Olympia, Washington is right on the Puget Sound, serving as a beautiful respite from the Seattle metro area. The owner of this modern Olympia home first purchased it in 2004, citing the central location and easy walkability as its biggest draw. But fast forward several years, and the house needed to adapt along with the family who called it home. 

Architect Roussa Cassel and builder Dave Canfield have a long history of designing and building Passive Homes—residences that follow a set of guidelines focused on energy efficiency and planet-friendly building. The pair met while working at the Artisans Group, a local architecture firm. In an exciting turn of fate, they remarried, each with a child from previous marriages, and they needed a house that would accommodate their blended family. It was imperative that it meet everyone’s needs, provide space for the adults to get away, and ensure there were plenty of areas to be creative.

Instead of looking for something new, the couple decided to stay in the neighborhood they loved and crafted a unique plan, converting the original house to an ADU [Accessory Dwelling Unit] and building an entirely new residence. For the new house, they used a prefabricated panelized envelope, which was built and installed by Collective Carpentry. (The walls and roof arrived as separate pieces and went up in just a week.) The structure features 18” thick super-insulated walls which are air sealed to Passive House standards, resulting in 75% less energy use overall. 

The front of the home faces south, allowing for window placement to provide natural heating throughout the winter. The finish materials are durable and will age well with concrete floors, wood and stone countertops, and stair treads cut from Doug Fir beams. The metal stairs were welded and installed by Dave and his father. Solar panels ensure the all-electric home is net-zero, producing more electricity than it uses over the course of the year. There is also a potting studio and sauna on the property. 

The house is compact at 1,800-square-feet but provides room for all. When the couple put the home on an architectural tour, many people assumed it was a remodel versus a new build, thanks to it fitting seamlessly into the fabric of the neighborhood. 

Take a tour in the slideshow.