The client’s intense desire to live in a house that was good for her family and the environment inspired architect Bradley Khouri to design a multifunctional, incredibly green, and highly livable place. To this determined homeowner, a healthy house not only meant no VOCs, but also abundant natural light, reclaimed or recycled-content materials, and enough yard for her garden and teenage son to coexist. Plus, she wanted the new structure’s footprint to be the same size as her existing 1930s house before any additions had been made in order to maintain her large garden. “We had a 9,000-square-foot lot in a neighborhood just north of downtown Seattle with no zoning restrictions, but we only used about 700 square feet of it,” Khouri says, adding that this was just one way the client’s restrictions pushed him to craft inventive solutions.
Insisting on knowing every ingredient used in all of the building materials was another. Khouri looked to local manufacturers who could offer complete transparency of processes and components. Reclaimed fir car decking was remilled into thinner sheets and applied as a rainscreen for most of the exterior siding. Bringing the same dark wood inside as the powder room enclosure provides consistency in the palette. A cabinetmaker was enlisted to do interior millwork using all formaldehyde-free woods and adhesives. Khouri selected maple veneer apple plywood for upper kitchen cabinets as well as an armature that winds through the first floor and delineates functions within the open plan. The pale wood wraps around an open pantry and structural ceiling beam then continues as a slender cabinet that turns into a built-in bench running the length of the dining area.
“The position of that dining room in regard to southern light was crucial,” Khouri declares, “because this was the space where she knew she wanted to hang out.” The client also wanted the dining/working area to overlook an old detached garage turned garden shed that is now topped with a vegetated roof planted with native plants from a nearby nursery. Client and architect agreed that high-performance windows were worth the splurge to keep that corner comfortable in addition to achieving daylighting and passive solar heating throughout the house. Operable doors and windows also are the only cooling system, so placement is optimized for cross ventilation.
Khouri speced a palette of bright finishes to augment all of the natural light. Topping the sapele veneer lower kitchen cabinets are white countertops made near Tacoma, Wash., from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper and natural resin. A glass backsplash above the stove and stainless steel appliances bounces light around the space, and frosted polycarbonate panels allow light to permeate the pantry and powder room walls. Polished concrete floors also reflect the sun’s rays to help brighten interiors. “The bulk of design work was done for the exterior and the kitchen,” Khouri says, “as well as the use of just a few elements on that main floor that really break up the space but allow it to stay open.”
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Seattle, WA.