Creating a Craftsman Home in a Modern Age – Part 3: Craftsman Interiors

As we’ve described in our first two installments in this Craftsman series, Bungalow home design here in the US was heavily influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement, and led to a unique American architectural style known for modest but lovely homes. The architecture focused on a functional arrangement of spaces with windows, built-in furniture and trim details that reinforced the goal of integrating beauty, practicality, warmth and comfort. Hand-craftsmanship was key; houses boasted a rich palette of woods, tile, pottery, stained glass and textiles.

In this blog, we’ll cover the major interior elements of traditional Craftsman homes, and offer advice on how these same elements may be interpreted in a more contemporary manner today.

Traditional Craftsman homes typically had floor plans with rooms that were open and flowed one into the next. A living room might have a “cased opening” (wide door opening with trim around it, but no door) which opened into the dining area, making these smallish rooms feel larger and more spacious. The focus of these living spaces was usually the fireplace – designed to be the main focal point in the house. Often an “inglenook” was designed around the fireplace: built-in seats and bookcases, along with a textured brick or tile surround and prominent wood mantel, ensured maximum visibility and impact for the “home and hearth” of the house, inviting one to snuggle up and retreat from the world!

In the two photos below, see how we designed fireplaces in two very different homes: one is an island cabin featuring lots of book cases, nook window seat, and a mantle alcove to achieve that same cozy quality. The second photo is from our Daring Downsize, a recent remodel of more contemporary home but it still uses the same technique of built-in bench nook and wood paneling to impart a warm intimate space close-in to the fireplace.



Wood was always a key material throughout these old Craftsman homes: paneling or wainscoting with plate rails on top was a common means for display of nick-knacks. Floors were usually oak, and often featured decorative ribbon details around the perimeter of rooms. Ceilings were often low and featured coffers to demarcate different spaces. As a result, these homes were rather dark and poorly lit, as you can see in this next photo. Today’s homeowners often want a lighter and airier feel to their interiors, which can pose a challenge to the Craftsman purist!


See this next photo of our Queen Anne Four Square where our clients wanted a lighter touch within their craftsman home. We incorporated classic Craftsman elements but used a mix of painted and natural wood to create a cozy but more light-filled space.

Here, living/dining/family rooms are all open to each other via cased openings or partial height walls, with ceiling coffers to demarcate spaces. Note built-in bookcases and small upper windows flanking the fireplace (just to the left of picture frame), and dark ribboning in flooring perimeter.

CTA Design Builds | Queen Anne Four Square Redux 6

The adjacent kitchen (next photo) transitions to fir cabinetry within these same painted spaces.

Traditional Craftsman kitchens were small and simple, not having all the appliances we now enjoy. But they did feature windows for better lighting, built-in cabinets, and usually a subway tile backsplash! Below is the kitchen in Greene & Greene’s beloved Gamble House in Pasadena. More modest homes often featured built-in seating for dining nooks.


Our Island Cabin kitchen features a corner window seat/dining nook. Note the very simple fir Craftsman cabinetry, including Craftsman style bracket at counter overhang.

And below are a few other photos of our recent Craftsman projects, to demonstrate how these same principals can be incorporated into various other spaces within a modern home.


Note the built-in oak dresser, and classic Craftsman-style window & door trim on the Craftsman Charmer.

A couple of bathrooms: natural materials, simple fir cabinetry, built-ins & paneling! Dark bronze hardware & fixtures is often our finish of choice. Seen here are the Island Cabin and River Run residences.


Built-in details on the Island Cabin help create scale and coziness, and impart a lovely hand-crafted patina to a home.


And last: a mudroom to manage all of life’s stuff!

Creating a Craftsman Home in a Modern Age – Part 2

In our first article in this series, we offered a brief history of how Craftsman or Bungalow style architecture came into such popularity in the late 1800’s Industrial Age. Here in Seattle, as elsewhere, we continue to witness how this unique, nature-influenced style never seems to grow old or dated; there’s an inherent timeless appeal to these structures, and this appreciation is gaining popularity again as our daily lives grow ever more technology-filled .

