While the footprint of the Zerbey's home remained the same, the floor plan is entirely different, allowing for two bedrooms, an attic office and a living/dining/kitchen great room. The exterior had a complete overhaul too: They tore off the aluminum siding, exposing the original 1910 old-growth cedar. Their family has kept pace with the home’s updates: Kyle and Lauren started the remodel as a newlywed couple; they now have a daughter, Avery, and another girl on the way.
To help define the kitchen and living areas, the Zerbeys varied the ceiling heights in the shared space. “We didn’t want the bowling alley effect,” says Kyle. In the kitchen the ceiling is vaulted, while it’s flat with exposed ceiling joists in the living room. They also added broader windows and skylights to make the kitchen feel grander.
Lacking the counter space for potted herbs, the Zerbeys hung a basil planter from the ceiling. They love having fresh basil within arm’s reach, and it does double duty as a houseplant. Farther up, all the lighting is slender, so the vaulted ceiling remains visually uninterrupted. Sky Planter Ceramic, from $25; boskke.com.
Drawers and a pullout pantry take the place of traditional cabinets “since we can get to the back of them easier,” says Lauren. Because the components were off the rack at Ikea, and not made to measure, there was some wall space left after installation; Kyle filled it with open shelving for cookbooks, everyday dishes, wine, and spices.
To create the island, the Zerbeys combined two Ikea cabinets with a custom shelving unit, which holds the microwave and has built-in dog bowls. The Lyptus wood butcher block extends as a bar lip for extra seating (in all, the Zerbeys can seat 14).
The original home had separate living, dining, and kitchen rooms; eliminating walls between these spaces makes the house feel much larger. "A main goal was to make the home feel more livable," says Lauren. "The way people lived in 1910 is much different from now."
To make the most of their limited square footage, the Zerbeys substituted sliding doors for swinging ones. "Typically the notion is people want more privacy," says Kyle of typical room-to-room doors that are kept shut. "But for us, 99% of the time the door is open." To ensure quiet space for kiddo naptime, they have acoustical seals on the nursery door. Also open: the ladder to the attic. Ikea cabinets serve as a partial wall between it and the living room, which the couple cheekily refers to as a "fauxdenza."
In lieu of a separate bookcase and toy box in the nursery, Kyle opted to build modular cubes out of maple plywood to house both. Each box is singular and can be reconfigured based on what the Zerbeys need to store and where they need to store it.
The bed barely fit in the small master bedroom, so Kyle and Lauren opted to make the headboard look built-in and "designed." Built by Kyle (the garage is his workshop, complete with a huge set of tools inherited from his grandfather), the horizontal shape of the headboard also makes the space feel larger visually. "It's a focal point that doesn't overwhelm the small space."
The house has no closets, so Ikea wardrobes span the length of one wall in the master bedroom. Beige curtains (also from Ikea) serve as as soft barrier. "We're always trying to pair down to the essentials," says Lauren of their closet contents. "We're constantly purging what we don't use."
The Zerbeys converted what used to be the front porch into an entry mudroom. Though only 35 square feet, the space now serves as a destination for shoes and jackets. "It also serves as a physical buffer and transition space between the main living area of our house," says Lauren. "Before the front door just opened right into the living space, which always felt awkward."
While demoing the living room, the Zerbeys decided to build a home office in what used to be the attic. Accessible by a steep ladder that ascends from the living room, the 170 square foot attic loft houses Kyle and Lauren's architecture firm, Studio Zerbey. A large operable roof window provides natural light and is part of the ventilation system for the whole house. "On hot days, a fan in the stairwell draws cool air up from the basement, which mixes with air on the the main floor and and exhausts warm air out through the skylight," explains Lauren.
For the Zerbey's growing family, reducing clutter is key. And in a house with no closets, cabinet space is highly prized and often multipurpose. In the living room, Kyle built a shelf that runs the length of the front door wall, with seating on top and cabinets for the entertainment center and toys below. Similarly, the coffee table Kyle designed and built for the living room can be flipped to fit around the arm of the couch as a side table.
The home’s one bathroom has room only for the basics: a small but deep tub (Kohler, found on Craigslist), toilet, and vanity. But the Zerbeys got style and functionality out of a built-in tub-length teak shelf on the tile work in the tub. The bathroom cabinet is two Ikea vanity units screwed together with a teak plywood wrap.
With interior space at a premium, the Zerbeys make the most of their backyard that effectively doubles their living space. With the big kitchen window and glass door (which is typically left open on nice days), they consider it an extension of their great room. During the summer, they do a lot of al fresco dining, hosting friends for barbecues, and lots of time playing with Avery and their dog, Bailey. In addition to the expansive deck, there’s a grassy play area surrounded by northwest-friendly plants, and a veggie garden planted in the strip of their “old California.”
See the detailed step-by-step of the Zerbey’s remodel on their blog chezerbey.com.