The house was in bad shape. But it was on a lake in Seattle.

Finding a home that feels good isn’t easy. Sometimes, as Jeremy and Jen Lewis discovered while looking for a place in Seattle, it can take years.

The couple, who had been working in finance in New York, moved to the West Coast in 2006 with their children – Ben, now 24, Sarah, 22, and Margaret, 19 – after Ms. Lewis quit his job and Mr. Lewis accepted an offer to help build a Seattle-based video game company.

“We wanted to go and explore a new part of the world with our family,” said Mr. Lewis, 53, said.

At first, they moved to Bainbridge Island, attracted by its lush beauty and short ferry ride to Seattle. The scenery was stunning, but Mr. Lewis quickly discovered that commuting to work required more time than expected. After a couple of years, they started renting homes in the city and looking for a place to buy.

It was easier said than done. After four years of renting, “we were still looking for a special home and property that was more permanent and gave us a sense of place,” Ms. Lewis, 53, said.

When their lease was about to expire, the couple decided to buy a house in nearby Bellevue as a stopgap solution. “It was the best option at the time,” said Ms. Lewis said.

It wasn’t until 2016 that they found a place that captured their imagination: a 5,400-square-foot home on an extra-wide lot in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood. The house, which faced Lake Washington, had been built in 1950 and had been partially updated over the years, but it still needed a complete overhaul.

“It had not been reformed for many years. It had knob and electric tube; It had a cut plant,” Ms. Lewis said.

But it also had good bones worth keeping and features they hadn’t found anywhere else. “The view is wide,” he said. “You can see Mount Rainier.”

The property also had direct access to the water, and the Lewises weren’t the only ones to see the appeal of that. With a listing price of $4.75 million, the property drew multiple offers. The couple eventually won the bidding war with an offer of $5.8 million and closed in July 2016.

Then they called Prentis Hale, a high school friend of Mr. Lewis and the principal architect at the Seattle firm Shed Architecture and Design, who shared their enthusiasm for the site. “It’s a beautiful property that’s hard not to like,” said Mr. Hale said. “But the house had a lot of deferred maintenance. It needed a lot of work.”

Many people would have torn it down and built something bigger, but the Lewises wanted to work with what was already there. Mr. Hale developed a plan to transform the house inside and out while leaving the original structure mostly intact.

To get the family into the house as soon as possible, he divided the work into two phases: The first would be a renovation of the interior; the second would be a transformation of the exterior, with a new outbuilding and landscaping to tie everything together.

In the first phase, the walls between the kitchen, living room, dining room and sunroom were removed to create a free-flowing space with the casual sense of togetherness that the Lewises envisioned. Upstairs, six uncomfortable rooms were reconfigured into four generous ones. Downstairs, the basement media room was remodeled.

Throughout, the Lewises chose materials they wouldn’t have to worry about, while aiming to add a touch of Japanese wabi-sabi, which they had admired on a trip to Kyoto years earlier. “We wanted it to be practical,” said Ms. Lewis said. “You might be coming from the wet lake, so we wanted to embrace that idea of ​​using the house in a comfortable way, where nothing was too precious.”

That line of thinking is common in the area, noted the couple’s interior designer, Jennie Gruss. “In the Northwest, people want their spaces to be beautiful but very functional and durable,” he said. “But on top of that, they wanted that layer of serenity.”

The furnishings he used included a pair of living room sofas upholstered in inside-out fabric that looks and feels like white linen but resists moisture and stains, and a pair of vintage Jindrich Halabala chairs which already had worn wooden arms.

The family moved into the house after the first phase was completed in September 2017, in time to enjoy it before their oldest son left for college. They came out again in June 2018 and the second phase began. This time, its contractor, Whelbilt Homes, updated the exterior of the house, replacing old windows with new high-performance ones and clad the structure with shou-sugi-ban charred wood cladding on the upper floor and white bricks slender at the bottom. . floor

Next to the house, they built an 1,100-square-foot outbuilding with a street-level garage and guest suite, and an outdoor shower and paddleboard storage space below. (Mr. Lewis is a rowing enthusiast who has competed in long-distance races.)

The new landscaping, designed by landscape architecture firm Alchemie and implemented by Ohashi Landscape Services, joins the two structures together with huckleberry basalt boulders, forest grasses and Japanese black pine (including some that were 70 years old), to create a immediate sense of maturity The landscaping also includes spaces for a J & K Cedarworks hot tub, a fireplace, and a grassy area where the family dog, Luigi, can run.

Construction was completed a year later in June 2019. In total, the project cost about $500 per square foot.

When his youngest son left for college earlier this year, Mr. and Ms. Lewis became empty nesters. But the house they built is still the family’s main meeting point. “It’s a really lovely place to be,” said Mr. Lewis said. “We live both outside and inside, exercising or just sitting by the fire and telling a good story.”

“Or,” Ms. Lewis added, “sitting in the hot tub on a rainy day.”

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