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Vacation Homes

Explore A Perfect Combination Of Buildings And Wilderness At San Juan Island Sanctuary

Image Source: fogcatcher / Shutterstock

Situated along the rugged coastlines of San Juan Island in a display of architectural creativity, this vast 15-acre coastal refuge at 723 Carefree Way appears to challenge both traditions and its own simple street name. Referred to as the San Juan Island Sanctuary, the property is a genuine masterpiece – a living masterpiece meticulously designed to harmonize with its stunning natural surroundings. Looking out over the weathered cliffs towards the churning waters of Haro Strait, the home’s artistic lines blend so seamlessly with the scenery that distinguishing where the man-made structure ends and nature begins becomes a perplexing puzzle.

Created for the esteemed Stern family of resort visionaries in the ’90s, the San Juan Island Sanctuary pays homage to its remarkable Pacific Northwest location. The sprawling 10,000-square-foot primary dwelling seems to float weightlessly above the rocky cliffs on a foundation of sturdy concrete pilings rooted into the bedrock. This breathtaking, single-level architectural plan by acclaimed mountain designer David Finholm enables the expansive interiors to levitate over the primal stone formations below in a gravity-defying spectacle.

Every aspect was carefully considered in the brilliant fusion of the human-made and natural surroundings. An extensive suspended terrace stretches towards the deep-blue waters like an observation deck, providing a front-row seat for observing the yearly procession of orcas, whales, and marine life traversing through Haro Strait’s turbulent waters. Windows of retractable glass blur the lines between indoors and outdoors, while architectural features like pristine fir beams and wide-plank Burmese teak floors salvaged from historic structures imbue the areas with a welcoming and enduring feel.

Sustainable methods guided the property’s development in admiration of its untouched setting. The estate is fully powered by electricity and ventilated with fresh ocean breezes. Auxiliary buildings and pavilions were strategically positioned to minimize impact, linked by pathways clad in naturally aged copper decking that will develop a lovely patina over time. Even the supporting structures were conceived to blend seamlessly, with retaining walls mimicking the layered rock formations.

Despite drawing inspiration from rugged elements, the interior spaces provide a calming serenity and retreat. The bright living areas soak in healing natural light through soaring windows that seamlessly extend the organic color palette outward into the environment. A detached art studio with a small kitchen offers a peaceful spot to welcome the first light of dawn through meditation or creative endeavors.

Nestled on the island’s desirable western coast near the charming community of Friday Harbor, the 15-acre estate’s location is as appealing as its architectural ancestry. Its secluded, gated position soothes the soul through immersion in wind, waves, and natural rhythms. Yet this ecological haven remains conveniently reachable from Seattle and Vancouver for those seeking a quick getaway from urban life.

For aficionados seeking the fullest connection between human creativity and the profound beauty of nature, the San Juan Island Sanctuary embodies the tangible dream. Opportunities to possess such exceptional properties are perpetually limited—and the opportunity to own this artistic refuge is even more rare.

Image Source: fogcatcher / Shutterstock

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