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Mid-Century Remodel

A time capsule left virtually untouched since the ‘50s with floral wallpaper and bright green cabinets, the house became the perfect fixer upper for a designer couple making their big move from New York City to Seattle. The basic nature of the design being a remodel of an existing space rather than the construction of an entirely new structure allowed for one to experience and live in the space--discovering what works and what doesn’t work--which, in turn, gave the designers a good basis for a more specific and catered design. Taking cues from their own practice, a connection to craft was of utmost importance. Thus, building the kitchen themselves became the only option. Save for the outsourcing of some key elements such as the concrete countertops, the kitchen was entirely custom-made. Over the course of three years, ideas kept flowing and poignant discoveries were made which fostered the formation of a statement-making piece--brought to life through oftentimes small and subtle changes. Amongst the elements changed was the lighting experience within the space, particularly the balance between the flooding, natural light and the then-lacking overhead lights which allow one to cook in the evening. This balance was achieved by dropping the ceiling just low enough below the beams so as to accommodate for the previously missing recessed lighting. This small move resulted in a redefinition of the space, making the open area from the kitchen to the living room feel bigger.

 

With an unobstructed view of both the front and back yards, only one full height wall remained for cabinet space. The design team responded by integrating a full height, built-in refrigerator accompanied by a pantry and shelving along the remaining wall. The connection between the living room and kitchen was reinforced by the choice of darker cabinets, making them feel like living room furniture coupled with custom pulls and hardware to add some visual jewelry to the room.
 

Open shelves further connect the kitchen to the living room as they extend across and align with the existing window mullion lines. These shelves provide space for storing functional glassware and dinnerware as well as objects too beautiful to be hidden away. The countertops are kept as clear as possible as the shelf above helps mitigate the clutter. The torched stainless-steel backsplash serves as the backdrop for the open shelving which hangs adjacent to the refrigerator, giving a bronze tonality to the environment while also preventing the panels from rusting. Every move is intentional, from the biggest gestures to the smallest details. Features such as corner pullouts, recessed receptacles, drawers built to the exact dimensions of a pair of oven mittens, and a hidden microwave give the design an intentionality much like storage efficiencies found in a sailboat.

 

In addition to the kitchen is a sidebar which features a concrete countertop and three custom pendant lamps which are made of linen and resin. The couples’ connection to craft is most articulated in the Belgian linen used to create the lights. The sidebar became a game-changer for the day-to-day flow of the family. From breakfast in the morning to the kids doing their homework in the evening, the bar aids in keeping the dining table clear and ready for family dinners. It is also the perfect place for a cocktail as the warmth of the custom pendants transform into spotlights for each guest at the bar.

 

The remodel captures the spirit of the couple’s own practice. It can most easily be likened to a traditional kitchen item: the cast iron skillet. It is a beautiful object; versatile, functional; it patinas over time, and only gets better with use. The hope for all the designs in their practice, especially in regard to this home, is that they are lived in and loved, serving tangible needs as well as emotional ones.

 

Architectural Team:

Kristen Becker

Saul Becker 


Photography:

Mutuus Studio

Location:

Burien, WA

Publications:

Dwell-July 2020

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