CTA Presenting at the Monthly “Ask An Architect” Seminar!

 

Dreaming about a home design project and not sure where to start?

Wondering how to make the most of your budget?

Curious about green design or how to plan for your family’s changing needs?

Julie and another colleague will be presenting the ASK AN ARCHITECT seminar on Saturday morning, September 22nd. Whether your project is a small remodel or new construction — or if you are just curious about the design process — this is a terrific seminar geared towards home-owners who want to learn how an architect can assist. Join us for an information-packed overview of the design and construction process including budget and schedule, tips for hiring the right team, and how you and your designer can work together to make the most of any project. If you can’t make it this time, there are several other seminars happening every month through the fall, offered by volunteer architects from our local community!

If you, or anyone you know might be interested, please pass the word around!

The classes will be held at the Center for Architecture & Design // 1010 Western Avenue – Saturdays from 9:00-11:00 am

Be sure to bring your “napkin sketch” to this interactive workshop. Coffee and light snacks will be provided!

Register for the seminars at the links below:

 September 22 | October 27

 

Using Houzz to Your Advantage: Make Sense of Your Inspirational Images

Embarking on a remodel or new house effort is an incredibly exciting experience! Getting started usually begins with visual images, and with the barrage of photographs everywhere around us, collecting images has never been easier – so much so that it can be overwhelming!

As architects, it’s our top priority to collect images from our clients that convey their style preferences and personal leanings regarding qualities of interior and exterior spaces. These images guide us continually through our design process. If they haven’t already, we suggest our clients visit www.houzz.com  or www.pinterest.com and start assembling files of photos: exteriors, garden spaces, kitchens, bathrooms, living spaces…any photo that captures something that resonates and may be relevant to the project ahead. Its then our job to analyze these images and understand how best they can inform our design work.

Collecting these ideas of colors, styles and materials into one place can be a lot of fun and being able to look at all of your inspirations in one place is actually a great way to see what you like and what might go together. At this point, your inspiration board may be a wildly diverse collection that looks something like this:


Frequently, it’s at this stage or even earlier that clients come to us for design advice and services and while it helps us to understand your likes and dislikes, we just can’t put every idea into one house. Creating a cohesive aesthetic throughout the entire house is what we specialize in, and it makes a big difference. A house made with all of the styles, colors and materials from the pictures above would would be very difficult to tie together and it would be even harder to make it feel right.

See the next set of images. These images were collected by a client during her bathroom remodel, and pared back after a few iterations of “cleansing” her inspiration palette. After looking at her broad selection of images, we were able to pick out several that fit together, and found that certain textures, colors, and materials were consistent with her personal style and her mid-century modern home. This smaller set of images helped inform us as we selected tiles, counters, cabinet materials;  they also provided clues for smaller details that helped create continuity throughout other areas in the house.


While not all inspiration palettes will look as similar as this set above, going through your own images with a fine-toothed comb will help to alleviate design questions later on. Ask yourself,

-“Does this really match the style and time period of my home?”
-“Is this a look that I can live with, and that will stand the test of time?”
-“Do my colors (generally) go together?”
-“Will a kitchen like this be in keeping with the other areas of my house that I’m not remodeling?”

If you answered “YES” to most of these, then keep it in your image selection. If it can’t pass the question test, then put it aside for another time and allow yourself to narrow your selections (you’ll thank yourself later!).

One way to self edit your inspiration board is to add descriptions to your photos, or what you like about each photo, and find consistencies. As an example, see the first set of images. Notice similar words like “open, airy, white, clean, contemporary”: most of these photos could work well together. Now look for “warm, cozy, traditional” or “colorful, fun, eclectic”. Your images will be easier to separate into groups (and to narrow down) after you’ve been a bit honest about what draws you to the image.

It’s also very helpful for us as we’re looking through your images to know what aspect of the photo appealed to you. Is it the overall quality of light in the room?…or something much more specific, like the layout or style of a kitchen, or the type of window trim?! When you’re not at our side to point out what you like about an image, your images and descriptions will guide our design efforts.

It’s our belief that the more information you can supply us with as we embark on this exciting process of designing your home, the more it will be a reflection of YOU!

 

Mid-Century Hawthorne Hills Addition

We’re seeing exciting progress on the Phase 2 remodel of a mid-century Seattle rambler! Phase 1 involved minor main floor plan and finish updates to create better entry flow and street appeal. The Phase 2 goal is to expand the house for the owners’ growing family and allow for a more private master suite.

After considering a new second story addition option, we instead landed on expanding the daylight basement in order to keep with the Mid-Century massing and scale of the house and provide them with just the space they needed: no more, no less. The new master bedroom suite sits under an existing family room and upper deck that floated over the rear yard. The bedroom looks out onto a newly created rear courtyard, with a glorious, old red-leaf Japanese Maple in its center that is the focal point of the entire house.


The challenge in this project has been to open the house up to the outside, connecting indoors to out, and the upper street level to lower level and rear yard. Opening up the living room using a big folding door to a new deck and stair down to the courtyard has done wonders to create a feeling of connection on both levels. We opted to move the outdoor stair down to the yard to the north side of the house via a catwalk to better engage with the Maple tree and add a boundary to the new courtyard below.

