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Up, Down, or Out?

Did you just buy a new home? Or have you lived in your current home for a while? Perhaps you’re experiencing some life changes and realize you need additional space or reconfiguration of your current space.  What should you do? Live-work-play suggests you go out, down or up!

The decision lies not only on your current building structure, but on your personal needs and vision. Do you need extra space for an office, or perhaps another bedroom and bath? Are you looking for more live-ability, accessibility or room for an aging parent? We’ll help you assess your space, create a solution and determine whether to go out, down or up.

Choosing ‘out’ means adding on to the footprint of your home. Out to the side, back or even the front. A choice could also be made to add a basement below the new addition. Keep in mind, your property will need to be large enough to accommodate the additional structure within the lot or land available. Going ‘out’ can sometimes be the most expedient addition, but you need to determine if it fits with your home and lifestyle.  See some “out” examples here, here and here.

If choosing ‘down,’ the first question you should answer is whether or not your basement is dry. We can drain water away with an internal or external drainage system if it is not dry, in addition to renovating the space. Next, ask yourself: Is there enough headroom?  A minimum of  6 feet 4 inches is a good rule of thumb in an older home, but higher is a lot more comfortable. Beyond these concerns, does it makes sense to excavate underneath the home and possibly change the foundation?  It might, if the foundation is sub-standard to begin with. Your house could also be lifted to create more headroom.

Choosing ‘up’ could mean a second level addition, added dormers, or a renovation of the attic under the current roofline, if there is enough head room. Do you have upward stairs that are already in place?  If not, we can carve out space to insert stairs into your home. Going ‘up’ is potentially the lightest and airiest  option, but also potentially more expensive than ‘out’ or ‘down.’  You can view some “up” examples here, here, and here.

Consider all three options – out, down and up – when thinking about expanding, adding on or remodeling. Ask us at live-work-play to help you analyze and review your space before you go too far down the road in visualizing your ideal home. Our creative, innovative ideas will start you on the path to realizing your dream.

Contact us for more information at or 206-726-0077.

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Spring – a Time to Re-think/Re-purpose/Re-new

In this age of reuse/renew/recycle, we at live-work-play  strive to incorporate renewable systems and reclaimed materials.   What does this mean?

At the very basis, it means reusing your home!  Adding to, changing, repurposing your space.  Often older homes need system upgrades, and they were built at a time when people lived in their homes differently than they do now.  We design more open spaces with the amenities people seek now in their homes.  We like to blend additions into your home and the neighborhood.











More low-hanging reuse fruit:  reusing materials.  Maybe we can use a material again on your project– plumbing fixtures, cabinets, wood.  Or, items can be reclaimed and sent to REStore, Second Use for a new life in another person’s home.  You can be that person, and stockpile items from the many salvage companies for your project.  It’s a great idea to visit salvage yards frequently over time, and pick up items that appeal to you so they are on hand for the design and construction process.   It just makes sense: keep useable materials out of our landfills.  We used many salvage materials in this greenhouse, school cabinets and bleachers, and reclaimed siding.  Here are some great ideas for reclaimed wood from Houzz.  The REStore includes the REVision Division that makes furniture from materials they salvage.  Thanks Ventana Construction and REStore for sharing this photo of a cabinet made from salvage from a live-work-play project!


Beyond these ideas, there are new building materials that incorporate recycled materials into them.  Starting with a few examples on the outside,   Boral TruExterior durable trim made with fly ash-an industrial by product.     Andersen 100 windows use wood fiber leftover from other manufacturing.  Cellulose insulation is made from recycled newspaper fiber.  Inside, locally made Environite counters use recycled glass and Ecotop and Paperstone are made from recycled paper.  The Environite example shown here is from the West Seattle Sunporch. Plus there are Ecotop and Paperstone products that can be installed outside for panel siding!



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Healthy Home Remodel

Remodeling!  At the end of the process, you have a beautiful, comfortable home.  How do we get there?

Follow healthy home remodeling ideas:

Before and during the design process, work with a health conscious architect and contractor.  Include aging in place ideas if that is appropriate for you.  Plan to use materials that have no or low toxicity, including paint, glue, caulk, stain, clear coats, cabinets.  This includes hard floor surfaces everywhere since wall to wall carpet harbors dust and dirt and this is difficult to remove.  Consider a whole house ventilation system.  One easy solution is a spot ERV (energy recovery ventilator).

During construction, make sure the contractor provides containment barriers around the work area, plus floor mats going in and out of the work space.  While generating dust, the contractor should create a positive air flow so the dust exits the space as much as possible.  Debris should be handled appropriately, including any materials that may contain lead or asbestos.   Keep the work site and materials dry so they do not mold.  At the end, make sure there is a thorough cleaning.




After construction and cleaning, your daily care and maintenance is just as important as planning and construction.  Liberate your feet with a shoeless home!  Make sure there are door mats at each entrance.  Use a great vacuum often with a HEPA filter and keep it clean.  If you have a forced air heating system, clean the filters regularly.





At least twice a year, check gutters, downspouts to make sure they are clean and flowing.  Also check around the exterior and make sure there are no signs of water leaks at windows and doors, chimneys.  Repair any trouble spots as soon as possible.  Use low toxic cleaners like vinegar and water (although it cannot be used on stone)  and clean regularly.

You’ll have a lovely place to call home!!!  Feel free to contact us for more information.


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