12 Midcentury Renovated Revelations You Can Find in Seattle

These Seattle homes have successfully struck the balance between treading lightly on the past and revamping for the future.
Text by

Whether it's preserving the original features of a home by a well-known local architect or incorporating new design features based on client preferences, these dwellings showcase the best in midcentury design and modern updates. Read on for more details!

A 1957 Midcentury in Seattle Receives a Striking Makeover

When the current owners bought this property, they knew it had good bones. Originally designed by Seattle–based architect Hawley Adelbert Dudley as his personal residence, this midcentury gem tucked into a 10,000-square-foot wooded lot once received widespread recognition when it was built in 1957. In fact, the Seattle Times designated it as the "Home of the Month" in September of that year. 

When clients contacted Seattle-based SHED Architecture & Design to remodel their 1957 humble abode, they weren't looking for a total transformation. They were simply searching for a way to highlight the home's midcentury charm, while also integrating a new, modern feel. SHED embraced this challenge and salvaged as many of the original design elements as possible. By working closely with the owners and interior designer Jennie Gruss, the team revamped the layout and incorporated new finishes and furnishings to welcome a refreshing update. 

After a lifetime of random remodels, this 1959 Northwest contemporary ranch home in Seattle's Madison Park neighborhood finally received an overhaul that makes it shine. Seattle–based SHED Architecture & Design undid the outdated layers, updating and modernizing the home while paying respect to its original midcentury charm. The renovation juxtaposes light and dark elements—Douglas fir is set against dark bricks and oversized concrete floor tiling. This convention aligns with the home's original material palette while adding a contemporary vibe.

This Lake Forest Park renovation consisted of a complete re-working of a 1950s Northwest Contemporary house on a large, wooded site north of Seattle. The floor plan was altered to create an enlarged kitchen, master bedroom, master bath, and study. While the existing exposed wood ceiling was kept, large glass light monitors were added to bring a soft wash of natural light to the interior. Materials such as steel, cherry, natural grass, terrazzo, and Douglas Fir were used in juxtaposition, allowing each material to benefit from adjacent contrasts in texture and color. Existing terrazzo floors were re-finished, and some new terrazzo flooring was added in complementary colors.

"Midcentury modern meets functionality" drove this redesign of a kitchen remodel in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. To update the space, a wall between the kitchen and dining area came down to join the two, improving flow and allowing more natural light to stream into the kitchen. With the newfound attention and visibility afforded to the kitchen, the owners set out to complete their aesthetic goals in a way that honored the home’s original ‘50s architecture and reflected their own passion for the era.

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. 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?’"

Shop the Look
Atlas of Mid-Century Modern Houses
A fascinating collection of more than 400 of the world's most glamorous homes from more than 290 architects, the Atlas of Mid-Century Modern Houses showcases work by such icons as Marcel Breuer, Richard Neutra, Alvar Aalto, and Oscar Niemeyer alongside extraordinary but virtually unknown houses in...
West Elm Mid-Century Shoe Rack
Inspired by mid-century designs, this shoe rack keeps your footwear organized in style. With two handy shelves, you’ll never have to search for that one missing shoe ever again.

While going through a renovation of her 1958 midcentury property, Audrey and her husband have worked as a team to update the landscaping and deck. Along with adding a carport and arbor, they painted the exterior in Tricon Black from Sherwin Williams. They also installed oversized house numbers from Modern House Numbers, which are made by hand out of recycled aluminum in Tucson, Arizona.

Originally built in 1977, and remodeled in 2000 by Seattle-based architect Tom Kundig, this expansive home is located in The Highlands, a cooperative community in Shoreline, Washington. The home's spacious interiors connect to the outdoors with immense pivot doors, and floor-to-ceiling windows frame views of the surrounding forest. Much of the home—including the soaring library-like bookshelves—is constructed of mahogany sourced from Benaroya Hall—the home of the Seattle Symphony. The property also includes a finished basement, a heated pool, and fruit trees.

Having lived in, and loved, a modern house built in 1954 in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood since buying it in 1996, architect Karen Braitmayer and her husband, marine mechanic David Erskine, recently came to realize that the house was overdue for some modifications. Braitmayer, whose firm, Studio Pacifica, specializes in universal access space planning and ADA compliance for commercial and residential projects, is a wheelchair user, as is her and Erskine’s teenage daughter. With its open layout and single-floor plan, the house worked fairly well for many years, but, as Braitmayer says, "It was really my daughter growing up that spurred us to make some changes. Her disability is a little bit different from mine, and some of the things I was able to work around for a long time weren’t going to work for her." Braitmayer called in another architect, Carol Sundstrom of Seattle-based Röm Architecture Studio, who specializes in single-family remodels and with whom Braitmayer has collaborated on many projects.

Located in the sylvan enclave of Innis Arden about an hour north of Seattle, this home soaks up the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. This beautifully maintained midcentury home was designed in 1962 by Seattle–based modernist architect Ralph D. Anderson—who was an early advocate for preservation in the region. A soaring, double-height wall of glass in the living room brings a sense of the home's forested surroundings to its interiors. Character-filled elements of the home's midcentury roots remain—including a slightly sunken living room, a circular staircase, a tongue-and-groove ceiling, wood paneling, and a kitchen countertop crafted of salvaged teak from a 1960s battleship. Updated elements include a renovated kitchen, which kept the original salvaged teak and updated appliances as needed.

This complete renovation of a midcentury home was an embrace of nostalgic ‘50s architecture and incorporation of elegant interiors. Adding a touch of art deco French inspiration resulted in an eclectic vintage blend that provides an elevated yet light-hearted impression. The homeowner was in need of a complete reconfiguration, adding additional bedrooms and re-thinking the main living spaces.

Renowned Pacific Northwest architect Gene Zema, known for his mix of modernism and Japanese architecture, designed this house around 1974 towards the end of his career. It features a rich palette of woods and Japanese joinery visible throughout the home. Located outside Seattle on Bainbridge Island, the house had decayed over the years and suffered from constant roof leaks. The clients, a family, brought in SHED Architecture & Design for minor fixes but the project expanded to an overhaul and revitalization that included the rebuilding of the house’s central living space, the reorganization of the kitchen, and a new outdoor deck.


Last Updated


Get the Renovations Newsletter

From warehouse conversions to rehabbed midcentury gems, to expert advice and budget breakdowns, the renovation newsletter serves up the inspiration you need to tackle your next project.