wo years ago, Paul and Patricia Mitchell bought a house on Magnolia Boulevard, with a vast view of Elliott Bay, West Seattle and Bainbridge Island.
On the outside, it was almost a traditional Tudor mansion. On the inside, it was almost functional enough to handle the Mitchells' busy family.
But "almost" wasn't quite what the Mitchells had in mind.
"It was a 1920s house, and you could imagine what it was like here 70 or 80 years ago," recalls Patricia Mitchell. "I wanted to keep it feeling like that, but it didn't have the conveniences." She and her husband brought in AOME Architects of Seattle - principal Mark Anderson and designer Will Beilharz - and interior designer Pamela Pearce of Bellevue to help the house realize its potential.
Anderson found the exterior particularly lacking. It had the outlines and brickwork of a Tudor, but lacked a true Tudor's weight and detail.
"The house as we started was pretty barren," Anderson recalls. "We added Tudor details to give it the richness the style demands."
Half-timbers and bracing were added for texture, and stain was applied to all the masonry to give the facade a more unified appearance. Anderson now calls the house "a more authentic rendition" of Tudor styling than the original.
Two sinks, two ovens and two dishwashers mean more than one cook can fit in the kitchen. Still, Patricia Mitchell says, "When my husband cooks, he throws everyone else out of here."
A traditional look was exactly what the Mitchells wanted on the exterior, but on the interior they wanted 21st-century amenities.
To that end, the kitchen was completely overhauled to handle lots of cooking and entertaining. Two ovens (plus a warming oven), four burners, two grills and two dishwashers allow the Mitchells to throw big parties (a year ago, over the holidays, they hosted an open house for 250 people).
They also host informal get-togethers for friends of their three daughters, ages 11 to 16. An outdoor pool, sport court and fully equipped media room make the Mitchells' house a favorite hangout.
For the parents, there are two new offices over the garage, just a few steps from the family room. Paul, who works at Microsoft and serves as organist and music director at the Church of the Ascension, uses his office to transcribe music and pay bills; Patricia, also a musician, teaches piano in hers.
The house is also completely "wired." Every room has a single, unobtrusive, wall-mounted keypad that controls the room's lights, thermostat and built-in sound system. Michael Park, project manager with Heston Technical Inc. who oversaw the design and installation of the system, describes the media room in the basement: "You hit a start button and it drops the screen, the lights dim and a movie begins. A customized wireless touch screen replaces all the remotes most people have to start all that gear with."
The biggest addition to the house is the new family room, which includes a big, central "homework table" for the Mitchells' three daughters and a fireplace trimmed in Batchelder tile. The tile -ubiquitous in Magnolia-area homes of this period- was made in Fremont by Restoration Tile Center.
The house has networked computers and a commercial-grade telephone system. "There are about 10 phones and multiple lines," Park says, "and an intercom feature that allows you to call from room to room."
The room where the Mitchells seem to find themselves most often is the new family room. It's part of a two-story, 1,380-square-foot addition that connects the original house to the garage. The room is large and airy, with high ceilings and a floor that's dropped several steps below the adjacent kitchen.
The level change was necessary because the original house sits four feet higher than the garage. It turned out to be one of the most appealing features of the addition, providing a slight buffer between family room and kitchen without severing the visual connection.
"This is one of the fun aspects of remodel," says Anderson. "Sometimes the problems you're forced to deal with generate that unique solution that makes it a little special."
The addition also provided extra space upstairs to upgrade bedrooms and add a private bathroom for each one.
The Mitchells' initial plan was not nearly so ambitious. It involved spiffing up the exterior and adding a family room. But one thing quickly led to another, and before they knew it, they were going all the way.
"We ended up gutting the whole house," Patricia says. "(The builders) lived with us for the better part of a year." All the Mitchells were relieved to see them finish - all, that is, except Jack, the family's gregarious dog, who liked having constant company.
"Jack was really depressed when they stopped showing up," Patricia says.
The Mitchell residence and five nearby homes will be dressed for the holidays and open to the public for this year's Magnolia Holiday Tour of Homes, next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are available in advance for $20 at Around the Block Gifts and Interiors in Magnolia Village or on the day of the tour for $25 at Our Lady of Fatima Parish Social Center. Proceeds will be used by the Association for Catholic Childhood to support programs for children, youth and families in need. Information: 206-284-2407.