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Country contemporary living from Malboeuf Bowie Architecture
The Greenwood contemporary was designed by and for the architects. But the second owners couldn't be more delighted with the quality construction and thoughtful design.
Pacific NW associate editor
GOD HELP you if Alison Pember wants to buy your house. Because Alison Pember is a marketing professional, and she will make you a PowerPoint presentation that will melt your heart and close the deal.
That's just how she and Jason Hansen ended up buying the only cool contemporary on an otherwise unremarkable Greenwood street in fall 2011.
"When we walked in I thought, 'Ohhh yeah,' " Pember says. "I lived in New York for a few years, and it reminded me of the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea and their round windows."
Pember says this while plucking fresh fruit from a platter on the dining-room table. She is sitting not far from the large, round, unblinking eye of a kitchen window.
"Jason thought the window looked like an eyeball," she says of her husband, a MacGyver sort whose expertise in such matters includes general contracting (formerly with Prestige Custom Builders) and now selling homes with Exclusive Home Realty. "When he looks at a house he goes, 'Uh-hmm, uh-hmm.' He looked at the concrete floor really hard, he touched the drywall, and I thought, 'Uh-oh, what's wrong with that?'
"Then he said, 'Alison, we have to buy this house.' "
The home, a box wrapping a box, was designed by and for architects, Joe Malboeuf and Tiffany Bowie of Malboeuf Bowie Architecture. There are heated concrete floors, aluminum-clad fir windows, 9-feet-wide sliders to a rural-sized backyard, 10-foot ceilings, two living roofs, two bedrooms and 1 ¾ baths in 1,620 square feet. The exterior is cedar siding and HardiePanel with a rain screen. The kitchen, with the faintest-of-blue lacquer cabinets and a white Pental Chroma island, is clean and functional with lots of storage packed into its galley layout.
"There's so much crap out there," Hansen says of their yearlong home search. "Alison would show me stuff online, and I'd say, 'OK, but I'm not fixing that.' "
It's remarkable they agreed on any house at all. Pember is a North End woman, Hansen a South End guy. She's new house, he's old. They merged at quality construction, a nice-sized yard and compact-and-proper living spaces. And a home the architects, who are married, originally built for themselves.
"We were living in a 600-square-foot apartment across the street from the Little Red Hen, and Monday is karaoke night," Hansen says. "We had to hear Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing' five times a night!"
But they did stop.
"A lot of people thought this street was too busy, but nothing's too busy for me after living in Chelsea," says the woman who shepherded the Wu-Tang Clan to platinum-record status, worked with Beyoncé, cofounded "The Flavor," Seattle's first hip-hop magazine published by a woman, and now markets Microsoft's Xbox Video.
With ample room out back, their home is also a little bit country. There's a large garden, compost bins, Hansen's beehives (he's on the board of the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association), an outdoor run for Harvey and Chunk, the family Holland lops, and running room for Pomeranians Logan and Biggie.
"I think it's great," says the farm-raised Hansen of his newfound love of contemporary living.
"I look at houses and see things that cost three times as much, and I don't think they're as good as our house," Pember says. "It's so awesome. You can't ask for more than this."
Rebecca Teagarden writes about design and architecture for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.