This is Outpost, and artist’s live/work studio and sculpture garden set on twenty acres in the remote, harsh high desert of Bellevue, Idaho. This ain’t your mama’s vacation spot.
Rising from the high desert floor against a dramatic backdrop of the Sawtooth Mountains, this 3,882 square foot house was designed to age gracefully, to restrict impact on the land and to sort of force the owner to spend time outside. Now, the high desert is a windy spot, so there is an enclosed “paradise garden” where the owner has planted roses, grapes, and espaliered fruit trees that is separated from the landscape by thick masonry walls, but you are still outdoors.
A readily available construction material—concrete block—is used for the primary structure, making it quick and inexpensive to build. Interior finishes include unfinished recycled fir floors, walls, and cabinets; plaster made from natural clays and pigments; and Carrara marble kitchen counters. All of the other materials used in the structure, including the concrete block, car decking [structural tongue-and-groove material], and plywood, require little or no maintenance and are capable of withstanding the extreme weather that characterize the desert’s four seasons.
The separate studio/office, laundry, powder room, garage, and mechanical room are all on the lower entry level, and upstairs is designed around one open, multifunctional room overlooked by a mezzanine bedroom; with living spaces on the second floor, the home remains above the winter snowpack, and provides 360-degree views of the surrounding high desert and mountains.
It’s harsh, like the landscape, but fully functional, and environmentally friendly, and seems like an outpost on a distant planet.
That’s what I call a getaway.