The Seattle architect opened the home, warmed it and brought in light, expanding it for a family with two kids. All of this while respecting the original design.
TERRI AND John are city people, really. The dozen years they spent living on Mercer Island was fine, good for the kids. But they needed a little more hustle, wanted more bustle. So they began the hunt for a house across the drink in Seattle.
They found what they thought was a pretty cool place. A 1955 Paul Hayden Kirk design in Washington Park. It was dressed, however, in an ill-fitting 2002 remodel, and they weren’t quite sure.
So, before putting in an offer, the couple called the architect in charge of their Mercer Island remodel to check it out.
Lane Williams came over that very day.
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“He tried to make sure we could have the footprint we wanted, to do the things we wanted,” John says.
Williams gave Terri and John the all-clear. And even before closing the deal, the architect was plotting the path to opening the home, warming it and bringing in light, expanding it for a family with two kids, all while respecting the original design.
“We didn’t just want to go with Lane just because we used him before,” Terri says.
“We interviewed several architects, because, you know, we should. But it was hands down Lane,” John says.
“There’s a really good push-pull with Lane,” Terri says. “He wants to give you what you want, yet he’s going to push you.” Having done this before, there was also no question about the contractor, Bob Setting.
And with that it was remodel on, 15 months from purchase to settled in. A practically new home, thoroughly contemporary but made for real family living.
A new west wing allows for a family-and-friends-sized kitchen, a larger media/family room and mud room. Sliders disguised as white walls open spaces as desired. Upstairs is a large art studio for Terri, expanded kids’ bedrooms and bath, a new laundry room and a master suite with an I-dare-you-to-fill-it walk-in closet.
The original slate floor downstairs was unheated, so it was replaced with concrete. Oak upstairs. Both are heated hydronically. Five large Fleetwood sliders open the kitchen and family room to a newly landscaped backyard with the kind of green, green lawn that can only be had (especially beneath an aged pine tree) with synthetic turf. The new kind; the good kind.
A piece of the front yard was reclaimed for a new courtyard, which wraps its fenced arms around a long-lived magnolia. Now the views are parklike. Glass walls, clerestories and skylights lure light. Clean, contemporary landscaping (grasses, steppingstones, garden beds in horizontally laid timbers) are by Jean Albrecht and Coop 15.
Inside, 2,200 square feet has become 3,200; all of it used every day. Dominoes are scattered across the family-room floor; a trail of socks in the kids’ rooms; cast-iron skillets on the cooktop.
The family moved with a top-notch collection of Midcentury furniture pulled together by interior designer Robin Chell, who also selected finishes in the home; Haywood Wakefield sofa and coffee table, Eero Saarinen womb chair, like that. George Nelson Ball pendants hang overhead with quiet cheer.
Despite the scope of the remodel, Williams worked to keep it simple and to budget (Marmoleum and linoleum in the kids’ bathroom; MDF cubbies in the mud room).
The family loves their home for those efforts, says Terri.
“John and I, at least once a day we’ll come downstairs and say, ‘I love this house.’ “
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is the magazine staff photographer.