Seattle Box Remodel – Board & Vellum – Built-in shelving for LEGO project display.

Custom Residential

An Architect Remodels His Own House

By Jeff Pelletier
January 15, 2014

Jumping into a remodel can be a crazy mixture of emotions. Excitement and fear mixed with a tremendous sense of anxiety can be natural first reactions. Now, you may think it would be much easier for architects to design their own remodel. This is, after all, what we do for a living, right? Yes, and absolutely NO. Planning our remodel took years as I anguished over every little detail in a way that was rather ridiculous. Details that come easily to me for clients would be things I would re-draft countless times. I'm sure I drove my contractor mildly insane as well. In the end, though, we couldn't be happier with the finished product.

Seattle Box Remodel – Board & Vellum – Living room painted bright orange with white trim.

It recently occurred to me that with the pause in blogging because of the website redesign, I hadn't actually really walked through the pictures of the house on my blog even though they're online. So, here's a look into the head of an architect who dove into a large remodel with the knowledge that I'd never move and this was the house that I would grow old in so I strove to get it right.

The pictures should hopefully speak for themselves but I wanted to point out a few of my favorite features. Here is the link to the portfolio page, but some highlights are below.

The LEGO Lounge (i.e.; the Brick Bar)

Seattle Box Remodel – Board & Vellum – Room for a small counter in a tight bar space.

I've always wanted a LEGO Room that I could hang out in with friends. This was it. I love that we were able to get the height of the bar aligned with the stair treads and that I could sneak in an extra work table that hides away into the knee space of the main work space.

The Built-In Dog Crate

Seattle Box Remodel – Board & Vellum – Built-in dog crate.
Seattle Box Remodel – Board & Vellum – Built-in dog crate.

Before my dogs Helo and Athena had this, we had a normal dog crate that I walked into who knows how many times. We wanted a place that they could go and be out of the way but still watch us. In this crate they can see into the kitchen, the front hall, and down into the basement.

The Master Bedroom Closet

Seattle Box Remodel – Board & Vellum – Bold wallpaper in a calm space.

As hard as I tried, I just couldn't sneak in a proper walk-in closet into the master suite. I finally realized that if I used one wall of an existing smaller room and lined it with built-in closets I'd get the best of a walk in closet and a large dressing room. The trick was to make the cabinet doors as nice as possible so we don't mind looking at them. It is a great solution for smaller bedrooms.

The Family Room Wainscot Panels

Seattle Box Remodel – Board & Vellum – Built-in shelving on either side of the hearth.
Seattle Box Remodel – Board & Vellum – Folding glass doors from the kitchen to the deck.

We have relatively small rooms (the house is actually not very large in footprint), but with high ceilings. Sitting in a room like that, you can tend to feel uncomfortable as the sense of "coziness" goes missing. Adding the bright white wainscot panels to this room brings the visual height of the ceiling down when you're sitting and creates a very intimate seating area even though it is open to the dining room and kitchen.

The Library Ladder

Seattle Box Remodel – Board & Vellum – White shelves with green walls.
Seattle Box Remodel – Board & Vellum – Kitchen with a rolling ladder to reach the high cabinets.

We have tall ceilings in the house and not a lot of floor space for closets so I had to think creatively about maximizing storage. It was a no-brainer to extend the cabinets right to the ceiling but accessing them was obviously a challenge. To solve this I designed a custom metal library ladder built by The Boiler Room in Seattle. I realized early on that the cabinets in the kitchen and living Rooms could be spaced to match so we put rails in both rooms and can easily move the ladder between the spaces.

Our remodel was a big project including excavating for a new foundation and a finished basement with 9' ceilings, gutting the majority of the main floor, and turning an existing set of bedrooms into a Master Suite. There's a lot of back story behind each decision – mainly I felt that each room should be an interesting stop on the tour. So, from a LEGO room with an attached bar, to a built-in dog crate, up to a recessed built-in that is made to look like it was always there in our son's room, I feel I got this place right. I hope we've given it another 112 years of life.

For some press, check out Washington Travel and Life Magazine on page 30. The house will also be featured in Pacific Northwest Magazine later in the Spring. The project was built by N&R Construction and the casework was built by Evan Scott Cabinet and Furniture.

Would you like to read more from the team?

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