Hilary Young Design Associates infuses a midcentury modern Enatai home with new fun and energy — and a bowling accessory or two

Share story

A GIANT NEON bowling-alley sign is the shining North Star of Rod’s Enatai neighborhood. (As in, “Hang a left after the giant neon bowling-alley sign.”) You can see how that might happen: The thing is 8 feet tall, 6 feet wide, nice and high in the living-room window and — repeated for emphasis — neon.

It’s also the whimsical kingpin of Rod’s strikingly renovated midcentury modern home, a veritable gallery of singular finds artfully united and sited by Hilary Young of Hilary Young Design Associates.

When Rod first found the house, it had forgotten how to have fun.

“It was super-sad,” Rod says. “I would say at least one-fourth or one-third of the light bulbs had burned out. It had wall-to-wall stained carpet and bluish-gray interior, and the roof needed replacing. Probably it had had no real love in quite a while.”

It was solid, though, and exponentially roomier than the bitsy little Kirkland Craftsman he shared full-time with his then-girlfriend and half-time with his forever son, and even the Enatai home’s “kinda gross” ambience couldn’t smother its we-must-have-this potential.

He saw it all and, to coax it out, called in his go-to professional exuberance-infuser.

Rod had teamed with Young on his Kirkland house, and by the time they reconnected for this project, “They already had a vision,” Young says. “Artwork was a big driver with the style. They just started collecting. They’d email photos and say, ‘What do you think?’ ”

Young thought: Bring it.

Between travel, gallery and museum finds, and vintage furniture, “They had really unique pieces,” Young says. “It’s our job to make it work. The artwork ended up influencing the finishes.”

So now:

• That giant bowling-alley sign (neon; did we mention?) ties together the whole airy living/dining area. “Not many houses can handle it,” Young says, “but this house is perfect.”

• Just a 7-10 split away, over the fireplace and its original surround, hangs a series of Warhol-ized official White House photos of Richard Nixon. He. Is. Bowling.

• A life-size mannequin dress sculpture — “We sent an email to Hilary and said we had to have it,” Rod says — poses impressively in the breakfast nook.

• A murder or so of sculpted crows dangles near the entryway, throwing winged shadows on a wall whose precise shade of orange took 20 drawdowns to hit.

• A custom plum-hued mirror in the main-level powder room adjoining “The Bond Room” (TV/movies/new carpet/huge sectional/blankets/father-son bonding) continues the Bond theme with “bullet-hole” and spiral details reminiscent of the movies’ opening sequence. (Themes are another theme, with the “Milk and Honey” kitchen, warmed by red, creamy tones, and the superminimal “Zen” master bedroom.)

Over the course of the multiyear project, the original floor plan and layout remained intact, as did the upstairs office and basement, Rod says. (Though now that his son’s a teenager, the brick-fireplaced den downstairs “has become a very important part of his social life.”)

Otherwise, though, every other room “got hit relatively hard,” Rod says. “We moved into the basement, and they just went berserk upstairs.”

Here’s how “berserk” works: New bamboo hardwood floors. New doors. New windows. New paint, everywhere. New hardware, faucets, appliances. New lights, outlets and plugs. New countertops, new master bathroom, new furniture — both high-end custom and retail. New indoor-outdoor emphasis, from ceiling beams that know no borders to the continuity of an upstairs custom staircase railing that’s the same design as the metal one on the deck.

New colors. New warmth. Totally new, fun ambience.

“This house is a lot more organic and spontaneous in catching a vision and running with it,” Rod says. “It requires you to keep up on the maintenance, but it deserves it. It creates an environment. With good care and feeding, it loves you back.”