These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things!

What’s on your wish list this year?


After schematics are fairly solidified (and sometimes even before!), homeowners should begin to look at what they want to put into their new home or remodel in terms of appliances, tile, stone, lighting, plumbing fixtures, and accessories like towel bars and cabinet pulls – all of which go into a “spec”, or specification, document. Depending on the homeowner, finding all of these in a matter of months can be anything from a dream shopping trip to a daunting task. For everyone’s sake, we thought we would compile a list of our top five favorite places to go in each category to help owners fill out their spec.

To start with though, if you haven’t already, visit Houzz.com to browse and collect in your own folders images of any kind of style or feature or detail that you can imagine. Houzz offers millions of home images that will kick your imagination into high gear. And in many cases, you can find the source of a product (like a fixture or tile) right next to the image.

For almost any of the specifications listed below, we recommend looking at HomeClick.com to get a great overview of the range of products in any one category. They have a terrific search menu, for example:
homeclck for seattle remodel

Once you find two or three products that your like in any one category, go to their individual manufacturers website to get more information on that product and perhaps see other similar options. Starting your searches at HomeClick can enable you to very quickly narrow down the huge range of products out there! Often our clients make their selections via online search and don’t feel the need to see the product in person as it’s sometimes hard to find your item in the local showrooms.

Appliances

If there’s a kitchen in your remodel, you’ll need to Appliances for seattle remodelselect your appliances fairly early on so that your designer knows the size and can continue planning the cabinet layout accordingly. Look online to get a sense of what you want, then head to a local appliance store to get good, reliable professional advice. In the Seattle area, we recommend:

Plumbing Fixtures

Key items to add to the Plumbing section of the specPlumbing Faucet for seattle remodel include your sinks and faucets, tubs and filler faucets, shower systems and toilets depending on what you will be adding. We tell our clients to start online, then visit a showroom if necessary. A few of our client’s frequently visited are:

Surfaces

Surfaces include most applications to floors and stone samples for seattle remodelwalls including hardwood floors, tile back splashes, granite counter tops, marble wall tile, and so on. This category tends to be harder to pin down simply because of the large selection – it’s hard to choose! Everything from glazed ceramic tiles, to water-jet mosaic patterns, to large stone slabs are available and the choice in between is vast. Start by getting inspiration from Houzz searches, or your clipping files. Then visit the showrooms to see the range of what’s out there. Seattle showrooms can loan you samples to take back to your architect or designer.

Lighting 

Lighting has a huge effect on how we inhabit and moveLight fixture for seattle remodel about our homes. Recessed cans, pendants, sconces and many more all have unique functions that effect how we perceive a space, whether it is highlighting (bathroom), guiding (hallway/entry), or featuring (kitchen). Your architect will draft a lighting plan before you start your search so you’ll know what kinds of fixtures to search out. To learn more about color temperature, bulb type, and new products on the market, you can always visit Seattle’s LDL or just ask a store consultant. Start with an online overview with Lighting Direct, Wayfair, and Lightology, then check out:

Hardware and Accessories

Everything else! These include door and cabinet pulls, towel bars, etc.

As you collect samples and gather cut sheets (photos of the products), bring them to your designer to assemble a sample board. That way you can see how all these finishes, fixtures, colors, etc. can work together to achieve the overall look and certainty you’re going for in your remodel. Have fun!

Capitol Hill Contemporary

CTA is just about done with a major remodel and addition to a humble 1900s Queen Anne-style home in the Central District. The long-time owners were ready for their house to match their upbeat lifestyle while also come up-to-speed with energy codes and to reinforce its structure so that this centenarian will keep functioning for the next 100 years. The complete transformation brings in an abundance of natural light, bright and classic materials, and a touch of steel for a clean, contemporary feel to this historic home. The last remaining work is finishing up the landscaping and fence at the front yard. Now that both front and rear steel canopies have been installed, it’s nearly complete! 


The original home is considered a Queen-Anne “Free” style house, which is a cousin to the Queen Anne Spindle style known for its elaborate detailing. The QA Free is more modest, characterized by a long, covered entry porch, quaint entry vestibule, and multiple small rooms that are closed off from one another to allow for receiving guests while private areas of the house are kept out of sight. We took these elements and developed a plan to retain the historic features of the house that the clients loved, while updating others with a contemporary twist. See below for a “before” picture of the house for comparison.

