By Carolyn Weber. When designing this little hillside vacation home, architect Garth Brandow knew exactly what the client wanted--because he was the client. The whimsical form of the house is a natural reference to the wind and the waves of the coastal location. "We wanted to keep it playful, respond to the key elements of the beach, and also be sensitive to the site," he says.

The site plan minimized disturbance to the hillside and worked around a number of large old growth spruce trees. "We were very careful during construction," Brandow says. "We had an arborist on hand to monitor the disruption to the roots." He even configured the home's deck so that several trees grow up through it. Cedar shingles and stained cedar trim are low maintenance and blend the home into the forest.

Photo: Graphic Photo

The architect kept the compact, 2,170-square-foot plan efficient, using a great room concept and plenty of second-floor bedrooms for guests. Large windows offer sweeping views of the water, and a Basalt stone fireplace with a solid maple mantle serves as a gathering spot. Brandow tucked the garage below the house to hide it from the street. Category: Custom Home, less than 3,500 square feet; Entrant/Architect/Builder: Curry Brandow Architects and Construction, Salem, Ore.