BEFORE:


The front yard has also been redesigned as a semi-public patio space, becoming a contemporary version of a front porch (see more about our idea of an outdoor “room” here). This is a very friendly neighborhood, and the owners specifically wanted to create meeting and gathering space at the street-side.

Architectural fixtures and finishes all have been selected to enhance the Mid-century Modern aesthetic of this home: open and clean kitchen & bath spaces, some fun hex tiles in the bathrooms, and Northwest fir trim throughout to add a bit of warmth to the palette overall. We’ll be posting another blog with pictures of the finished project in the next couple of weeks!
At right, see the framing and concrete work going in for the new addition under the existing family room. Below, see the 3D rendering of the new open island and kitchen, and then the kitchen under construction from the family room.


A huge shout-out to our contractor on this project: Mark Boyns of True North Construction has been a real pleasure to work with and we hope to be on a team with him again soon. Stay tuned for finished pictures of our latest Mid Century Modern remodel, coming soon!

Contemporary Washington Cabin

We’re very excited to see construction start on our latest vacation home! This family retreat sits high on a bluff looking over mountains, vast orchards and vineyards in every direction.



Our architectural design takes advantage of unobstructed southern exposure, which also provides the best view of the austere scenery. Huge folding glass doors connect the great rooms (living areas, dining and kitchen) to the views and outdoors, flanked by a bedroom wing on one side, and garage and studio on the other. This configuration creates an outdoor patio space that is sheltered from frequent strong winds, framing the spectacular views. In such a vast landscape that sees extreme weather variance, we felt the architecture of this house should be low and close to the ground, incorporating elements that withstand high winds, beating sun, and heavy snows. Materials are simple and natural, allowing the structure to blend into its surroundings: stained wood, concrete, glass, and metal roof.

 

The house is a contemporary wood-frame structure with a very dominant roof element made of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). These are prefabricated, insulated panels that are trucked in and craned up onto the roof framing, enabling the roof to be completed in a very short time.  The panels allow for large overhangs, desirable for shading of sun in this hot, dry summer climate.


Public spaces in the home have a high roof, allowing for maximum light; the bedroom wing has a lower roof, creating spaces that are more private and intimate in feeling. Below, you can see the glu-lam joists, with their protective covers almost completely removed.



A local contractor is building this project; stay tuned on progress with us as he sends us photos with progress updates!

The Bainbridge Farmhouse: Construction Photos

Our last post on the Bainbridge Island House was an early look at our ideas for the farm house-inspired home. Just under a year later, we have our first pictures of the house in construction! To recap the schematic intent, the home was carefully designed to have a strong indoor-outdoor connection to the Island’s lush greenery and fauna, including it’s particular situation on the site to collect the most natural light. The home will be a permanent residence for two active retirees and was designed as such; we allowed for wide corridors and doorways, a one-floor living area, and an abundance of natural light – all imperceptible aging-in-place strategies.


The photo montages below show the foundation, simple form, and prominent roof taking shape – ideas borrowed from the Island’s rural vernacular. The project finally broke ground in October after a few months delay, and has been moving along quickly ever since! The very patient John Viele of Craftsman Building Fine Homes is the builder for the project and has been wonderful to work with throughout the project – his Bainbridge Island project history is quite impressive!

This first set of photos shows the first day of digging for the foundation footings, the framing of the formwork, reinforcing, stem wall formwork, and finally the finished foundation walls. Once the concrete has cured, the floor joists can go up and it’s all framing from then on out.

This next montage shows the construction from a new angle – walls are up and the roof begins to take shape. From the large glue-lam beams being put into place to the stick-framed roof, plywood sheathing and building wrap, you can see how over the course of a few weeks the project can quickly move along. The last photo even shows windows in place! Once all windows are installed and the roofing goes on, the house will be “closed-in”, a term meaning the house is now weather-proof and interior finishing can start to take place. We’re looking forward to the next set of construction photos!

CTA Collaborates on Sierra Leone Health Clinic with Architects Without Borders

Engineers Without Borders has asked Architects Without Borders – Seattle to design a new health care facility in Sierra Leone specializing in services for women and children. In this effort, Buzz has assembled a talented new team of design-minded volunteers to work on this project: Mahboobeh, Megan, Alex, John, and Logan. The clinic is in a small village in the south of Sierra Leone in the Wai community. It replaces a previous clinic that was destroyed during the 11-year civil war. Now finally, the community is looking forward to once again having a much needed healthcare facility.
While AWB designs the clinic, EWB is responsible for its funding and construction.


The clinic is designed to be self-sufficient in terms of energy and resources. Electricity will be generated from solar photo-voltaic cells collecting the all-day sun, rain water will be harvested and diverted into large cisterns for clean drinking water, gardens will be provided on site, and wastes will be composted to the extent that they can be.


The massing of the buildings is broken up to take advantage of the prevailing breezes for ventilation. The building forms create inter-spaces that resemble the community itself, and encourage personal interactions while also affording privacy. Spaces for women and children, and the general public are separated to follow cultural norms.

The building will use local materials as much as possible, using locally-made brick as the predominant element, along with some concrete and steel. The labor will be completed by local trades.

This is our Phase One, designing the plan and building forms only to a point where construction means and methods, and thus costs, can be more clearly brought into focus. The upcoming Phase Two will continue to finalize the schematic designs.

 

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.

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

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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.

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EDITReber finished photos 7

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!

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!

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