N10 Green, Inside and Out


1710 NE 86th St
Seattle, WA 98115

Sunday Only, 11am - 5pm

Site Description

Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Indoor Air Quality, Materials Efficiency, Solar Power, Storm Water Infiltration, Urban Farming

Project Scope & Objectives

The owners for this master suite addition initiated the design and construction process based on three primary goals:   First, as an aging couple, they purchased the property with the intent of it being their final home, although some aspects of the existing living spaces were not compatible with aging-in-place. Second, the property featured a large back yard and the original layout and orientation of the house severed the connection between structure and environment.   The addition was designed to integrate the house with the rear yard through large windows, access to the deck and garden and an open layout.   Third, to pursue sustainable design and efficiency, the owners desired energy upgrades and options for future modifications – they have since taken advantage of this opportunity by installing an 18-panel solar array which produces one half of their net energy, a roof water reclamation system and permaculture garden featuring hügelkultur installations.

These criteria determined the scope of the 500+ square foot addition, which includes a master suite consisting of bedroom, bathroom, and closet, along with a new deck.

Challenges and Solutions

While relatively straightforward during the construction process, this project met with significant challenges during the design phase. One central aim was to convert the existing house into a sanctuary where aging-in-place would be possible. In the bathroom, features like a curbless shower and grab bars help make this goal a reality. On the exterior, the challenge was how to blend the bungalow style of the existing structure with the desired contemporary aesthetic. This was artfully accomplished by integrating matching lap siding with smooth siding panels, all of which surround large window arrangements. In addition, the owners’ chemical sensitivities required material selections and installation methods to be tailored to their specific tolerances. This led to the use of natural materials and low- to no-VOC products wherever possible. Furthermore, the design needed to enhance the sense of access between the house and the back yard, while preventing the scope from getting out of control. Utilizing a set of French doors and adding the bank of windows in the bedroom addition yield a backyard façade with abundant natural light and openness.   A project of this scale and quality could easily balloon out of budget. Costs were only kept on track through careful planning and a team approach to the build which centered on consistent communication.

The Results

Not only did the owners gain 50% more room in their house from this addition, but they also achieved the important goal of functionality and the delight of visual beauty. The beautiful bedroom features bright hardwood flooring, a tall sloped ceiling, and enough windows to make one second-guess whether they are indoors or outdoors. What the bedroom has in vibrant color, the bathroom contrasts with muted, natural tones. A basin sink and a water-efficient toilet, combined with an obscured-glass block window in the shower, are key features to the bathroom. The stunning indoor spaces transition seamlessly to the outdoors – first to a large deck, then to the various urban farming areas that make up the backyard which includes rain gardens, greywater gardens (and irrigation systems), and hügelkultur beds (raised garden beds featuring lots of edible fruits and some vegetables).

Whereas the original house barely enjoyed a view, much less a connection with the green spaces, now the two areas function as one. The gardens, viewed through the many windows, draw one’s attention outside when on the interior, and the beautiful design of the addition invites one back inside from enjoying the greenery.

The symbiosis between the two areas was precisely what was lacking; precisely what the owners wished for; precisely what they gained through this project.