A Seattle Green Home with Midcentury Cali Vibes

Fremont High-Performing Home

Built upon the existing home’s foundation, this green home features sustainable strategies both inside and out.

Having met in California, when these homeowners moved to Seattle, they hoped to bring the ease of indoor/outdoor California living with them to the Pacific Northwest.

After purchasing a modest, post-war home in which to put down their new Seattle roots, their original intent was to build up with a traditionally-styled second story addition. However, as we explored early design concepts, they realized a mid-century inspired design aesthetic suited them better.

As that and other major changes began to pile up — such as wanting to raise the ceiling height of the existing first floor by two feet — we realized, rather than a second story addition, the solution was to build a new home on the existing foundation.

Concrete stairs approach the front entry of this new contemporary home in Fremont.
Raised Main Floor

With the main floor of the home up a series of generous concrete steps, the floor below can be daylit. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Raised Main Floor

With the main floor of the home up a series of generous concrete steps, the floor below can be daylit. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Steel channel awnings are suspended over the entry doors of this new home with a contemporary design.
A New Home on an Existing Foundation

Designed to reuse the foundation of the original home, this home, though new from the foundation up, maintains a footprint in sync with the scale of the neighborhood. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

A New Home on an Existing Foundation

Designed to reuse the foundation of the original home, this home, though new from the foundation up, maintains a footprint in sync with the scale of the neighborhood. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Double sliding glass doors open the backyard of this new home built on an existing foundation.
Backyard Spaces

Double sliding glass doors open to a back deck right off the dining room to allow for the ease of indoor/outdoor living. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Backyard Spaces

Double sliding glass doors open to a back deck right off the dining room to allow for the ease of indoor/outdoor living. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Reusing the original home’s foundation allowed us to avoid a steep slope area and to protect an exceptional tree. It also ensures the new home is proportional and appropriate to the neighborhood context by increasing in height but not footprint. Additionally, reusing the existing foundation is more environmentally-friendly than demolishing and replacing the concrete.

This conscientious couple chose to include a number of other sustainable strategies, as well. In the yard, captured rainwater collects in a cistern for graywater irrigation. Inside, a super-efficient boiler powers radiant heat throughout the home. Meanwhile, heat-recovery ventilation supplies the house with fresh air with minimal energy loss.

Along the upstairs hall, automated operable skylights allow for stack effect ventilation, pulling warm air up and out of the home while drawing in fresh, cool air at the ground floor – a passive cooling strategy that adds comfort without the cost or energy burden of air conditioning. Sheep’s wool insulation (a natural, durable, and renewable option) in the home’s walls helps with energy savings, while a solar array on the large, south-facing roof volume offers a clean and renewable energy source moving into the future.

Street view of a new home in Fremont that is actually built on existing foundations.
Sustainable Features in the Yard

A cistern in the front yard collects rainwater for use in a graywater irrigation system. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Sustainable Features in the Yard

A cistern in the front yard collects rainwater for use in a graywater irrigation system. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Aesthetically, the home’s interiors reflect the characteristic mid-century palette of warm wood paired with clean, white walls. The wood details feature throughout the home, accenting generous glazing and custom built-in shelving. Bathed in light from the skylights above, an open-slat signature stair is a beautiful custom focal piece in the home. Peeking out from strategic doors and hallways, it connects the two floors with a common and distinctive element.

In the kitchen, the color palette expands with dramatic cerulean cabinets paired with classic red accents and an eye-catching, geometric backsplash. In a region where many of our natural blues trend gray, the vibrant blue recalls that California feel.

Not every client comes in for a remodel and leaves with a new home. But, by taking this house back to its foundation, we were able to nestle a sustainably-minded, mid-century-inspired design into an established Pacific Northwest neighborhood in a way that feels like “home” to these California transplants.

A living room with midcentury style, with a couch, coffee table, and sitting area under large windows.
Living Room

Carefully trimmed wood windows meet at the corner of the living room, filling the space with abundant natural light while adding architectural interest. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Living Room

Carefully trimmed wood windows meet at the corner of the living room, filling the space with abundant natural light while adding architectural interest. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

A home with a California feel and midcentury design feel with wood accents.
Peek Into the Dining Room

A deep passage connects the living room space to the dining room. This area accommodates pantry storage on the dining room side, while allowing for built-in bookshelves, accessible by library ladder, on the living room side. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Peek Into the Dining Room

A deep passage connects the living room space to the dining room. This area accommodates pantry storage on the dining room side, while allowing for built-in bookshelves, accessible by library ladder, on the living room side. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

A master bedroom with a modern canopy bed made of wood and large windows.
Master Bedroom

Expansive windows along two walls of the master bedroom create the sensation of sleeping in the treetops. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Master Bedroom

Expansive windows along two walls of the master bedroom create the sensation of sleeping in the treetops. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

A contemporary kitchen with painted blue cabinets and tile backsplash lending it a California feel.
Kitchen

Cerulean-painted base cabinets give off a beachy, yet crisp vibe. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Kitchen

Cerulean-painted base cabinets give off a beachy, yet crisp vibe. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

A high-end, light-filled kitchen with blue base cabinets, white upper cabinets, tile backsplash, and a Wolf range.
Geometric Backsplash

White hexagonal tiles lend a geometric feel to the backsplash, while larger-format files — hand-painted in California — accent the range. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Geometric Backsplash

White hexagonal tiles lend a geometric feel to the backsplash, while larger-format files — hand-painted in California — accent the range. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

A peek from the hallway into a kitchen with wood stools at the counter and a large window beyond.
Visual Links Between Spaces

Through the wood-ceilinged hall, the kitchen peeks through along with a glimpse of the wooded backyard beyond. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Visual Links Between Spaces

Through the wood-ceilinged hall, the kitchen peeks through along with a glimpse of the wooded backyard beyond. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

A custom railing and wood screen are detailed with a midcentury modern look in the entry foyer of this home.
Midcentury Wood Screen

A custom wood screen partitions the stair from the foyer while still allowing sightlines between the spaces. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Midcentury Wood Screen

A custom wood screen partitions the stair from the foyer while still allowing sightlines between the spaces. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Midcentury modern wood details on a custom railing for a wood staircase.
Midcentury Modern Wood Details

The custom stair screen continues down into the basement, tying it in with the rest of the home. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Midcentury Modern Wood Details

The custom stair screen continues down into the basement, tying it in with the rest of the home. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Midcentury modern railing details on a staircase with skylights above.
Daylit Staircase

With large skylights above the dramatic staircase links all three levels of the home. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Daylit Staircase

With large skylights above the dramatic staircase links all three levels of the home. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

A row of skylights over a hallway lets in plenty of natural light.
Skylight Row

Along the length of the upstairs hall, a row of operable skylights light the space naturally, as well as being operable to aid with passive cooling. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Skylight Row

Along the length of the upstairs hall, a row of operable skylights light the space naturally, as well as being operable to aid with passive cooling. Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

B&V Project Team
Jeff Pelletier, AIA, CPHCPrincipal
Sandy Wolf, AIA, LEED AP BD+C – Project Lead
Zack Thomas, PLA LEED AP NDSite Design Lead
Charles FademDesign Team

Notes & Credits
This project was built by Mu-2 Construction.
Front yard design and landscape construction by Cultivar, LLC.
Sustainable strategies constulting from 475 High Performance Building Supply.
Photos by Andrew Giammarco.

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