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.

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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).

The ceiling of the great room starts at 10 feet high over the dining area (to the left) and slopes up to 20 feet over the deck. “We wanted a modern house but with wood to make it warm,” Mila says. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
The ceiling of the great room starts at 10 feet high over the dining area (to the left) and slopes up to 20 feet over the deck. “We wanted a modern house but with wood to make it warm,” Mila says. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

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:

Pavel works in the office, which could flex into a bedroom with no trouble at all. Glass doors open to a garden. “Each room has a connection with the outside, an appreciation of the Northwest,” says Pavel, who works for a tech startup. (Mila works for a biotech startup.) “I bring out a beach chair and computer when I’m working from home in the summertime.”  (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
Pavel works in the office, which could flex into a bedroom with no trouble at all. Glass doors open to a garden. “Each room has a connection with the outside, an appreciation of the Northwest,” says Pavel, who works for a tech startup. (Mila works for a biotech startup.) “I bring out a beach chair and computer when I’m working from home in the summertime.” (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

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.”

A single sloped roof covers the home’s shifting floor levels and extends 20 feet high over an expansive cedar deck to provide a covered, year-round outdoor living space. “It’s not a house and a yard; it’s a series of rooms, some inside and some outside,” Mohler says.  (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
A single sloped roof covers the home’s shifting floor levels and extends 20 feet high over an expansive cedar deck to provide a covered, year-round outdoor living space. “It’s not a house and a yard; it’s a series of rooms, some inside and some outside,” Mohler says. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

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.

Four out of five of the home’s levels show up here: the garage, on the lower level near raised planting beds; the super-versatile family room, up half a level to the right, with its own entry and terrace; the living area opening to the deck; and the master bedroom and bath above. (You’re missing only the entry, visible from the other side.)  (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
Four out of five of the home’s levels show up here: the garage, on the lower level near raised planting beds; the super-versatile family room, up half a level to the right, with its own entry and terrace; the living area opening to the deck; and the master bedroom and bath above. (You’re missing only the entry, visible from the other side.) (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

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 stairway, with oak treads floating from the wall, is the focal point of the home and connects its two blocks of spaces, says Mohler: It’s as light and as open as possible. Four sets of stairs lead to the home’s five levels, and the wood wall runs through them all. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
The stairway, with oak treads floating from the wall, is the focal point of the home and connects its two blocks of spaces, says Mohler: It’s as light and as open as possible. Four sets of stairs lead to the home’s five levels, and the wood wall runs through them all. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

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.