AS LONG AS Andy and Laurie have been part of this close-knit Blue Ridge community, this close-knit Blue Ridge community has been woven, and welcomed, into their family’s lives.
“When we moved in, there was a whole little army of kids 5 or less,” says Andy. “All the kids were the same age.”
Their three kids have grown and flown the nest, but neighbors still take trips together, and 10 or so nearby guys pop over to make wine in Andy and Laurie’s huge new storage room (jumbo industrial sink included). Sometimes that wine is served at community cul-de-sac dinners.
“Our neighborhood’s unique,” says Laurie.
So when they remodeled their classic 1950s rambler, down to the foundation and back up again, fabulously, the entire neighborhood became part of the program.
Before construction, Rick Mohler and Rick Ghillino (Mohler + Ghillino Architects) erected story poles to represent the dimensions of the new home. “We were making sure the light wasn’t impacting the neighbors; cantilevering the roof allows light to get to the neighbors,” says Andy. “In Blue Ridge, you have to work with your neighbors. We reached out and had them come over, and did a light study.”
After construction, this strikingly inviting, definitely not a classic 1950s rambler feels comfortably and unobtrusively at home between its next-door neighbors. “The idea is that the house aligns with the house on each side of it,” says Mohler. (Adds Chris Lewis, of 9H Builders, “When you drive by, you have no idea it’s a 3,200-square-foot house.”)
That’s because all the big action — a distinctly wide new deck, giant stretches of windows and doors, multiple terraces and stairs, all oriented toward the adjacent forest — is happening out back. Neighboring Carkeek Park is “neighboring,” after all, so naturally, it, too, has been invited in.
“The idea was to reconfigure the house to connect to the park and to allow the park to flow into the living spaces by way of tall slide/fold doors,” says Mohler. “The bedrooms had been looking toward the woods, and the living/dining space was set back from the woods. We thought, ‘What if we just flipped that relationship and moved the master to the side?’ Instead of putting the living spaces below, we just used slide/fold doors to bring the park into the house.”
Those 10-foot-tall LaCantina Doors — along with bug-barrier sliding screens — open along the new 20-foot-long deck, under a deep protective eave. “You can sit out here,” says Andy. “We had a deck we never used. We wanted a space where it’s indoors when you need it, and outside when Seattle has a great day.”
The park is so much a part of the living experience, Mohler and Ghillino call this home “Carkeek Immersion.” That could be subtitled: “Also, Lots and Lots of Light.”
The original house “had pretty low ceilings,” Mohler says: “less than 8 feet, in a diluted Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie style. Broad overhangs robbed the light. It was dark.” A small remodel in 2008 “knocked out some walls,” Laurie says — but this time, “My big thing was light.”
Light is a big, wonderful thing here. It bounces under a shining 12-foot ceiling in the parkside great room. It pours into the main living areas from soaring streetside windows, while, Mohler says, “A cleverly positioned stair borrows some of this same light to brighten up the spaces below.”
Says Ghillino: “We kept saying, ‘There’ll be enough light.’ ”
This radiant home is a bright beacon in a neighborhood where connections, community — and consideration, “a key design element of the house,” Andy says — are much appreciated.
“A guy knocked on the door and thanked us,” he says.