Whole-House Remodel with Passive Solar Design and Smart Ventilation

This CASA whole-house remodel of a Leschi home was featured as the AIA Home of the Month for November 2013 on the Seattle Magazine website, as well as in the print edition. It was selected by a panel of judges from AIA Seattle.


Leschi Residence
The south facade of this entirely remodeled Leschi home opens to views of a park and Lake Washington. Looking inside, we see here the master suite (left), the dining area and kitchen (center), and the living room (right). This project showcases the results of CASA’s integrated design process for sustainable housing, combining a passive solar design with smart ventilation to create well lit, comfortable spaces year round with reduced energy inputs. As part of the implementation, rectangular valances over the windows house powered sun screens to adjust light levels and solar gain.

What the Client Asked For

The primary issue the client wanted addressed was replacing the roof, a low-slope built-up tar roof that leaked and had reached the end of its life span. They were interested in replacing the whole roof with a higher-pitched, single-slope structure, to create more window surface, opening views of a city park and Lake Washington and letting in more light.

Leschi Residence - Preexisting conditions
Existing conditions: a leaky roof, compromised beams, and substandard ceiling heights along the outer walls and windows. The interior felt dark and confining. In addition, the deck was rotting and had poor access to and from the house and adjoining garden terraces.

In evaluating our options, it made most sense to remodel the whole house within the existing footprint, so we could deal cost-effectively with the structural issues and take full advantage of the higher spaces created by the new roofline. Within this broader scope, the client wanted to:

  • Preserve the open floor plan and create a new kitchen, a new master bath, and a new office upstairs, as well as a new office and recreation/exercise room downstairs.
  • Update mechanical and electrical systems.
  • Replace the siding and windows.
  • Rebuild the fireplace and chimney.
  • Replace and expand the deck and garden terracing, and improve access.
  • Replace privacy fencing in the front and back yards.


The result is a beautiful Northwest contemporary house that is open and full of light, even on the darkest winter days. To get there, the roof, fireplace façade, and upper chimney works were removed and the rest of the house totally gutted and rebuilt.

  • The new roof made possible high window walls to the south allowing more daylight to the interior and opening up the view to the adjacent city park and Lake Washington beyond.
  • All windows and siding are new, and the new metal roof is rated for 50 years.
  • The front door looked like a utility entrance so it was replaced with a new door and sidelights, with an outside screen wall separating the driveway from the front walkway, giving the main entry more street presence.
  • The entry stairway was replaced with a more open and inviting structure. A new office was added over the entry, where a little-used deck was before.
  • The kitchen was opened to the dining room and completely rebuilt with new cabinets and appliances.
  • The living-room fireplace was rebuilt and refaced, and new art accent lighting was installed.
  • Hardwood floors replaced carpet on the main level, and the entry was resurfaced with slate tiles.
  • The back of the house had a partial deck and terraced landscaping, so we expanded the deck and replaced a worn-out hot tub with a covered swim-in-place pool. The master suite was completely redone with access to this new pool deck.
  • New privacy fencing encloses the front and back yards, and garden terraces were enlarged and reconfigured for easy access.


Leschi Residence
The new formal entry creates a clear flow from the street to the front door, with privacy screens on either side of the flagstone walkway. Above the front door, a deck supported by rotting cantilevered beams was torn out and replaced with an office and adjacent seating area.
Leschi Residence
This generously scaled, inviting entry and foyer was created where before there had been a small transitional space with no sense of arrival and flow. Immediately above, a skylight in the new roof structure bathes the area in indirect light.
Leschi Residence
This stairway leads straight up to the main level, including living room, kitchen/dining, and master suite, as well as an office and dual-purpose seating area and guest room. Its flared design provides a smooth transition from the foyer. The glass and steel banister is detailed with a black-walnut handrail.
Leschi Residence
This view of the living room and kitchen shows the transition from the top of the stairs (upper right), as well as the skylight above the foyer below. Note the detailing, with cabinets on the near side of the stairwell, and a high glass screen on its far side.
Leschi Residence
Reversing the direction of the previous view, we see the living room and fireplace from inside the completely redone kitchen.
Leschi Residence
The well lit living room has windows on two sides, with space for a grand piano on its north side, overlooking the front garden. The original fireplace — large, dark, and non functional — was replaced with an appropriately scaled windowed stove with a stone hearth and black-walnut mantelpiece. Adjacent walls and zone lighting are optimized for displaying art.
Leschi Residence
The dining area has direct access to the deck via two sliding doors (one is partially open to the left of the tree trunk). The original configuration had no access and a very low wall and windows. An intimate visual and physical connection between the interior and the deck was a high design priority for the client.
Leschi Residence
The new, enlarged deck stretches along the entire southern side of the house. Built of ipe timber, it is virtually indestructible and can simply be oiled periodically to maintain a new, unweathered look. All three main living spaces — living room, dining/kitchen, and master suite — have direct sliding-door access.
Leschi Residence
The master suite has its own view angle overlooking a beautifully landscaped city park, seen through the gap between the bench on the far left and the privacy screen further back.
Leschi Residence
The end of the deck transitions to garden terraces and a swim-in-place pool tucked behind the corner of the house. A pergola was positioned for privacy from the neighbors, once the vines grow out.
Leschi Residence
The view of Lake Washington from the garden terrace above the west end of the deck. To the right, off the frame, is the city park visible from the master suite.
Leschi Residence
Close-up of the swim-in-place pool, with a fence in the back completely shielding it from the street. The door immediately behind the pool to the right leads to a changing area in the master bath.