wishing for: Pacific NW Architecture

Freshome blog posted a feature on a Seattle-area home designed by Finne Architects. This home is quintessential Pacific Northwest architecture that I have grown up with here. Homes like these appeared on on our coffee table and I flipped through with lust and envy, sitting on shaggy cream carpet in a boring split-level in Portland suburbia home.

PNW architecture

The need to let in as much light as possible is the binding theme in Pacific Northwest (PNW) architecture. You see, sometimes we go for months with only seeing the sun poke out of the grey for a day here or there. Why do we stay? Well, for one day of summer here, it’s worth all of that grey and rain. So we hearty PNW’ers just fuel up on organic fair trade shade grown coffee with a splash of local goat’s milk with a drop of free range bee honey (of course only from local bees to boost immunity from allergies), and design cool buildings with a gazillion windows.

This home is classic – HUGE windows everywhere. We don’t have to worry about privacy because there are trees everywhere. I say “we” because it’s the style from region. This is very much like our situation on 3 acres of trees and 110 windows. Granted, our windows aren’t 6×9′ like in this house, we couldn’t afford that.

I could see a house similar to this in California, but the difference is in the roofs. Flat roofs, common to California architecture, up here are an architectural mistake. It rains too much. So these architects obviously have experience with our area.

PNW architecture2

Another thing that I love about my native architectural style is how creative we get with wood. There is a lot of it here, so it’s a fantastic medium with which to create art. I love this door. I wish I knew what wood it was. The firm focuses on sustainable design, of course, so I am sure it’s something cool.

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The kicker in this house is this bathroom. Look at how well placed those mirrors are against the windows and the reflection of the trees. It took me a second to discover the mirrors – very well considered. The article mentioned that the goal of this design was “…to create the most amazing fortress, protecting the inhabitant’s needs for a stress free lifestyle.” My mischievous imagination runs wild as to the inhabitants – over-worked, over-caffeinated new parents barking orders at the architects …. I will leave it there in case they might actually be a cute little old retired couple like my parents.

This article made me realize that I have always had a love for architecture but didn’t know it. Maybe it was because Dad was a Civil Structural Engineer. He engineered the Salmon Springs fountain in Portland. In college my roommate was in interior design and I sort of thought her studies were easy, but then again, so was English.*

It wasn’t until I got up to Seattle and started working on this house did I discover that interior design was my calling. My passion. My daily life. “I don’t have a 2nd guest bed and 3 ladies are spending the weekend, time to build a daybed! We can’t afford go out and buy lumber, I will work with scraps!”

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Our house, on the other hand, is clearly not classic PNW architecture.

Bryce found a great archive: the original architectural design for the house. We can’t cite the exact architect because it was a blueprint sold to a company that sells house plans, so as soon as we go through our logs of where we got this plan, we will cite it. This design is definitely American, but a bit more East coast. Bryce made extensive changes to the plans but obviously fell head over heels for the gist of the design.

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Here is a WIP shot of the same angle. Not a far deviation from the original, but more modern PNW. We will see how it progresses.

*Bryce makes fun of my college career, “How hard could it be to major in your native language?!” Clearly an Accountant.




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