The 5th Wall by Atelier Drome

When you're thinking about changing/designing out your space, you're probably mostly thinking about what happens with the four vertical walls. But did you know that there's a 5th wall that exists in your space?

That 5th wall, is the ceiling. It's a great design opportunity that often gets overlooked. You can choose to go bold with a contrasting paint or a graphic wallpaper. But if you're looking for a more neutral approach to your space, have you thought about using wood paneling or adding fretwork to your ceilings?

When you introduce a design element to the ceiling, it draws your eye up and through the space. You want to have different elements that catch your eye in the room so there's movement and interest as you explore the area.

Here are some ceiling materials to think about for your next project:

  • Paint

  • Wallpaper

  • Tiles

  • Fretwork/Millwork

  • Wood

  • Murals

Check out these fun examples we’ve pulled below to spark some inspiration!

source:  vogue

source: vogue



Written by Monita Huang, Interior Designer at ATELIER DROME architecture + interior design

What does the new ADU legislation mean for you? by Atelier Drome

Carriage Front Evening.jpg

On July 1, the Seattle City Council voted to pass new code legislation regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs.)  ADUs are a great way to increase density into single family zones (SF zones) in a manner that respects the scale of the neighborhood.  There are two types of accessory units, detached and attached.  Detached units are those that are separated from the main house.  It could be in an unit above a garage or a small cottage in a backyard.  Attached units are part of the main home and are most commonly found as a basement apartment.  Many homeowners use these units as a way to provide housing for extended family members or to create extra income by renting out the unit. 

The goal of the legislation was to make it easier for homeowners to add ADUs to their homes in SF zones.  Homeowners can now have (2) units, either (2) attached or (1) attached and (1) detached, and are no longer required to provide parking for the units.  With these changes, in addition to removing the owner occupancy requirement and adjusting several of the development standards, the legislation does succeed.  

Homeowners can now have (2) units, either (2) attached or (1) attached and (1) detached, and are no longer required to provide parking for the units.

However, the changes also introduce a new challenge for homeowners who are looking to build a new home or make changes to their current one. The amount you are allowed to build will now also depend on the size of your lot, in addition to the required setbacks and lot coverage already in the current code.  The legislation incorporates square footage restrictions to single family zoning by adding a floor area ratio (FAR) limit.  FAR is already used in multi-family zones and is essentially the interior square footage of your home. 

For example, if your lot is 5,000 sf, you can only build up to 2,500 sf of FAR or roughly 2,700 sf in real estate terms.  There is an one-time exemption for homeowners whose current home exceeds the allowable FAR but would like to add onto their home.  In these cases, you can add up to 20% of the area of your current home. 

The majority of the changes will be in effect 30 days after the Mayor signs the bill, likely early August, but the size limitations won’t go into effect until March 1, 2020.  As many of our projects focus on home additions, remodels, and accessory units, our team has been following these changes closely.  If you are thinking of adding an accessory unit or make changes to your current home and have questions, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions!  

Written by Molly O’Donnell, ATELIER DROME architecture + interior design

Learning Curve: Architecture is Art by Atelier Drome

My second year in the Interior Design and Architecture program at University of Idaho was all about abstraction. The studio based its curriculum on discarding the notion that a building is a just a box. A building can be much more than just a box. Humans need to inhabit spaces that are much more than boxes to lead a healthy life since we spend about 93% of our time indoors (Environmental Protection Agency).

The Elements of Art are line, shape, form, value, space, color and texture. All of these can be used to make a space for humans to inhabit. Architecture isn’t only about simply making a space for humans to function properly in, though. It’s also about giving the user an experience to stimulate interest. Otherwise we would just live in boxes.

A growing body of research in cognitive science illuminates the physical and mental toll bland cityscapes exact on residents. Generally, these researchers argue that humans are healthier when they live among variety…or work in well-designed, unique spaces, rather than unattractive, generic ones
— Jacoba Urist, The Cut

Contrasting two different buildings will show how valuable art is to architecture:

Arts West, University of Melbourne

The free flowing, geometric form of the coffered timber roof and vertical arrangement gives visual interest while at the same time mediates natural daylight and assists natural ventilation. The texture of the wood that is scattered throughout the building gives a clean, natural and fresh feel to the space. Lastly, the open space in the center of the building allows for flexibility and balance to the rest of the turns and corners surrounding the rest of the structure.