In this article, we’ll dig into the specific architectural elements of Craftsman and Bungalow styles, focusing on exterior elements and explaining the reasoning behind these features. If you’re planning to build a new Craftsman style house, or remodel an existing, it’s critical to really understand the Craftsman philosophy and let it guide your design; if not, you risk missing the mark. As architects, we take this challenge very seriously and work hard to incorporate the essential elements into our Craftsman projects, staying true to the intention behind the style.


As I mentioned in Part 1, Craftsman style was born out of discontent with an alienating modern world; it was a resurrection of the long-held values of handcraftsmanship in reaction to the dehumanizing effect of factory life and industrial labor. The design of homes focused on creating cozy retreats nestled into natural landscapes, welcoming you into a restive sanctuary, rich with natural materials and beautiful details, fixtures and furnishings.

To begin with, the most prominent element of a Craftsman home is the roof. Without fail, every traditional Craftsman home has a prominent low pitch roof with exaggerated overhangs!  The low-angle pitch is key. Look at contemporary spec houses that purport to be Craftsman style: most have steeper roof pitches with perky dormers, and just don’t have a true craftsman look about them. Most historic old dwellings had a single floor with a low slung roof form, as the entire philosophy emphasized simplicity over indulgence. This home style was very popular (and affordable!) among working class folk, so homes tended to be modest in scale.

Wealthier homes often had 2 floors, but the architect worked to keep the upper roofs as low as possible, using lower shed roofs below to minimize the impact of a 2-story wall; the whole intention being to keep the house looking like it snuggles into the landscape, versus sitting perched up on top of the ground.

To illustrate how these architectural elements can inform new construction, see our current Craftsman projects below.


In the left photo above, see our owner’s existing 1913 Craftsman home – a single story house with some lovely Craftsman features, especially the covered porch with chunky, detailed posts. We are adding a second story addition (right image), so in an effort to keep the house from becoming too massive with its new second floor, we’ve stepped the upper wall back from the front of the house, and keeping the two lower existing roofs intact so that the broad low-pitch roof forms step up and back from the street. Note the big overhangs, brackets, divided light windows, continuation of original siding patterns.

Also on our boards and under construction: a totally new 2-story, Craftsman-inspired home. Although large, note the roof with large overhangs and Craftsman-detailed brackets at roofs and bump-out bay window. Also included is a big covered porch, and adjacent overhanging second floor with corbel details to break up the mass of the wall.


Below is a photo of a classic old, 2-story Greene & Greene home in Pasadena CA. Note all the roof forms stepping up to camouflage the height of the structure, enabling it to seem nestled into the landscape.

Ground forms and site-work also work to strengthen this effect; rockeries stepping up to the house, stepped patios, mounded planting beds all create a naturalistic landscape out of which the house seems to emerge. In the photo below, even the chimney is built out of the same rocks that form the entry terrace walls, as if the landscape is within the house itself!

Other attributes of Craftsman exteriors include wood siding that offers textural interest: shakes or narrow horizontal boards, or a combination of types. Often the overhang “tails” are exposed (see above photo) to add textural interest. Wooden roof brackets are common and add visual interest.  Almost all Craftsman homes have front porches that are usually covered by big roof overhangs, enhancing a feeling of indoor/outdoor connectedness. Colours are usually earthy and natural hues.

Windows always include divided lights in some repetitive pattern – stained glass in key areas is common.

The Tiffany studios were in their heyday during the time Greene & Greene homes were being built in California; the Gamble House has extraordinary examples of this:

As you can begin to understand, common to all these features is an emphasis on the natural world: natural, local materials, low, earth-bound architectural forms, colours taken from the landscape, strong connection between inside & outside; all this comes together to help the dwelling feel as if it’s connected to the earth in a timeless fashion.

Next up: Part 3 will focus on how Craftsman INTERIORS achieve this same goal: home design that provides connection with nature and sustenance to the soul. That’s an architecture that suits any era!

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!

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: 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