Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Northwest Contemporary View Home

 What Should A Modern Home Look Like?

Our suburbs are filled with houses that were built when bigger was better and are filled with formal entry, living and dining areas that no one ever sets foot in.

Owners and builders are now rethinking the modern home with the emphasis on quality, livability and beauty over square footage.

This site was perfect for such an

Urban Retreat
Protected Enclave

The modified Mid Century Modern design uses a classic L shape to pull in the wonderful views and landscapes, eliminate wasted hall space, and increase privacy, with no shared bedroom or bathroom walls.

The Home as Refuge 

Frank Lloyd Wright said that human scale and natural materials make a house livable, and that people are drawn to the intimate corners of a home rather than over sized formal rooms.

Spaces are open connected and flow together yet provide nooks and private crannies throughout the home.

Thousands of feet of “vertical grain clear fir” trim and built-ins and natural stonework add warmth and character to the interior.

All wall sconces and ceiling lights are controlled by dimmers, as are numerous electrical outlets in the living room and master, allowing table an floor lighting to be adjusted according to mood.

The home is can be configured in a endless variety of ways.

First Floor
2 Bedrooms

Rethinking the Room

The large entry was designed as flex space, possibly an office, studio, or other public area away from the main living quarters.

French doors lead out onto the patio and garden.

The larger of the two bedrooms faces east and looks out over the wetland and greenbelt. It was designed as a bedroom, second master, or for recreation or work.

It connects with a bath that can be configured either as powder room or a large 3/4 bath, depending on how the room is used.

The roomy second bedroom on this level also connects with the large walk in shower, and has a separate private sink area.

The floor is highly finished concrete. It has a very large closet. Another large closet is located under the stairs.

The material covering the walls is Deco-poz. Made from recycled concrete and natural polymers. It looks like stucco but is far stronger and easier to clean.

  Second Floor

The beautiful flooring throughout this level is tongue and groove tigerwood finished with Swedish oil.

Twice as hard as oak, this iridescent wood is grown and harvested in Central American by indigenous workers and is rated as one of the greenest wood products in the world.

The fir beams support the 2 ½” thick tongue and grove fir ceiling above it. The beams were milled in Oregon.

French doors open on to a natural cedar deck and, and with the large windows, connect the entire second level to the natural environment outside.

It looks out over the greenbelt, a meadow, the Cascades and the City skyline, depending on the time of year.

A thick, wide, clear cedar rail fronts the deck and is great for refreshments or dining and can easily accommodate six people.

Open Kitchen

The center of the home is the open cooking and dining island, capable of seating 4 people or more.

The Swedish radiant heat cook top, and separate convection oven are more energy efficient, faster, controllable and hotter than gas.


The counter tops are custom made from a wonderful high end and very green product called Paperstone. More expensive than granite and nearly as heavy, it has the luster and feel of soapstone but the tensile strength and durability of steel.

We’ll never use granite again.


The solid cherry cabinets, drawers, and large pantry are all self-closing, and have wood interiors.

There are broad slat cherry wood blinds where needed for privacy.  

Rethinking the Dining Room

The kitchen leads to more options for public and private areas, depending on the needs of the owner.

One end provides a private nook for a library or for watching television, or as a home or family office.

Again, the modern home should be flexible.

The opposite end of the room overlooks the greenbelt and meadow, with wonderful seasonal views of Downtown Seattle and beyond.

With a custom buffet with a Paperstone top it makes a great dining room, or could be used entirely as a den.


The powder room flooring material is Marmoleum, a linseed oil product from the middle of last century that’s recently found new life with designers as a beautiful, rugged and very green product.

Laundry and Utility

The large laundry room has a utility sink, cherry storage cabinets, room for ironing, and a chandelier in honor of the humble chore of laundry.

It also houses the electrical panel and a hot water heater/storage closet.

Third Floor
Master Suite
Bed & Bath

On Top of the World

The stairway to the third level leads to a deck with spectacular and expansive views.
Master Suite

The master suite offers complete privacy and spectacular views as well.

It’s large enough for a seating area, a dining/work table, as well as bedroom furniture.

All lights and outlets are controlled by dimmers.

