Guemes Island is known to locals as the most relaxed of all the San Juan Islands. Of course, it’s also one of the least populated, with only 600 year-round residents (on eight square miles), so the bar for people-related stress is pretty low. Regardless, Guemes is an easy-going place. They like to say, “If we don’t have it, we’ll explain how you can get along without it.”
The island, as one of the closest in Puget Sound to mainland Washington, saw its fair share of logging before tourism took over as the leading industry. On the northern tip of Guemes is Clark Point and one particular piece of property where logs were felled and never removed.
The log-strewn land represented an opportunity for the architects involved to create a complete space, more than just design the buildings that would eventually be there. The team from Bosworth Hoedemaker riffed off the owner’s memories of the small cabins that dot the mountains of the East, and the Compound was borne.
The result is the ultimate weekend getaway for guests: a social environment that doesn’t scrimp on privacy. Several well-proportioned “cabins” open their breezy main rooms and porches to the clearing, and back into their own secluded woods. The interiors of the cabins are bright, lighthouse white with polished wood trim and clerestory windows. They seem to have taken more than a few cues from the sailing culture of the San Juans in their design, with touches that add elegance to small spaces and warmth to the bigger expanses.
As inviting as the Compound is, don’t expect to sail directly to it, old-school style. There’s an unexplained magnetic disturbance surrounding Guemes Island that throws compasses off by nearly 14 degrees. The skew is identified on most nautical charts, but it’s still wise to float that sunset cruise in long before dark.
Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.
Photos courtesy Alex Hayden