A 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.
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.
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.
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