Category Archives: Articles

Design A Fabulous Shower

Showering has become a luxurious experience. With many new fixtures and systems available today, it is easy to bring a spa-like experience into your own home. The multitude of options available can become daunting to a homeowner embarking on a bathroom remodel. It is important to understand the type of showerhead or showering system that best fits your needs when designing a new shower in your home.

Standard showerhead

shower head12

The standard showerhead can come as a fixed showerhead that is permanently installed on the wall or as a hand-held showerhead on a bar with a flexible hose which allows for adjustable height and option to be hand held.  The standard showerhead allows for a variety of spray patterns and options, such as pulse,  massage, wide spray, directed spray, etc.  The standard showerhead is also available in a low-flow model which helps with energy efficiency by reducing the amount of water that is used with each shower.

Rain shower

032213_H2D_04The rain showerhead simulates the experience of standing outside in the rain.  The showerhead allows for a high volume of water to flow with an even, gentle shower.  The rain shower head does not allow the user to change flow pressure.  A rain showerhead can be installed on the wall and is also available as a ceiling mounted unit.

Ceiling Mounted Shower Tile/Panel


The ceiling mounted shower tile or shower panel is installed flush with the ceiling of the shower.  This type of showerhead provides a similar experience to the rain showerhead with a large volume of water simulating rain.  The shower tile/panel comes in a variety of sizes and some types even provides options for light and sound.  The shower tile provides a clean, contemporary look in the shower and visually disappears with the ceiling.

Body Sprays

2013Nov_H2D_Web_020The bodyspray provides a spray that is directed to a specific location.  The bodysprays are typically mounted on the wall flush with the tile.  They are located to provide targeted spray for a specific location, such as runners tired legs or aching backs.   The bodysprays come with options for direct spray and other types provide options for adjustability of the spray.



Other showering options may include steam showers, digital shower controls, multiple shower heads or multiple types of showerheads.


Featured on MSN Real Estate

Msn real estate picture 2

Msn real estate picture 1H2D Architecture + Design is featured on MSN Real Estate’s feature article “Amazing Indoor and Outdoor Spaces”. The Seattle Green Custom home is noted for its sustainable features and wonderful connection between the indoors and outdoors via a large Nanawall window and door system. The door and window opens the living room, dining room, and kitchen out onto an outdoor living space overlooking North Seattle and a peek-a-boo view of the Space Needle. To learn more about this project or others, please visit our website at

NW Green Home Tour 2013

Join us on Saturday, April 27th from 11-5pm for the Northwest Green Home Tour.  H2D Architecture + Design’s Backyard Artist’s studio is featured on the tour.  The studio is located in the quiet north Seattle neighborhood of Broadview at 11509 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA 98133.

Green features include:  Built Green Certification, Rain screen siding assembly, salvaged materials, recycled content tile, zero voc paints, and much more.

More information about the tour and a listing of the other locations on the tour, can be found at:  The tour is free and open to the public.

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Hiring an Architect 101

When taking on a remodel, addition, or new construction project, many owners are unsure where to begin.  Often times, the first step that the owner takes is to call a builder to get a quote for the work.  The builder may then ask if the owner has a design for them to bid and build from.  If the answer is ‘no’, this is where the architect comes into the picture.  An architect can provide a wide range of services to their clients including space planning and design, code research and compliance, energy efficient construction, material selection, permitting, bid negotiation, and construction observation among many others.

At first glance at the architect’s fees, it may feel like you are paying a lot for just a few plans and visit to the building department.  Instead, you are paying for years of training, expertise, and experience for an architect to help bring your vision into reality.  The time spent working with the architect may also help you to avoid expensive mistakes during construction by working out the kinks through design, layout, and detail on paper prior to starting construction.  Over the course of the design process, the architect and owner will pore over the design in painstaking detail until the drawings contain enough information for the builder to take the plans and build the project.  During the design process, the architect will help with suggesting materials and construction methods that may suit your budget or help with ideas for creating an energy efficient home which can save thousands over the years.  The design costs of roughly 5-18% of construction costs are a relatively small percentage compared to the added value that good design can achieve.  A beautiful, creatively designed space alone will maintain premium value for the long term.

Building With Less Wood

Wood is one of the most prevalent materials used in our homes today.  Most homes are constructed of wood framing with wood beams, posts, and plywood sheathing.  When thinking about ways to reduce the resources that go into homes, advanced framing should be one that comes to mind.

Advanced framing is a green construction method aimed towards significantly reducing the lumber package for the project.  Advanced framing reduces the amount of lumber necessary through several methods:

  • wall and floor framing at 24″ o.c. vs 16″ o.c.
  • single top plate versus a double top plate
  • headers sized for each opening vs one size fits all method which ends up in many headers being oversized
  • headers not required in non-load bearing walls (confirm with your local building codes)
  • larger stud bays allow for increased insulation
  • a reduction in area for heat loss through thermal bridging between the conditioned area and the exterior

See an illustrated example of advanced framing.  To learn more about advanced framing or how you can incorporate sustainable materials and construction methods into your project, contact Heidi Helgeson at 206-370-4762 or at

Wind Power…in MY backyard??