The first measures taken in this remodel were to intervene in the deteriorating structural system: the house was essentially a rhomboid – in other words, a parallelogram on all sides – leaning in two directions and being pulled downward by the obsolete chimney. We ratcheted the house to be plumb and square, installed hold downs and shear walls for permanent stability, and tied the rest of the house to the foundation. Other upgrades included tearing down many of the first floor walls for an open-concept living space and replacing them with steel I-beams running the length of the house. The front porch roof was also removed in the process due to its poor state of disrepair.

Next came energy upgrades; we replaced all windows with code compliant insulated glass, installed roof, floor, and wall insulation where needed and where there was none, and installed a new mini-split HVAC system designed for the new heating load (far lower than the original due to the new insulation). Worth a whole topic in itself, the building envelope was completely intact from the original construction, meaning the house did not have any structural sheathing or bracing, and the budget didn’t allow for residing AND re-sheathing the home. For those ArchiNerds out there, the wall section was a solid T&G ship lap siding in perfect condition, attached to studs, with gypsum attached at the interior – that’s it! This was an issue in itself, and became quite a detailing challenge when it came time to install the new windows. The end result included installing specialized building wrap on the INSIDE of the siding to protect against air and water infiltration, with new insulation and drywall throughout.

Our design intent was to transform this turn of the century home into a bright, contemporary entertaining space. We installed wide doors at the front and rear of the house that opens up their new deck to their double depth backyard and their front porch to their enclosed garden. The historic covered porch has been reimagined with the glass canopy at the front and rear to allow for indoor-outdoor entertaining in any weather. A two-story rear addition added room for a full master suite with a walk-in closet and deck off the master bedroom, along with a guest room and den in the existing upper floor. Care was taken to preserve the historic elements of the interior: baseboard and trim were given generous widths to match the existing style, the original fir floors were refinished upstairs and down, and the original staircase and newel post were refinished to call out the real history of the home. Historic elements were contrasted with new to create a wonderful contemporary space with a sincere acknowledgement of its unique past.

We look forward to taking a couple more photos once the owners have had a chance to settle in, and once the entry canopies are in place, so we can truly show off this contemporary transformation!

Lake House Remodel: Construction Progress – Blog #4

Following up on our last update, we’ve finished our framing inspection and are making final, minute adjustments to our HVAC, electrical, and plumbing before we can start insulation and drywall.img_5119


Insulation requires that the house be “closed in”,dscn4354 a term that means all weather proofing is installed – windows, sheathing, building wrap, siding, doors, and roofing – to achieve a water-tight interior. The HVAC, electrical, and plumbing each need their own separate inspections as well, as the batt insulation will be covering up most, if not all, of the pipes and wiring. Once all of the house’s “innards” have been inspected, there will be a flood of work from drywall to flooring to painting and cabinetry, as many of these subs can overlap each other and all of them want to finish quickly.

Below, the primed siding (yellow) is in place, and then a week later, is being painted! At right, the mechanical room is beginning to fill up with audio, HVAC, and electrical wiring.

dscn4329dscn4330

img_5123img_5126img_5141img_5142


While we finish up the inside, we’ve made leaps and bounds on the Lake House Remodel exterior. We’ve installed all windows, all window and door trim, and replaced the siding with Hardie lap all in a hurry to prep the house for exterior paint before the temperatures here in Seattle get too cool (causing the paint to not set correctly). We lucked out with a sunny week during paint, and are crossing our fingers for another one during the next step: reroofing.

Roofing is the last step to closing-in the house, so this week CTA will be tearing off the old faux tile roofing to prep for the new Nuray metal roof.
img_0516


While we’ve been hard at work, the owner’s landscaping team has been making exciting progress – four feet of earth has been excavated out of the backyard, allowing everyone involved to finally experience the indoor-outdoor connection that has been the driving factor of this project.

The next time we have a look at the house, it will be completely drywalled and ready for interior finishes!

Blogs in this series:
Design Behind the Lake House Remodel
Behind the Scenes: Lake House Remodel
Framing the Lake House Remodel
Lake House Remodel: Construction Progress

CTA’s Second Story Additions

As the market keeps getting hotter, many Seattleites are investing in their homes, and one of the biggest investments one can make in their home is a second story addition.

