A Madison Park home offers just the right amount of space, and spaces, for all generations.
FAMILY IS THE FOUNDATION of Joan Evans’ Madison Park home, where everything — privacy and light, roominess and coziness, shared history and intergenerational memories-in-the-making — comes together, beautifully and purposefully, to bring everyone together.
Evans moved here from Milwaukee, Wis., in 2012, after the death of her husband, federal appeals-court Judge Terence T. Evans. Their three children (plus grandchildren Stella, 10; Henry, 11; and Olivia, 13; with another granddaughter due in July) are dotted up and down the West Coast: a son in Los Angeles, a daughter in San Francisco and another daughter in Seattle.
“I chose Seattle,” says Evans, a former high-school English teacher. “I love the look of the Northwest.”
After settling on an eminently walkable neighborhood and a trickily treed corner lot, she then chose an architect — Mike La Fon of Capsule — who also has a family connection: His wife is best friends with Evans’ Seattle daughter.
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They started off thinking they’d work with the lot’s former rental home but, La Fon says, “As she was envisioning it remodeled, she decided she was going to build. She realized she wanted to define what the home’s going to be: big and open and modern” — a complete break from the family’s “absolutely amazing” and certifiably historic 5,500-square-foot Georgian Colonial in Milwaukee.
Evans wanted a similar openness — but without wasted space. “In our old home, there were rooms we rarely used,” Evans says. “We had a Christmas room. We’d go up to the third-floor kitchen a couple times a year and look for animals.”
Most of all, though, she wanted a gathering space for her entire extended family — “If you build it, they will come,” Evans says — and a repository for its history. Check, and check:
• The soaring main-floor, 900-square-foot great room is driven by the “room for everyone” concept and anchored by a completely integrated kitchen that maintains all visual connections from end to end. “Everybody likes to cook, including the kids,” Evans says. “We can get everybody busy without bumping into each other.”
• Granddaughter Stella, from San Francisco, told Evans, “Blue is my favorite color, Grandma,” so now the soothing sky-blue guest bedroom with the Mount Rainier view is called Stella’s Room.
• In the carpeted lower-level guest area (at 800 square feet, the exact footprint of the site’s previous home), Evans has an antique dresser that — not coincidentally at all — perfectly holds a diaper-changing pad. There’s also a low tub for easy, kneeling grandchild-bathing.
• Rods embedded on the main floor rise continuously up the strong statement of a custom steel staircase, floor to floor, to align with the upper railings and serve as a protective “guard rail.”
• The whole five-panel LaCantina glass door to the back deck folds right up, but one end panel serves double duty as a swinging entry door so children can even more easily zip outside and back in. “When the kids come, it’s another room,” Evans says.
• A step-down mudroom on the south side of the main floor (where the “functional” stuff lands) uses leftover reclaimed wood from the entry closet to hold hooks for the grandkids’ gear.
• Now for fun, later for ease and accessibility, an accordion-opening Garaventa Lift elevator glides between the home’s three levels.
• And throughout, a family’s story is preserved and shared: Two letter-T pieces, one a sofa pillow and one a dining-area work of rustic art, pay tribute to Evans’ husband; a chronologically arranged wall of framed photos serves as a beautiful, linear family growth chart; a china cabinet displays Evans’ shell collection; and a custom-designed wall unit shelves a fraction of her vast book collection. (“She told me she had a lot of books,” La Fon says. “And then she said, ‘No; I have a lot of books.’ ”)
In Evans’ home, a place of tradition and transition, there is space for everyone, and a space for everything that truly matters.
“I have far less stuff than I used to have,” Evans says. “This is a different style of home. The house has taught me to divest and to live with less clutter. It feels good.”