From Lagom #8

Home Visit: Anna Hoover

The Scavenger Hut is a bespoke-designed writing studio, and the part-time home of filmmaker and printmaker Anna Hoover. Working with Les Eerkes at Olson Kundig Architects on creating a space that overlooks beautiful Puget Sound in Washington State, Anna has tailored the studio to meet her needs, with dramatic results.

Words Samantha Stocks

Photographs Rafael Soldi

Why did you decide to have the studio custom- built, instead of looking for a place that already existed? Did you have a vision for it long before you began planning for it?

The studio was built on a family property in a setting dear to my heart. It all started with the acquisition of a Glen Alps Printing Press — I trained in printmaking in college — deserving of a worthy and inspired home.

I’d been cutting ideas from magazines and had been keeping a list of desired functions of the space, such as an open floor plan, high ceilings, guest sleeping quarters, a work area, a fireplace for heat, and plenty of natural light.

I’m an environmentally conscious person. Any way I can reuse or recycle in my life, I do the extra work — whether it’s rinsing food containers, drinking from reusable water bottles, or shopping thrift stores, I get satisfaction out of knowing I’m leaving a slightly smaller footprint.

What do you primarily use the studio for?

Primarily, I write there. The lofty ceilings and white walls lend themselves nicely to open headspace. I also have speakers to play music that fits the mood. As I’m a relatively new mother, I’ve only had a handful of chances to use my printing press.

Was having a minimal impact on the environment important to you during the build?

I’m an environmentally conscious person. Any way I can reuse or recycle in my life, I do the extra work — whether it’s rinsing food containers, drinking from reusable water bottles, or shopping thrift stores, I get satisfaction out of knowing I’m leaving a slightly smaller footprint.

I wanted to continue this thread throughout the building process. We even contemplated a dry toilet system, which, in the end, didn’t win out.

The stair treads, kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, and a few other appliances were all discards, ready for the embrace of a new home. With minimal help, I took the cabinets and countertops out of a tear-down home myself. As well as the plants and shrubs used for landscaping, I rented a U-Haul, brought my shovel and wheelbarrow, dug up plants, and brought them home. Friends and neighbours helped me plan and get them in the ground.

Did the final build end up like what you’d imagined? Or was it different to your original idea?

I didn’t have an exact picture in my mind as to what the building would look like. I was more focused on the functionality of the space, which is nearly exactly as I had imagined.

What are your favourite features of the studio?

The bedroom is grand. At one of the early design phases, there weren’t any operable windows upstairs, so we transformed the only solid wall in the room into a giant door, which is five-feet wide by 13-feet tall. Tom Kundig’s projects are known for their ‘gizmos’, and this door is this house’s gizmo. The door opens on a counterbalance system, with chains, gears, and 200-pound weights that make it slide down and up to open and close. The bed sits next to the door at nearly four-feet tall and when the door is open, you feel like you’re sleeping outdoors, not to mention sharing in the view of Puget Sound.

My other favourite feature is the fireplace. I grew up warming by the heat of a wood-burning stove and, in my opinion, there’s nothing else like it. I love the saying that, if you heat your home with wood, you warm yourself twice — because you have to work to get the wood ready to start the fire.

I love the saying that, if you heat your home with wood, you warm yourself twice — because you have to work to get the wood ready to start the fire.

Do you have your artwork in the Scavenger Hut, and do you have a favourite piece you keep there?

I have one carving in the studio that I created, which is about eight-inches tall. Also, in the space is an eight-foot-tall carving done by my father, John Hoover, who taught me how to carve. We’re lucky to still have it, as my father is no longer with us, and it’s a great tribute to his talent and committed expression.

I understand that you split your time between Puget Sound and Bristol Bay. Does your place in Alaska differ from the Scavenger Hut?

I married and moved to Alaska, and my home up there is very different, but I have a view of a river and find time to visit my Washington home throughout the year. In terms of my work, I strive to be inspired regardless of my surroundings, but the white walls, tall ceilings and luscious view of my studio do lend themselves well to creative thoughts.

Do you prefer one location or residence over the other? Does one feel more like home?

Alaska is my home, but I poured so much of myself into the creation of this space that it is a manifestation of many a deep thought and desire, and will always hold a cherished place in my heart, mind, and creative outpourings.


Lagom #8 cover

This piece first appeared in the print edition of Lagom #8. Check out the full issue for more inspiring essays, interviews, and features on numerous other creatives following their passions.

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