Typically this encompasses (and has room enough for) a master suite and an extra bedroom or two. We also like to give the the top of the stair a little breathing room to allow for a light-filled stairwell and a small nook or play area, all to make the addition seem as expansive as possible.

The Little to Big House project’s Phase 1, below, allows for our clients to convert the space above the porch into a balcony off the master when they’re ready for Phase 2.Little House to Big House 6 | CTA Design Builds | Seattle Architects Little House to Big House | CTA Design Builds | Seattle Architects

This View Ridge home, below, was only a small summer cottage until the owners decided to take advantage of it’s amazing Lake Washington views.

sepanski-ec-080 sepanski-for-web-2

The Greenwood Addition home, below, was recently finished – and at almost double the square footage!

capture3img_0221


Beyond increasing the raw square footages, a second story addition is an especially prudent investment when you can “add” a view to your home. Many of our second story clients come to us saying, “We would have a perfect view of [downtown Seattle, Mt. Rainier, Puget Sound, etc.] if only our house were a few feet higher!” Maximizing these views and strategically creating private, natural spaces away from neighboring homes is where we set to work in the addition.

6-stair-open-to-skyMid-Century Sanctuary 2 | CTA Design BuildersShown above are “during” and after pictures of the new addition to the Mid Century Sanctuary


In the main floor, we also have to consider Little House to Big House 3 | CTA Design Builds | Seattle Architectsthe placement of a staircase to reach your new addition. It should flow seamlessly with the circulation of your downstairs, so sometimes this means reorienting a few walls. Building an addition certainly gives the exterior a new look, and so it can be a great opportunity to remodel your existing interiors, especially if you’re doing any additional construction outside of the stair.

As the addition itself can stretch a budget (think around $250-$300/sq.ft.), our clients have taken a wide stance on any additional work. In the Little to Big House (right), our clients did very little remodeling on the main floor – just a coat of paint and some trim adjustments to match the new – and in the Subtle Second Story Addition project (below), we just remodeled the kitchen on the main floor.

A Subtle Second Story | CTA Design Builders 10A Subtle Second Story | CTA Design Builders 1


A Subtle Second Story | CTA Design Builders 4A Subtle Second Story | CTA Design Builders 6


Comparatively, in the Mid Century Sanctuary (below), we extensively updated the main floor interiors from the kitchen to the powder rooms to match the master suite. In this project and the projects above, the second story was an addition on homes that already had a distinctive style that was worth preserving and integrating with the new, but that’s not always the case and we’ll see one below.

1-before-exteriorMid-Century Sanctuary 1 | CTA Design Builders


Mid-Century Sanctuary 10 | CTA Design Builders


In the most extensive type of second story addition, shown below in the Big View House, there is huge opportunity for an entirely new appearance. In this remodel, the entire house came down to its bones and was built anew into a contemporary, sustainable home. This type of remodel is usually on a home that doesn’t have many qualities the owner wants to preserve or can’t easily be replicated in the new, or more frequently, is a home that the owner purchased exclusively for an extensive remodel – see our blog on Speed Design Services. The outcome of this house was a contemporary 3 1/2 story livable, functional home with open, light-filled spaces that our clients love and were able to customize to their liking.

outside-web-photo


EDITReber finished photos 7

DADUs, Backyard Cottages and Small Living in Seattle: Can you DADU too?

The greater Seattle area is growing! Are you up to date on what you’re able to build in your backyard?

This “DADU” is being built to be a music studio and garage for our clients. The benefit is that, at any moment, our client can rent this out as a fully-equipped home!

We’ve had a lot of interest lately in small buildings from clients and several that we’d like to discuss. These have been garages, studios, and Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs), sometimes called backyard cottages. In each municipality and in single-family zones, there are specific rules governing these structures, as they are on the same lot as the principal structure (usually a single-family residence).

The benefit of an additional occupancy unit is three-fold: for homeowners who rent out these units to another family, it’s extra income every month. It’s also a place for elderly family members to stay and retire, as size requirements can make DADUs great for aging-in-place. And beyond rental benefits, having a DADU can significantly increase the value of your home and the investment can provide generous tax benefits depending on your personal finances (consult your tax advisor). For Seattle residents, see this guide for more info: Guide to Building a Backyard Cottage.

