A New Old House

Two philosophies prevail when it comes to home additions: to make it bold or to make it blend.

Prague’s Dancing House exemplifies a bold, new addition to an old neighborhood. The deconstructionist-style structure stands in stark contrast to the gothic and art nouveau buildings around it. Dancing House certainly makes a statement, but some argue that it’s too much for its setting.

By Andrés Nieto Porras from Palma de Mallorca, España – 58/365²: El inevitable paso del tiempo, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24332315

Other projects require a more tender approach to design. Woodway Manor, for instance.

Originally constructed in the 1920s, the European-style home needed twenty-first century updates, repairs, and added space. Yet the homeowners desired to respect the manor’s original character. Curt Gelotte and Eric Drivdahl diligently molded the home’s remodels and additions to blend seamlessly with the old. They delved into the home’s rich history–including early contributions from Elizabeth Ayers, Washington State’s first female architect–and allowed that evolving story to inform the project.


The result? A seamless melding of old and new. The poolside entertaining pavilion, the gift wrapping room, and the sports den look as authentic to the estate as the living room and library.

The kitchen features quality amenities while conveying an air of timeless charm with imported Tuscan tile and retrofitted antique fixtures. Outside, verdant landscaping hugs the home and vines climb the walls for a touch of Old World whimsy.


Thus, for the lover of history and traditional style, remodels and additions need not sacrifice character and charm. Diligent design and attention to detail brings out the best in an old home even while adding a harmonious modern twist.

Capturing the Vision

It’s been just over a month since we welcomed Eric Drivdahl as a name partner at Gelotte Hommas Drivdahl Architecture, and we want to provide you with a glimpse of what allows him to thrive as a custom residential architect in Seattle.

What draws you to work each day?

Eric: The greatest success is when we listen intently enough to capture exactly our client’s vision and we’re then able to interpret that into their dream home. That’s the home run, which we try to hit every time.

It’s an adventure that we get to have with the client, crafting a home for them.

It’s always hard because there’s a lot of constraints on that effort: time, budget. Within each family, people have different ideas of what they want in their home. There’s all these different things that weigh into the home, all these different paths. It’s an adventure that we get to have with the client, crafting a home for them. We get the privilege of guiding them through that, helping them make the decisions when they’re faced with constraints of any sort and still achieving the dream. We’re distinctly privileged to work with some amazing clients who have a vision for a home, to build these incredible homes.


Is this where you envisioned you’d be?

Eric: My real passion interest through college and through the first years of my career was historic work. I love old buildings. I’m fascinated by them. I love their craft and the materials that they used and the proportions that they used. In my mind, a building that was built a hundred years ago was a better building than a lot of buildings that get built today. They were built to last. There was quality inherent in the work. That’s why a lot of these buildings are still around. You look at a lot of the housing stock that gets built today, and they’re not hundred-year homes. In forty years, they’re old and tired and need to be completely redone. You walk into a 100 year old, terracotta clad masonry building with marble inlay floor and it’s just as beautiful now.

We get to recreate that quality, that permanence, that visual delight that a lot of older buildings have.

So I had this fascination with historic structures. I did a lot of that work in Ohio. When I moved back to Seattle, I was offered the project architect role in the State Capitol renovation project in 2001, but I turned it down to come work with Curtis Gelotte. I was fascinated by the work Curt and Scott were doing. They recreated these old homes. Some of them are traditional or classical in style, so we get to recreate that quality, that permanence, that visual delight that a lot of older buildings have. It was a fascinating opportunity to do work aligned with my passion, but in a new way. We get to build new “old” houses.


Are you a convert to residential design?

Eric: Ultimately, I fell in love with residential design. I came out of doing a lot of commercial work and working for institutions and corporations. When you’re doing a home, you’re working with an individual family, and the personal care and attention that the client has for the project and that you have for the client is so much more rewarding because it’s relationship-based. It’s all about your relationship with the client and with the project, which is what I love. That’s a strength of mine. I love relationship.

We’d welcome the opportunity to build a relationship with you and help you translate your dream home into reality. Please contact us for more info.

Gelato, Hummus, & Drinks

Last Friday, contractors and clients gathered in the Gelotte Hommas home–our Bellevue office–to celebrate 34 years of design, partnerships, and artistry.

We anticipate this event every spring–Gelato and Hummus. It’s our opportunity to connect with the people and the stories who make our work possible, to catch up on family news, the evolution of businesses, and your future dreams.


Yet this year marked a divergence from past events. We added “Drinks” to our menu and told you there’d be a special announcement.

As the proverbial clock struck five, our guests gathered in our conference room. Curt Gelotte and Scott Hommas began to tell the story or our firm and of a self-proclaimed “young, snot-nosed architect” who began his career at GHA 16 years ago. That architect, Eric Drivdahl, has since grown in both his artistry and his love for client service, and on March 31, 2017 we warmly welcomed him as a name partner in our firm.


