Vashon Island’s Tiniest House Is Big in Spirit

By Kelly Skahan


November 26, 2016

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

The tiny, octagonal sanctuary perched in the woods behind the Larson family’s Vashon Island home serves a dual purpose: It’s part meditation pavilion for the family and part de facto memorial site for its previous owner. Before the Larsons moved into the home in 2013, the property belonged to celebrated Seattle inventor Martin King. The approximately 200-square-foot structure is one of a handful of architectural projects dreamed up by the tech entrepreneur before his death in 2010, developed on a napkin over a glass of wine with the project’s architects, from the Seattle firm Bosworth Hoedemaker.

“[King] wanted to create a vibrant space for his business,” says architect Tori Masterson. “Architecture was something he was incredibly passionate about, and he had so many projects he wanted to realize that we weren’t able to build for him before his death.” King spent hours discussing ambitious design plans with the firm’s architects, and the pavilion was one of the only ones to begin construction before he passed away. “Having this family own the property and use the pavilion, and the fact that they’ve given it such a vibrant life, is really meaningful to our office,” says Masterson.

Image By: Alex Crook
A small staircase leads to the cedar shingle clad, approximately 200-square-foot sanctuary originally created for the late Seattle inventor, Martin King. Awning-style transom windows open out on the sides of the structure.

Featuring cedar shingles, white oak flooring and awning-style transom windows crafted by San Juan Island–based Window Craft (all of which were carried uphill by hand to the site), the pavilion sits on a small 8-by-8-foot foundation. The structure is unexpected yet completely at home nestled behind the Larson family’s house. “It’s a different space for each of us,” says owner Brenna Larson, who explains that her family of four uses the structure for everything from an office space to an entertainment area where the adults enjoy cocktails with friends after the kids are in bed. Even the couple’s 4-year-old sees the pavilion as her own personal play space. “I often see her climbing the stairs with a pile of books in her arms,” Larson says. “It’s quiet out there, it’s peaceful. It’s the kind of space that inspires creativity and has become a place where we all can brainstorm and dream.”

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