Folded Plane House is a modern midcentury home that honors the heritage of its original design. Constructed in the 1960s by noted architect Paul Kirk, the original design of the 2200 square feet property was born out of an architectural language of folding. The walls of the north and south orientations of the existing house folds up to the roof, creating a hexagonal front elevation.
The clients, a couple with two children, describes a visceral response upon visiting the 1966 home. Moving from Sydney, Australia in 1998, they were living in a rented apartment in the same Queen Anne neighborhood where the Folded Plane House is located. They remember resonating with the soaring ceiling, the warmth of the wood, the view, and the overall openness of this Queen Anne Modern MidCentury Home.
The couple’s apartment was surrounded by similarly historic and gracious old homes; the young pair assumed their succeeding house would be a traditional Craftsman or Tudor. However, upon seeing the contemporary Queen Anne home at the north side of the hill, the two were drawn to its serene and peaceful aura.
Despite its obvious need for major renovations, the clients were excited by the potential of the place. The original layout appeared to be unsuitable for a growing family. The main entryway, kitchen, and dining area are on the loftlike upper level, with a railing overlooking the separate, lower-level rec room. Unbeknownst to the couple, the house was designed by prominent Northwest architect Paul Hayden Kirk.
Kirk was a well-known figure in Seattle vernacular architecture, bringing in a modern touch to public buildings and many private residences. Kirk maximized the use of local materials such as cedar and fig and favored gabled roofs of traditional homes over ornamentation. He likewise prioritized open, casual interiors over formal living and dining rooms and his design philosophy is evident in Folded Paper House.
Renovation architects Lane Williams Architects welcomed the challenge of renovating a house designed by a highly regarded predecessor. They preserved Kirk’s design legacy – a roof that continues with its north- and south-side walls as a single, fluid folded plane. This continuity is achieved through using cedar on the exterior roof and interior paneling.
Lane Williams Architects also brightened the interiors by introducing windows and glass doors to the west facing elevation of the house. Though the rooms in the upper floors, which includes the dining and living, are small, their vaulted ceilings that apex at 14 feet creates a sense of spaciousness.
The interiors also underwent a major renovation. The clients refinished the floors, tearing out carpets and remodeled the bathrooms, replacing them with a more functional two level deck. The redesign also saw a general brightening of the overall interior.
Williams “added white-painted drywall to the cedar paneling along the interior partition walls, added more windows and slide-fold glass doors to the west end of the house, and refaced the original brick fireplace with off-white Milestone, a mix of cement and acrylic” to achieve a light and airy ambience. With these few modern modifications, Williams exemplifies how a 1960s home can be transformed into a family friendly sanctuary.