For DADUs, the rules cover such things as minimum lot size, lot coverage limits, impermeable surface percentage maximums, parking requirements, size and height limits, and, of course, occupancy rules. In the case of Seattle, where there is a push by the mayor and the city council to dramatically increase density, the restrictions on these structures have loosened to make it easier to grow, and we could expect that they might loosen even further.

Currently in Seattle, any home in Single Family 5000, 7200, and 9600-zoned lots can build a DADU or accessory structure if they meet the design prerequisites:

  • Your lot is at least 4,000 square feet
  • Min. 70′ deep and 25′ wide
  • Your total lot coverage does not exceed 1000 sq ft + 15% of your lot size (for lots less than 5000 sq ft) or 35% of your lot size (for lots over 5000 sq ft), including the main home.

All other requirements depend on the design of your DADU. See a few examples below:


sads (2)asds (2)


Our first example is a true DADU. The owners of this property are looking to build a quaint studio above a garage to rent out to a student or young couple. It includes a murphy bed, kitchenette, 3/4 bath, and a spacious 1-car garage with workspace in the back.

Larsen 1Larsen 12 Larsen 123

 


This backyard office is a second story addition – but it’s not as simple as it seems. This home resides in a liquefaction area of Seattle and therefore requires heavy duty engineering to pass city inspection. We designed two schemes around this fact: the first includes building an exoskeleton around the existing shed to support the new second story (see the upper photos). Our second scheme rebuilds the structure anew to better account for earthquake forces (see lower photo) by “floating” the structure on a large, structurally reinforced concrete slab.

The lower floor of both plans will be split between a bathroom and kitchenette, and a fully separate gardening area. The upper floor will be a bright and airy office space for our client’s busy schedule, and will double as a guest room on occasion. The bathroom and kitchenette will allow for this to be a certified-DADU in the future!


For further reading, the Guide mentioned above is a trove of helpful information, and we highly advise you consult it when considering if you, too, can DADU!

Mid-Century Modern in Seattle: Tips on Transforming a Typical 60’s Rambler

As we have been remodeling so many Mid-Century Modern homes, we thought we’d highlight a few remodels that demonstrate our Mid-Century values. Owning a 60’s era homes usually means our client has an appreciation for the architectural features of the house; it becomes important to honor or even highlight these classic mid-century features when updating the house. 

This translates to several things when we think about design moves: exposing structural elements; creating open spaces that are light and airy; providing textural interest in materials; and connection with the landscape (inside-outside connections). Structure and materials are the two key disciplines of the period – and disciplined we must be when considering a true-to-the-period remodel.

An example of retaining values might be maintaining proper proportions and massing when redesigning a more contemporary roof, replacing a solid wall with an exposed column and beam, or emphasizing horizontal elements when designing new siding or interior trim. An important design value we stick to is subtlety. We think the architecture should speak for itself without a lot of extraneous embellishment. Click on the links for more information about each project.

CaptureGladow-010


This is a whole-house interior remodel where we replaced windows and siding to refresh its mid-century exterior. We removed the 60’s masonry veneer; it had caused rot behind, and was obviously a faux-rock veneer that simply wasn’t very appealing. Keeping the deep, upper horizontal siding, we created a stepped sill-band with even deeper, heavier horizontal siding below for a more contemporary, yet still mid-century look. The heavier element at the base of the house, stained dark, helps to “seat” the house into its wooded landscape better than before.


In this whole-house remodel, the white, bright nature of the original structure had the negative effect of making the house read like a big, bright shoebox plopped down in its lovely wooded setting. We stripped off all the siding and 60’s rock veneer and replaced it with a combination of dark-stained cedar siding at lower, and panel & batten at upper areas. The intention was to reinforce the horizontal-ness of the house, and also to nestle the structure into its natural landscape by using dark, earth-like colours. Even the new windows are dark-coloured, and feature mid-century horizontal divided lights.

img20160420_11531548Yarrow Creek Rambler | CTA Design Builders 1


In the rear corner of the same house, we actually subtracted floor area!  A plain window in the corner gave way to a covered deck that wraps around the house and projects into the landscape, creating a very strong indoor/outdoor connection. The heavy timber post and beams are exposed, reinforcing the clarity of the simple yet powerful structure.

camera 3.10 050

081103_002


Subtractions of walls in key locations can strengthen the contemporary feelings of openness, while maintaining the architect’s intentions. In this house, we removed walls, or parts of them, to create better daylight throughout the house. In this photo, see how we deconstructed the wall adjacent to the stairwell, leaving a structural column showing above the top of the wall.  This move helps to dematerialize the interior walls, accenting structure, creating simple planes, and increasing the sense of open daylight throughout the interior.

