SHED recently completed Genesee Shapeshifter, located in the Lakewood Neighborhood in Seattle, WA. A sympathetic addition to the existing midcentury home, this remodel reorients the home towards the rear yard (which wasn’t previously accessible), while working cleverly with light and height to complement the existing gable and create interesting, unique volumes in each part of the home.
The clients requested an expansion to accommodate a master suite, two bedrooms and a bathroom and requested that the house be integrated with the rear yard. Previously, the bath and bedrooms blocked access to the rear yard. SHED’s design solution stacked the master suite above two new bedrooms and a bathroom, creating flexibility, and accommodating a live-in parent. To provide for aging in place, the main floor was set at one level, resulting in a northern wing embedded a half-level into the sloping rear yard. This solution also minimized the building’s mass and reduced the overall structure height, both a neighborly design solution and one sympathetic to the low slung mid-century house. The addition frames a protected, south-facing courtyard, forming an extension of the kitchen and dining space, expanding the social heart of the home. In addition, the SHED team converted an existing carport into a more accommodating garage and workshop.
To impart a sense of order to the home, SHED created a central, organizing core around the existing hearth, mechanical room and vestigial walls. The new core also contains a new laundry room and backdrop for the cooking zone. It helps form a continuous loop in the home, connecting the rooms of the home together instead of through multiple discontinuous hallways. As a result, the home feels open: with sightlines from the front door to rear yard and large sliding doors that physically connect indoor and outdoor rooms. Burrowing into the slope alongside the deck, the addition and remodeled home creates a sense of privacy and safety, as well as a strong spatial connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces.
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 skewed gable allows sunlight into the rear and neighboring 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 or bounced off of white walls. Exposing the framing in the skylights and walls, the design reinforces the connection to the home’s original design. In the master suite, the bedroom and closets are enveloped by a gable volume defined by diagonal ridge-a space in which each room, or zone within the room is characterized by its relationship to the angled ceiling. The ceiling is lower on the side of the room intended for sitting, higher for a large south-facing window, lowering again in the soaking tub and lower still to guide you up or down the stair. The roof and space are dynamic and responsive to program and light.
Photography: Courtesy of SHED Architecture