You’ve heard about harnessing solar energy to power your home.  But wind power?  Residential wind turbines are a great option for harvesting clean, renewable energy from the wind. 

A residential wind turbine is constructed with a turbine installed atop a tall tower or a turbine mounted to a rooftop.  As the wind passes through the turbine, energy is generated and in turn is converted into electricity for use in your home.  The stronger the wind, the faster the turbine will spin and thus generate more electricity.  Typically in urban and suburban locations, the home will use both the power generated from the wind turbine and power from the local utility company.  When the wind is strong, the amount of power purchased from the utility decreases, whereas during low winds, power will come primarily from the local utility.  In a rural location, installing a wind turbine could cut the high costs of running power lines to your property.  Depending on where you live and the wind speeds on your site, the savings on your electricity bill could be significant.  In addition to providing you with savings on your energy bill, there is a 30% federal tax credit available through 2016 and local rebates.  

Various factors should be considered when thinking about installing a wind turbine in your backyard:

  • The height of the tower and size of the turbine is dependant on the size of the system.  Small systems = less energy collected and produced
  • Check to make sure your local zoning and land use codes allow wind turbines and what the restrictions will be.  
  • Minimal wind speeds are required to produce energy.  Check average annual wind speeds on your site or have them tested over an extended period of time.
  • Adequate space on your site is required to accommodate the tower as well as for good exposure to wind.  

Additional Resources: 

The American Wind Energy Association has a great website with additional resources for learning about harnessing wind energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy has a helpful guide for learning more about small wind turbine systems.

Selecting the Right Window

Aluminum window

Fall is here and winter is looming around the corner.  With the dropping temperatures, energy use and efficiency (or lack thereof) in our homes become more apparent.  Homes with old or single pane windows tend to feel drafty and down right cold in the winter.  One way to increase the energy efficiency of your home is to replace old windows (approximately 25-40% of the average home’s energy is lost through inefficient or leaky windows).  If you are remodeling, building new, or are just interested in replacing your windows, there are many different types of windows on the market and it can be confusing to determine which one would be the best product to use for your project.

Knowing the basics for selecting an energy efficient window will help as you decide on the look and style of the windows.  Here are the minimum requirements you should consider for your windows:  double-pane insulated glass (air or gas filled), low-e glazing to help keep heat in during the winter and UV out, airtight frames, and Energy Star rating.

Below are descriptions of several types of windows that may be appropriate for your project:


pros: 1) Paintable and stainable, 2) Easy for manufacturers to make custom sizes and designs, 3) Highly energy efficient frame, 4) Long lasting if maintained properly

cons: 1) Regular maintenance is required (peeling paint can expose the wood and lead to rot), 2) Price point may be higher than other types of windows

manufacturers: Lindal, Marvin, Sierra Pacific, Kolbe


pros: 1) Give you the look of a traditional wood window, 2) Highly energy efficient frame (one of the most energy efficient window frame types), 3) Low maintenance and durable in all types of weather, 4) Option for either fiberglass or natural wood interior, 5) Paintable.

cons: 1) Price point may be higher than other types of windows

manufacturers: Milgard


pros: 1) Price point may be lower than other types of windows, 2) Low maintenance and durable, 3) Thin frame profile for maximum glass, 4) Style is suited for a contemporary home

cons: 1) Energy efficiency is more difficult to achieve (be sure to choose a thermally-broken window if selecting an aluminum window), 2) Limited frame color selection, 3) Not paintable (can be shop painted)

manufacturers: Milgard, Marlin, Fleetwood

Composite (Frame and sash is made from more than one type of material) :

pros: 1) Frame composition is tailored work with the weather, climate, and design requirements, 2) Exterior can be aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass, 3) Interior can be natural or painted wood, 4) High energy efficiency, 5) Low maintenance and durable, 6) Paintable if fiberglass exterior

cons: 1) Price point may be higher than other types of windows, 2) Vinyl and aluminum exteriors are not paintable, 3) Limited color selection if vinyl or aluminum exterior

manufacturers: Milgard, Loewen, Marvin, Andersen


pros: 1) Low price point, 2) Good energy efficiency, 3) Extremely low maintenance

cons: 1) Thicker profile than other types of windows, 2) Frame finish has a plastic look , 3) Color selection is limited, 4) Not paintable

manufacturers: Milgard, Kolbe, Marlin

In addition to saving on your energy bills, there are rebates and tax credits available for installation of energy efficient windows.  To learn more about the tax credits and to see if you qualify for either 2009 or 2010, follow the link to:

For a more in-depth look at the energy efficiency of the various frame types, please visit the Efficient Windows Collaborative website.  This site allows you to select the city you live in and evaluate the energy efficiency of the different window types based on the climate in the location.

Feel free to contact Heidi Helgeson with H2D at 206-370-4762 or at if you have questions on selecting the right window for your project.