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Originally published Friday, May 24, 2013 at 11:45 AM

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Architect Jill Rerucha brings Enatai Midcentury into this century

She opened the home, originally designed by Paul Kirk, and made it comfortably contemporary.

Pacific NW associate editor

YOU NEVER forget your first.

And this sleek Enatai Midcentury, long and low, glowing from within, is exactly that for Terri Smith, who fell for her first home when she was 45.

"I don't know, I've always lived in apartments," she says. "I was really ready to move into a house, but everything was so expensive; it was those crazy bidding-war years (2006).

"Then Frank (Terri's husband) went fishing, and I found it. I thought, what if I put in a bid and I lowball it?"

You know the rest: Frank came home, the ball bounced around, and here we are seated in the living room, the morning sun flirting with vibrant myrtlewood floors, toasting the massive blackened-steel fireplace wall that is now the only bit of separation in the main living space.

"It had a good feel to it," Terri says of the first house to win her heart.

But that was about all it had. That and the pedigree of Paul Kirk design. Oh, and an east window wall. Otherwise this 1958 Midcentury had been all used up by both the years and those who had gone before. The kitchen was closed off, the bedrooms small with no closet space or storage. Street focus was on the carport, which was also the home's entry court.

"We pulled five roofs off the sagging joists," Frank says. "You could actually see the relief when we removed them."

But that was then. It has a much better feel now.

"We started by gutting it and rearranging the rooms, opening it," Terri says. And by calling in a friend since preschool, architect Jill Rerucha of ReruchaStudio.

"Where Jill and I grew up, in Chevy Chase (Bellevue), it had that Midcentury kind of feeling," Terri says. "Our house was a low-slung rambler with big windows and an Asian feel, teak kitchen cabinets and a big floating basalt fireplace. My dad built that house."

Here there are teak-veneer cabinets, teak window casings, and that steel fireplace wall. The front door, moved away from the now-enclosed garage, is a big, heavy thing (almost 7 feet tall) encased in steel and pivoting open. Three bedrooms, 1 ½ bathrooms and 1,820 square feet are now two bedrooms, two baths in 2,060 square feet.

For Frank there is a wine room just off the kitchen and space for lots of art: pieces from Chihuly's bowls series; "Whopper Vase," a neon-bright and big Dante Marioni glass vessel; an encaustic by Catherine Skinner; glass vessels by Tobias Mohl; paintings by Tom Lieber.

The master has become a true suite. An alcove wall providing even more spots for art, and separation from the bathroom and walk-in closet. Outside is a private concrete terrace lined with bamboo plants that whisper in the wind, clumps of black mondo grass at their feet like slippers.

Terri's real-estate crush has now deepened. She runs her hand along the cast-concrete sink in the powder room, does the same along the white-resin kitchen backsplash: "What I love are the clean, simple lines, and the light, and that our home is not too busy; that's Jill," she says.

Now theirs is the house where strangers knock on the door to report, "I love this house!"

It sounds like they are home forever. But wait. There could be more.

"Now that I've gone through a remodel of my first house," Terri says, "I think the next time ... "

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

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