Printer Friendly

Flair on a budget: these two houses manage that by using common materials, unexpected colors and detailing, off-the-shelf components.

Flair on a budget

The uncommon use of common materials in a simple but inventive design can allow a custom house to be built within a limited budget.

Here and on the next two pages, we show two budget-conscious, architect-designed houses that are similar in size, share open plans on main living levels, use off-the-shelf components, and enjoy the pizzazz of unexpected colors and detailing. By studying these accomplishments, you can learn ways to save on building costs but still achieve a one-of-a-kind look.

Simple gabled form in Santa Rosa

Built on a sloping wooded site, Toni and Bob Bodenhammer's 2,456-square-foot house has a simple Monopoly-house form, embellished with color, grids of trim, and a tall composite window.

Designed by architect John Miller of Roland/Miller/Associates of Santa Rosa, California, the house and separate garage cost about $50 per square foot (plus site work). Miller emphasizes that, despite the simple design and low-cost, materials, an important contribution can't be seen: involving a contractor early in the design process to offer suggestions for simplifying and speeding construction.

The house's simple shape means that it was easy to build: no odd-angled exterior walls, no complicated roof framing (there is a shed-roof extension on the back), and no custom window or door sizes.

There's also major cost efficiency in the siding and its detailing. Instead of solid wood siding, the house was sheathed in inexpensive resawn exterior plywood panels. The 4- by 8-foot panels turn what might have been a minus into a plus: their size establishes a distinctive grid pattern. Running vertically, 2-by-2 trim pieces mask the butted, tongue-in-groove joints, while the horizontal pieces cover the narrow metal flashing required at these joints. The horizontal pieces were beveled to shed water, and silicone caulk seals all the seams behind the 2-by-2s.

The panels also establish the size of the house's windows. Most prominent is the grid of 15 square windows centered in the living room. Ready-made windows the same size as individual components in the grid are used throughout the house.

Color plays an important role in this house. Outside, it emphasizes the grid: the siding panels are painted a cocoa color that takes on a mauve cast in shadows, and the trim and lattice panels are teal blue. In handsome contrast, the garage door and all downspouts, metal-framed industrial doors, and front porch columns were surfaced with metallic copper paint. An auto-body shop sprayed and baked all these steel and aluminum components for $1,400--a savings of almost $5,000 over a bid on solid copper.

Inside, gypsum-board walls and minimal trim details keep costs down, while a single dramatic volume, angled space overhead, exposed rafters, and sophisticated use of color generate excitement on the main floor. The cost-saving trick here was concentrating the expensive framing in one eye-catching place, the living area: most of the rest of the house has conventional 8-foot ceilings.

As a dramatic focus for the house, the main floor opens vertically and horizontally. The living room window grid establishes height, with views of the tall fir trees outdoors. Looking up, you see a 25-foot ceiling with exposed rafters; painted a soft yellow, the ceiling contrasts with peach-colored walls. Angling across half the room, a second-story den with a long interior window enjoys outdoor and indoor exposures. The rear of the living room opens to a compact kitchen, defined by lean-to windows, and a dining area.

Creative use of inexpensive materials in a house near Seattle

An efficient 2,275 square feet stacked up in three stories, Carolyn and Bob Purser's house in Bellevue, Washington, is rich in details. It was completed a year ago for $43 a square foot. The Pursers did some of the construction work and all the intricate painting, but they credit Seattle architect Ken Rothschild's design for keeping the house well under budget.

Rothschild's idea was to make creative use of inexpensive, readily available materials. The house takes advantage of conventional foundation, framing, insulation, wiring, and plumbing techniques. It's sheathed in the same rough-sawn exterior-grade plywood as the Bodenhammer house, but here the horizontal seams become the important design element. An extra-wide horizontal flashing, painted a contrasting color, is used in place of the usual thinner flashing.

Other metal detailing shows on the exterior. A galvanized metal roof was not the least expensive choice, but in a location where trees drop litter on the house at certain times of the year, it will ultimately save on maintenance costs. When ordering the anodized aluminum windows from the factory, Rothschild had them assembled with casements in one color and sashes in another. This adds a sense of detail at no extra cost. Exterior handrails are just lengths of L-shaped steel; pink and gray paint gives them drama.

Inside, inventive detailing makes the middle living level seems spacious. Big windows and a sliding glass door extend the view to the forest and lake outside, and opening one room to another seems to enlarge everything. Using built-ins defines space without walling off rooms-- and also reduces furniture clutter. The entry closet is just a painted plywood box, but it screens the entry area and provides a place for visitors' coats.

Look carefully: you'll see that some of the nonbearing walls aren't at right angles. With some walls set at slight angles, the eye has difficulty defining the shape of the space--and the space seems bigger.

Combinations of common materials give the interior a rich sense of detail. For example, changing the flooring from vinyl tile to commercial-grade carpeting subtly defines rooms--without unnecessary walls. The sleek, shiny tops of half-walls are glass that was painted black on the underside before being set in place. The fireplace is a standard prefabricated metal firebox, but its wood-framed surround and hearth are covered with 2 inches of stucco pigmented to produce a soft rose color.

Rothschild also planned in some economies for the future. He put the master suite on the top floor and family living space on the middle, entry floor. On the lower floor, the Pursers' teen-age sons each have a bedroom with bath access. When the boys have grown and left home, this lower floor can easily be converted into a self-contained unit. Should the Pursers decide to travel after retirement, they can maintain a home based downstairs and let someone else occupy (and heat and maintain) the upper two floors.

Photo: Copper-painted columns and doors gleam beneath simple shed-roof entry

Photo: Colors emphasize grid form of siding and trim, giving house's simple box a geometric elegance

Photo: Intersecting living room's window grid, angled wall of upstairs den has long horizontal window with sliding panels. Rafters are exposed; rigid insulation is roof-mounted

Photo: Gable end of separate garage has lattice panel that masks two triangular windows. Copper paint covers roll-up door

Photo: Lean-to windows brighten small kitchen and bring natural light to angled snack bar-storage unit that divides room

Photo: Open closet holds coats, defines and separates entry area from open plan of living area beyond. Stairs go to boys' rooms on lowest floor

Photo: Elongated kitchen opens onto dining area. Open shelves-- visible only from kitchen--cut cost of cabinetry

Photo: Nestled on wooded lot, house uses bridge off one side of jutting garage to create a level entry

Photo: Small living room gets look of space from openness to surrounding rooms and outdoors. Couch is built in at hearth level. Half-walls are topped with glass.

Photo: Exterior entry rails are prefab steel Ls. Wide flashing separates plywood sheets

Photo: Handrail is dowel with wedge cut out. Cut edges were painted yellow
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Date:May 1, 1986
Previous Article:Geraniums you can count on...the ivies.
Next Article:Who says the West can't grow good corn? Almost every Easterner.

Related Articles
Culinary art.
Architectural accents. (Easy does it).
Bies addresses challenges in retirement savings.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters