A Seattle Couple Turns Their Top Floor into a Cozy Nursery and Master Suite

With space at a premium, a Wallingford couple utilizes every inch of their cozy third story

By Chelsea Lin


March 19, 2019

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Seattle Magazine.

This article appears in print in the March 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

Julia Li and her husband, Erik Lewis, had a wish list a mile long when it came to renovations on their 1912 Wallingford Craftsman. From the moment the couple moved in five years ago, reworking the top-floor master suite to better accommodate the steeply pitched roof angles and future children topped the list.

The bathroom makeover includes a trough-like sink for two and shower in the space where a bathtub was previously located

Last year, they finally decided to tackle the project, enlisting the help of Portland-based interior design firm Casework (casework.it). Founder and creative director Casey Keasler, whose style Li had fallen in love with through a friend’s remodel, describes the original top floor as “pretty dark and drab”—clearly it had been an attic that a previous owner had repurposed as a bedroom (with a deep, useless closet), small bath and office. The space was in desperate need of a makeover. The couple wanted to maximize space and efficiency without adding square footage. “People always talk about form over function, but I’ve always been more for something functional than beautiful,” Li says. A trained architect currently working in marketing, she was clear in her requirements: room for their king-size bed, a double sink in the bathroom and a nursery so that their future children would be able to sleep nearby.

Custom storage includes built-in closets, bookshelves and a long bench, in oak and warm blue-green

Oak cabinets house a built-in twin bed, while drawers below act as steps to reach it 

To achieve these goals, Keasler and her team leaned into the roof angles, locating the walk-through space in the center of the room, where the ceiling is at its tallest point, and creating custom storage in the low-ceilinged, awkward spaces. The office became a nursery, and includes a built-in twin-bed nook with drawers that double as steps. The couple now has a 10-month-old son, Lihai, who will sleep in the bed after he’s outgrown his crib, Li says. Built-in oak closets and bookshelves were placed throughout the space, and a sort of dressing room was constructed directly outside the bathroom. Although the design team couldn’t quite fit two sinks into the bathroom, a compromise was reached with a huge trough-like sink with two faucets. And the couple’s king-size bed, though a tight fit, looks perfectly at home next to a window that catches the sunrise. 

The couple wanted room for their king-size bed

Li loves the final result: a cozy, supremely functional sleeping space for her little family. The wish list, though, keeps growing: She wants to tackle the unfinished basement next, then maybe the kitchen. But Li, who was born in Beijing and spent her early childhood in what she describes as “a shack without running water,” keeps it all in perspective: “Already, this is more than I ever could have imagined.”

The redesign corrected inefficient layouts and awkward connections to the home’s decks.

AIA Home: Goodbye 1970

Family fixes design flaws to bring midcentury home into modern era

“Treehouse” by Floisand Studio Architects returns to glory a Ralph D. Anderson home that had lost its compass. Nick and Rachel Lenington purchased the 1970 Mercer Island home in 2010, attracted to the quiet neighborhood because of its midcentury vibe, big, west-facing windows, and abundant wildlife. An advertised water view didn’t really pan out, but…

Photography by Netra Nei

Living: This Kitchen Really Cooks

Remodel preserves Victorian charm

Raised on an off-the-grid ranch in southern Oregon, Mandy Lozano took a don’t-fence-me-in approach to renovating her kitchen in Seattle’s Squire Park neighborhood. She sought to balance a respect for the 1900 Victorian’s heritage with a genetic predisposition toward creative license. “I don’t care for modern technology that much, and I don’t like fussy or…

IMG_1752 hero-min

It Costs What? High-End Seattle-Area Homes Skyrocket in Price

The rise in pricey homes throughout Seattle is nothing short of astonishing

It’s no secret that housing prices are skyrocketing. Some new numbers, however, may send you into a fit of apoplexy. A study by home buying and selling service Orchard finds that the Seattle region has experienced a whopping 180% increase in the sale of million-dollar homes in just three years. So far in 2022, almost…

The roof slopes to the south for greater solar-panel efficiency and the one-car garage was among several tradeoffs to improve energy efficiency.

Seattle Passive House Respects The Environment

Passive House in Ballard treats the environment with respect

Rade and Eli Trimceski didn’t set out to save the planet when they commissioned their new home in Ballard, but the planet sent its regards anyway. Designed and built by First Lamp Architects of Seattle, the project was named the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) National Home of the Year in 2020.  Billed as “the…

IMG_1 copy 2-cropped

Why This Tiny Cottage in Shoreline Works For a Family of Four

Why our tiny house makes sense

We live in a world full of hacks, loopholes and workarounds that often lead to more work and dead ends. When my wife, Kristy, and I discovered a way to live mortgage free, it seemed too good to be true. There had to be a catch. Six years later, we are still living out that…

The project resulted in an extra 5,000 square feet of floor space and a refacing of parts of the facade.

Seattle’s Former Columbia Congregational Church and Allied8: A Match Made in Heaven

The former Columbia Congregational Church was in disrepair before architectural firm Allied8 came to the rescue

The Columbia Congregational Church was harshly thrust into an uncertain future in the secular world.   It was founded in 1891, two years before the Columbia City neighborhood. The densely forested site was ringed by marshlands and served as the gateway to the untamed Rainier Valley. At the time, it was a common practice to donate…