Olympic Hills Backyard Neighborhood – Seattle, Washington

Inspired by 19th century farmhouse 'compounds' of clustered worker cottages, the Olympic Hills Backyard Neighborhood demonstrates how to combine adaptive re-use with moderate density infill. The resulting density fits comfortably into the existing single-family neighborhood which is a three block walk to shopping and transit in Northeast Seattle’s Lake City Urban Village.

The original 1928 Tudor cottage was renovated to like-new condition with systems & code compliant upgrades, but has kept original elements including clear fir and oak flooring, mouldings, arched doorways, divided light windows, stone fireplace and the front 'Dutch' door. Accessible from the backyard, the basement has been converted into a studio apartment. The existing carport was transformed into an enclosed garage.

Carefully sited behind the historic cottage is a new 993 square foot 2 bedroom, 1 bath single level cottage with detached garage, allowing for private outdoor areas for both homes. The interior design features a dramatic vaulted great room, signature dining nook, reclaimed, wide plank solid fir flooring and natural paneled accents.

Innovative site development strategies include 100% infiltration of impervious surfaces into the garden areas, pervious paving materials for drive and walkways, retention of two large heritage cedar trees and bespoke garden plantings. Both homes are all-electric and Certified Built Green 4-Star. The homes perform at a minimum 20% energy cost savings as compared to a standard new home built to rigorous Washington State energy code requirements.

In a nod to the provenance of the historic property and in a Cottage Company tradition, the homes are named 'Ida Pearl' and 'Post Cottage' for the original farmstead owners. When offered to the market, both homes were purchased by a single family who are creating their own 'family compound'.

The Olympic Hills Backyard Neighborhood community was designed by Charles Wenzlau AIA, Wenzlau Architects with Jane Chung.

This community was completed and 'Sold Out' in October 2021.

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