Pavel Lobanov and Mila Lobanova didn’t exactly agree on everything they wanted in their new home, but Mohler + Ghillino Architects brought it all together beautifully.
YOU WORK AND WORK, imagine and plan, launch your son into adulthood and then … It Is Time. Time to build your very own grown-up Dream Home. Pavel Lobanov and Mila Lobanova were there: They had a divine high-up site in View Ridge (which did not earn its name accidentally). They had a highly recommended architect (design principal Rick Mohler of Mohler + Ghillino Architects). And they had a budget for building (though it was tight).
Just one snag: “We had two completely different dreams,” Mila says. “When we first talked to Rick, we thought that’d be the end of the conversation, and he would just walk away. It was like being in family counseling.”
Architect, counselor, dream-merger … all kind of goes with the territory. Mohler did not walk away. Instead, he designed one particularly dreamy home that thrills everyone. (Oh, sure; it might have taken a couple dozen proposals. But still.)
“This project really reflects the best of projects — really collaborative,” says Mohler, who in turn collaborated with fellow firm namesake and project principal Rick Ghillino. “It shows an enormous amount of trust, so much appreciation: It’s money, it’s emotion, it’s dreams.”
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We call this segment … Dream Analysis:
THE ISSUE: Views on Views
“Pavel said the view is paramount, and we needed to flip the house (bedrooms on the main level, living spaces higher),” Mila says. “I said, ‘The view is important, but I’m not going to flip the house.’ ”
The Solution: Oh, yes; the view is awesome: Lake Washington, the Cascades and Mount Rainier right there. But Mohler discovered the view was even more awesome 5 or 6 feet above grade. So his split-level design is actually split into five levels, each half a level apart. (Is this starting to feel like math? In person, it’s stunningly uncomplicated.) The garage is on the lowest level; the family room and laundry come next; then the entry, with an office/guest bedroom and bath; the great room and deck; and, up tippy-top, the master bedroom suite.
The Happy Ending: “We didn’t flip the house, but you walk up a little bit to get the view,” Mila says. “It was magic how he did it.”
THE ISSUE: Deck or No Deck
Pavel wanted a deck. Mila did not: “In my view, why would you waste precious, expensive space?”
The Solution: Turn that space into a true living area, not just a pricey sunning surface. Mohler covered the cedar deck with one single sloped roof that starts 10 feet high over the dining area and swoops up to 20 feet outside. And then he secluded it by clustering all the rooms around it. “It’s big,” he says. “The idea is, it’s a covered outdoor living space to extend the outdoor living season.”
The Happy Ending: “Rick managed to build it as a room, and we will live there in the summer,” Mila says.
THE ISSUE: That Budget
“Our budget was tight,” Mila says. “And we have this beautiful brand-new house next door, but our budget is only half of that.”
The Solution: “The idea was to be judicious,” Mohler says. “Mostly it’s a Sheetrock painted interior with fir cabinetry, doors and window accents to bring warmth.” Outside, he says, “A simple material palette of painted, cost-effective HardiePlank and HardiePanel siding, with aluminum-clad wood windows, reflects the modest construction budget.”
The Happy Ending: “The house is small: 2,400 square feet,” Mila says — but, Pavel says, it feels bigger: “Rick has managed to use this small space and not waste it on hallways or anything unnecessary.” (Side note: Their home also keeps up brilliantly with the, let’s call them, Joneses next door.)
Relatedly, though technically not a capital-I “Issue,” the second-level family room could boost that family budget someday: Not only was it was designed to divide into two bedrooms; it’s also permitted as a rental apartment, with its own entry and terrace. (Flexibility, in fact, is a unifying theme: Counting the office, which could switch to a guest room in no time flat, “It’s a one- to four-bedroom house,” Mohler says.)
Now that the time has come to actually live in their dual Dream Home, Mila says, “Friends ask: ‘What would you change?’ We think really hard and still can’t come up with anything.”
On this they agree completely.
“I would build it again,” Pavel says.