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Originally published October 19, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Page modified October 20, 2012 at 4:12 PM

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Architect Stephen Sullivan tends to classic NW home

For the past 18 years, Sullivan and interior designer Holly McKinley have been working to bring the home forward while respecting its past.

IT'S A MASTERPIECE and a work in progress.

The Roland Terry home that hugs the land lakeside, opening to the water, quiet and light, warm and comfortable. It offers its welcome, beneath the protected walkway, well before the front door. The security of it is set in stone. Once inside, it is most generous; rewarding visitors immediately with the best of views.

This Eastside Midcentury, however, was from the last century. Old wiring. Shag carpeting. Closed kitchen. Walls with a nasty nicotine habit. A two-sided and mirrored bar that rivaled the one at Canlis (also designed by Terry). Other bits used up, worn out.

And so, for the past 18 years, architect Stephen Sullivan and interior designer Holly McKinley have been on the job for the homeowners, working to bring the home forward while respecting its past. Remodel by remodel. "And through the birth of children and off to college," says McKinley. "Through the flow of life. I'm always sort of touched by that."

"We were so excited to get the opportunity to buy this property," owner James says. "I would sneak down to look at it even before we got it."

"The architecture was so appealing to us," says his wife of Terry's low-lying Northwest take on subtlety and discipline (typical of his inspiration, Frank Lloyd Wright).

"But we realized we had a project."

"The fireplace," James adds, "had rocks with oozing cement. I don't think that ooze look was . . . well, it was fabulous at the time."

As the home's second owners, they dug right in. They had no choice.

"I gotta go back to how much it was like Canlis," James says. Now he refers to the original kitchen exhaust hood; mighty suction 6 feet wide and 12 feet long. Also, single-pane windows needed replacing, insulation added, the octopus furnace removed, plumbing updated, floors made new.

"This is three remodels later. It's hard to remember what happened when," James says. In that time, zero kids have become three kids, one off to college. Dogs. More. "We have lots of family. There's lots of gathering," his wife says.

Over time, Sullivan of Sullivan Conard Architects, opened the kitchen and joined it with the family room and view. He renovated the bathrooms, enlarged the master bedroom, paneled the den, updated finishes, added a deck and terracing.

Most recently? The entry and courtyard. A teak screen now veils the home's floor-to-ceiling windows. A new entry pavilion invokes influences from Asia and architect Wright. Reclaimed Chinese granite pavers are interwoven with boulders from Washington's Cascade Mountains. It all concludes at the tall (10 feet), strong and wizened redwood front door (reclaimed and hand-adzed by Meyer Wells).

Inside, the smoke-stained stone is gone. Surrounding the living-room fireplace is hand-tooled Chinese granite from Richard Rhodes, adding new symmetry to the room. Walls are Venetian plaster. New recessed lighting targets a collection of Northwest big-leaguers: Chuck Close, Morris Graves, Preston Singletary, Betsy Eby, Bo Bartlett.

"We really live in the whole house (5,000 square feet)," says James, deep into McKinley's mustardy-brown mohair sofa in the living room. "You go into some living rooms and you think, 'When was somebody last in this room?' "

"I remember the kids even coming into the house on Rollerblades," his wife says. "We always wanted them to feel like they could come here and flop, and bring their friends."

Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.

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