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 will be a sheltering glass canopy at the front and over the rear deck.  We’ll let you know when this is 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: Finishing Touches – Blog #5

Work has come to a close at the Lake House Remodel, a project that completely transformed what once was a little 1900s cottage on the lake. Before we arrived, the house had endured additions and remodels here and there and our work to create a cohesive, contemporary home was cut out for us.

While our Builds team put the finishing touches on the home this past week, we were able to snap a few photographs to capture the last bit of hustle and bustle. We even had a few surprise visitors that made for a fun afternoon. You can see the series of blogs documenting the construction of this house here.

 


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
Lake House Remodel: Finishing Touches

Surprise Inspection

While we try our best, sometimes you just aren’t prepared for an inspection, and that happened today when a mother duck and her ducklings waddled in for their examination of the site (and move in, likely) of the Lake House Remodel. Of course, all of the subcontractors stopped what they were doing to take turns speaking with the new inspectors and giving them a good pat on the head.
The verdict: They approve – although they’ve been keeping a close eye on us ever since!


You can see our blog series on the construction of the Lake House Remodel here.

Finished Photos of the Queen Anne Kitchen Remodel

One of our latest projects to finish construction is a small craftsman kitchen and patio remodel in the West Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Julie worked with our clients to create an inviting experience from the kitchen to the back yard while keeping up with the period aesthetics of this 1906 home.

This true craftsman home is a beautiful example of early 20th-century architecture, but also has some of the century’s design flaws. Early 1900s homes through the 1950s tended to have small closed in rooms, and even smaller kitchens. See the before photo below and it’s “after” transformation:

This remodel allowed us to open up the kitchen’s small footprint to efficiently use every square foot available. The new layout allows for open island seating, four different work counters, and a new pair of french doors to an outdoor patio. The light, bright new room welcomes family activity and lounging in the nearby eating and reading nook, and allows for an indoor-outdoor connection from the kitchen sink to the new trellis at the patio.


Our clients were thrilled with the transformation as it seamlessly matched their traditional craftsman home with a kitchen updated for a more contemporary work flow. See the project page for more information on this home here.


 

Kirkland Mid Century Modern


One of our latest Mid Century Modern designs is under construction by our friends at Seattle Design Builders. This home resides in the Rose Hill neighborhood of Kirkland; a neighborhood continually blighted by huge “Hardi” houses. Our clients, who are avid modernists, wanted to bring the mid century history back to the landscape. We are excited to share photos of its construction progress!wp_20161026_002

Guiding the design at heart is a number of mid-century principals espoused by Mid-Century greats like Richard Neutra and Joseph Eichler.  Eichler’s influence is seen here in many ways: floor to ceiling glass, thin vertical wood siding both inside and out, post and beam structure that moves from inside to out, walls open above room height to a large expanse of sloped ceilings above; all adhering to his famous philosophy: “bring the outside in!”


Stay tuned for more exiting construction photos as this mid-century modern home takes shape!

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

 

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 1A 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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The Secret Life of a Job Site!

Between all of the subcontractors, carpenters, architects and so on coming in and
out of a house during construction, you would think not much stays still at a job site…

At our latest walk through of the Lake House Remodel, we found quite a few details here and there that hinted at the hustle and bustle of the job, but had remained, hidden throughout construction (and will stay within the walls once it’s complete!) This is our ever growing collection of the little things – the notes, systems, and methods that help our carpenters and subcontractors do their job best.

IMG_4813IMG_4814 (above) “Right” on the money!

img_1209(above) Our carpenters Sam and Robert hard at work on the Lake House exterior.

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(above) Although it looks like a face, it’s actually the various iterations of the location of the kitchen cable light system with our lighting consultant and electrician!

IMG_4808IMG_4810IMG_4806IMG_4789 IMG_4791 IMG_4790Trellis details, Corten sill details, and siding: all examples of job site problem solving on our most convenient writing surface, and aptly named, building paper. (Here’s to you, James Hardie)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(above) “Headquarters”. This photo was taken a few weeks into framing… and (below) 6 months later, the Lake House library (HQ) has grown into an operations center with everything you could possibly need on site, buns included. Reiterating that blocking is always important!IMG_1210

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