As Curt proposed a toast to Eric and the future of the firm, our guests’ excitement was tangible. “He deserves it!” one colleague said. And with that announcement, the three partners unveiled our new name: Gelotte Hommas Drivdahl Architecture.

We’re thrilled to move into the next chapter of our firm and, with Eric’s added leadership, to continue serving our clients and delivering artful custom homes. But this won’t be the end of our celebrations this year. There’s more on the horizon!

Thank you to all who shared in our “celebration of partnership” and who continue to work with us, inspire us, and trust us with their dreams.







O Romeo, Romeo: The Delights of a Juliet Balcony

Get Storybook Cottage Style

“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Juliet balconies blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living. Bellevue architect Eric Drivdahl took full advantage of a Juliet balcony when he transformed an attic bedroom into a master suite.

During his Seattle remodel of a custom storybook house, Eric sought ways to maximize light in this renovated master suite. The Juliet balcony provided the perfect opportunity. It invites natural light and fresh air into the home. The owners can fling open the French doors, curl up in nearby chairs, and enjoy a warm summer breeze as they sip their coffee and read their books.

What’s more, the Juliet balcony increases the perceived size of the room. By adding the French doors with a steel railing, the room extends beyond the strict lines of the walls and invites the lake view into the home.

The Juliet balcony also increases the exterior aesthetic of the home. The dramatic, red-cased French doors situated just under the roof peak draw observers’ eyes upward and encourages them to enjoy the full beauty of this custom house. In this instance, the Juliet balcony’s steel railing continues the line left off by the full balcony.

Because Juliet balconies don’t protrude from the building, they’re a simple way to increase the enjoyment of your living space without the rigors of structural evaluations or considerations of exterior space. The reward of an open, light-filled, airy space makes Juliet balconies a worthwhile consideration.

Cocktails & Mocktails

While we ordinarily spend our days turning our clients’ dream homes into a reality, we also embrace opportunities to flex our creative muscles and apply our skill to other creative ventures.

Last week, we traded our drawing boards for 5-by-5-inch napkins and entered our designs into the Architectural Record Cocktail Napkin Sketch Contest.

The rules were simple:

  1. Create a unique, architecture-oriented design specifically for this competition.
  2. Draw your design on a white 5-inch-by-5-inch paper cocktail napkin.
  3. Use an ink or ballpoint pen.

The rest was up to us!

The Gelotte Hommas team indulged in Zeek’s pizza and Classic Shirley Temple, Arnold Palmer, and Raspberry Fizzler mocktails as we sketched out our best contemporary designs.

Take a look at what we dreamed up, and share your thoughts in the comments!

David Grubb’s modern design.
Scott Hommas added a splash of color to his garden scene.
Eric Drivdahl proved that simple’s always in style.
Check out the reflection in Curtis Gelotte’s waterfront cityscape sketch!
Eric Drivdahl “drew” inspiration from Louis Kahn, a leading twentieth century architect.
Tom Brown contrasted light and dark in his bid for the prize.

Wish us well as we submit our sketches–the winner will receive an Apple Sport Watch! And while we await the results, take a look at our past entries.

GHA Names Eric Drivdahl as Principal


Seattle, WA – Sept. 12, 2013 — GELOTTE HOMMAS ARCHITECTURE, a nationally recognized custom residential architecture firm based in Bellevue, has brought Eric Drivdahl on as the third Principal of the firm. The announcement was made by the two owners, and Principals of the firm Curtis Gelotte and Scott Hommas. Eric took on his new role at the beginning of September. Drivdahl has worked with GHA for the last twelve years working as the firms Senior Project Manager. Eric developed and leads the firm’s in-house professional development program, which trains staff on design, project management, architectural science, professionalism, and sales and marketing endeavors. Eric specializes in heading up design teams on highly sophisticated luxury home projects with one-of-a-kind features.

Drivdahl is a graduate of Washington State University with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and a Bachelor of Architecture.

Eric Drivdahl, Principal
Eric Drivdahl named third Principal at Gelotte Hommas Architecture

“We are grateful for Eric’s contributions to the office over the last twelve years and very excited about the future, long-term contributions Eric will make as a principal and leader at Gelotte Hommas Architects.” Says Hommas.

“Curt and Scott lead Gelotte Hommas Architecture with such passion for design and commitment to outstanding service,” Drivdahl comments.  “  I am thrilled to join the leadership team and increase our ability to deliver outstanding projects with creative design solutions with a client focused attitude.  I find a ridiculous joy in providing these things.”


Gelotte Hommas Architecture, based in Bellevue, Washington, was established by Senior Principal Curtis Gelotte in 1981 and joined by co-owner Scott Hommas in 1997. The highly acclaimed, nationally recognized residential architecture firm accredits its substantial success to overall dedication to design and client satisfaction. The Art of Architecture is more than just their tagline, it’s the foundation.
For more information, visit Gelotte Hommas Architecture online at www.gelottehommas.com
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Friday NOT so fun: It’s a coffee emergency people!

