Urban Sanctuary

Published: December 11, 2017

As one of Seattle’s most popular neighborhoods, the Capitol Hill district has long been known for its diversity, wealthy residents and nightlife. It is also one of the most densely populated parts of the city, with most houses built right next to each other. Two homeowners looking to build in this central location found a 40-ft. by 120-ft. lot and asked Seattle-based SHED Architecture and Design to create their dream home here.

“The clients approached us looking for an economical, low-maintenance and modern version of a traditional Seattle house – one with primary living spaces on the main floor and three bedrooms above,” said Thomas Shaer, principal designer.

Designing a Private Space

It was important to the clients that the home felt secluded but still connected to the outdoors.

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“Creating privacy on an urban lot was a challenge,” said Shaer, who used AutoCAD to complete this project. “The home sits on a well-traveled bus line and is flanked by two multi-unit buildings.”

The team solved this issue by limiting windows along the sides of the house. For those windows that were installed on the sides, they used glazing – a technique that hides the interior view of the home from the outside. There is also a walled and elevated terrace outside of the living room and kitchen. The terrace’s white walls continue into the living room to make the inside and outside feel cohesive; floor-to-ceiling windows also contribute to this idea.

“This walled terrace and the adjacent front entry also help protect the view of the living spaces from people passing by,” added the designer.

Now the home has a strong connection to its front and rear yards while still sheltering its occupants from the heavily used side yards of the neighbors. Corrugated metal siding and concrete site walls along the lot borders are also used to reinforce the home’s privacy.

Contemporary and Natural

For a modern look, the design team chose a minimalist style in the kitchen. Instead of using high-gloss materials often featured in this type of design, they worked with warmer resources that also were eco-friendly.

“The kitchen’s palette of bamboo, cork and concrete allow the natural materials to take center stage without overpowering the functional details,” said Shaer, adding that one of these useful aspects is a custom stainless steel pot rack that hangs above the stove.

The cabinet boxes are from Ikea, but the cabinet fronts are custom made with bamboo. This accomplishes the look the clients wanted and still meets the budget. The bamboo material, along with being sustainable and inexpensive, was selected for its distinctiveness, and it pairs well with recessed pulls that maintain the clean-lined style.

Cork flooring is another eco-friendly choice in the kitchen. It comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, rather than fine hardwoods, and it can be harvested from the living trees. The material is also a good insulator, which should keep energy bills low for the homeowners.

“The home was truly designed with the environment in mind,” said Schaer.

The light cork floors, white concrete countertops and backsplash and the bamboo on the perimeter cabinets and the long island bring interest and texture to the minimalist space. The floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides of the open kitchen and living space let in a substantial amount of natural light, despite the lack of windows on the sides of the house. The resulting kitchen will feel modern and welcoming, even in the dark rainy season.

Source List

Designer: Thomas Shaer, SHED Design and Architecture Photographer: Rafael Soldi Backsplash: Pental Bamboo Cabinet Fronts: Plyboo Cabinetry: Ikea Countertops: Pental Dishwasher: Miele Faucet: Hansgrohe Flooring: Globus Range: Miele Refrigerator: Fisher Paykel

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