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So far jimburtonarchitects has created 79 blog entries.
By |2018-02-25T08:16:55+00:00February 25, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Capitol Hill House Featured on Houzz!!!
By |2017-12-15T09:22:07+00:00December 15, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Phinney Ridge House Featured on Houzz!!

Phinney Ridge Backyard Cottage / Carriage House

This project, in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle, added a backyard office / guest room above an existing garage and workshop. The owners wanted their new cottage to match the style of the existing house.

There were several challenges. The garage was nonconforming on the rear and side, i.e. the existing structure was too close to the property lines. The new second story had to conform to the setback requirements, so on both the side and back it had to be offset from the garage walls below. The design balances this asymmetry by means of a “false front” on the north side of the garage, through which the stairs to the new upstairs DADU are accessed.



The existing garage had some structural issues, and had to be reinforced to support its new upper story.

The site was small, and the buildable area limited – for this reason the backyard cottage had to be very compact. And because it was limited by code to 800 s.f., including the existing garage and new exterior stairs, there wasn’t much space to work with. In the end the design met the owners’ goals, and is functioning well as a home office (and occasional guest bedroom). Incidentally the limited size also helped keep the project within a tight budget. The total square footage is 658 s.f. (378 s.f. garage, 280 s.f. upper unit).

By the way “Carriage House” originally meant a small outbuilding to house horse-drawn carriages. Today it generally means an accessory structure which contains a garage below, and a living unit above.








garage plan







upper plan






front elevation







side elevation








The City of Seattle is considering changes to the Land Use Code to facilitate the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in single-family zones: http://www.seattle.gov/council/adu-eis

By |2017-12-07T16:40:07+00:00December 7, 2017|Architectural Design, Backyard Cottages|Comments Off on Phinney Ridge Backyard Cottage / Carriage House

Duvall Passive House

This is a new house located in Duvall, a small town in NE King County. The clients were two teachers, one of whom, a high school physics teacher, took a sabbatical to act as the general contractor for the project. The site is in a rural area on the outskirts of town.

The homeowners’ goals for the project were to:

  • build a Net-Zero Energy home (incl. an electric car – no utility or gasoline bills for the rest of time);
  • use only renewable/ sustainable/ non-toxic materials (no foam!);
  • make the project affordable;
  • build something that would last for 100+ years;
  • help revolutionize the building industry;
  • promote Passive Houses for all!

The house is two stories with an attic, and no basement. It’s traditional in style, but very cutting edge in its performance:

  • R-50 walls, R-85 roof, R-38 floor;
  • sustainable materials (no foam);
  • Vapor open (drys to inside and outside);
  • no thermal-bridging;
  • protected OSB air barrier;
  • 2/3 Insulation outside of OSB (keep OSB above dew point);
  • triple-glazed windows;
  • space heating by ductless mini-split heat pumps;
  • heat recovery ventilator for fresh air;
  • heat pump water heater;
  • 10 kW PV array.

Passive House stats:

  • Space Heating – 3.12 kBtu/s.f/yr (below req’d. limit of 4.75)
  • Primary Energy – 25.8 kBtu/s.f/yr (below req’d. limit of 38)
  • Blower door test results – 0.40 ACH at 50 Pascals!
By |2017-07-24T19:20:31+00:00July 24, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Yet Another Magnolia Project!

This was an economical remodel of a split-level mid-century modern house, mostly affecting the kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen was opened up to the living/dining area, and was completely reconfigured to improve its efficiency and flow, and to increase the amount of storage space. It was enlarged, into what had been an awkward, too-big breakfast nook, to become a more comfortable-feeling single room. An island was added, a peninsula at the new opening to the dining room, and a skylight to add more natural light over the working areas.

The bathrooms were generally updated to open them up, increase the amount of natural light, and improve the feel of the spaces.

There was some landscaping done on the outside, and a new entry path to the front door.

By |2017-07-24T18:57:59+00:00July 24, 2017|Architectural Design|Comments Off on Yet Another Magnolia Project!

Green Lake Backyard Cottage Featured on Houzz!

An article (in French) on hidden features in homes, shows the built-in Murphy bed/desk in the Green Lake Backyard Cottage:


The general contractor was Fradkin Fine Construction.


By |2017-05-16T09:16:31+00:00May 16, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Green Lake Backyard Cottage Featured on Houzz!

The Backyard Box – Award Winning Backyard Cottage Designs!!!

Backyard Box is a line of customizable Backyard Cottages that we designed in collaboration with Sloan Ritchie of Cascade Built. They were intended to respond to the recent passage of Seattle’s Backyard Cottage Ordinance. In early 2010, Method Homes sponsored a city-wide Backyard Cottage Design Challenge, and Backyard Box won in the Most Sustainable category, and Best of Show!

What is a Backyard Box? It’s a Modern, Sustainable, Affordable alternative for those considering a Backyard Cottage. With the recent passage of Seattle’s Backyard Cottage Ordinance (yay!), Detached Accessory Dwelling Units are now allowed throughout the City.

As a way to increase the amount and availability of housing options in single-family neighborhoods, and thus help to reduce sprawl, loss of community, reliance on automobiles, etc., we salute the City of Seattle for taking this important step.