Arts West1.jpg
Arts West2.jpg
While artists work from the real to the abstract, architects must work from the abstract to the real.
— Steven Holl, The Brooklyn Rail
Arts West3.jpg
Arts West4.jpg

Health Sciences Center, Louisiana State University

The form of this building is exactly what my second-year studio told me not to do: make a perfect boxed structure. The interpreted line that the small windows dotting the building make, make it feel like a prison from the outside: boring to look at. The color of the building is very bland and is the same throughout the exterior.

Louisina Health Sciences Center2.JPG
Louisina Health Sciences Center.JPG

images from Arch Daily; The Times-Picayune


Learning Curve is an ongoing series from the perspective of our interning students who are currently in school to become the world’s next generation of designers.  

This edition is by Jessie Macomber who is in her final year in a double major of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Idaho and will be headed on to the Master of Architecture program next year. Her continuously curious mind and love of art drew her to the design profession, and she can often be found studying and sketching everything around her.  “I looked at Architecture and Design as something that took art and turned it into something practical – something that made an impact on how people lived their lives,” Jessie says of her decision to choose a path in design. Rounding out her love for the built world and art is the importance that she places on friends and family in her life and the impact that has on how she views the ways in which design can enrich lives and ultimately help bring people together.

5 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Home by Atelier Drome


According to a recent article in the Seattle Times, home prices are falling in the Seattle area and, for the first time in four years, the average home is now selling for below list price. This is great news for those looking to buy a home who were hoping to avoid bidding wars the would drive a home out of their budget.

You may have questions about how to find the right property with the potential to become your dream home. As you might have guessed, there are many things to consider in any home purchase but if you have some knowledge of what to look for then the process will feel a lot more fun!

Below are 5 things to consider from an architecture and design point of view while you are out touring available properties:


See beyond the surface

Once you have a clear picture of the type of home you are looking for given your lifestyle and future goals, it will be easier for you to look beyond a bad paint color and see the bones of the house. Hot pink walls aren’t forever but a poorly laid out floorplan will have limitations.

Getting started on the right foot(ing)

Often, the home you love won’t have absolutely everything you want and before you make a commitment to purchase, your first questions are likely to surround your options to renovate. If adding a second story is in your dream plan, you will want to understand the structure of the foundation.

If the foundation was not built with any footings, that equals more structural work. Unless you absolutely love the home and have additional budget, you may want to move on to a property more suited to handling additional stories without added work to the foundation. Also, watch out for any cracks in the foundation, particularly big ones as this could be a sign of larger issues such as soil problems.


Renovations don’t happen overnight

Keep in mind that remodeling or building an addition to a home takes time. If you absolutely cannot live in the home during this period and you don’t have another option in the meantime, then another property may suit you better. You can consult an architect to get the best timeline for permitting, design and construction to help in making your final purchasing decision.

Water will always flow downhill

Take a look at the overall property and where the home sits. It is at the bottom of a hill or does any part of the site slope towards the home? At this time of year, if you happen to have the opportunity to witness the home in the rain, take note of where the water flows. Ideally it will flow away from the home. If not, you may need to consider additional cost for site work to keep the water out. Make sure to check the inside for any evidence of water damage.


Environmental awareness

Look at Seattle Parcel Data to determine if your property is on an Environmentally Critical Area (ECA). ECA's can indicate significant permitting problems, resulting in more expensive construction. For instance, if you are on a steep slope, your soil may be less stable than a flat site. This could cause your project to require more structural upgrades to account for your additional weight.  Some other ECA's are much simpler and don't affect the structure but could affect your timeline. For example, a Heron or Eagle habitat generally comes with specific times of year that you can build.

Want additional piece of mind? We are always available to help!

Finding the right home can feel daunting but with an Architect and Interior Designer on your side you can find and create the perfect space that will work best for your lifestyle and make the process seamless and fun. Every property has its own special conditions and our team can determine what may be built on a property and flag any potential hurdles with the house before you invest any time and money.

