60 years old (and the washer and dryer by the front door) but with good bones, Seattle couple update their home for comfort and entertaining.

Share story

THEY KNEW it the instant the real-estate agent opened the door. A jewel of a Midcentury modern in all its original, 60-years-ago glory. Untouched and in Broadmoor. Bones as cool as late-night jazz; interiors with that special mix of pooped out and wallpapery perky.

“We wanted to do the kitchen and dining room first,” says Nathan. He’s taking in what is now a warm, modern and comfortable place to conjure up dinner for two or a crowd. “But when that was finished it looked so great we thought, we have to do all of it.”

He’s right. It does look great. Gone is the washer and dryer from their wrongful place near the front door. Instead there is an open galley kitchen of Silestone counters, Ann Sacks limestone backsplash tiles, soft and focused lighting, dark-stained oak cabinets. Overhead throughout the home is the original peaked fir ceiling. It is stripped of its white pickling and has been rubbed with oil. As if in gratitude, it offers a new warmth in return.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

“John let me do anything I wanted in the kitchen,” Nathan says of that first three-month project he and his partner undertook.

“I got the bathrooms. I wanted easy; walk-in/walk-out,” John says of what came next, nine more months of work for an utter transformation of modern to comfortable contemporary. Every interior wall was remade, spaces tall and open for art (particularly Fay Jones and Judith Kindler), 500 square feet of space added for 2,100 total. The result is a two-bedroom home that lives big. A collaboration with architect Tom Estep, contractor Ryan Gallagher, interior designer Robert Emil Arnesen, Kimethy Nagel of International Kitchens and Sammamish Landscaping.

“The stone around the fireplace, the ceiling and these two doors (the front door and double closet doors there) are original. Everything else? New,” Nathan says. From the exterior, now prestained clear cedar, to the basement (more on that later).

As noted, bones good: This is a house of casual flow. Seven lazy steps up to the guest suite and office. The new master suite at ground level on the backside of the fireplace wall, formerly home to the patio and office.

The bathrooms? Heavenly white, Carrara marble counters, a stroll-in shower.

Downstairs is no longer mere “nasty basement.” There is a wine cellar for John, and a sparkling white laundry room/office (that’s correct) for Nathan; Carrara-marble counter blending nicely with Ikea cabinets. They hold both detergent and Nathan’s laptop.

“I love doing laundry; washing and ironing (but just napkins),” Nathan says. “I do. I love it. I love being here. So I love having my office here, too.”

The biggest problem now is protecting the family poodles, Sophie and Chloe, from the eagles that nest not far from their back door.

“We said that it had to be cozy, and we had to utilize every inch of space down to the quarter inch,” Nathan says.

And now it’s a house to, well, “we could die in this house,” he says. “Happily.”

Rebecca Teagarden writes about design and architecture for Pacific NW. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.