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!

The Bainbridge Farmhouse: Completion!

 

modern farmhouse

 

Fulfilling a lifelong dream of building a home on their family’s land, our clients have recently moved in to their new home in the woods, surrounded by tall firs, fern glades and birdsong. This is an intentionally small, simple house, drawing on Bainbridge Island historical references: simple farm structures, Japanese rural dwelling influences due to that unique aspect of the island’s history, and including the warmth and connection to nature that Craftsman architectural elements can offer.

 

country livingFront entryway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that they are retired, this home is a “down-size”. With only 2200sf, all living spaces are open and connected. On the main floor is a master suite as well as an additional bedroom and bath to accommodate visitors. A second floor loft doubles as a quilting workspace and future grandchildren’s sleeping loft. Generous attention has been paid to storage and mudroom spaces due to the reality of country living! The house has been designed so that the owners can “age in place” with wide corridors and doorways, a one-floor living area, and an abundance of natural light.

 

beautiful dining room

 

New kitchen design

 

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We have been sharing the progress of this project on our blog since the very beginning, from the initial sketches to the early construction as well as a later look at construction nearing completion. We invite you to take a look back and learn more about the project and the process!

bainbridge island farm house architecture | CTA Design Builds | Seattle Architects 

CTA Finishes Mid-Century Modern Paul Kirk House

Mid-century home with modern updates


We recently finished an interior remodel of a Paul Hayden Kirk mid century design in Kirkland and are excited to share final pictures.

This home was built in 1957 with over 3,000 sq ft, including a fully finished daylight basement. The husband of this couple grew up in this house in a family of 3 boys, so it was quite a special project for us all, as we uncovered many wonderful memories and mementos buried in the walls!

Mid-century kitchen with modern updates

Our owners wanted to update and open up their closed-off kitchen and rework the main floor full of small bedrooms to include a mudroom, powder room, and master suite; the objective was to maintain the feel of the mid-century original, but remove partition walls and have it more open for views and entertaining.

Mid-century home with modern updates

Design strategies started with acknowledging the very clear linear form of the house with its dominant ridge beam and big roof. This led to a strongly directional floor plan; the new open kitchen aligns with the ridge beam affording views to the lake and to a new front garden. With more and larger windows throughout, the house is much more connected to the exterior… “bringing the outside in”… as was the major goal of all the great mid-century architects.

Mid-century kitchen with modern updates


The interior palette of materials is a limited assemblage of natural stone, fir cabinets and trim, and surprisingly, plastic laminate on the kitchen side of the cabinets! Our owners are true mid-century aficionados, as confirmed by their love of this mid-century classic material!


Mid-century kitchen with modern updates


Paul Kirk was a local, noteworthy architect whose designs have be awarded and praised throughout the northwest. Some of his notable buildings in Seattle include the University Unitarian Church, the Magnolia Branch of the Seattle Public Library, Meany Hall at the University of Washington, and the French Administration building at Washington State University, among the hundreds of mid century home designs his firm produced. This is our third Paul Kirk remodel project; it’s a real honour to work on these great designs. As we work on these unique projects, every house unveils new insights into the design philosophy of this inspired, revered architect!

Mid-century door knob with modern updates

 

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.

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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.
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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

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.

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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.

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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!

Behind the Scenes: Lake House Remodel – Blog #2

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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:
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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!

Dare to Downsize: Edmonds Remodel

A common misconception about home remodels is that they are for expansion and grandeur;
in reality, the goal of many of our remodels is to create a better fitting home environment, and sometimes that even means downsizing!


Our clients had purchased this modest rambler in Edmonds Gladow-009a few years earlier and were renting it out until they were ready to simplify their lifestyle and move towards retirement. Once their children were launched, we embarked on a design effort to transform the house into a Japanese-style tea retreat. The result was a full remodel incorporating aging-in-place strategies such as having no steps (only one minimal step at the entry), wide doors for walkers if needed, easy access to the gardens, and a walk-in shower, etc. Although both spouses continue to work, the goal is to have this be the owners last abode; the toughest task was for them to pare down their lifelong accumulation of belongings as required by such a reduction in house size!

