“I WANTED INA Garten’s farmhouse kitchen. I thought if it looked like that, then all the food that came out of it would be like hers.”
Yeah, wouldn’t it?
Carilyn Platt is not above this sort of magical thinking. In fact, she rather prefers this brand of creativity. Makes the life she shares with Josh, her serial-remodeler husband, and Ben, their ever-patient son, oh-so-much more interesting.
“You wouldn’t believe how many couches we’ve had,” she says, laughing, nodding at Josh in blame. (Fact, not magic: three in 10 years.)
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This is the story of what happens when you buy a house you really don’t like much, but it’s the only one you can get and you’re really tired of looking and it’s in a great neighborhood (Magnolia) so you just do it.
Then you spend the next 10 years remaking it.
“That’s where our money goes,” Carilyn says. “We don’t travel.”
The Platts came to Seattle in 2004 for Josh’s job at Microsoft. The housing market was sizzling, and the couple was beaten back by its heat again and again. “We spent six months looking,” Josh says. “We made tons of offers. We lost multiple houses.
“Then this house went up Memorial Day weekend, and we bought it. I don’t know, everybody must have been gone.
“It was appalling because, in a way, it was everything we hated.” But Ben was a year old, and their many-staired rental was not conducive to the trappings of a baby.
The exterior of this place, a builder spec house on Magnolia’s eastern slope, was garage dominant. (Josh wonders, “What in God’s name possesses somebody to make a house as ugly as possible on the outside?”) Interiors were traced in a high-gloss, yellowy fir trim.
The Platts dug right in.
Carilyn began by reaching out and straight up: to celebrity interior designer Nate Berkus: “I knew people who knew people who knew Nate Berkus, so I wrote to him. I asked him what we should do about the yellow fir trim, and he told us to do what looks good to us. And, by all means, make it white. But, in his mind, I’m sure he was thinking, ‘Oh, barf.’ ”
Meanwhile, locally, the Platts hitched their remodel wagon to the folks at Savvy Cabinetry by Design, also of Magnolia. Despite the name, Savvy has worked to improve lighting, electrical, replacing the kitchen backsplash (twice), fireplace tile, general carpentry, rebuilding the deck, remaking the bathroom and more.
Long story short, today we are gathered in another new kitchen at the Platt home. (After the first remodel, Josh says, “I wanted to keep going. I wanted to strive for perfection.”)
“Last year I started to loathe the farmhouse kitchen,” he says. And Carilyn? “I liked it, but I didn’t love it.”
So now there is this: White Caesarstone counters and soft gray cabinets from Bellmont Cabinet Co. in Sumner (formerly Pacific Crest), and appliances from Sub-Zero, Wolf and Miele, including the built-in espresso-maker.
The main living spaces — living, dining and family rooms, all off the kitchen — have gotten the same cohesive treatment: white, spare, bright and contemporary. The master bathroom, upstairs, is awash in Carrara marble, inspired by a London hotel the couple loves.
Yes, there were a few years where not too much changed in the 3,000-square-foot home. “In 2009 we were crazy underwater, broke and paranoid like everybody else,” Carilyn says. But, forever trying to make their home jussssst right . . .
“We were always selling a couch, buying a couch.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.