Beneath The Gray Northwest Sky, A Builder's Own Home Undergoes A Sunny Transformation.
According to Thielsen, if it weren't for Kirkland's sun-angle setback rule, building a whole new house would have made more sense than remodeling. This ordinance, aimed at preserving views from the street to the water, prohibits new buildings from sitting as close to the northern property line as the Zeiler house does. “The sun-angle setback drove us towards a remodel/addition,” he says. “The existing building was built before the ordinance, so we could leave it in place.” Plus, Gaerda liked the idea of saving pieces of the old house and reusing them in the new one, something she tries to do in most of the projects she builds. “I really enjoy the feel of a house with materials that tell a story,” she says.
Architect Dave Thielsen tries to design nooks and niches into most of his residential projects. “So many homes today are just large volumes,” he says. “Even when you're entertaining, they're not comfortable spaces to be in. I like to provide [some] spaces that have lower ceilings. It gives people a place to go.” At the Zeiler residence, he carved out a small living room sitting area with a lowered ceiling, built-in bench, and under-seat storage. Not only does the nook give the Zeilers and their guests a cozy place to read or chat, but it also provides a prime spot for viewing Lake Washington. In order to connect the nook with the fireplace next to it, the architects came up with a wall-covering screen of horizontal fir slats spaced about ½ inch apart. “We wanted to add texture because the tile has texture,” says Thielsen, referring to the 1920s Craftsman tiles forming the fireplace surround. Pin nails secure the screen's corners, and carpenter Henrik Molholt also glued the mitered end of each slat together to avoid cracking. The nook took on an additional role as a display case when Gaerda Zeiler realized she could slide spare pieces of wood between the screen and the corner wall, creating a set of movable shelves.