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Building the Maxon House: Week 12

In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week 12: Building with Kids.

As part of the process in hiring the architects the entire family was able to visit a range of projects by Tom Kundig. One of our favorites was The Brain. Here, a Lego model representing the entrance to the Brain Studio. No detail is overlooked from the entry canopy to the lighting. One of the best ways to get the kids involved was to let them make their own house creations and try to mimic some of Kundig's projects on their own (and with the help of their dad!).

I remember flipping through modern design magazines before we started this project; many cool houses I'd quickly dismiss because the owners obviously did not have children. They were either sweet bachelor pads or stunningly spare dwellings for empty nesters. At the time we had three small but quickly growing children (all boys). Designing a house meant not just thinking about what would suit the kids now, but also what we'd need and want when it was time to move in, as well as further down the road. We decided early on to involve the kids in the entire journey, from our land search to final property selection to our first site meeting with Tom Kundig and Edward LaLonde.

I'll be honest, it took the kids some time to adapt to the concept of moving from the comforts of suburbia to the unknown of rural America. We wanted the kids to help shape their own environments, so we commenced the conceptual and schematic schemes by focusing on their bedrooms. They were excited to know that, for the first time, they'd get their own rooms!

The kids have witnessed the entire transformation of the site and all four seasons from blazing hot sun of the summer months to the low 20's of the winter. They've attended design meetings, build Lego models of their favorite Kundig projects, and inspired me to do a not-so-scale model of ours. They've sent sketches to Tom Kundig and visited the workshops of some of the craftspeople involved in the project. They've inspired the design process along the way and hopefully picked up on the passion, commitment, and love of the journey that we all share.

For previous installments of "Building the Maxon House," click here.

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