The master bath is separated from the bedroom by large walk in closet.

It has slate floors, two separate sink areas, an open shower and a high end Kohler bath tub.

The tub is tapered in a way that allows a deep soak while using far less water and energy.

The shower floor is pebble stone.

The surrounds are fossil sandstone.

2nd Bedroom or Hideaway

The airy second bedroom on this level also has spectacular views, as well complete privacy.


The carpeting throughout the house is allergen free, baked in, colorfast nylon and is literally impossible to stain, even with industrial strength bleach.

A second, ¾ bath is located directly out the bedroom door, also with fossil sandstone floors.

10 minutes from Downtown
5 from DT West Seattle

The wonderful view changes throughout the year, lush and green during the Spring and Summer; spectacular in the Fall and Winter, when the broad leafed trees that crown the greenbelt shed their leaves.

 Site History

Immigrant fruit pickers from around the world were the last people to live here, leaving in the 1920's. The old farmhouse is seen below.

Native Americans fished, hunted and traveled the Duwamish River Valley for thousands of years before them.

Largely unoccupied and forgotten since then, this unique location is one of those rare places where the urban meets the wild, most of which disappeared long ago in Seattle.

And perched on the edge of protected park and wetlands, above the largest greenbelt and forest in Seattle, this remarkable urban retreat will always remain as pristine as it is today.

The neighborhood will change and grow. This location will not.

Puget Park

Just steps away are miles of hiking trails that meander through forests, wetlands and ponds, and is home to a vast array of plant, bird and wildlife.

Seattle Chinese Garden

The two sites also overlook the beautiful Seattle Chinese Garden to the east, the largest Sichuan style garden outside of China. The courtyards, ponds and pavilions are being hand crafted by Chinese stonemasons and other artisans from China, and are fascinating to observe.

South Seattle Community College is a five-minute walk away. It has two restaurants and a bakery as part of its outstanding Culinary Arts and Wine program and is one of the very best dining values in Seattle.


They also host one of the most varied and beautifully landscaped arboretums in the region. It’s quite large and a true hidden gem.

Birds and Airplanes

The large tree seen from the second and third floors provide a rare and fascinating look into the complex and often perilous life of birds seen by few.

Eagles and hummingbirds, owls, hawks large and small, huge woodpeckers and songbirds of every shape, size, and color visits the tree and the large meadow behind it, throughout the year based in migratory patterns. Groups of up to 50 vultures sometimes appear out of nowhere in the fall.

Another unexpected pleasure has been the airplanes of every size, shape, vintage and origin, gliding noiselessly in over Eliot Bay, and up the Duwamish Valley at tree top-level, on their approach to Boeing Field or the Museum of Flight. At night you see them from miles way, lined up and arcing high over the city on routes coming from the East and West.

Energy Efficient
Built to Last

The structural engineering is by Roland Heimisch, a graduate of the Berlin School of Engineering.

The home was designed and built by Michael Gerber

Heating and Cooling

The house is designed to be heated and cooled by a highly efficient heat pump, a far safer and more economical alternative to natural gas.

It's also sited for passive solar heating and cooling, with large east facing windows to capture the morning sun.

All exterior and interior walls have been heavily insulated, far beyond code.


Construction Details 

The exterior walls are framed with high quality 2"X6” Douglas fir from a hundred year old mill on the Olympic Peninsula.’

The steel reinforced concrete foundation is a thick, solid, one-piece slab on grade, insulated, and anchored to a foundation of highly stable Vashon glacial till.

The shed roof is ideally positioned for solar energy collection.

The baked enamel steel roofing is guaranteed for 50 year. The exterior siding materials are red cedar, spruce, and extremely durable cement paneling.

The plumbing system was designed to continuously circulate hot water to faucets throughout the house, providing instant hot water, saving both energy and water.

All faucets are LEED certified.

Local, licensed contractors did all the framing and siding, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, drywall, roofing and other key trades.


The site required considerable preparation.

250 feet of stone and timber retaining walls.

275 feet of cedar fencing.

800 feet of drainage.

20 Dump truck of debris removed.

20 Dump truck loads of clear gravel, river rock and topsoil delivered.