The Innis Arden home got a top-to-bottom update and unification costing $152 per square foot over 3,400 square feet. It was designed by architect Andrew van Leeuwen.

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THE BASEMENT of the Brodersen home, down toward the water in Innis Arden, smelled funny.

And it really bugged Shelley Brodersen.

All the way from Paris.

“We bought our house in 2004, and then, in 2007, we found out we were moving to Paris for two years for my husband’s job,” Brodersen says.

Just then Napoleon skitters across the floor. The dog. Norfolk terrier. He’s from France. Goes by Napo.

“I started looking at architects while we were in France, and I came across the Build blog,” she says. Intrigued, Brodersen began building a shortlist of architects to interview back home. When they got here, Shelley and husband Eric heard a lot of “you-can’t-do-thats” about their desires versus their budget. From Kevin Eckert of Build LLC they got a “let’s-figure-out-how-to-make-it-work.”

Does it ever.

The funny smell from down under led to a top-to-bottom update and unification costing $152 per square foot over 3,400 square feet, finished in October 2010. “These houses, so many things were done to them over the years. The floors were the only thing we kept,” Brodersen says.

Those things had left them with a house suffering from multiple-personality disorder. Also, like many aging Midcentury moderns, the kitchen and bathrooms were shot, fixtures and appliances were on the fritz, and surfaces were just plain pooped.

Build held all work to the original footprint and, thus, there was no need to place plans before the neighborhood board. But within those boundaries was born an all-grown-up-yet-family-with-two-boys-friendly kitchen/den, a true master suite, contemporary bathrooms and elegant surfaces throughout.

“The kitchen was two-tiered with a monster of an island,” Brodersen says. “The room is no bigger, but now it seems so much larger.”

While the project didn’t bust out, it did go up with raised ceilings. Those and a central skylight bathe the home in soft, warming light. Bifold doors along the water-facing wall of the kitchen fling it wide open to the new-and-improved patio out back. Uniform walnut cabinets everywhere make one statement, a rich one, and offer the storage a young family living in a contemporary home must have.

From the street, the home had what architect Andrew van Leeuwen calls “little come-hither,” also using the words “uneventful” and “frumpy.” No longer. The new entry reaches out to visitors with a roof canopy, an ethereal, frosted acrylic escort to the front door. “The entry didn’t do the house justice,” Brodersen says. “And now when you come in you can see the water right away.”

A new cedar screen and dramatic Hollywood-debut uplighting provide that fresh look one can get only from a very good face-lift. A neglected courtyard between the house and garage got a clean sweep and now stars a fat, gnarled, 60-year-old Japanese maple gingerly replanted there.

As she leads a “this-is-my-other-favorite-thing” tour of her new house, past the LaCantina bifold doors and the pantry with white Raumplus doors and apple-ply shelves in the kitchen, Brodersen pauses here: at the new mud and laundry room. The floor is freckled with shoes. Coats dangle from hooks, lie about on the built-in bench.

“We dump everything here,” she says, stating the obvious. “The TV we had from the 1980s was so deep it took up the space that became this mudroom.”

And the basement? Fresh and new, light and bright. Guest room, hangout for Luke, 12, and Jack, 10, and sauna.

“After living in a rental house, I realized how much I really love the floor plan. And it has a great view,” Brodersen says. “We just wanted to make the house livable.”

Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.