Homeowners Opt for a Spa-Like Feel in their Magnolia Home

A midcentury modern home in Magnolia lightens up
Shannon O'Leary  |   March 2014   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
home remodeling in seattle magazine
The small kitchen boasts an abundance of handsome maple cabinetry, which also neatly encloses the refrigerator (seen at far right). The backsplash coolly combines matte and glossy green and taupe tiles

Several years ago, after living in Switzerland for 11 years, Mark and Jo repatriated to Seattle, where the couple had hoped to continue the cosmopolitan car-free existence they had adopted in Europe. But when they saw the semisecluded spot nestled along a curving, quiet Magnolia street while house hunting, they began to rethink that plan.

“I liked the advertisement,” says Jo about the description of the 1960 rambler, which characterized the setting as Zen-like. “It was very green and very serene,” she says. “We put an offer on it the day it came on the market.”

Smartly, the couple had hired their architect, Julie Campbell of Seattle’s CTA Design Builders, before buying, thereby benefiting from some reassuring real estate vetting. First-time homeowners, they had been attracted to the all-in-one convenience of her design-build firm, and by the fact that Campbell was also an interior designer who shared their penchant for Northwest and Japanese design.
“The property was just so exquisite with its gardens and views [of Puget Sound],” Campbell says. “We all knew immediately that it could support the things they were after—a sanctuary where they could feel like they were kind of living in a spa situation all of the time.”

What the 1,450-square-foot, one-story house didn’t have was a spa-worthy master suite. So Campbell’s primary architectural handiwork was to seamlessly integrate a small, airy second-story addition with the house’s existing midcentury modern base, echoing its signature sloping roofline and large overhangs. (Photo: The new addition houses a view-rich master suite, which comes with an inviting window seat and storage area made of maple wood)

The new level is outfitted with large windows and with walls that ingeniously fall a few feet short of the ceiling. This latter tweak enables natural light to brightly bounce around the top floor as well as filter down into the new open stairwell and onto the main floor. (The open walls also give house cats Cosmo and Juno many enticing sites for leaping.)

Downstairs, shape-shifting was kept to a minimum, although one wall between the kitchen and living room was removed to create an open floor plan. Instead, big changes were brought about by a dramatically different interior scheme. The couple wanted more natural materials, a lot of wood and stone. “It was much darker and felt a lot heavier [originally],” Mark explains, “and we wanted to lighten it up.”

One of the most aggressively dark elements was a fireplace sheathed in gunmetal. That surface was replaced with a natural stone facade (composed of individual sheets that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle) boasting blue and green hues selected for the new pale paint palette. “There are actually three paint colors,” Campbell says, “but they are all different shades of the same color. It’s a lighter one where the rooms are darker, and a darker one where there’s more light. So you don’t perceive there’s a difference as you’re moving throughout the rooms.”

(Photo: The new floor-to-ceiling natural stone facade boasts a Northwest shade of Alpine Jade. [Homeowner Markesigned some of the home's new furniture, including the painted poplar wood open-grid shelf to the side of the fireplace, an ode to Paul Frankl’s circa 1920s “Skyscraper” step table.])

The architect explains, “I’m a big believer in a limited palette of colors and materials, because I think if you use the same materials throughout the house, it really provides a continuity throughout the house, which provides for a lot of calmness and tranquility.”

(Photo: The original living room had darker floors and a stark black steel fireplace surround)


Photo: A view into the closet


Photo: The home's exterior and patio

This home was selected by architects and designers from AIA Seattle (American Institute of Architects; aiaseattle.org) as an example of architectural importance in remodeling.

Get It Now

Architect, interior designer: Julie Campbell, AIA, CTA Design Builders, Fremont; 206.286.1692; ctabuilds.com. Paint: Benjamin Moore no-voc Eco Spec, OC-45 Swiss Coffee flat (main-floor ceilings), OC-45 Swiss Coffee Eggshell (main-floor bathroom ceilings), OC-47 Ashwood  flat (most walls), Benjamin Moore MoorGard latex low luster custom color No. 2-11-0322 (exterior). Custom cabinetry: Designed by CTA, built by Brian Northrop, Northrop Case, Ballard, 5416 Shilshole Ave. NW; 206.782.2664; northropcase.com. Cabinet pulls: Sugatsune SN series stainless steel satin finish. Owner-designed furniture: Sapele wood credenza (not pictured), black painted poplar grid shelf (next to fireplace) by Epping-Jordan Fine Woodworking; 206.245.7589; eppingjordanfinewoodworking.com. Master bedroom closets: Christopher Lunsford (consultant), California Closets, Bellevue, 1048 116th Ave. NE, Suite 160; 206.793.2026; californiaclosets.com. Staircase: Designed by Julie Campbell, CTA Design Builders. Windows: Sierra Pacific Windows, 2233 First Ave. S, Suite 102; 800.824.7744; sierrapacificwindows.com. Hardwoods: Lane Hardwood Floors, Shoreline, 14700 Aurora Ave. N; 206.622.1336; lanehardwoodfloors.com. Appliances: Daniel Curtin (sales), Liebherr refrigerator/Miele dishwasher/GE oven, Albert Lee Appliance, Interbay, 1476 Elliott Ave. W; 206.282.2110; albertleeappliance.com. Kitchen backsplash: Interstyle Architect series tiles, Cantilever, custom color mix (matte green, glossy and matte beige), grout (CBP  No. 386 Oyster Gray), United Tile, Renton, 3001 E Valley Road; 425.251.5290; unitedtile.com. Countertops: Antique brown granite, satin finish (kitchen), Seagrass limestone, honed (master bath, powder room), Pental Granite & Marble, SoDo, 713 S Fidalgo St.; 206.768.3200; pentalonline.com. Granite rehoning, refinishing (kitchen, master bath, fireplace): Jorge Perez, The Natural Stone Restorers, Enumclaw; 360.825.3199. Lights: Hubbardton Forge Kakomi series (master bath, powder room). Fireplace surround: Thomas Makaruk, Senterra LLC, Bellevue; 206.730.7165; mygranitecountertops.com. Barstools: La Palma Kai stools, EuroFurniture, Chicago; 800.243.1955; eurofurniture.com