The outdoor livin’ just got easier
Seattle home now has hangout space for kids, grown-ups and chickens, too.
Pacific NW associate editor
ONE NEVER knows about the success of a remodel until it is put to the test. And there’s no test quite like the unleashing of a pack of 10-year-olds.
“I’m in a book group with my son, and we had it here,” says Catherine. “We met in the rec room and then the kids ran around. It was great.”
Catherine and her family have lived in their stately Seattle waterfront Tudor for 15 years. But it was only in the past few, with the boys no longer little, that the house, yard and lake felt like separate states in the same nation. Or as Catherine says, “We had no hangout place.”
So the family called Conard Romano Architects to get one or two. “The two main goals were to create fun places for teens and grown-ups to hang out, and to optimize indoor-outdoor living,” Catherine says. Their previous remodel with the firm, the addition of a mudroom, was a major success: “With two little boys we really needed a mudroom. And, boy, that’s really become the heart of our home!”
This time the architects, under principal Jim Romano, landscape architect Randy Allworth and built by Charter Construction, turned a dark, velvet-laden media room into a good-old (air hockey, Wii, X-box, movies, video-arcade game), light-filled (foldaway glass doors) rec room, complete with a small refrigerator, dishwasher, sink and cabinetry for the San Pellegrino and Jones sodas, glasses, dishware. The large painting here was an inspiration of interior designer Doug Rasar: He gave Catherine’s two sons, 14 and 10, paint and let them fill a canvas in the gray, brown, apricot and nautical blue that match the room. Just outside is a newly made logia: a dining space with a barbecue and a sink set into a granite counter. Here also is a golden-warm marble dining table and banquette done in slate blue upholstery and leather, each of those picking up the colors of the bluestone tile floor.
But 37 steps down to the backyard is the tie that binds: a spacious, green-roofed terrace tucked between two substantial cedar arbors resting upon sturdy brick pillars (each with its own chandelier and glass-topped to protect lights and speakers). Beautiful and functional, nothing precious.
“This is for fooseball and s’mores,” is Catherine’s introduction.
Here also is another dining table (for eight), a small fridge, sink and half-bath. Also a front-and-center gas firepit with teak living-room-type seating and a bench refashioned into a porch swing (all from Restoration Hardware).
Beyond all of this, lawn for romping (the family Labradoodle demonstrates by playing keep-away with his master’s flip-flop), badminton and croquet; and lake for paddleboarding, boating and tubing. To the south is a formal garden; estate rhodies, towering birches, hostas and boxwood all in a row. To the north a chicken coop, vegetable beds, blueberry bushes and fruit trees. “My husband drew the line at goats. ‘No goats,’ he said,” the city-farmer in Catherine reports.
Now there are places to sit, play, read, visit, eat, take coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening.
“It was like an epiphany,” Catherine says. “I feel like our living space has tripled.
“So many people have kids, and we live in a rainy climate, and you want to figure out how to best use your space.
“Now all we need is the sun.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.