Genesee Shapeshifter

  • Square Footage
  • Location
    Seattle, WA
  • Contractor
  • Structural Engineer
    Todd Perbix
  • Photography
    SHED Team

A remodel and addition opens a modest midcentury home to light and air. 

The home of local design entrepreneurs, this midcentury home’s lot allowed for an expansion, upgrading the home to modern needs and providing first-time access to the rear yard. 


The home of local design entrepreneurs, this midcentury home’s lot allowed for an expansion, upgrading the home to modern needs and providing first-time access to the rear yard. 



Saving the existing house, SHED developed an addition in line with the home’s spirit and original design on a restrained budget. Previously, the bath and bedrooms blocked access to the rear yard, necessitating rearranging the rooms for ideal backyard entry. The clients requested an expansion to accommodate a master suite, two bedrooms and a bathroom. Replacing the existing bedrooms and bath with a new two-story addition half the width of the house, the new northern wing accommodates a private master suite, work space and storage for their professional lives and flexible rooms for guests and aging parents. Both kitchen and dining room now connect to a patio, setting up the lower portion of the yard for entertaining, and the upper for gardening. In addition, the SHED team converted an existing carport into a more accommodating garage and workshop. 



SHED’s design program stacked the master suite above the two new bedrooms and a bathroom for flexibility, and to accommodate a live-in parent. Embedding the lower floorplan into the earth by pushing the addition into the sloped yard helped to minimize the building’s mass and  to reduce the overall structure height–a neighborly design solution. It also creates a protected, south facing courtyard, forming an extension of the kitchen and dining space, expanding the social heart of the home.  

Another primary design strategy was to create a central core around the existing hearth and mechanical room and vestigial walls–creating a continuous loop connecting the rooms of the home instead of multiple discontinuous hallways. As a result, the home feels open: with sight lines from front door to rear yard and large sliding door that physically connects indoor and outdoor rooms. This relationship is reinforced by the way the home is sunken into the slope alongside the deck, creating a sense of privacy, safety, and a strong spatial connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. 

The desire to create a sympathetic but formally interesting addition informed several decisions, from the asymmetrical roof gable working with the existing lines of the house in a new way, to the differentiated ceiling heights throughout the structure. From the master suite, to the dining room, sitting room, even the stair–each space boasts either a lower or higher ceiling than normal, none of them constant. This, in turn, informs the home’s relationship to the light. The interesting gable allows sunlight into the rear yard and surrounding yards while creating a playful dialog with the existing gable, forming an addition that feels symbiotic rather than out-of-place. Indoors, light bounces off the walls differently in each room, filtering in dramatically through wooden fins on top of the wall near the sitting room alongside the stairs. Exposing the framing in both skylights, in the kitchen as well as in the master bathroom, reinforces the connection with the home’s original design while creating cohesion throughout the home. In the master, the closet and bathroom are encapsulated in a lower volume underneath the high diagonal ridge, creating a room made of a range of smaller rooms defined by their relationship to the angled ceiling. The ceiling touches lower on the side of the room intended for sitting, while stretching upward on the opposite side towards a south-facing window, maximizing  natural light. 

Other updates included a full systems upgrade including new electrical work and a new ductless heat pump for efficient heating and cooling, renewed insulation across the building, bringing the home up to code, and replacing both the siding and windows.