The new home, opened and made elegant and flexible, was recast from the original and designed by Stuart Silk Architects; it was built by Schuchart/Dow.

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IT’S BIG, REALLY BIG. And it sat empty, really empty. For two years.

And then, this Mercer Island contemporary, forgotten and from another time, got a family. A good family.

“The beef about these homes is, ‘Oh, these houses are too big,’ ” says Darryl. “I agree with that. But if you tore it down, dense housing wouldn’t go on these lots.

“So either you let ’em sit here as hulks and throw eggs and tomatoes at ’em or you fix them up. We decided everything we did would have to be better than good.”

That it is. Way better. A 2½-year total gut remodel (there was mold) that began as a new kitchen and front door. The new home, opened and made elegant and flexible, was recast from the original, designed by principal architect Stuart Silk, project architect Andrew Patterson of Stuart Silk Architects, and built by Schuchart/Dow.

“Green standards were our carrot,” says Darryl. “We didn’t want stars or ratings or plaques. We just wanted to build green.”

All involved also heeded the guidelines of universal design, making the house livable for aging parents with elevator access, an accessible shower.

Darryl, his wife, Adriane, and their 16-year-old daughter, Dariane, moved from Los Angeles in 2010. Previously they had lived in New York, Indiana, Arizona and, most recently, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “We are corporate vagabonds,” Darryl explains.

Dariane and her mother loved the 11,500-square-foot recession victim right off. Darryl came to appreciate its Mercer Island neighborhood.

“This north end of the island is a gem,” he says. “Traffic is low, it’s an established neighborhood. You can bike, go over to Luther Burbank Park. You’re close to everywhere.”

They’ve been there, done that with amazing water views. This one though — Lake Washington through the trees, big skies — has its advantages. “It’s important to have a place to watch the world go by,” says Darryl.

The couple has lived in six homes during the 20-year marriage. They came north with both experience and requests. For instance, the kitchen ceiling features the same oak used on the floor, defining a more comfortable family space. There are two islands; serving and prep. Both were ideas from previous residences.

The family’s previous home was a French Provincial. (“We brought nothing from L.A. but our clothes,” says Darryl.) In Phoenix it was an Italian villa. This contemporary — white stucco, cedar, walnut, steel and glass — is their first.

“We didn’t want a cold, sterile house,” says Darryl. “It can be that, but it converts. You can stop almost anywhere and not feel intimidated. But you can clear off these counters and it goes stark.”

Interiors soften and add comfort to the home’s precise angles (there’s a repeating L pattern that intrigues Darryl). Stuart Silk Architects senior interior designer Danielle Krieg worked with Adriane on furnishings. The family room invites a flop on the sofa with beiges, orange, white with touches of black. Contemporary paintings by Kirkland artist Beth Adams provide bold color splashes corralled on canvas.

The hillside backyard features a terrace and landscaping from AHBL (Richard Hartlage when he worked there).

Two things in particular struck the family about the Northwest homes they’ve seen; the large number of televisions and the small number of windows.

“We thought everybody would blow their windows out, but that’s not true,” says Darryl. “And when we started looking at houses I was shocked by how many monitors were in houses. So now we probably have twice as many as we would have.”