At first, we just wanted a better bedroom. At the time, it had room for a queen sized bed in the corner and a tiny 1920-sized closet. It was sufficient, but we imagined the luxury of having an attached bathroom and closet — a master suite. This could be a relatively small project, we thought, just a small addition.
Our first step was contacting John, an independent architect we knew through close friends and another small project. John was the first to alert us of the realities of our plans. In Seattle, a structure can only cover one-third of a property. Our house already covered most of that area and prevented us from adding any more area to the house’s footprint. In words that we would come to remember as a turning point, John said, “Well, you can always go up!”
This idea set off months of discussion between Sachi and me. It was 2009, a couple of years after Common Craft videos had become popular and our little business was doing better than ever. We were constantly working with clients to make custom videos and had as much work as we could handle. We were in a position to make an investment in our future. It had to make sense financially but also needed to contribute to our long term happiness. Because our home was also our workplace, it made sense to invest more than we initially anticipated.
Having justified a bigger investment, we had to figure out the scale of the potential project and the logic went like this… If we wanted to “go up”, it would mean taking off part of the roof. If you take off part of the roof, you probably can’t live there during construction. If you’re going to move out, then why don’t you take off the whole roof and make it all worthwhile?
It seemed big, but rational. As long as we could devote ourselves to completing enough Common Craft projects, we could cover the costs of a construction project. It also helped that the Great Recession was in full swing and contractors were more affordable than they’d been in years.
Over many months with John, we eventually came up with a much bigger plan than we first envisioned. What started as an idea for a master suite was now a complete second story on top of our existing home. We planned to turn the main floor into an open floor plan entertaining space and build a master suite, two bedrooms and a bathroom on the top floor. We would have to move out of the house for over a year to make it happen.
This was, by far, the biggest and most complicated project we’d ever tackled and it became a second job. We’d go straight from making Common Craft videos to meeting with John and then to research on fixtures and finishes and flooring before bed. It was dizzying and often exhausting.