Walk the Neighborhood

I have lived in West Seattle for almost 4 months now and I love it. The once foreign landscape is becoming more familiar and I am finding a routine that has involved a lot of tea, rearranging furniture, and exploring. My explorations have introduced me to details that stir my senses and spark my creative curiosity. In just a short walk I am surrounded by interesting design and it has made my outlook on design and composition so rich and diverse.

And I found the inspiration to keep exploring; West Seattle homes. 

I won’t claim that the area I live in is any more special than other parts of Seattle as that would be an unfair judgment. I work in Wallingford and there are many beautiful homes there, as there are in Capitol Hill, U-district, Beacon Hill, etc. Yet perhaps I am experiencing a special impression from these homes because they are in my neighborhood. The first neighborhood I have been a part of since I moved into my own place.

{A condo building around the corner from Harold's in Wallingford. It has a cool Art Moderne feel with curved corners and rectangle glass block windows. An evolution from the Art Deco style in the 1940's}

I was born and raised in Bellevue, just yonder east of Seattle, in a 1968 rambler. I loved that home. It went through renovations and slow new identities as my Mom and I discovered our tastes and distastes. The dreams we had for it carried on through the years, some realized, some elusive, but it was wonderful to see it evolve even in small ways by our nurtured and sometimes overwhelmed touch. But I digress. My point is that the Bellevue neighborhood I lived in was defined by my childhood and the memories of my family. I grew in confidence and independence there, but I was not fully autonomous. It was also defined, from an architectural standpoint, by ramblers and split level homes. I desired change both for myself and from the environment around me.

{My childhood home...a classic ranch style (aka ramble) with a low profile and minimal exterior decoration}

Here now in West Seattle I have found new independence. I have found a place where I can plant roots and explore my community. In Seattle there is variety and history to its architecture. Modern and antiquarian, just along one street there will be a multitude of styles each signature in its own way. You can witness it in the color palette, the molding, the roof line and doors, the landscaping, the lighting, all those elements merge to create a marvelous structure that is called home.

{Blend of Colonial and Federal with double cased windows and oval balcony over the front door}

The other day as I ran down a nearby street I soon found myself moving increasingly slower as I looked at the varying architecture, my pace so slow I pumped my arms to feign progress, but actually barely moved my feet. I am so inspired by these homes around me and wanted to share their distinct character. It's also a great opportunity to refresh my design history which is incredibly rusty and very enlightening. I hope this serves as inspiration to check out the beautiful character that is so much a part of West Seattle. 

A brief synopsis of architectural history. These homes I've highlighted are ones that have features reminiscent of some of the common styles. One of my favorites is Federal. Think fanciful ornate Greek revival. What does that mean? It means the classical symmetry and balance of ancient Greece ordained with more detail like elliptical windows and garlands. Lots of flavor. 

This quirky purple house is an interesting mix of Federal, Dutch colonial, and Victorian. You can see Victorian with the widows walk, a railed rooftop platform, as well as the steep and slightly curved mansard roof.  Dutch Colonial is slightly present with the symmetrical dormer windows.

This home is a mixture of Arts and Crafts style and Bungalow. Bungalow is interesting that it was a reaction to the elaborate Victorian homes in the 1880's and from its origins in California spread it's way across the U.S. There is an interesting variety in scale in the siding that creates a great amount of texture. The low pitched roof and small covered porch at the entry are features of Bungalows as well.  

This home has Colonial elements including a rectangular, symmetrical shape and the eyebrow window above the front door.  It also reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie style with the low profile and rows of casement windows.

This beautiful home is reminiscent of Colonial and and Cottage style with the mansard roof and symmetrical windows. It has especial interesting detail in the small cased windows mirroring the chimney.

This home is a nice example of the Regency style influence. Built since the early 1800's, this style is simplistic and flat (in a good way). It symmetrical, with two levels, and a hipped roof. One detail missing that keeps from feeling entirely Regent is those homes typically have an octagonal window over the front door.

I liked how this home felt like it was immersed into nature. It has a simplicity that reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright, the low slung roof and clean lines create an organic impression of tranquility.

I imagine that Mary Poppins lives here. It has a quaint cottage feel with the steep curved roof pitch. Interestingly apart from that architectural detail, the home is reminiscent of the National style. Signature features of this more simple style are rectangle shapes with side gabled roofs where the side-gabled wing is attached at a right angle to gabled front.  

I had a difficult time choosing which homes to highlight as there are so many with beautiful features. No matter the amount of ornamentation there is interest alone in each style's history, the influence that led to the construction and replication of abodes across the country. The National style for example has roots in Native American and pre-railroad dwellings. and the Bungalow became so popular in the early 20th century that you could order a bungalow kit from Sears and Roebuck catalog. Brilliant.

The more you look for beautiful design here, the more you find it. If nothing else, at least running (or walking), will be so much more enjoyable now.


Warm wishes,