Photos by Shaun Cammack

Cliff Family Robinson

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

by Molly Raskin

Architect Matthew Collins took into consideration the whole family while designing a 3,000-square-foot cabin on Coeur D’Alene Lake in Black Rock Bay, Idaho. An older couple approached Collins and his team at Uptic Sudios with the vision of retiring on a lake, but they still wanted to have plenty of space for their tightknit family. So Collins spent five years designing the specialized space for a family of five, taking into consideration each person’s needs. Here, he discusses the challenges in building on a cliff, bringing his clients’ dreams to life, and keeping it all in the family.

What did you envision for the home’s design?
It was our goal to create a log-cabin feel, but modernized. And we not only had to take into account the space itself, but also all of the people who would be living there. One of the brothers in the family is a chef, so we kept that in mind when designing the kitchen. There are a lot of kids in the family, so the bedrooms are more like bunk-rooms. The grandparents have their own separate space, too. We made sure to create a common room just off the kitchen, to bring
everyone together.

What was the most important aspect of this project?
For the client, the view was most important. For us, it’s keeping the clients’ vision while overcoming the obstacles of the land.

What were some of the challenges you experienced?
Filtering what everyone wants and desires to make a common thread. Finding the commonalities was key and finding how we can make it work for everyone. We weren’t building a castle, so we had to create that compound-like feel with limited footage.

What were the land obstacles that made it challenging?
The cabin is built on a cliff, and the land itself was filled with water. We couldn’t even poke a stick through the ground without it filling up with water. We decided to build the base level out of concrete, which helped with heating the space, as well.

In a case like this, how do you enact your own ideas and meet the needs of the client?
I always work on the story before the design; I put myself in the client’s shoes in order to create the final product. I always work with the goal of getting their dreams into a tangible form. For the Lake Coeur Project, it was all about family and bringing together the differences of each family member, to live comfortably under one roof.