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Although the house retains its original footprint (besides a window seat bump out in the kitchen) the living, kitchen, and dining rooms have been opened up for a spacious, flowing circulation to other areas of the house. Options for privacy are achieved via sliding doors and translucent screens.  Panels of fabric-encased acrylic or wood, along with fir trim running strategically through the home, impart a calm serenity. These architectural devices evoke the feel of a Japanese tea house retreat, yet the end result feels totally contemporary. All spaces look out to newly designed garden “rooms” that take advantage of the lovely wooded site. The four existing bedrooms were modified into a master suite + two bedrooms and a guest bath, anticipating visits from adult children. One of those bedrooms does double duty as a home office until full, final retirement.
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The owners have quickly settled into their smaller surroundings, keeping count on the increasing number of birds visiting the new gardens, and are already locking the doors on this low-maintenance house to finally take long-planned travels. The benefits of downsizing are adding up!

Find the rest of the project photos here!

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House Before

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Bringing the Outside In: Making Windows Work in Residential Architecture

Home Architecture Tips: #1 in a Series of Design Tips from a Seattle Architect.


Outdoor Open dining room CTA Design Build

Fully embracing the idea of an “open corner”. Image: CTA Builds

One of the big advantages of living in the Puget Sound area is that just outside there is an awe-inspiring view of the surrounding environment. You don’t have to live on a bluff to have this experience either — just open up the walls of your home to let the outdoors in. Opening up walls, adding a light-filled addition, or even just building a new skylight can move mountains when you consider your morale and the value of your house. 

For those with a view of the Sound, Cascades or Lake Union, its a clear choice to add some glazing into your life. For others without that mega-view, however, it can be harder to realize the benefits. If you have a garden you love or there’s a special focal tree outside, you can open up to let this always-changing bit of nature into your home and if you frame your bit of nature just right, you have just added an “outside room” to your house. So we say to these homeowners, go for it!

Hilltop House

Hilltop Community – Image: Docomomo-WEWA

Take, for example, the Hilltop neighborhood in south Bellevue. Many of these mid-century modern homes have no “view”, except for the beautiful gardens and greenery that surround the area. To maximize the connection between indoor and out, floor-to-ceiling windows were installed and the houses are usually at grade or even sunken several inches below to really put the dwelling into the landscape. To read more about the Hilltop Community, visit Docomomo-WEWA.

Blue Ridge Dining Room | CTA Design Builders

Frosted glass is always a consideration, as it provides even lighting and privacy from neighbors and onlookers. Image: CTA Builds

Even a basement room can benefit from opening up. A large window-well can provide an expansive feel in what could otherwise be a claustrophobic room. With a few leafy greens outside the window, you can easily add a bright modern feature to an ordinarily dark area.

Or, in cases when you’re squeezed in between neighbors and that part of your home is too dark, put some windows in and screen off your neighbor with plantings such as fast growing, well-contained bamboo. You’ll now have filtered or dappled light coming in and pleasant greenery you can look out at.When adding windows, think about what you are framing, and how you will see it when you walk though your home. Have light coming from more than one direction for balance and to reduce glare.

Besides letting the outside in, windows and doors are an important part of the ‘vocabulary’ of your home: they define the look and style of your house. You can update an older home in function, appearance, and quality of light with new banks of windows. A newer home might have larger expanses of glass, where an older home may have windows divided up by mullions. So give consideration to what they look like alongside the other windows of your home, both from inside and out, in scale, and in pattern and organization in accordance with other homes of a similar period. Simply adding or placing windows without consideration of their effect of the facade of your home is, for lack of a better word, ill-advised.

The best way to see how windows look on your home is to draw a picture of your house with all the new and old windows on it. You can simplify this process by sketching over an enlarged photograph of the house. Draw as much detail as you can and then stand back to look at the whole wall!

So, go ahead — capture that view whether it’s far away or in your backyard. Bring some nature into your home along with that oft underused light, and you will feel better for it!

A private bedroom corner, situated in nature.         Image: CTA Builds