The old house had 750 square feet for a family of four. The new home offers spacious, gracious living.

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“THERE, THAT’S what I wanted,” says Stephanie, punching her finger at a childlike drawing of a house. “I wanted a pitched roof and smoke coming out of the chimney; a room with shelves for books with the piano in it that we could close off, and a big kitchen. And that’s what we got.”

An urban farmhouse. She wanted a farmhouse, but on the spot where they already lived, in an older long-established Seattle neighborhood.

“We did not want to lose any of our backyard,” adds her husband, Anatoliy. And there it is: raised garden beds, substantial lawn, barnlike shed and a 530-square-foot rental cottage.

The couple bought the original house in 2007. Four of them (they have two young daughters) made do with two bedrooms and one bath in 750 square feet and a backyard that was mostly asphalt. They even fixed the place up: new windows, plumbing, electrical, bathroom, turned the garage into a cottage. But still . . .

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“Housing prices being what they were, we felt stuck,” Stephanie says. “Plus, the library is right here. The school is right here. We have a big backyard. The park is down the street.”

So after years of angst, they packed themselves into the even smaller backyard cottage and took the house down in August 2013. In its place, after seven months of work, rose the farmhouse; light and colorfully bright, 3,448 square feet of space over three floors for kids, offices, a craft room, the requested books-and-piano library and more, designed by architect Jeff Pelletier of Board & Vellum.

The couple are great fans of Pelletier’s work, “how he makes every space usable, even very small spaces” says Anatoliy. But Stephanie absolutely loves their contractor, N&R Construction LLC., co-owned by Anatoliy. “I think he did an amazing job,” she says. “Plus, we could talk about the house in bed at 11 o’clock at night.”

The family doesn’t need much furniture because every room offers built-in storage with cabinets, cubbies and shelving. Most of the furniture they do have has been passed down from or made by family. And, being a watchful budget-conscious young family, they scored a stainless steel KitchenAid gas stove, range hood and microwave off Craigslist.

Stephanie also really wanted “a room with shelves for books with a piano in it that we could close off.” Just such a place sits right inside the front door, an “away room” with an inviting window seat that includes storage. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
Stephanie also really wanted “a room with shelves for books with a piano in it that we could close off.” Just such a place sits right inside the front door, an “away room” with an inviting window seat that includes storage. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

“This is my grandmother’s bed,” Stephanie says, pausing in daughter Tessa’s room. “She made the quilt, too.”

There’s another family heirloom bed/quilt combo in Dasha’s room. Stephanie’s father made their bed and the Craftsman chair in the living room. The fir coffee table from an old basement beam? Anatoliy made that.

The main-floor living space flows one room into the other. Each is defined by its own vibrant paint color. It’s tomato red in the living room, sky blue in the dining room/kitchen and celery green in the passageways. Each was chosen from the fabric Stephanie used to make the home’s roman shades. (“I have a book,” she says. “And, yes, there was cussing.”)

Clean, white trim helps the home feel larger and gives those spaces a cozier feel. Heated concrete floors provide a more industrial and urban feel, contrasting with the traditional detailing.

One of Stephanie’s desires was for a big kitchen that faced the backyard. Here it is: 16 feet wide and 14 feet long. The deep-green and honed soapstone island, 5 feet by 8 feet, draws all who enter. Surrounding the refrigerator are pantry shelves. Floors are heated concrete. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
One of Stephanie’s desires was for a big kitchen that faced the backyard. Here it is: 16 feet wide and 14 feet long. The deep-green and honed soapstone island, 5 feet by 8 feet, draws all who enter. Surrounding the refrigerator are pantry shelves. Floors are heated concrete. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

The white, white kitchen, facing the country-like backyard, is properly oversized at 16 feet wide and 14 feet long. The commanding soapstone island, 5 feet by 8 feet, is a magnet for all who enter.

Now the family has “lots and lots of guests.” Stephanie and Anatoliy hosted a wedding supper here, a school-auction dinner for 18, Anatoliy’s family from Russia. Tomorrow, as a matter of fact, is cousins night.

“I’m from Olympia,” Stephanie says. “I have cousins all over, one in Marysville, Monroe, Puyallup, and we like to get together, so now we do it here.”