SOMETIMES YOU CAN want a house so very much that you become its stalker, scouring real-estate websites month after month, putting your agent on the lookout.
Just another bad case of house lust.
John knows. He had it. And he had it bad.
“I looked at it five years ago, originally,” he says of the charismatic Mount Baker Tudor. “I stalked it for three years. When it would come on the market I kept getting beat out.”
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Fortunately, John had a secret weapon. His real-estate agent, Judy Honican, lived across the street from the stalkee.
“I dragged her around to every lake house for two years. I think she was sick of me,” he says. “I said to her, ‘Judy, what’s up with that house?’ ”
In 2011, John and his partner, Bruce, scored and scored big, finally bagging the 1919 Tudor (before the for-sale sign hit the yard) and doing it at the bottom of the market.
“When I come home from work I just plop,” John says of the place that felt right then and feels even more right now (after design tweaks to nudge the home into the new century).
He says this, cocktail in hand, from the main-floor deck, an outdoor living room that hovers high over Lake Washington. Taking in the entire view, from Mount Baker over to Mercer Island, is a real head-turner. They are front and center for Seafair hydros.
“It lives very different depending on the season,” says Bruce. For those others, there’s a large and serious fireplace (now gas) in the newly opened living-dining room. The walls here are a freshly done slate-blue gray, a cross between sky and water, part of a new color palette by interior designer Robert Emil Arnesen. Also a breezeway, a charmer from another era, connects kitchen and garage.
Downstairs, with a large destination deck that mirrors the one above, is a media/game room (which they call the winter room) and bedroom; all rooms eyes wide to the lake. These spaces, when the home was built for Mrs. Claude Casady, were quarters for billiards and the maid.
The master bedroom is in the old attic, a work in progress with gold track lights and a grout-heavy bathroom, but with views most grand of all. Views Bruce describes as “pinch-me-is-this-still-real?”
The home, 3,200 square feet with four bedrooms and three baths, updated here and there over time, is held to the original footprint, retains original oak floors.
John and Bruce, delighted also to possess the home’s original blueprints, feel their work was to reveal the home. Floors were covered in carpeting, walls in wallpaper and linoleum, a ceiling in Styrofoam, and eight windows with drywall or hidden in closets.
The short front yard had kind of a chicken-coop look when they bought the place. Mike Jeppesen of Sammamish Landscape has fixed all of that with parklike winding stonework and mature plantings.
“It’s an onion,” Bruce says. “And we’ve been peeling back the layers.”
But it wasn’t all bad: “It could have been wrapped in aluminum siding,” says John.
In the end, how do you know when the house you felt drawn to is the right one?
“Moving day I didn’t even have my foot on the ground that a neighbor wasn’t there to welcome us,” Bruce says. “You’re a short-timer if you’ve been here less than 20 years.”
“You just know,” John says. “You have that feeling. You just have to live there.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.