go modern? in my neighborhood?
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go modern? in my neighborhood?Posted by Ken King at February 01. 2005
i just bought a house in west seattle that needs a total rebuild. i built from the ground up last time about 2 years ago and i'm excited to try some of the stuff that most people discouraged on my last house. the new one is on a block of small craftsman homes that are all in varying states of repair, restoration, etc... i'm worried about going too mod in the neighborhood. it aint capital hill, where you can build whatever you want and not have to worry about the resale. we will probably be there for 5 years or so, but not forever, so i dont know if its a good idea to go too crazy design-wise. i was thinking of maybe something 'modern-craftsman'. same basic shape of the craftsman homes in the neighborhood, with a more updated look. modern siding, metal roof, etc... then go for a super modern interior.
what do you guys think? am i wimping out by not building a flat roof structure with huge windows and concrete floors???
thanks in advance for the input.
I'm kinda partial to the idea of rehabbing the existing bungalow, fixing all of its problems, giving it a face-lift, and opening up the interior spaces by blowing out walls and ceilings, and then tying the house to the yard with an ultra modern addition (wich would ideally house a master suite and maybe a new kitchen.) That way your main street frontage is deferential to the neighbors, but the back of the house is better integrated with the site and yard.
I find it really amazing what a modern addition onto a traditional house can do to the feeling of the site. Whereas the original house is all about being either inside or outside, the modern addition can play around with the blurring of those boundaries with large glass expanses and sliding/folding doors.
unfortunately the yard wont allow too much of an addition. in fact, the house is so close to the property line that even when we go up a story (which is the plan now) we will have to build over 14 from the existing ground floor wall to make the setbacks. the lot is only 36' wide.
i had plans for a modern accessory dwelling, but the city wont allow anything but a garage. i'll settle for that and go up with the house.
i'm partial to the idea of something that 'sort-of' fits into the block as well.
thanks for your insight.
If you have room for a modern accessory building, why don't you have room for a modern addition, even if it is connected to the house by a long thin hallway/gallery? I'm sure you have good reason, but maybe you didn't think of that idea.
yeah, the idea crossed my mind. in fact, if its connected, i could probably get away with alot more. i really need a garage/shop to work in. (i build some furniture/quilts. mint design/build is the business) if i add it onto the house, it has to conform to the 5' setback, which puts it pretty much in the middle of the back yard, making it a tough garage to enter from the driveway along the side of the house. but then i could add a story to the top of it. its a tough call. i want a garage and i want a yard. i'm tempted to try to figure out if i could build a flat top garage structure and make the roof a deck area. i think i can only go 12 feet high though and if there is a deck up that high, i'm sure it needs a railing that may make the structure too high.
all kinds of issues. something to think about though.
Re: go modern? in my neighborhood?Posted by John Paulsen at February 01. 2005
One issue ago in This Old House there was an architect that put a modern looking addition on his bungalow - I was surprised to see such a modern design in the magazine. Look for an issue at your local library. As far as designing a modern house in W. Seattle you'll have no problem with resale in my opinion. W. Seattle is sprinkled with modern projects - most notable are a couple down on Alki designed by Arellano-Christofides. Do your research then drive around...there are lots of cool projects out there. As long as you do something that makes 'sense' and isn't too far out there you'll not have any problem selling the house. I recall an older issue of DWELL that had a bungalow renovation in an historic neighborhood somewhere in Canada. I've got the issue somewhere...I could look it up but maybe somebody here knows the issue I'm talking about off the top of their head. It was a sensible addition that contributed to the house rather than detracted from it - that should be your ultimate goal.
Re: go modern? in my neighborhood?Posted by matt hutchins at February 03. 2005
Have you been to the city to check it out with a permit specialist? Sounds like you might have already. If not, some exceptions that might help:
If you are already in a setback, the city will allow an extension of the non-conformity as long as it isn't within 3' of a side property line or within 15' of the front property line. You can also average your neighbors existing front yards to push the house closer to the front.
Bay windows (8' or less) can project up to 2 feet in required yards, and you can stack 'em to create a light filled slot up the side of the house. Might help to squeeze a little more square footage out of a tight lot.
You can also build the attached garage with parapet walls, construct the roof as a deck (although you can't use it as such when you are getting your inspections), then sneak a door in later, to bend the rules a bit. But then you end up with a garage/shop with an eight foot ceiling at best, to get in under the 12' height requirement. Not so good for furniture building or moving plywood around for cabinets. Any alley access?
Finally, with regards to getting a variance, if the other houses on the block all have an amenity and the code is precluding you from constructing a similar amenity, the city is pretty open to approving it (because they don't want to be seen as essentially devaluing your property). Of course, variances take time, money and suddenly involve your neighbors in the design of your house, which may not be the best route if you are trying to construct a glass box in a traditional neighborhood.
I agree with John and Mark above, and I wouldn't worry too much about the context especially in West Seattle. It's hip and up-and-coming, and the more you look the more you will find little modern gems tucked into the neighborhood. I live down on Alki Beach and love the mix.
Otherwise, for the modern take on the traditional bungalow, check out miller/hull's hansman residence on Queen Anne (I think it is off 9th on the west slope). It isn't on the website anymore, but is in their book (see Peter Miller Books, downtown)
Also, (shameless self-promotion ahead), I am a designer/builder in Seattle and specialize in these kinds of challenging remodels and would love to help if you need a hand.
PS. what's Mint design/build? What kind of furniture?