May Residence


When the owners of this cute WWII-era cottage blocks from West Seattle’s Alki Beach moved in, they imagined it as the perfect place to grow their family. After nearly a decade of expanding their roots in the community, their vision evolved: why not make this their eventual retirement home by the beach? This realization prompted an interesting opportunity to visually and spatially integrate the mid-century shed roof addition built by the previous owners.

Although the house has a small footprint, the family wasn’t looking for additional square footage. Rather, they sought to maximize the space they had to accommodate their modern, minimalist lifestyle. From the beginning our design was informed by their family traditions: nightly dinners, frequent visits from friends and family, and the flexibility to work from home in a conducive environment.

The family’s emphasis on togetherness and entertaining focused our efforts on the kitchen. By removing walls and re-configuring a closet in an adjacent bedroom, we were able to provide additional kitchen storage, expanded counter space, and enough circulation area to comfortably fit two cooks. A large center island serves as a natural central gathering spot for meals, homework, and connecting before and after work and school. An updated fireplace and custom shelving in the living room reflect the custom-crafted steel and wood details of the kitchen.  With several new skylights and a limited palette of simple materials bathed in diffuse pacific northwest light, the bright, airy spaces inside the brick cottage now flow effortlessly into the mid-century addition. 

The addition naturally serves as a family entertainment room away from the heart of the house. We built upon existing features, exposing the beams and cladding the ceiling in wood to provide cozy warmth. By adding more windows and a sliding glass wall we enhanced the visual and physical connection to the backyard. Continuing the ceiling and lighting beyond with a new butterfly roof further emphasizes that connection, while adding valuable living space taking advantage of West Seattle’s mild banana-belt climate.