EVEN IF YOU’VE already experienced this august home (and that’s certainly possible, given its generous history), you have not yet experienced its full potential. But you could.
This classic four-level Georgian Colonial, built in 1921, swept open its elegant front door for the 1987 and 2009 editions of the Mount Baker Home Tour — and will do so again for the next biennial, traditional benefit event, on Saturday, Dec. 7.
This time, though, while the distinguished columns framing the front door remain, your “welcome in” experience has evolved literally from the first step. The exterior stone porch and walkway are extended and widened; the interior entry is entirely updated (as is much of the main floor); and there’s one special new feature of the completely re-envisioned kitchen that few have experienced: a “rare, sweeping view,” says Susan Sellin, who’s co-chairing this year’s tour with her daughter, Amy Sajer. “Lake Washington, Mount Baker to Mount Rainier, Mercer Island, the Cascades, the night lights of Bellevue” — and not a dangling utility wire in sight.
That singular view is what initially drew Tony and Michelle Audino to this historical home in this historical neighborhood. From the dining room and the deck outside, the view was spectacular. From the adjacent kitchen, however, it was nonexistent. All you saw was a wall. A relic, really, from an era of closed-off kitchens.
“We wanted to open up to the view, and you couldn’t be in the kitchen with that wall there,” says Tony. “We love to cook, we love food, we love to gather; by removing that wall, it served two purposes: the view, and gatherings for our large family.” (The Audinos have four grown children “who are coming and going,” says Michelle. Family dog Jack, like a good boy, stays.)
Working with architect Jay Lazerwitz, of Art & Architecture, who’d handled an earlier remodel for the home’s previous owners, and interior designer Doug Rasar, the Audinos have transported the first floor of their classic home firmly into the present day, building on its impressive past.
“The bones of the home are almost 100 years old, and the former owners did all the difficult stuff: the internal systems, back decks. We give Jay a ton of credit for working with the prior owners to get it in the shape it was in: a really beautiful older home,” says Tony. “You’re kind of walking into a 1921 home that is essentially a new home.”
Post-remodel, an ample waterfall island draped in a single slab of marble anchors the all-new, wide-open kitchen, filled with custom, shiny-white cabinets. The old parquet flooring is gone, replaced by new wood that’s been seamlessly weaved into the original quarter-sawn oak flooring of the dining area. New pilasters mimicking those of the entry now delineate the two spaces, respectfully standing aside for that view.
In another act of openness, French doors between the dining area and entry hallway were removed. In the living room, custom, thin steel shelves replaced traditional built-ins, and antique French limestone replaced the old wood and brick fireplace.
And every wall became gallery space — in a couple of rooms, more wall space was created in an especially creative way — for the Audinos’ extensive art collection.
“We had worked with [interior designer] Doug on a number of other projects,” Tony says. “He said, ‘You have such beautiful art; why don’t you paint the walls white?’ ” (They did.) And then, Michelle says, Rasar “resurrected” an idea from the couple’s previous Yarrow Point home: plastering over windows, on the inside only, to make more room for art.
In that home, she says, “We had pretty small, circular windows — maybe 1 foot in diameter. To do it on these windows that look into our neighbors’ lot was taking it to another scale. He first said, ‘What are you doing buying a home that has no space for your artwork?’ ”
So now, one window above the bar near the dining area and two windows bracketing the living-room fireplace have become all wall, holding significant artwork from William Wegman, Andy Warhol and Tony Scherman.
You still can see the windows from the outside. But this year’s home tour could be your best shot at experiencing all the artful design within.