This new modern home in Seattle's East Capitol Hill neighborhood is an economical, efficient, low-maintenance, and modern version of a traditional Seattle house – one with primary living spaces on the main floor and three bedrooms above.
The homeowners came from a culture with a tradition of courtyard houses so creating comfortable outdoor spaces with free-flowing connections to the interior living areas was paramount.
The social family chef wanted the kitchen to occupy a central and commanding position in the house with easy access to the backyard patio. Large floor-to-ceiling sliding doors flank the east and west ends of the house, exposing an open-plan kitchen, dining and living space ideal for entertaining. The kitchen’s minimal palette of bamboo, fir, cork, and concrete allow the natural materials to take center stage without overpowering the functional details including a custom stainless steel pot rack. In order to achieve the desired aesthetic and budget-level, the designers selected cabinets from Ikea and created custom bamboo cabinet fronts and fir wraps with recessed pulls. The bamboo material was selected for and sets the tone for the rest of the house.
The house sits on a well-traveled arterial along a bus line and is flanked by two multi-unit buildings: to the south a rental house that extends the length of the property line with several windows along that façade; to the north, a triplex with a south-facing entry court encroaches upon the original plot by means of an easement. By limiting windows along the sides of the house and focusing the glazing towards the east and west, the home establishes a strong connection to its front and rear yards while protecting its occupants from the heavily used side-yards of the neighbors. A walled and elevated terrace extending from the sunken living room claims the front yard as occupiable space and shields the fully glazed living spaces from passersby. This terrace and the adjacent front entry are partially framed by white walls and ceilings that extend from the interior, welcoming and protecting visitors. Corrugated metal siding and concrete site walls were used where privacy was desired, while wood windows, doors, and siding were used at the sheltered open ends where people interact directly with the building’s exterior.
The home was also designed with the environment in mind. A low-maintenance high performance enclosure was achieved by using an effective combination of advanced framing (required 30% less lumber), triple-pane windows protected by aluminum plate ‘visors,’ and metal siding. Additionally, a south-facing light monitor with a motorized north-facing awning window creates a stack effect for ventilation while providing ample daylight. Inside, a high-efficiency boiler, indirect water storage tank and in-floor radiant heating provide heat controlled by Nest thermostats.
Natural light, open spaces and simple materials come together to create a private sanctuary for the homeowners to cook, entertain and recharge.
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