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Montlake Remodel

  • Location
    Seattle, WA
  • Contractor
    Jake LaBarre

Working with a limited budget and a tight construction schedule, the Montlake remodel re-imagined the interior space of a 1949 bungalow to meet the needs of a family of three.

With these limitations in place, the design sought to integrate the public spaces of the house while simultaneously opening the public and private zones of the house to each other.

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Site

Working with a limited budget and a tight construction schedule, the Montlake remodel re-imagined the interior space of a 1949 bungalow to meet the needs of a family of three.

Program

The owner’s project brief called for a unified Living/Kitchen/Dining room, a master bathroom, and the addition of a shower to the powder room. In addition, the clients wanted to open the floor plan up to the greatest extent possible. Several decisions were made to restrain the construction budget: 1) no changes would be made to the exterior building envelope; 2) no major changes would be made to existing plumbing locations and 3) the clients would act as the general contractor.

Design

With these limitations in place, the design sought to integrate the public spaces of the house while simultaneously opening the public and private zones of the house to each other. To achieve the first, the non-bearing partition walls dividing kitchen, dining and living rooms were completely removed. The resulting space runs the length of the house, from front yard to rear yard, and is defined by furniture and the pools of light from the existing skylights. Budget restrictions prevented the extension of the interior space to the exterior yards, but future connection is planned! To achieve the second objective, the central bearing wall was “pulled apart” to open diagonal views between public and private zones, and then casework was inserted in the framed voids to provide a measure of screening. To further unify the two sides of the wall, new flush beams were inserted in the bearing wall to create a continuous ceiling plane.

Using just these two strategies the interior was transformed from a series of closed rooms to an open plan that integrated public/private space. From start to finish the project took 4.5 months. Only 26 days elapsed from meeting the clients to obtaining the permit! With such a demanding schedule, decisions were made intuitively and then pursued to their logical end. The decision to “pull-apart” the central bearing wall, for instance, was a gut level response to opening the house that was developed further rather than criticized out of existence. While this process is not one we necessarily advocate, it resulted in a strong concept that delivered design bang for the client’s buck.