If there’s one major criticism of new construction in Seattle, it’s that it largely kind of looks the same: boxy and modern with neutral concrete siding. In multifamily projects, there’s a trade-off of more housing in a smaller space. In the case of single-family projects, though, a Hardipanel box without a thoughtful design can stand out like a sore thumb, both in design and price point. It also makes a very spooky costume, like this one posted to the r/SeattleWA Subreddit on Halloween.
West Seattleite Mary Sheely told Curbed Seattle that she originally joked about dressing up like one of these houses with a friend, but “her response was so positive I decided I couldn’t not do it.” The costume, which took about four hours to build, was constructed from a mattress box and includes many of the mainstays of a brand-new, single-family house: the three-windowed accent door, pockets of contrast material, and even a little roof deck with stock-image people on it.
“We added little bits of cardboard to make up the house elements,” explained Sheely. “My husband just obsessed over getting the garage exactly right.”
But the pièce de résistance is a real-estate flyer box, complete with flyers ready for distribution. “Exclusive box living,” reads the headline. “You can totally afford it.”
Adding a listing price of $5.5 million, home features highlighted in the bullet points include “weird wood things,” a rooftop deck enjoyable for “minutes a year,” and “very tiny windows because why not.”
“Live like royalty among people who paid 1/10 the amount for their houses,” it finishes.
Sheely lives in a 1947 “war box,” a smaller, efficient housing style popular during World War II. The fact that her house is the standard design of the era isn’t lost on her. “Our warbox was definitely a little box made of ticky-tacky in its time; not disputing that,” said Sheely. “And we don’t hate every single new house. But the fact that this resonated with so many people lets me know that we’re all kind of wondering how every architect in town got their hands on the exact same plans.”
Since her move-in day in 2007, home values have only grown, even compared to the housing bubble peak. Now, says Sheely, her neighborhood is full of construction cranes.
“To be clear, we are pleased that West Seattle is booming—we always thought it was cool here—and new buildings beat empty lots,” said Sheely. “It’s just been the sheer amount of box-like houses springing up everywhere, and the nutty costs of them (there are literally three across the street from us now, each one listed at more than $2 million) that has been a little astounding to us.”
“The rest [of the costume idea] was just enjoying poking fun at the ubiquitous designs,” said Sheely. “Yep, there’s the three stories with lots of steps. There’s the frosted-glass garage door. There’s the poured concrete wall. There’s the postage stamp ‘yard.’ There’s the rooftop deck no one ever uses. There’s the huge blank wall with tiny slivers of window. There’s the inset of wood paneling.”
Sheely said the costume was fun to walk around in while handing out the flyers—and her neighbors “really got a kick out of it”—but not really practical for working in.
- Exclusive box living! [Reddit]
h/t Mike Rosenberg