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 This is an intentionally small, simple house, drawing on Bainbridge Island historical references: simple farm structures, Japanese rural dwelling influences due to that unique aspect of the island’s history, and including the warmth and connection to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


modern farmhouse loft


covered porch modern farmhouse


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


Big View House #3: Navigating Permits and Breaking Ground!

With our permits approved, we have started to dig at the Big View House site!

garage excavation

View from the south side of the site with excavators digging out the backyard for the garage.

We’ve started construction on the Big View House, but there was an intensive design process entailed in getting to this point.  Here’s a brief overview of the sequencing of efforts required to put this residential remodel project together.

Once we have a good sense of the design, structural requirements, and have pinned down the plan layout for this new project (see earlier Big View House blogs), we put together a basic set of sheets (some refer to these drawings as the “blueprints”) to submit to the city for a building permit. Typically, this involves a 16-week review time from the initial application to final comments and permit approval. In recent years, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has been requiring more and more documentation for a building permit, including procedures for site water management, construction waste and recycling, and even payments for curb cuts — a much more cumbersome process even from five years ago. For the Big View house remodel, what would have only entailed 6-7 sheets to submit a few years ago, now required 35 sheets! From the city’s perspective, structure, safety and site management are the predominant factors in passing go; navigating the process efficiently requires good working knowledge of the Seattle building code….hiring a Seattle architect is highly recommended!

happy architect!

Sarah, happy at work with the Big View house construction set!

While the application is in the review process, we then dive into the miscellaneous construction details and interior design.  This work on the project continues to move along so that by the time the permit is approved, we are ready to break ground. These few weeks are also spent hammering out the finishes, materials, and fixtures (plumbing, electrical etc) as we assemble all this data into a specification document.

Once we have all these decisions finalized and documented, we embark on the costing effort.  As a Seattle design-build company, we have years of experience estimating the time and materials required in building projects of varying size and scope. We have relationships with our longtime vendors, and subcontractors that we depend on to provide reliable pricing and excellent services. Once this costing effort is complete and complied into our final bid, we review it line-by-line with our client.  Often this process includes a bit of “value-engineering”….adjusting scope and costs to meet their budget goals. Once this budget is finalized, we pin down the construction timeline which in this case, for a large remodel, is approximately ten months.

interior demo 2

The interior demolition work is well underway!

The next step after receiving the permit is demo! Of the original Big View house, only the basement walls and some elements of the main floor will remain intact. The owners had never moved in, so we could be very aggressive with construction work. The excitement really began, however, when we started to excavate at the lower part of the site slope for the garage and our trench completely filled with water! We had to scramble a remediation team together with a geotech to install both temporary 24-hour water pumps for the project and a permanent one for the home. It was nothing we could have expected and just another day on the job for our construction team – there’s always excitement happening somewhere! Currently, the project is moving into the finishing stages of the remodel and we’ll have updates on the interiors coming soon – see our newest update here!

thumbs up for the excavator!

The owner’s son is ready to get to work, giving the thumbs up to the excavator!

Big View House #1: Scope and Potential
Big View House #2: Schematics and Modeling
Big View House #3: Permitting
Big View House #4: Construction
Big View House #5: Finishing Touches

Announcing –Architects Without Borders: School Project in Cabaret, Haiti

Buzz and his Seattle Architects Without Borders (AWB-S) volunteer team are now working on a new school in Haiti. The group has been studying the landforms, microclimate, building precedents, adjacent sites, and Haitian history and heritage. Their studies illuminated the deeply rooted model of the “Lakou” and its importance in the conceptual design of the campus. As a result, AWB has integrated the post-plantation Haitian idea of Lakou, or the extended and egalitarian family compound, into the design; this traditional concept is being celebrated, utilized and expanded upon.

Located west of Port Au Prince in the town of Cabaret, the school is situated on 17 acres of hilly but barren hillside just a mile or two outside of town.  The school will provide a high school or post-secondary education and vocational training for 3,000 students, with some students and faculty living on site.  See one of the site plan options they’re refining:

C:UsersKathrynDropboxAWB_CabaretCabaret School-client suppl






Directly from Buzz and the AWB team:

 “Our goal is to create an environmentally sustainable school and community, respectfully blended with the Haitian culture. Through this endeavor, we are hoping this school will be an accessible resource for the local community and will help educate and train young adults throughout Haiti in sustainable practices.”

To meet this goal, we are harnessing the energy of the sun for power; we are capturing the rainfall in ponds and cisterns, and bringing its life into the community; we are disposing of wastes through constructed and natural wetlands. We are creating shaded courtyards and connected gathering spaces; in essence, adopting the idea of “lakou” in our design and practices, and encouraging community in the Haitian way.

 Our immediate purpose is to provide conceptual design services for the sponsoring Haitian non-profit group to aid in fundraising; it will take vision, commitment, perseverance and financial backing to see this project come to fruition. Our group is working to provide the tools necessary to visualize the project and grasp its importance.

It is all very exciting.

Island House Update March

Island House Update March

I had a wonderful visit to the island house this week and was thrilled to see such exciting progress on our new house design. The construction crew is a terrific team of skilled craftsmen, and exudes real enjoyment in their work. The owners are living in the tiny original cabin right next to the new house site, so they keep the carpenters happy with coffee and treats every morning. Can’t beat that: along with an exquisite view from their workplace, who wouldn’t want to have that job?!

We walked through the house interior with the electricians, deciding on exact locations for lights and switches. The interior is in a state of open stud walls right now. All the rooms are there, but you can see through the studs! In a few cases, framing required that we lay out our lights a little differently than the plans showed, but overall we were quite happy with the results. Laying out the lighting on-site like this is a critical step in the construction process.

The next few weeks will see the electrical and plumbing rough-in work completed. After that, insulation goes in and we can look forward to sheetrock. That will REALLY look and feel different!

Island House Update

Island House Update | Feb 20, 2012

Its time for another Island House Update and there’s been lots of impressive progress as construction started last October on this new home in the San Juan Islands. The roof is on! And windows have arrived!

The owners can move around inside and really get a feel for the volumes of spaces throughout their new house; we’re happy to hear there aren’t any surprises.

Ordering the windows is always a little stressful; there are so many details to attend to, and the order comprises a huge portion of the overall budget…not to mention the “island factor”…mistakes can really impact the schedule. But things are moving along well. We’ll be doing an electrical walk-through in no time! Stay tuned for further updates on this very exciting process!