Orchid Studio: A Tiny Backyard Getaway

A Crown Hill couple plants a little dream house in their backyard

Fred Huntsman and Barb Roberts’ love for mid-century modern design had them considering leaving their 1929 Crown Hill house for a new place that would embody the clean simplicity and indoor/outdoor integration of the 1960s. “We were starting to get serious about it,” says Huntsman, an outpatient staffing supervisor at Harborview Medical Center. “We had even gone to some open houses.” They hesitated—an expensive kitchen renovation made leaving their home less appealing. Then, the couple’s old, rat-infested garage started leaning to one side and “the lightbulb went off.” They realized they could replace it with their dream project.

A white fiberglass Eiffel chair from Modernica channels the accent seating of the ’60s

Referred to architect Kevin Witt from their kitchen renovation team and reunited with that project’s contractor, Joe Kilbourne, the couple set out on the two-year endeavor of creating a mini mid-century-modern-style abode. Named the Orchid Studio for Roberts’ potted blooms, the tiny house includes a bathroom with a shower, a wall bed for guests, a living room area and small kitchen space.

The living room features a Danish modern chair reupholstered with fabric from Ballard’s Eidem Upholstery. One of Huntsman’s original works hangs on the wall.

The 376-square-foot structure features tall windows to bring the outside in and clerestory windows to increase the natural light. Exposed fir beams support the southern eave of the roof.

To keep costs down, Huntsman took a week off from work to help Kilbourne drywall the interior. Roberts treated all of the wood surfaces with Daly’s Benite wood conditioner, and the couple painted the entire studio. Benjamin Moore’s “Dill Pickle,” the accent color for the lower exterior cement boards, set the tone for the project’s palette. “In keeping with mid-century modern design we wanted a color, but nothing real bright,” Huntsman says.

“I wanted as many windows as we could fit,” says Huntsman of the floor-to-ceiling-inspired panels that flank the east side of the studio.

A utility sink installed in the kitchen area helps Roberts’ tend his indoor garden.

Currently, the studio is used for reading, listening to music and practicing yoga, as well as a guesthouse for visiting friends, but future plans include the owners’ actually sleeping in it themselves. “Guests have told us,” Huntsman says, “when you lay on the bed in there, you can look up and see the night sky.”

Kevin Witt, architect, firstlamp.net
Joe Kilbourne, contractor, Kilbourne Construction, 206.383.1553


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