I know that normally we do Friday Fun here on the Gelotte Hommas blog, but today is different. Today we are doing Friday NOT so fun. In fact, today we are talking about something down right horrific! I understand that after reading this post, many of you may “unsubscribe” to our blog posts on the sheer basis of Seattle ethics, but it needs to be said none the less. Here goes; Our coffee in the office SUCKS! This is in fact a travesty that has been going on since before the dinosaurs and we have decided enough is enough.
We are architects people. And do you know what you get when you add bad coffee and architects? Under PERFORMING architects, that’s what!
I mean, look at this. Our senior project manager Eric Drivdahl has had to resort to being a coffee pauper!

His cup runneth EMPTY!

It’s not pretty people. Our coffee pot sucks. SUCKS I tell you! So much so that it has been aptly named Old Yellow. You know, because it’s old and yellow.

Old “Yellow”

Anyway, we want a new coffee pot. We NEED a new coffee pot.  Not just for us, but for YOU too! Just imagine the next time you come to the GHA office you were greeted with GOOD coffee instead of the gasoline we are serving now!(Just being honest here.) The heavens would part and we would all skip around singing coffee songs whilst designing houses. Win win I tell ya.
We love Seattle. We agree with the unsaid Seattle code that states ‘where there are people there shall also be good coffee’. We want to have good coffee, but we need your help. We are totally clueless about which type of coffee maker to buy.  There are literally thousands. Here are a few we found;

HALP! Leave us a comment and tell us what kind of coffee maker YOUR office has. Also, any suggestions on a particular kind of coffee would be helpful too. How about this, ANY coffee making advice would be greatly appreciated. Maybe we can get Eric off the street corner and back at his desk…

Calling all builders, re-modelers and realtors; let’s talk 3-D over breakfast

This Thursday June 21st one of our project managers Eric Drivdahl is going to be participating in a hosted discussion. Come and see where the future of 3-D is headed, and how it can positively impact your business.
The best part is you get breakfast too!

The cost is $15 for Members

$25 for Non-members
Register online at www.masterbuilderscinfo.com
(or just click the image above)

This is a great opportunity to learn some exciting new things and get some of your questions answered.

See you Thursday!

Friday Fun – The art of the sketch.

The annual  Cocktail Napkin Sketch is back, and we decided this was our year to enter.
The rules are simple: (there are only four)

1. Sketch on a white 5’x5′ cocktail napkin
2. Use a Pen/Sharpie
3. Be an architect or designer
4. You can submit up to 6 designs

So, we decided to make a working lunch out of it and ordered pizza for the whole bunch as we sat down to sketch.

One of our principal’s Curt Gelotte sketching out his idea
Curt Peterson and David Grubb getting their sketch on
Our other principal Scott Hommas in the beginning of his design
Even our office manager took a crack at it (although we decided it might be better to save our 6th entry for something a bit… bigger?)
Eric Drivdahl working on his masterpiece

Once they were all finished we stuck them in an envelope and sent our little designs off to the contest in New York.  We know you want to see our entries, so here they are in all their glory!

“I don’t have my glasses on, and I can’t really see what I’m drawing here…” -Scott Hommas
David is a man of little words, but we think he was feeling a bit “blue”
“I might have gone to art school, but I think this perspective is a bit…off” -Nikki Fisher
“I really could do this all day, so I might as well stop now” – Curt Peterson
“Fibonacci just gets me” – Curt Gelotte
“I’m not sure what it is, but it’s done!” – Eric Drivdahl

Two grand prize winning submissions will be published in the September issue of Architectural Record AND *drumroll please* the winners get a box of napkins with their sketch printed on it!
Who’s excited? We are! Wish us luck!
Click the links for winning sketches from 2011 and 2010.
Click here to see the 2011 napkin sketch gallery.

GHA home featured in Pacific NW Magazine

Over the weekend one of our homes was featured in Pacific NW Magazine in The Seattle Times.
View the Full article by clicking here.

"The Car Lodge"
"The Car Lodge"
"The Car Lodge"
"The Car Lodge"
"The Car Lodge"



Our own Eric Drivdahl featured in “40 under 40″!

It would be easy for us to sit back and gloat as our own project manager Eric Drivdahl celebrates being honored in “40 under 40” by the magazine Professional Builder, but we will hold back.  After all we DID teach him all he knows about architecture, or was it the other way around?…

40 under 40

None the less, within the pages of this issue you will find 40 individuals (nationwide mind you) whom are both amazing and AMAZING (did we say that already?) in the field of architecture.

To quote the editor of the magazine David Barista “The 40 individuals featured on the following pages represent some of the brightest stars in the home-building industry — and they’re under the age of 40. We proudly present the home-building industry’s next generation of leadership.”

We couldn’t agree more David. You can check out the article by clicking here or go get the magazine on newstands.

Hat’s off to you Eric! All of us at GHA are very proud of you and we gladly accept your offer to present us all with a celebratory Starbucks! (I’ll take a Frappucino)