Bright-Minded Home January 2017

Q+A with Corey Papadopoli and Matt Elliott on the benefits of an upside-down house

In the case of the Allen house designed by Corey Papadopoli and Matt Elliott of Elliott and Elliott Architecture, turning things upside down made everything right. Not only did an upstairs living area allow for the best views and use of a graded lot, but it benefitted the trees as well.

Q. Why was an upside-down house the right choice for this project?

A. Shifting the living spaces to the second floor took best advantage of the elevated water views. There was also a significant slope from the front to the back of the site, so storage and mechanical spaces were placed in the slope, which allowed us to elevate the living areas and still get on-grade access from the screened porch.

Q. What are best practices when designing an upside-down house?

A. Stairs will be utilized daily in this type of layout, which is something to be considered if aging is a concern. The owners are quite active, but we did plan for the possibility of an elevator in the future if needed.

Q. How has the layout benefited the owners?

A. Besides the views, they appreciate the ability to connect with the life of the neighborhood via the cantilevered deck, or just sit back and enjoy the sunset. The house responds to the neighborhood and feels appropriate in both scale and design, but is clearly unique, which works with the owners’ personalities.

Q. How were trees important in this project?

A. There were some very large trees on the property, most notably a massive oak with a beautiful canopy. To save this tree, we offset the owners’ bedroom wing so that we could shape the house around the tree. We also set the finish floor elevation at the level of the tree so that we could avoid grading this area and protect the root structure. We were very deferential to the tree, and in the end it became a defining feature of the property.

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