Designing a Home

Our architect: (Paul) Whitney Architecture – Ballard (Seattle)

Our Builder/Consultant: YS Development | YS Built (Bellevue)

Our home will be a modern, sustainable, green built, energy-efficient, cozy with a flat butterfly roof.  It has a wonderful view of the horizon, Bellevue and Seattle downtown.

Designing a home is complex process.  We had to do a lot of work on the flow of the home and placements of the rooms ourselves. We struggled with the placement of the kitchen quite a bit. Another struggle was where to place the laundry room. This probably warrants a post of its own….

Having owned 2 previous homes, we had a fairly good idea what we wanted/needed in our custom home.  Here a quick break down:

My wish list for the architect / builder:

  • Large pantry/mud/laundry room.
  • Open flow of living spaces.
  • Family room but no formal living or dining (no wasted space).
  • Downstairs office/library.
  • Small loft upstairs for family time/watching TV (away room).
  • Lots of storage.
  • Wet room in the bathroom
  • Covered patio!
  • Bedroom for each person
  • Rec room for the kiddos
  • Tons of pocket doors
  • Linear drain(s)

My husband’s wish list:

  • 2 car garage + tall RV garage
  • Rec room / man cave
  • putting green / batting cage / driving range in the back yard
  • side drive way
  • Rain shower from the ceiling


  • We will most likely get most items on my list, but the pantry / mud / laundry will not be huge.
  • Originally we were shooting for 2,400 sq ft. but it will be around 2,800+. sq ft due to the rec room. Of course this expanded our costs also.

I will try to cover some of these living spaces in future posts.

Build vs. Buy

Custom Build vs. Buy?  Some friends ask, why not just buy a ready made house?

We really wish we could have bought a ready made house that we could move right into.

However, finding a modern, green, cozy home that met our requirements on the East Side was pretty much impossible.  Especially if you have budget constraints.  There are many desirable and affordable modern homes in West Seattle and a few scatterings in Kirkland.  We needed to stay within a reasonably close commute to and from our work and have a  good school system among other things.

We searched in Bellevue (mostly Enatai), MI, Lakemont, and the Issaquah area.  Our builder actually was in the process of building an enclave of modern homes near Factoria (very close to Newport HS).  However, we chose Issaquah Highlands for its community feel, tons of parks, good walking score, good schools, close to family, close to shopping, and very close to bike and walking/hiking trails.

Custom building is not for the faint of heart. It is very stressful and time consuming.  We can see why many people run out to the subdivision to buy, being scared away by the process.  However, it may be the only way to get reasonably close to a home that you dreamt of.  Reasonably being the keyword here. Feature creep and budget constraints will limit some of your dream home features for sure.