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backyard cottage Seattle - Seattle cottage addition

backyard cottage


Pablo Picasso said, "Everything that you can imagine is real." In the case of a backyard cottage designed for two artists, vivid imagination led to a very real and innovative studio space that is 3-star Built Green certified and enhances the Phinney Ridge neighborhood in which it is built. Completed 2014.

Architect: Goforth-Gill Architects

project features


  • Backyard cottage with 800sf of living space
  • Deck with Olympics view
  • Foundation art wall

project photos


Click on the thumbnails to read the story of this cottage.
Every project starts with an opportunity and a vision.  In this lushly landscaped backyard, the owners envisioned a studio space for two--with natural light, views and a very short commute. By keeping part of the main level below grade, the new studio takes advantage of two stories of height without creating a building that towers over the main house downslope. It also minimizes the impact on neighbors' views. On the one foundation wall that is fully visible, one of the owners took his painted studies of reflections in skyscrapers and translated them to concrete By installing a series of small pieces on the inside of the forms, he created a bas relief piece in concrete Each piece had to be carefully removed With everything cleaned up, it is a remarkable permanent installation of the kind of art that will continue to be created within the building The entry to the studio is a mix of corrugated metal and Cumaru siding.  Fencing helps maintain privacy The stairs taper at a slight angle, enhancing the feeling that you are arriving somewhere special The upper floor studio includes a sink/future kitchen area well lit by skylights. Both floors have minimally finished plywood for 'flooring' because they are so likely to have the byproducts of projects end up spilled on them.  That means they're at the right height for future 'permanent' flooring if needed The high ceilings allow room for loft storage--with T&G fir 'flooring' that is also visible in the stairwell below.  It's also the right size for the current installation A is working on, which involves long, hanging pieces The stairs to the lower level are made from glu-lams, with stained wood risers.   The space below hides the water heater.  Each floor has a single Convectaire unit for heat, which keeps the rooms as toasty as they need to be P's studio, while technically a daylight basement, is truly filled with light, from windows and doors to the South and clerestory windows to the North.  The West wall was left purposely windowless to allow art pieces to be hung and worked on there P painted the pocket door to the 3/4 bath before the door was installed.  Bonus space below the stairs provides additional storage The drainage from the metal roof is directed to a rain garden to the south via above-ground cisterns, allowing nearly all the runoff to be used on site With the addition of some stairs and pavers, and a relocated garden shed, the garden was ready for planting in the spring.  By early summer, the bees were buzzing and everything was taking off, including new projects in both studios.  A 20-foot commute with a garden view sounds pretty good


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