As consumers find themselves in need of a little extra space for:

• a home office or studio

• aging parents or boomerang kids

• a guest house

• income via a new rental property

or a mix of these, a Backyard Box will fit the bill. Backyard Boxes are turn-key homes – a homeowner has merely to choose a model from the catalog, along with a Finish Package and available Options (e.g. a Green Roof or Rainwater Catchment system), and the home will be permitted for their lot, fabricated, delivered to the site, erected, and completely finished inside and out. Each Backyard Box will be customized for its site layout, relationship to the main house, topography, solar access etc.

These homes can be designed and built to target the Passive House Standard, a building methodology that results in houses 75- 90% more energy-efficient than conventional structures. With little additional investment (i.e. a small PV array, available as an Option), they can be truly Net Zero-Energy homes. Jim Burton, the architect of the Backyard Boxes, is a Certified Passive House Consultant. Sloan Ritchie, owner of Cascade Built, has been at the forefront of green and sustainable building in the Seattle area for several years, building some of Seattle’s first LEED certified, and certified Passive House homes.

The Backyard Boxes are all ADA Adaptable (the Small Box is shown with the Accessible Bathroom option). They are designed as variations on a theme, yet each have their own distinctive character.

Love your home and neighborhood, but need more space? We have the solution – a Backyard Box!

w w w . b a c k y a r d b o x . com


By |2017-05-10T10:45:38+00:00May 10, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Backyard Box – Award Winning Backyard Cottage Designs!!!

3D Modeling

I was recently recommending to a client that we do a Sketchup model of their project, to better understand what our design was leading to, and some choices we’ll need to make affecting the massing etc.

Afterwards I recalled how anti-computer-modeling I used to be, in favor of true hand-built models over digital ones. Here is an early project I built a handmade model for, and then later modeled in Sketchup:

































I’ve come to appreciate the value of 3D models, particularly how quickly they can be constructed, how easy they are to navigate around and through, how they can be used to study the solar properties of the site and orientation, how easily they can be shared with clients and consultants (even used with contractors to explain complex details), how quickly changes can be made to materials, proportions, details etc. I’ll always look back with nostalgia, though, to the halcyon days before computer models!

I typically do not build ultra-realistic models, with landscaping, adjacent buildings, photo backgrounds, etc., but instead very quick, simple ones to use for design decisions. Here are some more random 3D models, of projects both built and unbuilt:








By |2017-04-12T10:50:02+00:00April 12, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Another New Project

This was a remodel of the main floor of a two-story house in Magnolia. The project centered around the kitchen, with the goal of opening up, expanding, and improving the efficiency of what was a very awkward space. The adjacent family room got a new media cabinet, and the powder room was remodeled too. The kitchen was bumped out a couple feet into the back yard, to gain a little more space.

The highlight of the new kitchen is an under-lit island, offering scads of seating. The new cabinets in the kitchen and family room are striking, with their zebrawood veneers.

By |2017-03-06T16:00:05+00:00March 6, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Another New Project

New Project in Magnolia

This was an addition and remodel of a one-story house in the Magnolia neighborhood. The structurally unstable east wing of the existing house was demolished, and replaced by a two-story addition. The west portion of the house was retained, and incorporated into the new design. A new stair separates the two halves.

The addition contains a family room, powder, and laundry on the first floor, and three bedrooms, two baths upstairs. The master suite has new views of Puget Sound. The existing kitchen, dining and living room areas were left relatively untouched, to keep within a limited budget. The existing one-story portion that remained was re-roofed and re-sided to match the updated style of the addition. The HVAC system was replaced with an energy efficient hydronic system, with a heat-recovery ventilator for fresh air.

The steel stair railing was fabricated by the architect.

By |2017-02-24T10:25:27+00:00February 24, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on New Project in Magnolia

I’m Back!!!

After an extended hiatus, doing large commercial projects, I’m back doing residential design. I’ll follow up this post to show some recently completed new projects. In the meantime…

This past summer my family spent several weeks in Europe, mostly Italy. While there I was reminded of the time I spent studying in Rome, many years ago. I spent two semesters there in grad school, and much of the time was spent sketching. We made many field trips, around Rome, and across Italy, always with our sketchbooks in hand. I regretted not thinking to bring a sketchbook with me on this recent trip, but resolved to begin sketching again when I returned home (and I actually have)!

Here are some sketches (and a couple of more finished drawings) from back then:




By |2016-12-06T13:50:32+00:00December 6, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on I’m Back!!!

Jim Burton Architects Featured on Houzz!!

General contractors, home builders, and more ∨

Before starting a bathroom remodel, search for bathroom ideas and interesting products, including a one-of-a-kind tub, vanity and bathroom sink.
Search for a fun counter stool, clock, sectional and storage dresser to spice up your basement.

By |2014-03-05T12:04:03+00:00March 5, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Jim Burton Architects Featured on Houzz!!

Jim Burton Architects featured again on Houzz!!

Kitchen ideas, bathroom ideas, and more ∨

From designer seating and office desks to message boards and credenza, create your dream home office.
Browse inspiring bedroom design, then outfit your own bed frame, convertible sleeper sofas ordaybed with designer bed linens and a decorative pillow and throws.

By |2013-11-11T07:45:57+00:00November 11, 2013|Architectural Design|Comments Off on Jim Burton Architects featured again on Houzz!!
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