And as a parting note: especially for those approaching-60 year old homes needing utility remodels, we prefer to retrofit sustainability rather than adding it. Using the home’s own resources before slapping on solar panels or a “green” HVAC system is always the best solution in the long run; i.e. bumping up the R-value of a roof or switching from single to double-glazed windows. The goal is to significantly reduce energy costs, rather than inserting a new system that will just leak heat and air out of a poorly insulated home. Considering both the internal workings as well as the design and aesthetics in a home will always give the best result!

Framing the Lake House Remodel – Blog #3

Deep into our construction at the Lake House Remodel, we’ve straightened and supported the house (see blog #2 – Behind the Scenes), so we can now begin to implement our design. It was extremely important to make sure the house was level before we started our next phase: framing, electrical, and plumbing. We do this because an improperly framed house, or a house that has uneven settling, can lead to terrible problems down the road when it comes to drywall, furniture and cabinet installation among other structural issues. With it cleared up, we can move onto framing.

dfgngsafld;kfIMG_4120g

One of the more exciting parts of this new phase is the completion of the floor framing for our owner’s attic “creative space”. Beams and ties were needed to be put in place to jack up the roof from its current sag, so we used that as an opportunity to create a (quaint) 4th floor with a ladder and hatch for entry. We’ll be adding a couple of windows and a skylight for a breeze. The photos below are the first look into this new space!

IMG_4151IMG_4155


IMG_4122

Framed windows at the master bathroom.

While framing the new rooms on the main and upper levels, back in the office we’re finalizing our window and door orders (when you’re ordering a 16′ door, you want to make sure your openings are plumb). We brought our Milgard specialist out to the site to adjust openings and window sizes, and found out that our spec’d sill heights were probably too low for young children. That’s the beauty of design-build; the flexibility in decision making! With windows and doors amended and ordered, we move on to refining our electrical spec with our lighting consultant and plumber who can work better with the room framing now in place. Below, you can see notes made during our lighting walk though for the electrician, and the beginnings of switch and receptacle installation.

IMG_4157

Cast-iron plumbing from the master bath above.

IMG_4121

Pendant placement at the street-level stair.

 


 

Blogs in this series:
Design Behind the Lake House Remodel
Behind the Scenes: Lake House Remodel
Framing the Lake House Remodel
Lake House Remodel: Construction Progress

Behind the Scenes: Lake House Remodel – Blog #2

DSCN38990DSCN39010


CTA Design Builders is in the midst of a 3-story home remodel on Lake Washington belonging to a wonderful family with four kids. The home was originally built in Kirkland and was transported by barge to it’s current location by it’s previous owner, who also added a large addition. This would be an example of what we call “mismodeling”, and we began our work undoing the stylistic changes made to the home, and surgically demo-ing the rest.

DSCN38950

Our carpenters are cutting out the existing living room floor for our double-height dining area!

Usually in the case of a remodel, we have good bones to work from, but in this case, and likely due to its transportation and settling, walls were not plumb, floors were not level, foundations were leaking and ceilings everywhere were scribed to the uneven floors. In the photos to come, you’ll see where we have new joists, beams, and studs (not just the carpenters!) in combination with the existing structure.

At this point we bring up the question, is it better to remodel, or tear down and rebuild the house anew? Well, in Seattle and many other shoreline locations, all buildings have a required setback from the water’s edge for environmental reasons. If we were to build new, this home would be relegated to the depth of a driveway; if we keep our existing footprint, we are free to build up from it. In this property’s case, the best choice was to remodel. We saved all of the strong bones in the house, and selectively replaced joists, beams, and columns with better structural supports. (You should have seen our team move four I-beams down to the lake level – a total of 4,000 lbs of steel!)

