Project Description

A small Madison Park cottage in Seattle is remodeled to include a new master suite and basement


This old Seattle cottage in Madison Park had good bones but needed some serious updating and rearranging of the floor plan. The existing stairs were too steep and dangerous and were not located in an ideal location. The basement was unfinished and the upper level was partially finished, but lacked a bathroom.

We started the design process by determining a new location for the stairs to connect all three levels of the home. A new dormer was incorporated into the roof to house the stairs and also to increase the head height for a new master bathroom addition. The entire upstairs was remodeled into one large master suite with deluxe walk-in closet and dressing area. On the main level, all the spaces were remodeled including a new kitchen. The basement was excavated and a new guest suite (that also functions as a family room) was developed. A laundry room was tucked into the basement as well.

Windows, siding, and roofing were replaced, and a new front entry cover and stairway was designed to make the house more appealing and attractive. The driveway and garage door were widened to allow normal size cars to use the garage.

Project Info & Tips

  • While moving the stair in an old home will likely take up more space than the old stair used, it makes a home much more livable and is also safer. The new stair in this home also became a focal point in the hallway (the old stair was behind a wall and hidden with doors)
  • So often, old Seattle homes have limited access to the back yard. We added new french doors in one of the rear bedrooms, which accesses a new rear deck that takes advantage of the sunny southeastern exposure
  • In the basement, we dug down a good portion of the space but left the garage at the same elevation
  • Careful attention to structural consideration is necessary when digging down around a fireplace. In our case, through careful space planning, we avoided having to dig too close to the existing fireplace foundation
  • Sometimes it’s necessary to add more space to an upper level to accommodate bathrooms. It can be difficult to locate bathrooms in sloped ceiling areas because of code required clearances at fixtures. In this case, it was necessary to add a dormer to accommodate the fixtures the owners desired
  • Garage doors in old homes often suffer from being too small and the driveways  are often too narrow. To allow for parking in the garage and driveway of this old Seattle home, a wider garage door was installed. Our rule of thumb is 8′ minimum width for the garage door if you are pulling in straight, 9′ min width if you are pulling in at an angle
  • While replacing windows and doors we considered the size and location of existing openings.  A few openings were tweaked to make the exterior design more cohesive
  • To learn more, see our article on Whole House Remodels and Second Story Additions
  • Level of Design Services: Full Services
  • How do I Estimate Construction Cost and Design Fees?