Coastal Style

A Seattle Home Reaches for High Sustainability

July 1, 2019

Intent on following their passions of both green and modern design, Five Dot Design Build chose to create a really sustainable home for a Seattle couple and their son. The city website featured a big lot with remnants of a centuries-old orchard. Project architects Stephanie Ingram and Geoff Piper started with center sustainability measures — mainly orienting the house to profit from solar accessibility and natural ventilation. This approach, along with integrating energy and water conservation methods, natural lighting and neighborhood materials and finishes, allowed them to save money and energy.

in a Glance
Who lives here: A couple and their young son
Location: Seattle
Size: 3,300 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms


The architects emphasized the association between the website and the building by creating indoor and outdoor spaces that react to the surrounding environment and the shifting seasons.

The rain garden is an important part of the storm-water management system and also an integral part of the landscape design.


“We wanted to make a house that didn’t conceal its sustainable attributes but shows them off as design features that add to its unique and intensely neighborhood quality,” says Ingram.

Rather than concealing the workings of the rainwater harvesting system, the designers took the opportunity to incorporate them into the design, using the cement tanks as a wall that produces an entry court and acts as a sound barrier from the road.


For the main living space, Ingram designed an open floor plan that would lend itself to informal family interaction.

Using reclaimed materials provided an opportunity to combine old with new — and add a sense of fun, also. Old doors from Seattle schools were hung with sliding barn door hardware.

The designers utilized complete materials with sustainable qualities whenever possible. Bamboo floors take advantage of a rapidly renewable material. The cabinets and shelving are manufactured from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)–certified wood. The tile contains recycled material, and the bench top and terrace surround are made of Paperstone — a solid-surface material made from postconsumer recycled paper. Exposed concrete floors on the main level are 15 percent fly ash, a by-product of coal production that may be used instead of cement.

Bench top: Paperstone


A java table of reclaimed fir by urbanhardwoods is the centerpiece of the living space. The business kerfdesign constructed the cabinets.

Low-VOC paints, formaldehyde-free plywood and prefinished floors all unite to lessen the amount of toxic off-gassing that typically happens in new construction. With radiant floor heat there aren’t any forced air ducts amassing and redistributing dust and other particulates through the house.

Coffee table: urbanhardwoods; cabinets: kerfdesign


The kitchen, oriented toward the rear of the house, blends into the main living space. The space opens out onto the rear patio.

Cabinets, laminate countertop: kerfdesign; shelving: Rakks


Ingram and Piper picked natural and reclaimed furnishings to soften the contemporary lines. A huge slab of salvaged willow tree trunk from a park website serves as a vanity in the half bath.

A superefficient boiler heats the hot water and the radiant floors. The house is plumbed for solar hot water preheat, which any future homeowners may quickly add to further reduce utility expenses.

Vanity: urbanhardwoods


An outdated claw-foot tub and sink were reused, adding old-school texture to the contemporary toilet.

A number of the rainwater falling on the house is plumbed into the house to supply water to the toilets and the laundry area. The remainder is captured from a rain garden and allowed to slowly infiltrate back into the ground. The city storm sewer system does not have to connect into the house, which enables the homeowners to decrease their water bill in half.


Skylights above the stairway bring natural light deep into the house and add drama to an otherwise dark and narrow space.


Built Green gave their four-star certification to this house. The vertical circulation is designed to provide stack ventilation, keeping the house cool on the hottest days.

The building layout makes sure all of the rooms except the media room get abundant all-natural light. Most have a southern exposure, ensuring maximum daylight in winter and reducing the demand for artificial lighting.

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