From a property walk through with you and your agent to analysis, research, space planning and assistance with upsizing or downsizing, we can tailor services that fits your lifestyle, needs and budget. Schedule a consultation with us to discuss how we can help you envision your life in your perfect new home!

images courtesy Atelier Drome

Top 5 Summer Design Trends by Atelier Drome

Summer 2018 promises to be fun and colorful. We’ve pulled together our top 5 favorite trends for summer decorating from the Pinterest 2018 top 100 predictions. Some of these are fresh and new while others have been around for a while but are gaining new popularity. Whether you are looking for ways to bring a little pizzazz into your life or just enjoy some eye candy, check out our favorite selections for your summer design inspiration.

Trend: Bold Ceilings

Add unexpected character to your space with a pop of (ceiling) color. The ceiling accent was around long before the accent wall and is picking up again since the accent wall trend tapered off. What we love about it: expand your space to include design on every surface; the ceiling is an often-forgotten opportunity for expression.

source:  Domino

source: Domino

Trend: Graphic Plants

Greenery isn’t just about the lone ficus in the corner anymore, but incorporating plants as an integral part of the décor. Hanging & potted plants mingle with the rest of a design scheme to provide color, texture and pattern. What we love about it: Our leafy green friends are not only beautiful, but they also clean our air and give us those biophilia feel-good vibes.

source:  Jungalow

source: Jungalow

Red Prayer Plant.jpg

Trend: Colorful Doors

Make a bold first impression with a colorful door to fit your personality. Front doors are a long-standing favorite accent opportunity and are now more fun than ever. What we love about it: doors are the perfect opportunity to add a pop of color and curb-appeal to your home, plus it’s a small area to cover so you can always switch it out later without repainting your entire home.

source:  Pinterest

source: Pinterest

Trend: Oversized Wall Art & Graphic Wallpaper

Vertical surfaces are getting an update with bold wall graphics and artwork. What we love about it: you can create a visually engaging and lively atmosphere with a single bold move. Shown here is Mr. Blow from Abnormals Anonymous and Surf’s Up by local Seattle artist Melanie Biehle.

Trend: Smoothie Bowels

Ok, so this is not a design trend, but they are perfect to enjoy while choosing your new graphic plant or bold front door color. Smoothie bowels are a great healthy solution to that summer sweet tooth when you are craving a cold dessert. Check out this beautiful (and delicious) recipe from PopSugar.

source:  PopSugar

source: PopSugar

Learning Curve: Parametric Design by Atelier Drome

There are various ways to approach a new design. From hand sketches, to model building, collages, photography, 3D modeling, etc. Architects learn to become inspired and use various medias to convey their ideas. One growing example of an approach is parametric modeling. With computer technology gaining speed, parametric design features parameters within a program, such as Grasshopper, to clarify and encode relationships between elements.


Designing with many iterative shapes makes parametric modeling a useful tool. It allows for quick manipulation to a specific design. Factors that may call for change and response include zoning heights and setbacks, natural daylight, shading, structural frame, floor areas, etc. All this can be instantly manipulated with a change of a number in the code script. With many factors having an impact on several iterations until coming up with the product of a final design, parametric modelling uses time efficiently to make these changes to the interior, exterior, and detailing. Therefore, designers can go through more options with a client in an efficient time period.


As a student, what fascinates me the most with parametric modelling is the form you’re able to achieve. While most modern architecture is represented with flat planes or rectangular forms, parametric modelling can create curved, manipulated, and twisting shapes appealing to speculate by the eye.  A studied example in which parametric modelling was utilized are the Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi. Aedas Architects were able to utilize parametric script to design the towers’ responsive façade screens. With the location’s direct sunlight, a sustainable approach was taken to create kinetic screens to self-move and respond to the sun exposure at various times/days of the year.  In return, this provides more shade to cool the interior and eliminate unnecessary HVAC use. The individual iterative shape of the screens themselves were derived from the “mashrabiya” which is a local traditional Islamic lattice. Here, parametric modelling became a solution to combine culture with sustainability and design.


Learning Curve is an ongoing series from the perspective of our interning students who are currently in school to become the world’s next generation of designers.  

This edition is by Anastasia Spassennikova who is in her first year of the Master of Architecture program at the University of Washington. With a love for both math and art, architecture felt like the obvious path that would meld the two into one exciting career. Her passion for the profession grew when she realized it was a gateway to learning about people and locations in various contexts. Designing a building for a specific client allows the designer to learn more about that individual's background and interests which makes every project unique. With the rare extra time outside of her studies, Anastasia enjoys exploring the world around her through drawing, painting and actively travelling to see things first hand