Modern Prefab in Seattle

Tucked neatly into a suburban Seattle neighborhood of midcentury, Craftsman and modern architecture, this marginally customized prefab home reflects its environmentally friendly and environmentally conscious community. Principal architect Heather Johnston of Place points out that, though the house’s personality is approachable and friendly, in addition, it needs self-reflection. At its core is a request for its inhabitants to attempt to live gently on the earth.

“Monica and Sam Guckenheimer were downsizing from a 5,000-square-foot home for this home. In the core of their decision is the idea that we can all live in smaller homes with more outside spaces preserved for shrub growth, play and outdoor activities,” says Johnston.

at a Glance
Who lives here: Monica and Sam Guckenheimer, their two children and the family dog
Location: Seattle
Size: 2,476 square feet
That’s intriguing: A solar-powered domestic hot water system permeates the garden pool.

PLACE architect ltd..

The household maximizes every square inch of room in this home. Each zone is defined but has multiple uses to conserve footage. This approach enabled Johnston and her team to build a more compact and effective home with fewer substances; it also requires less energy to heat, cool and maintain.

The kitchen and living room closets are formaldehyde free. “Though these particular cabinets were sourced from Italy, we’ve since learned that local stores are functioning using formaldehyde-free plywood, so we’re sourcing locally from here. Trust that the cabinets were sent with green tags to offset carbon emissions,” says Johnston.

Couch: Togo, Ligne Roset

PLACE architect ltd..

The home was assembled onsite from a kit in a little more than seven months. This picture indicates the two-car garage using Sam’s office the pure wood shiplap siding and the chartreuse HardiePanel — all low-maintenance materials which were carefully detailed to resist the elements.

“Sam’s home office above the garage is a real office for him. He telecommutes a few days of the week, which saves on his commute time and gas and gives him more time with his loved ones,” says Johnston.

PLACE architect ltd..

Roll-up doors join the dining and kitchen area to the outdoor patio and patio area. The doors serve as large windows when shut, and if open, they vanish entirely, blending the exterior into the inside. Johnston states, “The roll-up doors have a commercial and industrial look and feel to them but are completely suitable and inexpensive to use to this home.”

The dining table, windowsills and stair treads came out of a fir tree which has been on the property before construction.

PLACE architect ltd..

The Guckenheimers’ home, together with all Position homes, was created with materials that are nontoxic and low in volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). It is outfitted with low-flow pipes fixtures to conserve water and with Energy Star–rated appliances.

PLACE architect ltd..

“This family is all about flopping on the couch together, living and working and doing all of the things that families do in the home. However they also love their individual spaces, being able to read quietly somewhere or see a film in the living room. The design of this house works for them and is an articulation of their love for one another,” says Johnston.

In-floor radiant heating is cost effective and operates off the same boiler which supplements the heat for domestic hot water. The floors are made of structural concrete slab, which minimized the layers of material required to complete out the space, cut down on waste and removed a coating of finish that will otherwise have to be replaced every 10 years or so.

PLACE architect ltd..

The garden lap pool is heated entirely by solar power.

PLACE architect ltd..

The property’s siding is manufactured from reclaimed and refinished wood. Lines blur between the outside and indoors; there’s a feeling of being connected to character, if you are in the dining area or with a drink out in the terrace.

PLACE architect ltd..

“The Guckenheimers realized that using two and a half baths functions just fine for a household of five. Sharing bathrooms reduces the entire number of fittings, which reduces overall water usage,” says Johnston.

PLACE architect ltd..

For Johnston, it’s not possible to put a price tag on the thrill of producing something that she actually loves and that’s also appreciated by the Guckenheimers.

“This household sees the importance of treading softly on the ground,” she states. “They were happy with the home concept that they didn’t need to change much. In exchange, they have an simple, low-stress design process from everything — and a home that reflects their life philosophy.”

Related article: What’s Up With Prefab?

See related