Sketches to Reality: Designing a Waterfront Home on Priest Lake

Sketches to Reality: Designing a Waterfront Home on Priest Lake


waterfront home we designed was recently completed on the shores of Priest Lake in the Selkirk Mountains of North Idaho.  I think I can speak for all architects in that it is always gratifying to see sketches become reality.

Waterfront Home on Priest Lake by Hendricks Architecture
Home on Priest Lake

Our client wanted a “mountain rustic timber-framed Arts & Crafts style home.”  Among other prerequisites, the home needed to take advantage of the lake views and white sand beaches, include a view tower and window seats, and be spacious and inviting with several large rooms.  A small allowable building footprint (made even smaller by flood plain requirements), as well as building height limitations, turned it into a fun puzzle to solve.

Typically I go over with our clients what the requirements are, whether it’s in person, by phone, email, etc.  In this case we did all three.  There are some clients of ours that I’ve actually never met, and some I’ve never even heard their voice.  In this particular case we met in person and went over his initial objectives.  We then went over space relationships (kitchen near the mud room, etc.), and after looking it over I gave him an estimation of how many square feet the house would be, as well as how much it would likely cost to build.

Waterfront Home Firepit on Priest Lake designed by Hendricks Architecture
Peek-a-boo view of the house, and a nice place to hang out in the evening.

By the time I start designing we are in mutual agreement on everything, and it’s a matter of me putting it all down on paper.  I take out the trace paper and start molding the spaces into a form.  At the same time I’m drawing quick form sketches of plans, roof plans and elevations that only I can understand.  Sort of like a sculptor artist starting to shape a block of clay (though maybe not quite as elegant).

Rough sketch roof plan design of the waterfront home
A Rough Sketch of a Roof Plan

These sketches are not pretty, and to others may look like chicken scratch.  Here is another unedited sketch, this time of the elevation.  The roofs don’t work well here for snow runoff, but again these are real quick and the details are figured out once the form is being shaped.

Waterfront home architect sketch on Priest Lake
Rough Elevation Sketch

I rarely show these to clients as many wouldn’t understand them, and might fire us on the spot for using kindergartners to design their house.

Once I have the design basics figured out, I’ll draw a site plan, floor plans and the exterior elevations in more detail to present to the client.  I like to give them the entire composition so they can see the overall concept in front of them.  This is part of the schematic design phase.  You can get a glimpse of the typical architectural process by clicking here.  Here is an updated lake-facing elevation.  Now the tower has been moved more towards the center of the house.  For some finished photos see Priest Lake House.

Waterfront home lake elevation sketch designed by Hendricks Architecture
Lakeside Schematic Elevation

After we’re in agreement on the design, we move onto design development.  Here we’ll put these sketches into more defined form on the computer, along with any changes requested by the client.  Here is the same elevation after it’s modified and drawn in the computer.  See if you can see what the changes were.

Priest Lake waterfront home elevation in AutoCAD

Once we agree on the design here, we’ll start drawing up construction documents, which will be detailed enough for contractors to price and build from.  Here again is the lakeside elevation with applicable notes and tags.

Priest Lake waterfront home AutoCAD construction drawing

Here is a photo of the final product, again from the lakeside elevation to be consistent.  This photo doesn’t show all the windows of the tower.  To actually see them at the same angle as the elevation drawings, I would need to be about 25 feet in the air, or out on the lake (where the tower and lake "see each other").

Waterfront Home Priest Lake

Many thanks to Sandau Builders of Priest Lake, who did an excellent job as the building contractor.  Jane Scott Design lent her expertise to the Arts & Crafts interior design.  Barcus Engineering did the structural design.  Mingo Mountain Woodworking did an awesome job with the woodworking throughout the house.

Hendricks Architecture specializes in the design of timber mountain style homes and cabins, not only at Priest Lake, but throughout North America.  Our homes have been featured in Timber Home Living, Mountain Living, Cowboys & Indians, Cabin Life and other publications. If you are interested in a mountain home, or you have any other inquiries, please contact us.

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