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Elemental Education

Pb Elemental Architecture, Nature Orienterad Design AB

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  • General Contractor: LEAD Construction

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Project Description

K + B Studio/Kitchen
Elemental Education

This 3,600-square-foot home isn't a typical project for Chris Pardo, principal and co-founder (with David Biddle) of Pb Elemental Architecture. The Seattle-based firm, whose specialties include design, construction, and development, normally focuses on high-density infill projects in urban areas. But for this "joint venture" with former clients—an arrangement Pardo acknowledges they "typically don't do"—they ventured to an atypical location: the suburbs.

"We wanted to create something very private, because it sticks out in size and newness in its neighborhood," Pardo says of the single-family project northwest of Seattle's urban center. Its L-shaped layout hinges on the kitchen, which is bookended by family and dining rooms that spill into a courtyard.

Like the other living spaces, the galley-style kitchen spans the width of the house so light and air can pass through unimpeded. Elevated windows on the street side let occupants sneak peeks at the sky and the site's taller landscaping without revealing anything to the neighbors. A large window above the sink provides a glimpse into the courtyard, and walls of sliding glass on either side also help bring the outside in. Because the long, high windows only permit rays at a certain angle, Pardo chose pale, reflective materials to help lighten the space. Bamboo floors and flat-panel, polished-birch cabinets do their part, as do the concrete-gray countertops, which lend contrast without darkening the overall palette.

Although many aspects of the project don't fit Pb Elemental's standard formula, Pardo was true to one tradition: choosing design and function over profit. "Our personal preferences lead to a lot of extras," Pardo admits, adding that nearly every project his firm designs is, in some way, its dream house. "We try to do more custom details, even though we do mostly spec housing." A case in point: the kitchen's already roomy 16-foot island includes a built-in table on one end to encourage larger gatherings. An undercounter wine fridge—a nod to the former clients, wine aficionados who helped finance the project—enhances the already upscale appliance list.

The special touches evidently appealed to home buyers as well. Pardo says the house sold quickly and profitably.
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