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Originally published Friday, May 31, 2013 at 12:30 PM

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An airy, economical home for a modern Seattle family

The couple built a contemporary home because, "there are not a lot of modern houses in Seattle" to buy for less than $1 million, the homeowner says.

Pacific NW associate editor

WE'RE BARELY into the kitchen when Anton says, "Come, you've got to see this," and bounds up the stairs.

Out on the rooftop deck of his family's home, he says simply, "It's my favorite spot."

No. Wonder. Here is a lazy susan of views: Mount Rainier and the Cascades, Lake Washington from Renton to Kirkland, around to the Olympics and the sparkling high-rises of downtown Seattle, and back all over again, 360 degrees.

"It's where I have my tea in the morning," he says.

Back downstairs the teapot's on. But the kids are up, and there is much to do.

Anton Andrews and his wife, Kata Kekedi, have lived in their contemporary stacked-box home a few blocks east of Garfield High School for a little more than a year. A home they built because "there are not a lot of modern houses in Seattle," Andrews says. "Everything we saw that we liked was $1 million and up."

But the couple needed more space for work; both are designers, he in high-tech and she in fashion. And for play; they have two young children, Aziza, 3 ½, and Aydin, 1 ½). Being designers, they knew what they wanted: a budget-minded, efficient place, light, open, friendly, green-built. A job they assigned to architect Ryan Stephenson of Elemental Design.

"I got pregnant just when we started to build, and our plan was to move in before Aziza was born," Kata says. "Our deadline was nine months," says Anton. "We only missed it by three months."

What most amazes Anton and Kata about their home was how easy it was to design. They are not rookies, having renovated a previous home in Rotterdam.

"We very quickly settled on a design," Andrews says of their 2,000-square-foot home that goes like this at the front door: his office, three bedrooms; up the blackened-steel stairs to the living-dining-kitchen, her office; one more up, the 275-square-foot, all-seeing deck. Out back, a protected play space for the kids.

""We thought, OK, we are designers. We will take the lead," Kata says. "When Ryan came back with his design we thought, let's throw ours out."

Always thinking of budget, that design incorporated much from Ikea. "When we remodeled in Rotterdam we figured out how to use Ikea so it doesn't look like Ikea," Anton says. "We built the house around Ikea. If you know the sizes, it's easy."

The closet in the master bedroom, for instance, is an entire wall built in with the PAX cabinet system. The white enameled kitchen cabinets are also Ikea, the fronts used sideways.

Green elements include reusing the original foundation, radiant-heat oak floors, low/no VOC anything, locally harvested cedar siding and a green roof. Lightness is aided by the open stairwell, skylights, clerestories and large glass walls and sliders to the south. Stephenson even worked in the couple's wish for friendly, leaving the front steps of the old house at the curb, setting the house back from the street.

"We had a surprisingly positive response," Anton says. "When we were building, neighbors came by and introduced themselves."

Theirs is a neighborhood of all different kinds of people; folks from Australia, Japan, Thailand, Ethiopia, Canada. Anton is British and Kata is from Hungary. And now, it is also a neighborhood of all different kinds of houses.

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

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