DSCN38900

The lake level has a beautiful dark concrete floor hiding under a layer of protective plywood. This view is looking through the dining room into the future kitchen.

Sounds like a lot of extra work, right? We wholeheartedly believe that the infrastructure of the house is just as important as livability when the job is complete. A plumb and true house is a happy house! Once our adjustments are complete, we will begin to work on the real design of this Seattle home…

 

 

Blogs in this series:
Design Behind the Lake House Remodel
Behind the Scenes: Lake House Remodel
Framing the Lake House Remodel
Lake House: Construction Progress

Design Behind the Lake House Remodel – Blog #1

Lake House RemodelCTA Design Builders is in the midst of a 3-story home remodel on Lake Washington belonging to a big, energetic family. The home has a unique history: originally built in Kirkland in the early 1900’s it was transported by barge to it’s current location by its previous owner, who also added a large addition – but which grew into a rabbit warren of rooms.  Our remodel efforts have been fueled by the owners’ desire for space that’s more open and communal; they want to be able to eat, play, and live seamlessly between the water, yard, and interior… to blur the boundaries between inside and out, and to do away with level changes and stairs between their living areas and the water’s edge.

Seattle RemodelSEattle Remodel


Eschewing normal architectural layouts, we mixed-up the floor order! The garage and front door/entry areas remain at street level, but once inside, the house will dramatically open up on the upper level of a 2-story space looking down to open living/dining/kitchen areas on the lower lake level. These spaces will open up to the yard and waterfront via huge folding glass walls.

To accomplish this, we excavated about 8″ to achieve a light and livable floor area, so that kitchen, living, and dining rooms on this lake level truly make it a light and view-soaked hub of activity for this beach-oriented family. Heated concrete floors on the lake level will blend with the patio pavers for a seamless outside experience all the way from the back of the kitchen to the water’s edge.

Bunker 123


The lake level plan is shown above, with a large steel stair and mezzanine to connect with the upper floors. On the street level lives the master bedroom and bathroom, guest bedroom, a large mudroom with individual lockers, and a library, and on the top floor are the kids bedrooms and bathrooms with a big playroom for kids to use for school work, crafts and projects. We may even be converting the attic into a usable creative space for the family as well! Stay tuned: as more materials, construction photos and finishes come into place, we will continue this series on
the Lake House Remodel!

Blogs in this series:
Design Behind the Lake House Remodel
Behind the Scenes: Lake House Remodel
Framing the Lake House Remodel
Lake House Remodel: Construction Progress

Kingston Master Plan – The Lodge House is in Construction!

CTA Design completed a two-phase master plan for a home in the woods in Kingston, on the Kitsap peninsula, a few summers back and we have just received photos of Phase 1 almost complete!Bren Elevation smallThe original design included a site plan for a two story home with finished basement, a detached 3-bay garage, and a full studio with kitchen and plumbing above. In the ensuing changes, the project split into two phases so our clients could live in the studio until they were ready to build the home. This changed our garage to a 4-bay garage for a workshop and second lavatory, while expanding the large shed dormer on the roof for better light transmittance and headroom shown in the photo below.

Main House:
Bren-2Bren-1

Garage:
Exterior 2 Exterior 3The home itself is contemporary, but influenced by the historic mountain lodges in the National Parks, such as Paradise on Mount Rainier and the WPA Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. The double height space on the main floor, enormous stone fireplace, collar ties and exposed timber structure tie together the lodge-like feel with the contemporary steel rails, shed roofs, and expansive windows. Our clients were looking for a large master bedroom and at least two kids bedrooms with a playroom (we gave them two + two guest bedrooms in the daylight basement), not knowing how large their family would grow to be. The view is to the east so we pushed back the garage to the north property line to squeeze a generous section of view not blocked by the home for the studio deck, which then allowed us to create a spacious courtyard at the entry.
Property Clearing (2)Bren Residence (2015-07Jul) #1The steep slope and proximity to environmentally sensitive zones complicated the permitting process considerably, so our buildings were kept closer to the front yard set back, and old growth trees remained on the slope to keep it intact. The plateaued area of the site was cleared for the home and garage early 2014, and the garage work has just been completed, with an (almost) done photo above. We’re excited to see the next phase begin!