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804 Sq. Ft. Contemporary Cabin (Plans Available!)
Perch is located on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington.
First built in 2011, Perch was originally designed as a year-round family
getaway and a vacation rental during the busy island summer season. Tucked
into a steep rocky hillside, it overlooks East Sound.
The goal was to design an indoor/outdoor great room that provides areas for
both gathering and solo moments. Banks of 8’ tall sliders open the living
areas to decks and a window nook serves as a getaway spot or an overnight
guest bed. Two private bedrooms bookend a full bath and laundry area.
Building on an island is challenging with high labor costs, added outlay
for ferry delivery of materials and costly sitework. Leonard went through
three designs and finally a process of value-driven design decisions to
simplify yet keep a cozy comfortable space. By doing so, she met her
$200,000 build budget and spent an additional $30,000 to excavate and pave
the steep driveway. That may sound like a lot for an 800sf home, but on
this island, it is not unusual. The cost could be greatly reduced if built
on the mainland.
Some of those value-driven design decisions for this stick built home
- Passive solar – large expanse of glass faces south, minimal windows face north
- Building Foundation: 28′ square footprint – efficient shape with minimal corners
- Shed roof: Simplest roof shape. Overhangs create shelter and protective eaves. Insulated joist system with marine plywood ceiling/soffits. Vaulted ceiling throughout rises 8′ to 12′.
- *Minimize interior walls and doors: *Use of wardrobes in bedrooms opens
space & saves cost to build closets. Laundry faces into the small hall.
*Kitchen & bath:* Ikea cabinets and “Paperstone” countertops. Designed with
straight runs – eliminates those expensive corners and allows the local
finish contractor to install instead of importing specialty contractors to
the island. Bath tile installed by the owner.
- *Low Maintenance:* Prefinished Hardie panel products and standing-seam
metal roof. Cork flooring. Marmoleum bath flooring. Raw cedar decks with
- *Heating*: Low profile convection wall units for flexibility to heat only
those areas needed. Living area has a reversible ceiling fan for summer and
winter. Through use of overhangs and placement of windows and doors,
cooling summer breezes move through home, eliminating need for mechanical
cooling. (Orcas also has lower summer temps & humidity than most US
Leonard’s success with the home and joy in living in 800 sf, led her to
start an online site (ilovesmallhomes.com) offering small home plans. Perch
is the first plan with several others currently on the boards. She is
currently researching capabilities of area prefab companies to enable a
plan purchaser to have an option to have it built and delivered as a
You can rent Perch on Airbnb and test drive this home plan!
- Eastsound, WA
- On Orca Island
- Near Rosario Resort and Moran State Park
- 2 bedrooms
- 1 bathroom
- 800 sq. ft.
Perched over Cascade Bay at Rosario, our contemporary light-filled cabin is a dream retreat that will leave you finding excuses to stay. Great for couples, small families, getaways or writers on the lam. Wonderful location for island activities and perfect for nesting.3
Our big thanks to Merrill Leonard for sharing!
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