Heliotrope uses "warm and subdued" materials for Seattle house extension


Heavy timber, wood and brick are among the materials used by US studio Heliotrope to create an extension to a historic 1930s home that was originally built by a Norwegian ship captain.

Dating to 1933, the house was built by ship captain Ole E Nelson, who modelled it after his boyhood home in Bergen, Norway.

Heliotrope has designed an extension to a historic 1930s home

The captain reportedly selected all of the wood used in the house and sent back pieces that did not meet his standards.

“The original house was constructed with a very high level of craftsmanship in a style consistent with Scandinavian vernacular building traditions, and has been maintained in excellent condition,” said local studio Heliotrope.

Kitchen in the house extension
The owners wanted a new kitchen

The current owners, described as a “young family of discerning taste,” asked Heliotrope to design an addition for a new kitchen, as the original galley-style kitchen was too small.

The team conceived a 500-square-foot (46-square-metre), post-and-beam addition on the south side of the house, in an area formerly occupied by a 1940s tennis court.

Re-landscaped yard
The yard was re-landscaped as part of the renovation

The yard was re-landscaped as part of the project, which has come to be called Loyal Captain.

Wood was used for the structural system, and exterior walls were clad in materials influenced by the original home.

Neutral-hued kitchen by Heliotrope
Neutral hues feature on the interior

“The exterior finishes of brick and stained wood are warm and subdued, matching the tone of the old house and blending into the landscape,” the team said.

“Large expanses of glass showcase the landscape from the interior and allow the new building to glow at night,” the team added.

Home with timber columns
Heavy timber columns supporting the roof extend outward to form a loggia

The extension’s flat roof is topped with a planted garden.

Heavy timber columns supporting the roof extend outward to form a loggia. The column’s tapered concrete bases help with water drainage.

Kitchen with a breakfast nook
Heliotrope organised the kitchen around a large island and a breakfast nook

Within the new volume, there is a kitchen organised around a large island and a breakfast nook that looks out toward the yard.

The nook’s dining set was custom-designed by New York designer Bowen Lui. A Knotty Bubbles pendant by Lindsey Adelman hangs overhead.

Planted roof garden
A planted garden tops the flat roof

Interior finishes include polished concrete flooring, stained knotty-oak cabinetry and Quartzite countertops. Gaggenau appliances are integrated into the cabinetry.

“The high quality of finish, detail and craftsmanship in the new addition is driven by the high standard set in the original house and aims to add something new to the history of an amazing structure,” the team said.

The addition also includes a covered patio with a wood-fired grill set within brick. The brick wraps around to the street-facing side of the addition, forming a privacy wall.

The extension is connected to the main house by a glass-enclosed corridor. The home’s original kitchen has become a butler’s pantry.

Glass-enclosed corridor by Heliotrope
The extension is connected to the main house by a glass-enclosed corridor

Overall, the addition’s design is meant to respect the historic house while allowing both structures to “stand on their own as distinct characters in relation to each other and the surrounding landscape”.

Other projects by Heliotrope include a cedar-clad holiday home perched on a wooded hillside and a house for art collectors that is glad in dark metal and white stucco.

The photography is by Kevin Scott.


Project credits:

Architecture: Heliotrope Architects
Heliotrope team: Mike Mora (principal in charge), Tony Salas (lead design and project manager)
Construction administration: Heliotrope Architects and Linework Architecture
Contractor: Dovetail General Contractors
Landscape: Ironwood Tree
Structural engineer: Swenson Say Faget
Geotechnical engineer: PanGEO Inc



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