Although the building boom of the past two decades captures all the media attention these days, we're also more quietly contending with the results of earlier ones. So many undistinguished houses of the '50s, '60s, and '70s tarnish the beautiful sites they occupy. So much ill-advised home building to be undone and redone. Such was the case with this house in Kirkland, Wash. It was a classic example of wasted potential, until the current owners came along -- and hired architect Ben Trogdon.

Trogdon's biggest challenge was deciding where to begin. Ultimately, he chose to start with the view. It's a panoramic one -- of Lake Washington, the Seattle skyline, and the Olympic Mountains. Other priorities for the homeowners were a more spacious and efficient kitchen, more natural light, and a better connection with the outdoors.

"It was a brick-veneer, one-story home with a simple layout," says the principal of Ben Trogdon Architects in Seattle. "The kitchen was remotely located in its own room, so you needed to walk through a 3-foot-wide doorway from the living/dining room. There was no visual or spatial connection."

High Drama

The clients, two Microsoft employees, cook, entertain often, and plan to start a family, so a beautiful, serviceable kitchen was a must. Keeping the northern exterior walls, Trogdon orchestrated a massive overhaul and expansion that projected east, west, and south. "There is nothing at all left of the existing kitchen or bath," he says. "What we did was pretty dramatic."

Trogdon and his team completely reworked the interior and pushed the kitchen to the south, which linked it to a terrace. "There's a window that looks right out onto the terrace, so if you wanted to serve something through the windows, you could," the architect says.

The former kitchen became the new dining room, which has direct visual and physical access to the new kitchen and living room. Because the new kitchen's materials had to relate to adjacent spaces, selections were especially important. "We were looking for continuity," Trogdon says. "We wanted to feel like the kitchen was an extension of the main living space. We didn't want to create something that was autonomous or separate." He'd used Douglas fir laminated beams and posts throughout the house, so he carried that over to the kitchen cabinetry. He speced slate tiles with a stainless steel band for the countertop; for the floor, he chose a grainy Number 3 maple to give the expansive space some added texture.

Project Details
Location: Kirkland, Wash.General contractor: Truppi's Finer Homes, Seattle Architect: Ben Trogdon Architects, Seattle Project size before remodeling: 2,650 square feet Project size after remodeling: 4,965 square feet Construction cost: $125 per square foot


For the master bath, the clients wanted a shower with locker-room functionality. "They asked for something spacious and comfortable with lots of light," says Trogdon. Thus, a freestanding tiled wall with a frosted-glass partition defines the doorless shower, leaving everything completely open all the way to the roof timbers. "We went to great lengths to design the roof so that it looks as if it were dropped down over the volume," Trogdon says. A string of south-facing clerestory windows filters in natural light, and a slate floor and ceramic tiles tie the space together.

The architect also remodeled up, adding a second level that contains three bedrooms and two full baths. The finished project nearly doubled the size of the original, but the improvement is incalculable. The clients now have a home that suits their lot and their lifestyle and gives them the elbow room they need for the future.

--Nigel F. Maynard is a senior editor at residential architect and BUILDER magazines. This story originally appeared in residential architect.