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Originally published Friday, March 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM

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Magnolia home is urban contemporary and getaway cozy

Contractor Sean Meek and landscape architect Clare Ryan worked with the couple to bring out the best in this home originally designed by George Suyama.

Pacific NW associate editor

SURE, IT LOOKS great and all. Sophisticated and new, comfy Northwest-contemporary chest out toward Puget Sound and planted along one of Seattle's dreamy Olmstead boulevards, this one a ribbon around Magnolia.

But this house is hardworking. It's doing the job of two residences at once.

"We moved here from Manhattan," Peter says. "We had an apartment in the city and a house in East Hampton. And a two-hour commute between.

"When we found this we thought, we have the best of both right here: We're on the water and we're in the city."

The evidence is out every window; mountains and skyscrapers, bike paths and freeways, freighters and sailboats.

Sold.

Then the work began.

Peter and Jay, who came here for work in 2007, got themselves a house of possibility. Designed by architect George Suyama in 1977, it had great bones. And textured walls. Asian-inspired windows. And orange carpeting. Beautifully honed beams. And tired parquet floors. "The kitchen was 'That '70s Kitchen,' " Jay says.

Like that.

They took it down to the studs.

"We interpreted Suyama's work to keep it consistent with his original work," Peter says. Overhead are those original dark-stained beams. They are now also revealed in the kitchen. The Asian-inspired pattern on the one original window that remains (in the master bedroom) has been repeated in the front door and in a window at the two-story entry foyer.

"We kept repeating light and dark, light and dark throughout the house," Peter says.

They've done this kind of thing before. Previous homes ranged from island comfy to a penthouse done in not-a-tschotcke-in-sight-stark-white contemporary.

When they moved to Seattle they knew just what they wanted from their home, now 4,200 square feet with three bedrooms and 3 ½ baths, and outdoor spaces that encourage lingering as often as possible (with infrared heaters to aid that effort).

"We have this thing about contemporary, but it has to be livable," Peter says.

"When we did the penthouse, that's when we realized contemporary can be too hard and too sterile," Jay says.

"We like to come home and crash at the end of the day," Peter says. "And our table's full almost every weekend."

There are plenty of places to do just that. Sofas are comfortable, upstairs in the living room, downstairs in the media room and outdoors under the heat lamps. Every cabinet in the home was made from a single sapele tree. Bathrooms are luscious and consistent with doe-colored limestone floors, walls and counters.

The remodel, with contractor Sean Meek, then of Logan's Hammer Building & Renovation, and landscape architect Clare Ryan, of Shapiro Ryan Design, went well. Really well. Better than most. Peter enjoyed working with Meek so much that after their project was finished he became chief operating officer of Logan's Hammer.

"I spent a couple of months helping Sean deal with the change in the economy, to help them weather the storm, and then we started partnering up. I'm analytical and financial. He's more building and marketing."

And now that roots are down into Northwest soil, home is a place of ease and comfort and time enjoyed not commuting to the weekend place.

As Peter says, "Why would we want a house up in the islands when we have that here?"

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

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