The seastars scattered over the beach clinched it—Harry and Claudia Bray knew this bit of land on Washington’s Key Peninsula was for them. “Walking up the forested driveway with the sun coming through the trees, and seeing the water and the mountains … it was just what we were looking for,” says Claudia.
What they weren’t looking for but got anyway was a cramped red cabin with no insulation and a slight tilt. But the family—including daughter Alexandra, now 21, and son Jonathan, now 18—toughed it out for three years of rugged vacations. (The family’s permanent home is in Portland.) “It was charming and sweet,” Harry says. “But it was hot in the summer, and freezing and damp in the winter.”
With a new structure in mind, the couple—both physicians—ed Seattle-based architecture firm MW Works to translate the wide-open features of homes in their native South Africa into a modern, low-profile retreat. “I wanted an indoor-outdoorness that makes the best of the Northwest climate,” Harry says, “where it’s so easy to be inside, yet almost feel outside, even on the rainiest day.”