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Sunny in Seattle: this house makes excellent use of natural light. (Home).

The weather report for greater Seattle often reads, "Overcast with light rain." Architect Martin Moberg designed this Kirkland, Washington, house with the local climate in mind. "The house is on a site with lots of tall trees," Moberg says. "We had to do something to capture the light, or thanks to the trees and the weather, the house would be gray and dark much of the time."

Moberg found inspiration in traditional and modern light-grabbing solutions. On the south side of the home, which receives the most natural light, he built a small sunroom. Its curved wall of windows is designed to catch maximum rays.

On the west side of the house, seats adjoin three large windows, allowing the homeowners to feel like they're outside. Moberg also created an all-weather outdoor eating area. An oversize glass awning protects the patio without blocking light to the outdoor dining table or the adjacent kitchen.

But if there's one space that acts as the house's dominant light source, it's the two-story mudroom that connects the home's two main sections. Overhead, a large glass ceiling floods the room with light even on the grayest days. The ceiling comprises nine 2- by 5-foot skylights joined by aluminum frames painted black. The panes are laminated glass, which resist shattering if struck by a falling branch. A low-e (low-emissivity) coating prevents ultraviolet rays from penetrating the glass and fading fabrics and finishes.

Other features that reinforce the mudroom's indoor-outdoor feeling are shingled interior walls and a radiant-heated slate-tile floor. "This house was inspired by traditional farmhouses," Moberg says. "The shingles on the inside make the entry look like an addition to an older home. I wanted people to think this was a house that had been here awhile."

WINDOWS: Marvin, aluminum-clad (

SKYLIGHTS: CrystaLite custom skylights (

DESIGN: Moberg Epstein Architects, Seattle (206/332-1695)

RELATED ARTICLE: Light-grabbing tips

* Achieve balanced light by installing windows on more than one wall and at different levels. If privacy is an issue, use translucent, not transparent, panes.

* Create diffuse light with high windows, also called clerestories.

* Borrow light from other spaces by using interior windows.

* Use a skylight to spread natural light evenly through a room. Where possible, align the skylight with a wall so light can wash down uninterrupted: if painted a light color, the wall will help bounce more light into the room. A tube skylight is a good way to bring light through an attic.
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Title Annotation:living
Author:Bowling, Mary Jo
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2003
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