Elegant Meets Rustic

Inside 425's Coal Train Cabin

Photography by Dane Gregory Meyer

Tucked underneath a canopy of towering trees and overlooking the rolling hills of a five-star golf course in Cle Elum is a custom home that features amenities you’d expect in new, upscale construction, yet still pays tribute to the area’s rich mining and railroad past, thanks to its unique architecture and finishes.

Built by Bennett Resort Homes of Bellevue and designed by Ben Mulder of 4D Architects of Kirkland, the 3,640-square-foot “Coal Train Cabin” 425 magazine has been chronicling for the past year in the resort community of Suncadia is awe-inspiring from the moment you park on its circular driveway next to the timber clad garage and look up at its distinctive trestle-like “bridge.”

“Every angle of the house has so much personality,” said Andrea Forbush, project manager for Bennett Resort Homes who designed the home from conception to finish. As she stood inside the completed three-bedroom, four-and-half-bath home on the golf course’s 13th green, she seemed satisfied with the stunning results.

It’s luxurious, yet cozy. It’s open and bright, thanks to a lot of windows, yet it also feels like a private rustic mountain cabin, thanks to heavy exposed beams, black hardware and a large stone fireplace. A narrow hallway was transformed into the trestle-like bridge area that houses two built-in twin beds, complete with storage spaces, little windows and personal TVs. “I always wanted to do a bridge — that’s how that bright idea got born,” designer Mulder said. “It’s like the inside of a Pullman railroad (sleeping) car. I wanted windows at head-level so a child can look out. That was important to me. It’s a neat space.”

The house is fun and functional — the stone floors are heated in the entryway; there are two dishwashers; there’s a great room; two master bedroom suites; the outdoor spaces that surround the home flow seamlessly in and out, equating into extended living space and there’s a detached garage with an extra living space above it.

Like every home the Bennett team builds at Suncadia — 30 so far and a goal of about 200 in their five-year plan — they try to create a place people will want to buy, unless of course, they are building it for a specific client. In this case, the team sat down and envisioned their future homeowner and built a home for people they have yet to meet.

They are probably a professional couple with children, who like to entertain other couples and extended family, said Forbush. “That’s why we created dual master suites — so it makes the visiting couple feel comfortable. Not like they are imposing. This house is made for hosting visitors.”

Anticipating what people will want is not an easy task — but it’s an important one. In fact, they often spend about half as much time planning a project, as they do building it, Jewett said. This is Bennett’s third custom showcase home at Suncadia.

“Mentality changes when you get over the mountain. People come here with a better attitude,” said Steve Jewett, vice-president of Bennett Resort Homes. “It allows us to get much more creative. People look at homes here much differently than they do in King County. In King County, it’s all about being functional. Here at Suncadia, it needs to be more about fun.”


When you arrive at the home, you can hang up your coat in the entryway and kick off your shoes (or snow-covered boots during wintertime), and feel warmth on your toes, thanks to the heated mesh mat by NuHeat located underneath the stone floor.

From the front door, you can see all the way into the open great room — the centerpiece of the space is a crackling, two-way fireplace with a clear view to the back patio area and the golf course. The fireplace is flanked by large, wood-wrapped windows that help further frame the amazing view. To the left are the dining room and a spacious kitchen with a large Viking range that has multiple burners, a double oven and built-in griddle that’s perfect for pancake breakfasts. There’s a granite center island that not only houses a microwave and a wine rack, but also offers additional preparation space and seating, too.

The ceiling in the center of the great room above the living room area is vaulted, helping make the space feel even more open. Thick, wooden beams form an A-frame above, accentuating the architecture. Looking down, your eyes are drawn to the five-inch wide planks of solid hickory wood floors.

“Each board is hand-scraped individually and we finished it on site,” Forbush said. “It’s incredible-looking and durable. We get the most comments about these floors … I love the texture. It goes with any interior, any color and any style, from rustic to elegant — everyone loves them.”

Off the great room are the main floor bedroom and the first master suite. “None of the spaces in this house are huge, they just function well,” Forbush explained. The master suite is comfy, but it is the five-piece bathroom with a walk-in closet and walk-out shower that dazzles. “It visually extends outside,” Forbush said while looking through the glass shower to the outside, and over a privacy rock wall. “They can come in from the hot tub and shower off and they’re good-to-go,” Forbush said. “With these homes people are more adventurous and like to try new things … this would never fly in Bellevue.”

A claw foot tub beckons visitors to take long bubble baths and sits on a mosaic of tiles that looks like art on the floor (it’s warm, too). Another fun touch is the knotty alder doors between the bedroom and the bathroom. They were made by a carpenter and slide open and shut smooth as butter along a thick rail from a barn supply store.

Upstairs Surprise

The custom iron and wood staircase zigzags up to the second floor that overlooks the first floor’s great room. At the top of the stairs is a loft that is currently staged as a quiet reading area.

The second master suite is located on the second floor and also includes a luxurious five-piece bath and a bird’s-eye view of the greens below.

But the real surprises up here are for the kids, and the young-at-heart.

This is where the long hallway with the whimsical children’s beds are located. To the left side of the hallway is a series of square windows that make you feel like you are in a train. Across from the windows are two built-in, twin-sized beds where kids can have their own space. In between and under the beds is additional storage. But that isn’t all.

Parents will think the “camp bath” is smart, kids will want to wash up after a long day of sledding or catching butterflies, thanks to two large utility sinks. Little ones can line up side-by-side on stepstools. “These sinks are a sculptural item,” Forbush said. “They are the ‘wow’ feature. Unexpected.” There’s a mirror that slides the length of the wall, and goes off to the side to allow the natural light from the windows above the sink to shine through.

The walls surrounding the camp bath and in the hallway by the bunks are reclaimed wood — it’s gray and weatherworn and has bits of fuzzy moss on it. When it arrived at the site, some of the crew thought it was a mistake when they saw it, Forbush said with a laugh. But it is exactly what she wanted, and really gives the new home instant historic character.

On the far end of the trestle hallway where the bunks are, is a large entertainment room, complete with mini-kitchen, bar and plenty of room for a large group. This area of the house has its own entryway, locks and heating/cooling controls, so it can be used for private parties or rented for events.

As you walk through the home, it’s hard not to dream. It’s easy to envision long weekends by the fire while sipping wine with friends as the kids giggle upstairs and play games. Or imagine heading outside to unwind in the Jacuzzi, play a round of golf or just listen to the birds sing as you read that stack of books you’ve been meaning to get to.

See our other Idea House stories:
East meets West
 (Sept/Oct 2012)
Home Green Home (January/February 2010)
Mid-Century Modern Masterpiece: Inside the 425 Idea House
Finishing Touches: Picking Products for a Resort Home
Healthy Home: A Snoqualmie Family Goes Green
Seeing Green: Cutting-Edge Products in Bellevue’s Zero Energy Idea House (May/June 2009)
Ultra Green: Construction’s Under Way on Zero Energy Idea Home (March/April 2009)
Close to Home, Yet Far Away: Second Homes at Suncadia are Drawing People East (July/August 2008)

is the editor in chief at 425 magazine.
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