afford the time and materials. The structure began as a simple, barn-size room. Once she framed in the sleeping loft, though, Holland was disappointed to discover how much light the bedroom floor blocked.

Her solution: Put a glass-block floor in the sleeping loft, so light from the skylight could pass through to the sunken living room below.

The living room floor itself has a special feature, too. Underneath is a radiantly heated “beach” of pea gravel. In winter, Holland can lift the floor like a giant trap door and sit in front of her fireplace with her bare toes buried in warm gravel.

On summer days, she raises a glass-paned garage door on the north wall, and opens the room up to the cedars and sword ferns outside.

Her Japanese-style bathhouse includes a shower, tub, sauna, toilet and sink. “I like the short walk outside, and the resulting sense of ritual,” she says.

Detached bathhouses, pea-gravel beaches and glass-floored sleeping lofts aren’t for everyone. But neither are cookie-cutter “spec” houses that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Holland says.

“As long as people look at magazines and home shows that hold up glorified tract houses as what you get when you’ve ‘made it,’ we’re not going to move beyond the norm,” she says.

Holland insists being different has more to do with determination than money. “If you want to do something that’s a little different or odd, people - even your friends - will say, ‘Really?’ You have to block that out and go with your instincts.

“Ask yourself what makes you feel most happy,” she recommends. “If it’s hiking, gardening, a particular color, a texture, whatever - try to incorporate that into the place where you spend a lot of your life.”

And the reward?

“You live in a house that inspires you and says something about you. It reminds you that you’re not like everyone else.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 3 Color Photos

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story:

HERE’S HOW TO SUBMIT A HOME AWARDS ENTRY

The Spokesman-Review invites nominations for the 1997 Inland Northwest Home Awards. The program recognizes and encourages outstanding local residential projects.

Categories

1. New homes 1,800 square feet (heated space) or smaller.

2. New homes larger than 1,800 square feet.

3. Remodel projects involving structural changes, modernizations or additions.

4. Restoration to preserve historic architecture.

Eligibility

Any residential project within The Spokesman-Review’s Eastern Washigton-North Idaho circulation area completed after Aug. 1, 1995. Entries may be submitted by an owner, designer or builder, with the others’ consent.

Format

Each entry should be submitted in a standard-size folder or binder and include:

A cover page listing the owner, builder and designer’s names, addresses and telephone numbers. Also indicate which category you are entering.

Next, a one-page, typed statement of the project goal and site demands and how they were satisfied. Include completion date.

At least three interior and three exterior photographs (no slides). For renovations and remodels, “before” views are helpful.

A basic floor plan showing rooms, windows, doors and compass orientation.

Information about energy features, if other than code.

Entry fee

Each entry must be accompanied by a check for $10 (payable to The Spokesman-Review) to help cover program costs.

Deadline

All entries must be received by 5 p.m., Oct 31. Mail them to: Features Department Home Awards, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210, or hand-deliver them to the first-floor security desk in the newspaper’s downtown Spokane building at 999 W. Riverside.

Judging

A panel of five distinguished design professionals will select award winners. Categories may have multiple winners.

To ensure fairness, entrants’ names will be kept confidential until after judging is completed.

Awards

Each first-place winner will receive an engraved plaque. Runners-up will receive framed certificates. Also, winning projects will be featured in The Spokesman-Review beginning Nov. 14.

If you want your entry returned, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or indicate that you will pick up your entry at The Spokesman-Review’s office after Nov. 14.

For more information, contact Michael Guilfoil at (509) 459-5491, or via e-mail at mikegu@spokesman.com

This sidebar appeared with the story: HERE’S HOW TO SUBMIT A HOME AWARDS ENTRY The Spokesman-Review invites nominations for the 1997 Inland Northwest Home Awards. The program recognizes and encourages outstanding local residential projects.

Categories 1. New homes 1,800 square feet (heated space) or smaller. 2. New homes larger than 1,800 square feet. 3. Remodel projects involving structural changes, modernizations or additions. 4. Restoration to preserve historic architecture.

Eligibility Any residential project within The Spokesman-Review’s Eastern Washigton-North Idaho circulation area completed after Aug. 1, 1995. Entries may be submitted by an owner, designer or builder, with the others’ consent.

Format Each entry should be submitted in a standard-size folder or binder and include: A cover page listing the owner, builder and designer’s names, addresses and telephone numbers. Also indicate which category you are entering. Next, a one-page, typed statement of the project goal and site demands and how they were satisfied. Include completion date. At least three interior and three exterior photographs (no slides). For renovations and remodels, “before” views are helpful. A basic floor plan showing rooms, windows, doors and compass orientation. Information about energy features, if other than code.

Entry fee Each entry must be accompanied by a check for $10 (payable to The Spokesman-Review) to help cover program costs.

Deadline All entries must be received by 5 p.m., Oct 31. Mail them to: Features Department Home Awards, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210, or hand-deliver them to the first-floor security desk in the newspaper’s downtown Spokane building at 999 W. Riverside.

Judging A panel of five distinguished design professionals will select award winners. Categories may have multiple winners. To ensure fairness, entrants’ names will be kept confidential until after judging is completed.

Awards Each first-place winner will receive an engraved plaque. Runners-up will receive framed certificates. Also, winning projects will be featured in The Spokesman-Review beginning Nov. 14. If you want your entry returned, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or indicate that you will pick up your entry at The Spokesman-Review’s office after Nov. 14.

For more information, contact Michael Guilfoil at (509) 459-5491, or via e-mail at mikegu@spokesman.com


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