A con­sid­er­ately re­mod­eled home in­vites in the holi­days

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Real Estate - By Sandy De­neau Dunham

Gotta hand it to change: It cer­tainly is tena­cious. Con­cen­trated in our chaotic crane cap­i­tal down­town, it stretches trans­for­ma­tive ten­ta­cles west­ward, uphill, all the way to the penin­sula burg of Mag­no­lia, where even sturdy bricks on en­dur­ing homes can’t com­pletely re­pel it.

Mag­no­lians, how­ever, cer­tainly can soften its grip.

So when the Liv­ingston fam­ily up­dated its own en­dur­ing home with a re­model/sec­ond-floor ad­di­tion that hon­ors its his­tory rather than wrecks it, it is cause for neigh­borly cel­e­bra­tion — kind of like the holi­days them­selves.

Fit­ting then, that the Liv­ingstons’ re­spect­fully big­ger, and still brick-heavy, home will open to an ap­pre­cia­tive pub­lic on Dec. 1.

“To me, this home re­ally de­picts much of what Mag­no­lia is about: tak­ing the not per­fect and get­ting it just right for your fam­ily,” says Karen O’Don­nell.

The Liv­ingstons — Jen­nifer and Steve, plus sons Owen, 11, and Grif­fin, 14 (and good-dog Ge­or­gia) — lived with im­per­fec­tion for a while, un­til the ba­sics of liv­ing started to feel a lit­tle cramped.

“In this part of Mag­no­lia, Carl­ton Park, a lot of th­ese homes were all built by the same builder in the 1940s. They’re al­most ex­actly the same, for sol­diers’ fam­i­lies at Fort Law­ton,” says Jen­nifer. “In the orig­i­nal house, there were just two bed­rooms. The boys were get­ting older and need­ing more space, and I was tired of shar­ing a bath­room with two pre­teen boys. We just had the one bath­room. The kitchen was a typ­i­cal 1940s gal­ley kitchen.”

“It wasn’t the small­est kitchen in Mag­no­lia, but it was close,” says as­so­ciate ar­chi­tect John Geurts of McNelis Ar­chi­tects, who started the phased per­fect­ing project in 2011 by bump­ing that room out 5 feet and “adding win­dows on the front and back to en­joy the yard and fo­cus the view and con­nec­tion.”

Phase One left such a beau­ti­ful im­pact, it ex­tended all the way to the gro­cery store as Phase Two came into view.

“Re­al­is­ti­cally, we love our spot and our prox­im­ity to the vil­lage,” says Jen­nifer. “It was just Steve and I want­ing our own space — a mas­ter and bonus room, a nice deck. We just knew we wanted to stay in our house. Eighty per­cent of the house was just how we wanted it, and cost­wise, it made more sense. From work­ing with John in the kitchen, we knew we wanted to re­hire him.”

“Jen­nifer had been talk- ing about dou­bling the size, adding up,” says Geurts. “It had been a clas­sic 1940s Mag­no­lia home: sim­ple old Seat­tle brick, one story, one bath­room. It was in the check­out line at Fred Meyer that we got the cal­en­dars out.”

(“What’s on your list to­day?” Jen­nifer asks. “Architecture.”)

From there, Geurts says, “Steve said, kind of the guid­ing no­tion, that he wanted the house to look like a house and not one orig­i­nal and one added on. He re­ally wanted a fin­ished house that looked like it was in­tended to be two sto­ries tall and did not look like a sec­ond floor parked on top of a dif­fer­ent house


— not some­thing that con­sumed the old house and left an un­sa­vory taste in your mouth.”

Turns out, “The en­tire sec­ond floor was added on top of a build­ing never in­tended to have a sec­ond floor,” says Geurts. “It was a pretty com­pli­cated en­gi­neer­ing ef­fort.”

And a pretty pay­off: about 1,500 square feet of new space up­stairs, and a lot more space for the boys down at the other end of the new stair­case.

“The sec­ond floor is de­signed to take ad­van­tage of the view,” Geurts says. “There’s a se­ries of ma­neu­vers in [Jen­nifer and Steve’s new] bed­room: The bay win­dow morphs out of an­other bay win­dow to get the down­town view, plus gives them their own pri­vate bath­room; a walk-in closet; and, re­ally im­por­tantly, an up­stairs fam­ily room that opens out to an ex­te­rior deck, with a small wet bar and a very large TV. All four are sports freaks, so the sec­ond floor also is con­ceived as a place to host friends, fam­ily and neigh­bors for games.”

Says Jen­nifer: “We could’ve used a lot more space, but we didn’t want to do that. We wanted it to look like it was [al­ways] here.”

It does. This is gen­tle change — the kind that leaves a taste in your mouth as smooth as a hol­i­day-home-tour cookie.

“It was con­ceived with as great a de­gree of care as the orig­i­nal house,” says Geurts. “The ef­fort was to be a good neigh­bor and show the neigh­bors on the street we’re very concerned, that it could be done in a nice, thought­ful way.”

Mike Siegel/Seat­tle Times/TNS

The new sec­ond floor mas­ter bath­room fea­tures a tub at one end and a sep­a­rate shower room at the other. “When we found this tile, that de­cided the whole bath­room,” says home­owner Jen­nifer Liv­ingston. “It’s around the tub and the shower wall. [As­so­ciate ar­chi­tect] John [Geurts] sug­gested the quartz coun­ter­top. We have gran­ite on the kitchen is­land.”

Mike Siegel/Seat­tle Times/TNS

Work­ing with as­so­ciate ar­chi­tect John Geurts of McNelis Ar­chi­tects and Bob Boustead of TigerCat Con­trac­tor Ser­vices, Jen­nifer and Steve Liv­ingston added a sec­ond floor to their 1940s- era brick home, in­te­grat­ing the re­model to fit into their Mag­no­lia neigh­bor­hood. “There were some in­tri­cate pieces of en­gi­neer­ing,” says Geurts.

Mike Siegel/Seat­tle Times/TNS

Ge­or­gia the dog strolls across the back deck off the kitchen, part of the ini­tial re­model by as­so­ciate ar­chi­tect John Geurts. “We added blue­stone and built bench seat­ing,” says home­owner Jen­nifer Liv­ingston. “It had been a ce­ment wall.”

Mike Siegel/Seat­tle Times/TNS

The Liv­ingstons’s kitchen, re­mod­eled and en­larged seven years ago, spills out onto the new back deck be­hind Ge­or­gia, the fam­ily dog. “We re­ally wanted to make this con­nec­tion with the deck at the same level,” says as­so­ciate ar­chi­tect John Geurts. “It’s a ter­rific yard.”

Mike Siegel/Seat­tle Times/TNS

For the Mag­no­lia Hol­i­day Home Tour on Dec. 1, says Jen­nifer Liv­ingston, “We al­ways have a live tree in the liv­ing room cor­ner, a Nutcracker ta­ble, a Christ­mas vil­lage on the bureau and green­ery on the man­tel.” The whole house, in­clud­ing the new up­per floor, will be open dur­ing the tour.

Mike Siegel/Seat­tle Times/TNS

The new sec­ond floor deck off the new fam­ily room over­looks the back­yard. “Most of the time, we just have one door open,” says home­owner Jen­nifer Liv­ingston. “When we’re en­ter­tain­ing, we open the whole wall. [There’s] a lovely view of Mount Rainier and the Space Nee­dle. And for a Mariners game, we’ll pull a stool out; peo­ple are in and out. We love this bonus space.”

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