A severe remodel turned this lakeside home into a great space for three boys and their parents.

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IF YOU WERE a kid, you would want to live here.

This ladder leads from the master bedroom to a small rooftop deck. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
This ladder leads from the master bedroom to a small rooftop deck. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

The kids who do live here sure like it. Three of them, all boys.

“The swimming pool!” hollers Tyler, age 6, pawing through a puddle of toys in his brother’s bedroom. That’s his favorite thing about his family’s house, a cheerful mustard-colored and barrel-roofed contemporary nestled into a parklike lot atop the Mount Baker neighborhood.

“After a tough day at camp, he likes to come home and relax,” laughs Dad, Chun Ng. “For me, though, it’s the outdoor spaces. With three boys, if they don’t burn off energy, they fight each other and start screaming at us.”

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The Ngs’ new home, however, offers numerous solutions for family harmony. Exactly what they were going for when Chun called architect Tom Lenchek of Balance Associates Architects, with project architect Kelby Riegsecker, to come take a look at the 1940s house that came with the kid-sized lot Chun and his wife, Angela, had been hunting for the previous three years. (Chun figures they looked at more than 100 homes.)

Tyler’s room has its own reading loft. He shares a Jack-n-Jack bathroom with his brother, Chase. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
Tyler’s room has its own reading loft. He shares a Jack-n-Jack bathroom with his brother, Chase. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

For kids, it’s a veritable house o’ fun: a climbing wall set into the front courtyard. Basketball hoop and hockey nets in the driveway. Just inside the grand two-story glass entry is a wire basket packed with tennis balls, rackets. There’s another bit of netting in the living room, for catching footballs. It sits near the black and gleaming baby grand piano. (The overture to “The Barber of Seville” rests on the music stand. It’s not all fun and games around here.) Out on the back deck, which overlooks a right fine view of Lake Washington, are the bikes. From there, it’s swim spa and a rolling hillside of lawn.

For grown-ups there’s plenty, too. Wide-open spaces and places to gather. Easy indoor/outdoor living. A master suite restful and restorative, with its own private deck into the trees, over the lake. A spalike bathroom. Downstairs is a mother-in-law suite for guests. All of it, 4,500 square feet, five bedrooms and five bathrooms, beneath an arched fir ceiling, a sensuous sweep from courtyard to lake.

The couple searched hard for a large view lot within Seattle before finding this spot in the Mount Baker neighborhood. The kitchen, living and dining rooms open wide to connect to the yard and lake.  (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
The couple searched hard for a large view lot within Seattle before finding this spot in the Mount Baker neighborhood. The kitchen, living and dining rooms open wide to connect to the yard and lake. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

This is not Chun and Lenchek’s first collaboration. The architect designed a home in Seward Park for the patent attorney, then single, in 1999. But just as permits came through, Chun went on his first date with Angela. As soon as the project was finished, they married. Then came the boys, and the remodels, until the family simply outgrew the space.

The master bedroom is a place restful and restorative, with its own deck into the trees, over the lake.  (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
The master bedroom is a place restful and restorative, with its own deck into the trees, over the lake. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

“Tom’s really easy to work with,” says Chun. “He clearly knows what he’s doing, but he’s able to put his ego aside. For instance, we really wanted a garage, and many of these houses don’t have one because, where do you hide it? Tom thought about it and came up with the concrete wall for privacy and separation.”

A long and large kitchen connects the family room on the far end and the dining/living rooms. The lights over the table are from Bocci. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
A long and large kitchen connects the family room on the far end and the dining/living rooms. The lights over the table are from Bocci. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

Their new house is actually a severe remodel (built by SBI Construction; landscaping by Allworth Design). A salvage company carted off old windows, flooring and doors. After demolition, only the kitchen, garage and basement remained. The layout, however, remains much the same, only opened. The arched roof is a clever solution that replaces the second floor, raises ceilings to 12 feet and allows the ridgeline to remain the same (and neighbors are grateful).

The cheerful mustard-colored and barrel-roofed contemporary sits protected by and yet exposed through a concrete wall adding dimension streetside and setting apart the garage. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
The cheerful mustard-colored and barrel-roofed contemporary sits protected by and yet exposed through a concrete wall adding dimension streetside and setting apart the garage. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

There was some debate about the home’s color, the enthusiastic yellow. Should it be red? Green? Yellow? Lenchek sought counsel online.

“Tom put it up on his Facebook page,” says Chun. “He asked, ‘Which color do you like?’ We were already leaning toward the yellow; we wanted happy and bright. But the vote was more of a confirmation.”