THE FIRST time Dilara Deal saw the view from what would be her new home on Mercer Island, it was almost all she noticed. “I’ve always wanted to be on the water or looking at the water,” she says. “There’s something so purifying about it, no matter if it’s raining or sunshine, it brings life to you somehow.”
The Deals wanted a modern home, “but not so modern that it was not welcoming.” And although Dilara and her husband, Stan, didn’t like anything about the 1963 Midcentury modern with its dark brown terrazzo floors and many small, dark rooms, she loved that she’d hardly noticed it. The site was so beautiful; they did not want their remodel to be a distraction, either.
A long and thorough search for an architect turned up Cheryl Hughes (Hughes Architects), who had been recommended by a friend. Dilara describes her as a quiet presence and someone who really listens. “When you work with experts and they get you, then you can let go.”
Stan and Dilara have known each other for a long time, and because they met in a work environment, Dilara says they are used to problem-solving and conflict resolution. “He trusts me, and I respect his decisions.” Stan was particularly interested in the structural and engineering parts of the project, and Dilara enjoyed the business and creative.
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Before they started, the Deals were concerned that their vision might get lost, but Dilara praises Hughes for helping them to clarify it. Hughes designed for them a home with stunning views from every room. She raised the ceilings and added windows to bring in light, enclosed part of the deck to increase the square footage, and added a new daylight basement to give the family more kid-space and to make entertaining easier.
All the kitchens Dilara remembers from growing up in Turkey were small and closed off. No one was ever in the kitchen other than the cook. In the Deals’ new house, the floor plan is wide open, and the kitchen is a natural gathering place. Stan loves to cook, “but he leaves me quite a mess,” Dilara says with a shrug and a smile. So everything has its place, and the pantry is a large walk-in with a pocket door that makes it seem to disappear.
Hughes recommended Dyna Contracting to build it, and the Deals are sure that the project moved along at a furious clip, with challenges addressed as soon as they arose, because their superintendent, Blair Wick, was always working on site. The house is on a steep hill with neighbors on both sides, so Dyna had to dig the new level by hand, install new footings, and take extreme waterproofing measures to protect it from the natural runoff that occurs every time it rains.
Dilara did most of the interior-design work herself. She loves clean lines and wanted to “keep the house warm despite it being modern.” Much of the furnishings came from Room and Board, chosen for their simplicity. “The house takes on a life of its own when you’re here with friends and food. I wanted it to be about what’s happening in the space.”
For the bathrooms she chose simple, durable, quality finishings. “You can change the décor, but the bones are going to be there for a while,” she explains.
The only drawback, says Dilara, is that she loves being at home so much she’s turning into an introvert.
Leora Y. Bloom is a Seattle freelance writer and author of “Washington Food Artisans: Farm Stories and Chef Recipes.” Benjamin Benschneider is the Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.