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WRITTEN BY LAWRENCE KREISMAN
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MIKE SIEGEL
You Can Go Home Again
In some family traditions, children lived with their parents until they got married, and perhaps even afterward. The family home was passed down and each generation did something to it that reflected domestic improvements, personal interests and the influence of spouses. That doesn't happen much anymore. Children usually want to get away from the old neighborhood, make their own marks and shape their living spaces from scratch.
For Rick Borish, who never strayed far from the old Magnolia neighborhood where he grew up, moving back into his parents' home last year "was difficult," he says. "I had mixed feelings."
The English-brick residence in Carlton Park was designed by Fred J. Rogers and completed in 1932 for Mrs. Jacqueline Beadow. The 3,500-square-foot home was later purchased by the Weisfield family, the local jewelry-store owners. Borish's parents, Robert and Helen, bought it in late 1961. They added a swimming pool to the grounds, and Rick has pleasant childhood memories of summer days at the pool, and later of teaching his daughters to swim there.
His mother died in 1997 and his father decided to move to a smaller home nearby. Rick, his wife, Penny, and their daughters moved in immediately with the idea of doing some cosmetic remodeling to make it their own.
The couple hadn't anticipated how much work there would be. Sloping floors required underpinning, which meant, in turn, installing new flooring, repairing cracked plaster and making ceiling adjustments. Along the way, they also decided to replace windows and raise the ceilings of top-floor rooms into attic space to create airy bedrooms. That's when they decided they needed an architect.
"We spent more and more time arguing with each other," Penny recalls. "We were trying to figure out the bedroom. It was gutted. We would come at night and measure it out ourselves and try to come up with plans. The contractor finally said, 'You'd better get an architect.' He had been wishing we would all along." They agreed and contacted Lydia Aldredge last January for what would be a 10-month makeover.
Aldredge approached the remodel with respect for the limitations of the house and an appreciation for its positive elements. "She led us to solving problems by trying to update the house and get what we wanted, at the same time maintaining its integrity," Penny says.
Without making substantial additions, clients and architect increased connections to the outside by replacing a living-room window with French doors to an expanded deck off the breakfast room. The basement "rec room" benefited from the same door treatment, once it had been stripped of its dated knotty pine walls, to become a media center and casual living area adjoining the pool. On the second floor, the master-bedroom window was enlarged to take full advantage of its panoramic view of Puget Sound. They also added lighting, closets and built-in storage.
The walls of the rooms are colorful - from the lemon yellow of the main and basement halls to the apricots and greens of the children's bedrooms upstairs - and that is Penny's influence. She loves bright colors, as evidenced in her interest in folk art from Mexico, Guatemala and Paraguay.
"I like the loudest and splashiest things," she says. "My taste is not very refined and Rick likes a really quiet and sophisticated palette. It's an interesting combination."
"We usually find things that we both like," Rick adds, "but it takes us time to do it."
They did find common ground as they commissioned artisans during the remodel. People are generally nervous about commissioning something rather than buying "off the shelf," but the Borishes say they had a very positive experience.
Aldredge involved metal and glass artists to do a new deck railing and new lighting fixtures - a carryover from her years of experience doing public-art projects. She has an appreciation of "what architecture used to be like - when there was a relationship between the architect and the artisan. There was a running dialog to develop it and the immense pride and knowledge that the artisan had to create that vision."
The architect's railing drawings were based on the spiral stair railing in the home's foyer. Hennick showed her and the homeowners samples of twisted bars of various sizes and decorative details.
"We had a conversation about what my expectations were and I told him what I didn't like," Rick says. "Don made a sample panel - a mock-up - so that I would be comfortable. He invited me to come to the studio and see what he was putting together. He was terrific."
An equally positive experience awaited them with glass artist Thomas Stempel, who works out of the Fremont Foundry. Because of his access to metal resources, he was also able to create the bases for his blown-glass lighting fixtures.
"He takes pride in his color combinations," Penny says. "We chose the basic colors from samples, and he told us there were no guarantees - that they would be in the range and have these hues." The couple was invited to the studio and watched him blow one of the fixtures.
Everyone had strong opinions about the metal finishes for the fixtures, and rather than insist they go along with his suggestion of patinated bronze, Penny recalls, "Tom showed us what it would look like if we did it our way and it convinced us to go along with his recommendation."
Rick is delighted with the results. "They made the effort to make us happy. They went beyond the money." That included the tile selection and setting of Craig and Katharine Norberg and at Norberry Tile. They spent hours picking patterns and doing layouts that would not conflict with the integrity of the house.
Aldredge sums up: "My best idea of a project is where the owner, artisan and myself are all complementing each other, and none of us lays claim individually. It came out of us together because we all built it together."
Lawrence Kreisman is program director for Historic Seattle and director of "Viewpoints," the tour program of the Seattle Architectural Foundation.
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