By now, you’ve probably noticed my predilection for eco-friendly homes located in and around the Seattle area. Sure, I have a geographical bias since I was born and raised in the Puget Sound — Tacoma, to be exact — but it just also happens there’s a ton of great, green home building and design coming out of the Pacific Northwest. So much that it’s almost hard to keep up.
Because I’ve been featuring sustainable homes from Washington, the Evergreen State, on an increasingly frequent basis, I decided to make it official and kick off a monthly series called “Evergreen homes.” Each month, I’ll spotlight a different eco-friendly home (or maybe two or three) from the region so if there are any that you’re aware of and find noteworthy, please let me know. At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a list of Washingtonian homes that I’ve featured in recent months.
Today’s “Evergreen home” comes courtesy of the April ’11 issue of Dwell. Although it may not sport LEED certification or renewable energy systems, this 1,644-square-foot abode is an unusual and affordably built beauty located on a seemingly impossible-to-build-on parcel of land.
The home, a labor of love that took a decade to realize, belongs to Tracy Edmonds and Prentice Hale, a co-founding principle at SHED Architecture and Design. Referred to as the Treehouse, the stilted home stands on a wooded hillside adjacent to a wooded park in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood. Although not technically a treehouse, because of its precarious, slanted location the home seems to truly float amongst the tree boughs.
When Edmonds and Hale first encountered the parcel, the real estate agent wasn’t exactly encouraging, “scoffing at the idea that anyone would be interested in the lot—but he wasn’t entirely without reason: The parcel was practically inaccessible. It was situated 20 feet beyond where the road dead-ended at a curb and lay another 20 feet below street grade. The plot lacked municipal hookups and plummeted down the hill at a 50-percent slope.” Still, Edmonds and Hale were undaunted. They were particularly smitten that the property neighbored a P-patch, Seattle-speak for a community garden.
As mentioned, the permitting, pricing, and building process didn’t exactly happen overnight after the couple purchased the hilly parcel in 1999 for $15,000. In 2006, the year that Edmonds gave birth to twin daughters, construction on the home finally commenced. I think the result — playful, immersed in nature, built with affordable materials, and filled with the twins’ arts and crafts projects and furnishings made by Hale himself and his friends — is dazzling in a charming, DIY kind of way. Dwell writer Miyoko Ohtake observes that parts of the house still appear “scrappy and unfinished.”
Dwell also notes that the light-strewn, three-story home resembles one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s smallish, affordable Usonian Homes, “designed with simple materials, strong connections to the land, and the hope of building a better solution for living.” And of course, there’s the inevitable Swiss Family Robinson comparisons.
Head on over to Dwell to read more about the Edmonds-Hale home and see more photos including a slightly creepy, Shining-esque one of one of the twins. It's an inspiring story — with pretty pictures to match — of creative, kid-friendly building on a budget.
Recent "Evergreen homes":
• Hill House (Winthrop)
• Footprint at the Bridge (Seattle)
• GreenFab prefab home (Seattle)
• Perilstein and Dorsey Residences (Bainbridge Island)
• The Ellis Residence (Bainbridge Island)
• The Pierre (San Juan Islands)
• Lake Forest Park Contemporary home (Lake Forest Park)
• Davis Residence (Bellingham)
Images: SHED Architecture & Design