Zen Meets Mid­cen­tury

The hus­tle and bus­tle of Seat­tle is far away in a 1958 home that qui­etly nods to Ja­panese de­sign.

Atomic Ranch - - Contents - By Shelby Deer­ing Pho­tog­ra­phy by Matthew Gal­lant

A peace­ful, Bo­hemian feel­ing im­bues a 1958 John Bur­rows-built home, show­cas­ing a blend of Ja­panese and mod­ernist in­flu­ences.

that flow along­side her 1958 John Bur­rows-built home en­cir­cled by tall pines. She had pre­vi­ously dreamed of own­ing a Bur­rows home, and couldn’t be­lieve her luck when she hap­pened upon one that was in her price range and just a short dis­tance from Seat­tle.

“As soon as we stepped foot in­side this house, we were over­taken by the warm and open aes­thetic,” Au­drey says.

Ev­ery day, Au­drey Mcgill hears the bub­bling of the creeks and wa­ter­falls

She ex­plains that Bur­rows built about 35 homes in North­east Seat­tle, en­deav­or­ing to con­struct mod­ern dwellings on heav­ily-forested lots that many con­sid­ered too dif­fi­cult to build on. The gam­ble was worth it, re­sult­ing in homes that are not only mod­ern, even by to­day’s stan­dards, but also em­brace their nat­u­ral sur­round­ings.

Shar­ing her home with hus­band Kevin and chil­dren Ai­dan and Evan, Au­drey, a free­lance writer, has cre­ated spa­ces that are peace­ful, bo­hemian and true to the mid­cen­tury era, in equal parts. She and her hus­band, both avid Diy-ers, saw an op­por­tu­nity to re­fresh the 2,240-square­foot home and make it their own as soon as they moved in.

In­spired by “the sim­plic­ity of Ja­panese and Scan­di­na­vian de­sign,” as Au­drey says, the two sought to keep the orig­i­nal in­tegrity of the home while el­e­vat­ing it to to­day’s stan­dards. First, the cou­ple de­signed and built new up­per and lower decks, fit­ted with hor­i­zon­tal slats that al­lowed for clear views of the prop­erty. The ex­te­rior was painted black to pay homage to the Ja­panese wood preser­va­tion tech­nique of char­ring wood, called Shou Sugi Ban.

Then it came time to up­date the in­te­rior. “We waited a year to see how we used the space be­fore mak­ing any de­sign de­ci­sions,” Au­drey says. The cou­ple ren­o­vated the kitchen, striv­ing for a clean, min­i­mal look through

IKEA cab­i­netry and pure white quartz coun­ter­tops which she says, “re­flect light on our gray Seat­tle days.”

The back­yard re­ceived a makeover through a per­gola that ties into the home’s aes­thetic and by in­cor­po­rat­ing beau­ti­ful plant­ings, such as North­west ferns, azaleas and rhododendrons. The laun­dry room and bath­rooms were mod­ern­ized as well.

Ja­panese de­sign is rep­re­sented in the home’s clean lines and min­i­mal aes­thetic, but the East­ern in­flu­ences truly shine out­doors. Kevin, a bon­sai en­thu­si­ast, has a space in the back­yard where he cares for the diminu­tive plants, a look that spills over into the land­scap­ing through­out the prop­erty.

Au­drey says, “Dur­ing the 1950’s and af­ter World War II, Ja­panese cul­ture and de­sign be­came en vogue in the Amer­i­can main­stream, and de­sign­ers be­gan to ex­plore the Ja­panese aes­thetic and the con­cept of Zen. We think Ja­panese style mir­rors the Mid­cen­tury Mod­ern style of our home quite well.”

As for those mid­cen­tury de­tails, the cedar post and beam ceil­ings—the very ones that first de­lighted Au­drey when she walked into the home—were kept through­out the ren­o­va­tion process. The brick fire­place is an­other mid­cen­tury

JA­PANESE DE­SIGN is rep­re­sented in the home’s clean lines and min­i­mal aes­thetic

el­e­ment that adds char­ac­ter and also hap­pens to fea­ture a hi­bachi grill. The oak floors were restained, re­turn­ing them to their for­mer glory.

Au­drey, who dis­cov­ers much of her dé­cor through Craigslist, Tar­get and Re­vivals re­sale shops in Palm Springs, was first drawn to mid­cen­tury de­sign through a sur­pris­ing source— The­brady­bunch. “The­brady­bunch is the first TV show that I re­mem­ber lov­ing, and I guess it shaped my style to­day,” she says.

Au­drey shares, “Be­cause we’ve done al­most all of the work our­selves over the past four years, our house now truly feels like a re­flec­tion of us. We feel so grate­ful and proud that we are blessed in own­ing a Bur­rows home.”

BE­LOW IS SWATHED RIGHT: IN THE LIGHT LIV­ING WOOD ROOM FIN­ISHES, IN­CLUD­ING MOD BAM­BOO PENDANTS FROM JONATHAN ADLER, A VIN­TAGE TEAK COF­FEE TABLE THAT WAS A GIFT FROM A FRIEND AND A DAN­ISH RECORD CAB­I­NET WHICH AU­DREY SAYS WAS A GOOD­WILL SCORE. THE BRASS TREE SCULP­TURE ABOVE THE FIRE­PLACE WAS MADE BY NONE OTHER THAN FAMED MID­CEN­TURY ARTIST CUR­TIS JERE.

RIGHT: OF THE MUCH HOME OF WAS THE MAIN­TAINED IN­TEGRITY THROUGH REN­O­VA­TIONS, AND IT CAN BE ES­PE­CIALLY WIT­NESSED IN THE LIV­ING ROOM. CEDAR POSTS AND BEAMS HAVE STAYED IN PLACE SINCE 1958, AND THE WOOD FLOORS ARE ORIG­I­NAL AS WELL. “WE RE­FIN­ISHED THEM WITH A SWEDISH FIN­ISH UPON MOV­ING IN,” AU­DREY SAYS.

THE DIN­ING AREA CON­TAINS SUB­TLE MID­CEN­TURY NODS, LIKE THE TABLE AND CHAIRS FEA­TUR­ING SLEEK LINES AND LIGHT WOODS. A VIN­TAGE DAN­ISH HUTCH, REN­DERED IN TEAK, WAS DIS­COV­ERED AT A THRIFT STORE AND FIT­TINGLY HOUSES UP­CY­CLED FINDS.

ABOVE RIGHT: A CLAS­SIC BATH­ROOM LOOKS CLEAN AND POL­ISHED WITH MATTE GRAY CE­RAMIC FLOOR TILE, A STOR­AGE STOOL, IKEA MEDICINE CAB­I­NET AND BRUTALIST WALL ART.

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