THE REMODEL started in the backyard. For the dogs.
“Really,” Kelly Tysseling says. “We call it the kingdom.”
And if you are a dog, a Siberian husky in particular, it is just that. Wood chips here, patch of emerald-green grass there, a rocky outcropping and burbling stream with pond over there — all of it beneath firs and wrapped inside a 6-foot-tall cedar fence.
But what about the humans? For a while, they made do. Living in the nondescript little postwar house that came with the third-of-an-acre Kirkland lot. Besides, Tysseling and her partner, Chris Alliegro, would just as soon spend their resources and time outside somewhere, scrambling up rocks, running down trails, logging miles on bikes, hopping the Harleys for a spin or motoring their boat across a local lake. And so, the couple intentionally wanted no more home than they needed.
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“Our life is active,” is how Tysseling puts it.
Once a scientist specializing in molecular genetics and now a yoga teacher, Tysseling has great enthusiasm for all the parts of her life, which, since 2012, includes their remade home designed and built by Julie Campbell and the team from CTA Design Builders.
“We had to find a place where the dogs could thrive,” she says of Ouray and Sullivan. “We lived here three, four years before the remodel.
“We’re super into the Midcentury modern, and this is a 1954 rambler, but it’s not one of the cool Paul Kirk houses.”
So, what Campbell, who calls the result “Base Camp,” got to work with was a blank architectural canvas.
“This is a tiny house,” Tysseling says of the 1,336-square-foot home, two bedrooms, an office, one bath. “And we did not have much money to do a remodel. But they were awesome working with us and our budget.”
The couple wanted an indoor-outdoor connection and the polished, designed look of a proper Midcentury. More like a well-designed “base camp” that is easy to live in, easy to leave.
Campbell removed walls and fussy details for larger, light-filled spaces. She made a kitchen sleek as a ship’s galley with mahogany cabinets (also used for the living-room media center, set back-to-back with the kitchen cabinets) and white quartz counters. The blonde stone fireplace in the living room got an urban update with a steel girder for the mantel. Original oak floors were cleaned and extended. A new mudroom (really, it’s the dogs’ “decompression zone”) features a mahogany window seat and Marmoleum flooring.
And the bathroom? The previous owner was something of an artist who outfitted the entire room in mosaics. Fanciful and multicolored with a green beadboard ceiling. The bath is now a more peaceful white, from the tiles to the sink to the inviting Kohler tub. “It feels spacey in here,” Tysseling says.
The front yard, meanwhile, was once an English garden. In more recent years, however, it was more like a weed basket, Tysseling says, “and it had all these swirly pathways.”
The couple called upon friend Gonzalo Yepes of Colombian Gardens to remake all outdoor spaces. The front now features a flagstone path around the lawn, a rock fountain and border plantings, all tied up in a horizontal ipe fence.
“This is where we entertain our human friends,” Tysseling says, with a wave of her arm to the front yard.
And out back? “This is where we entertain our animal friends.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.