Skip to Content
photo of City Cabin
Photo: Aaron Leitz

City Cabin

Seattle, Washington

City Cabin

Seattle, Washington

  • Design Principal

    Jim Olson

Located in one of Seattle’s most established residential areas, City Cabin’s design answers the client’s desire for a private urban retreat that would connect her to nature. A staggered footprint on the lot allows for dense landscaping, and extensive glazing throughout the house increases solar gains and maximizes garden views. With the goal of net-zero energy use, the home’s design incorporates key sustainability features, and the incorporation of thick greenery onto the site transforms an ordinary urban infill lot into a private refuge.

The 2,400-square-foot home is organized around a central gathering space with two wings extending from it: one with the master suite and the other containing the guest room and storage areas. The heart of the home in plan as well as function, the central area, which consists of an open kitchen and living space, is a single volume defined by a 16-foot-high ceiling and full-height window walls.

The interior palette draws inspiration from the client’s extensive Native American art collection with custom tinted red concrete floors and natural, unstained plywood walls and ceilings. Reclaimed fir siding and galvanized steel roofing continue the emphasis on sustainability and economy. The house incorporates several green strategies such as a green roof, photovoltaic panels and an air-to-water heat pump, reflecting the client’s longstanding engagement with environmental conservation.

The client is an avid conservationist dedicated to preserving existing forests. Here, she is creating a tiny new forest in the heart of the city. Jim Olson, FAIA




“City Cabin.” World-Architects, 13 May 2019. Web.

Monie, Karine. “Refugio Wabi-sabi.” Architectural Digest Mexico, Apr. 2020, 120-125. Print.


Dunham, Sandy Deneau. “‘City Cabin’ An urban retreat inspired by a special connection.” Austin American-Statesman. 17 Dec. 2017, G4. Print.

Dunham, Sandy Deneau. “The House That Friends Built.” Pacific NW Magazine, The Seattle Times, 3 Dec. 2017, 2, J20, J22, J24. Print.

Dunham, Sandy Deneau. “This urban retreat was inspired by a special place, and a special connection.” The Seattle Times. 1 Dec. 2017. Web.

Jenkins, Hannah. The American House: 100 Contemporary Homes. Victoria: The Images Publishing Group, 2017, 92-95. Book.