studio zerbey / alaska surf shack

Earlier this year, we started design work on a new custom home in Alaska. Located near Seward, Alaska, this 1,725 SF “surf shack” will be home to our client, Kari – an outdoor enthusiast, local mariner and all-around awesome person.

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The home is designed with a 24×30 footprint to maximize efficiency of the form and is built-up off the ground due to local flood and tsunami hazards. It’s also located in a high-level earthquake zone. The lower floor has concrete walls that house a one-car garage and water storage system that captures roof water run-off before being filtered into large cisterns. Given the cold climate, we’ll be using extra insulation and high-performance black fiberglass windows and doors. (Click on floor plans to enlarge.)

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The main floor consists of a bathroom and storage area behind a living and kitchen area with panoramic views of the bay.

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A cozy loft above serves as a workout space and sleeping area (the bed will be placed under the vaulted ceiling of the bump-out).

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Due to a short building season, construction on the home started in April and framing is now mostly complete! (The house is being built by local contractor, Harmon Construction.) Here are a few “real life vs. rendering” comparisons to show you how it’s shaping up.

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The exterior will be clad in clear cedar siding (with stained vertical cedar siding at the bump-out) and a high-performance standing seam metal roof. A wood soffit at the underside of the roof enforces the inside-outside relationship and a steel and wood deck provides an elevated outdoor space during the winter months.

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A steel awning structure with a standing seam metal roof will help shed snow away from the garage door.

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Hefty glulam beams span the length of the house, supporting the roof structure and additional snow loads while deep overhangs protect the house from the elements.

And finally – hello, view!

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Looking forward to sharing more progress photos as construction continues! (And to see more renderings of what the interior will look like, check out the project page on our website!)

hello, september!

Hello! I meant to write this post a week or so ago and now we’re halfway through September!

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This month has been (and will continue to be!) one of transitions. It started with saying goodbye to our long-time nanny, who is getting married and moved out-of-state to be closer to her fiancé. It was harder on me than I expected – she had such a positive influence on Avery and was an important part of our work-life balance.

And just last week, Avery started a new preschool. It’s a big step, but one that we feel she is completely ready for. (And an excuse to finally use that backpack? Heck yeah!) It’s a different daily routine than we’re used to but so far, so good!

Oh, and we’re having a baby this month! I’m due next week! (Right between my birthday and our 9-year wedding anniversary!)

Speaking of births, when Avery was born our firm, Studio Zerbey, was just starting out. Two years later, we’re the busiest we’ve been and finding ourselves in another type of transition, one where most of our projects are either under construction or getting ready to break ground and we have a handful of new ones in the beginning phases of design. It’s not uncommon for even residential projects to take a couple of years from the first meeting through construction so we knew there’d be some lag time till we could start counting our built projects. Well, that time is now arriving and it’s exciting to see things take shape! (Updating our website is also on my list of things to do.)

And finally, with all of these transitions, it’s nice to know there are things that haven’t changed – like our basement. Yeah, I know. We intended to finish the bathroom and laundry room by now but work got too busy. Kyle’s been chipping away on it here and there and we’re almost ready to get our plumbing and electrical inspections but it just can’t be a priority right now. And that’s ok. The washer and dryer are functional, we have another bathroom, we’ll survive (sorry, Mom).

But we have to get it done soon, because we’re starting to seriously scheme about the garage/carport.

a new rug for the nursery

We made a small update in the nursery several months ago, but I just realized we never shared it here on the blog!

Anyhow, new rug!

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The old rug was an off-white chevron rug from West Elm. There was a lot to love about it, but over time Bailey’s nails would snag the knotted design and it started looking pretty worn and dingy. I suppose I could have had it cleaned but decided to swap it out for something more functional instead.

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It’s no secret that we have a special place in our hearts for Flor carpet tiles (we now have them in Kyle’s office, my office, our bedroom and our mudroom). I started my hunt for a new rug by looking at various single-piece area rugs but couldn’t find anything that was quite the right color, size or price. Plus, I didn’t like the idea of having to have it professionally cleaned in the event of a major spill or accident. So, back to Flor. Since this is a kid’s space we wanted something a bit playful but not too “busy” as it would be highly visible from the rest of our house. I’d seen a couple of examples in their catalog of custom designs using triangular tiles (cut along the diagonal from full squares) and thought this might have some potential. (I know, triangles! We’re crazy!)

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We ordered several samples and ended up with the Made You Look line as it was a good balance between price, color options and texture. We sketched out a loose design (enough to order the right amount of tiles) and had Flor custom cut the colored tiles (totally worth the added $3/cut to get it precise) but didn’t decide on the final design till we put everything together. In theory, we could rearrange the tiles if we got bored with the current pattern, but so far so good.

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Best of all, the surface is much more conducive to playing on so we feel like we instantly gained a new play space for Avery.

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In our frenzy to finish the bedroom a few months ago, Kyle also made a valence for the smaller window in the nursery. (In the bedroom we used maple, but decided to stick with fir here.) It’s a small detail but hides the exposed hardware of the IKEA roller shade.

