Before & After: A Seattle Midcentury Shakes Off a Wacky Addition
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Before & After: A Seattle Midcentury Shakes Off a Wacky Addition

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By Melissa Dalton
SHED Architecture + Design fashions a more coherent layout for a Seward Park home with refreshing lake views.

When the owners of this 1961 midcentury in Seattle’s Seward Park were first considering buying the property, they toured it with SHED Architecture + Design to ensure that the purchase would be a good investment. On the walk-through, the architects could tell that the home, originally designed by Pacific Northwest architect George Lucker, had good bones, despite some anomalies in the existing layout. 

As designer Prentis Hale remembers, "My initial impression was that it was quite a beautiful house that had a really bad addition. A sunroom was placed on the water side of the house, and in a very funky manner." 

Before: Exterior Entry

Before: The 1961 house in the Seward Park neighborhood had been originally designed by architect George Lucker.

After: Exterior Entry

In the remodel, the façade was touched up, the front door replaced, and an entry bench installed. 

The homeowners bought and remodeled the property with the goal of restoring its midcentury character and making it more adept for modern life. The firm’s ethos was a good fit for such an approach. 

"This was a house that deserved to be saved and have its life prolonged," says Hale. "When we are working on those types of houses, we really try to do the minimal number of moves, plan wise. We don't view it as a tabula rasa. We view it as, ‘How do we get clever and figure out how to solve multiple problems with as few insertions or deletions as we can?’"

Before: Interior Entry

Before: Dated tile and ironwork dominated the entry before.

After: Interior Entry

A narrow closet was removed to make way for a bench and coat hooks, so the front door isn’t crowded.

The designers also removed a wall and replaced it with low casework and built-in shelves slotted between the posts. This allows light to flow through the entry and gives the owners an opportunity to display their ceramics collection.

Previously, the long volume of the main living area was chopped in half by a wall that enclosed the kitchen on one side. The division was a jarring way to separate the kitchen and dining room from the main living space, so the designers removed it to improve connection between the main living areas.

Before: Kitchen

Before: A dividing wall chopped up the floor plan and prevented sight lines to Lake Washington.

Before: The kitchen’s separation from the main living area was typical of houses of this era.

After: Kitchen

Removing the wall helps to expose the home’s beautiful post-and-beam structure and unify the living spaces. To emphasize the structure, the team repainted the ceiling beams a dark color to contrast with the natural wood that was preserved.

The kitchen was relocated to the rear wall. 

Off the kitchen and dining area, a former owner had enclosed a deck with a sunroom that Hale calls "carbuncular." It was "a greenhouse-type sunroom that got super hot in the summer, or cold in the winter, and [the homeowners] felt like it was a space they couldn't use," says designer Rebecca Marsh. "It was really an eyesore." 

The team removed the addition and resurrected the deck that had been a part of the original Lucker design, creating access to it via an expansive, sliding glass door. Now light streams throughout the main floor, and lake views can be appreciated from multiple vantage points. 

Before: Outdoor Connection

Before: The home has a nice view of Lake Washington, Seward Park, and Mount Rainier, but the unfortunate sunroom addition made it feel disconnected from the main living spaces.

After: Outdoor Connection

Streamlined, flat-front white cabinetry melds with white walls and doesn’t detract from the views.

Now, even the entry can appreciate the sight lines.

After: Living Room

The original fireplace was kept, as was the interior clerestory windows that divide the main living area from the hall and master suite. The floors were replaced with red oak to align with preserved red oak flooring in the bedroom.

Another desire was to carve out a master suite for the homeowners. In the existing plan, the main floor had one shared bathroom in the hall. The firm's solution was to capture unused exterior space under the roof line and install a multi-functional bath, including a powder bath that can be accessed by both the master and main house. Pocket doors keep that room separate from a larger walk-in shower and vanity.

Before: Master Suite

Before: The firm was able to enclose an exterior atrium between the entry and the garage, creating space for a dedicated master suite.

Before: The existing hall bathroom was enlarged and reorganized.

After: Master Suite

Now, a walk-in shower and soaking tub are tucked under the roof line.

The designers used an existing skylight between the eaves in order to fill the new bathroom with light. "That was a moment where we thought that we could tie in our changes to the house seamlessly with the old design," says Marsh. "And when the light goes over the skylight, it creates different shadow lines."

The bathroom features simple black hexagonal tile on the floor and white tile laid in a grid on the walls. The custom vanity is fir, in keeping with the rest of the home’s material palette.

The entry casework at the end of the hall incorporates a glass panel, encouraging sight lines from the hallway and living room to the stairs, and shedding light onto the tread.

Before: Lake Washington Overlook floor plan

After: Lake Washington Overlook floor plan

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