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We’re about a month away (+/-) from welcoming baby #2 and since we’re expecting another girl there hasn’t been much that we need to do to prep for her arrival. I’ve been making space in both the wardrobe and dresser for itty bitty baby clothes and diapers but the overall look and layout of the room will stay as-is for now. We still have plans to eventually set-up a makeshift nursery in my office downstairs (which will involve moving the glider down there and setting up the mini-crib that we purchased awhile back) but aren’t in a hurry since the space will first be used as a guest room by visiting family (and baby will sleep in our room).

Small space multitasking for the win!

summer day

Before Instagram, I used to do more random posts about what we were up to when we weren’t working on our house or Studio Zerbey projects. I thought about putting together something for Avery’s 2nd birthday (which was last week) but in all honesty I only took a handful of photos and half of them landed on Instagram so it seemed redundant to do a recap here. Unlike her first birthday, we kept it pretty low-key this year. We had a small party in our backyard with doughnuts and leftover party supplies from a year ago. (I’ve decided that 2nd birthdays are great because you don’t have the pressure of the big first birthday bash and yet they’re still too young to have any expectations of what their birthday or party should be.)

Although we’ve had a really beautiful Seattle summer so far, we haven’t done a lot of travelling or playing. Work-wise, this has been our busiest time since starting Studio Zerbey. We’re also scrambling to wrap up other projects and to-do items before baby #2 arrives next month(!). That said, we do try to take advantage of little opportunities here and there and sometimes we even embrace a little spontaneity. A quick trip to Shilshole beach last weekend turned into a three-hour adventure around our neighborhood and that’s kinda what summer is all about, right? I snapped a bunch of iPhone photos and thought instead of over-saturating my other feeds, I’d do a quick post here.

Happy summer, everyone!

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I think Bailey is happiest at the beach (and the weird perspective in the photo makes him look gigantic!).

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I swear this kid could spot a strawberry plant from a mile away. We’re still working on “look, don’t touch” but at least she didn’t eat any. Oooh….stahbrees!

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We stopped at Skillet for brunch, which is in a mixed-use building that I worked on a bit at my previous firm. (I distinctly remember drawing those bent steel rods in CAD!) Now that it’s had time to establish, the landscaping looks really amazing. (Fun fact: the lead landscape architect for the job was Mark Garff, our friend who also did the landscape design for our house.)

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This was the first time we’ve been when the doors were all opened up. Not a regular occurrence in Seattle, but dang it was nice! (Of course I had to get the castellated beam in the shot!)

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I’m usually underwhelmed by the options for kid’s meals, but Skillet did it right with this grilled PB&J and fruit (in a baby skillet no less!).

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I think Avery felt the same way. (I hear some kids are “neat” and don’t like to get “dirty”. Huh.)

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After brunch we were heading back to the car when we decided to stop at the park nearby for some post-PB&J spray-down. And what do you know – there was a piano just parked right there (it’s part of the Pianos in the Park campaign)! So Kyle and Avery tried it out and I couldn’t help but capture the moment. (Remember when we used to have a piano? But then we had to sell it to make way for the baby crib? Yeah, Kyle has not forgotten.)

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It took a few minutes to get used to the idea, but she was soon running through the water. Soaked and towel-less we decided to head home. I put Avery in some dry clothes and then she took the most glorious 4-hr nap.

Summer, let’s hold on for another month or so, ok?

Oh, I decided to make my Instagram feed private – it doesn’t affect you if you’re already a follower I just wanted to be a bit more selective about privacy. My username is laurenzerbey (one word) if you want to follow! Disclaimer: it’s mostly photos of Avery and Bailey.

sunset magazine

I started reading Sunset several years ago, usually during my lunch break at work. With its focus on the western U.S., each issue left me thinking I want to try that / I want to eat that / I want to go there! Now, I don’t usually gravitate towards “lifestyle” magazines, but for me this one has always been different, covering topics that I found both interesting and attainable. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest ten years ago, we’ve had several moments (usually in a beautiful setting, hanging out with friends and eating delicious food) where I had to pause and take-in the life that we’ve made for ourselves out here. Maybe it’s cheesy, but for me reading Sunset is like a little reminder to do more of that, to appreciate what’s right around us while also seeking out new adventures. And sometimes, it’s a chance to live vicariously through others while you’re spending weekends at the hardware store.

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So, you can imagine our excitement when Kyle and I learned that they wanted to feature our home (and specifically, kitchen) in an upcoming issue! It was also just the motivation we needed to wrap up some projects around the house (like ahem, our bedroom).

It definitely didn’t all happen overnight, but before we knew it a small crew showed up bright and early to shoot our house. Although it can be nerve-wracking to have your own home photographed by a big-time magazine, it ended up being such a fun day and everyone was really great to work with. It was also fascinating to look behind the lens of a professional (in our case, Sunset photographer Tom Story) and see how the same angles I’ve shot so many times could look 10x better when done by a pro. By the end of the day, we were exhausted (though I’m not sure why seeing as how we mostly let other people do all the work) and spent awhile just hanging out in the backyard, soaking it all up and having our own we live here! we did this! moment. Eight years (and counting!) of remodeling is a loooong time, but days like that make us really glad we did it.

To see more, look for us in the August issue (in print or the tablet version) or checkout an online slideshow here!

And finally, a big thanks to Jess Chamberlain and the Sunset crew for making it happen!