Initially, residential designer Mike Troyer’s clients called him to their Seattle home to check out a slow leak in an attic skylight. But during the walk-through, the couple mentioned it would be nice to spruce up that third floor for visitors. It might also be nice, they said, to bring in natural light, and they walked him outside to a south-facing deck to show him the potential for views of Lake Washington and Bellevue to the east. Maybe they could even carve out a home office and designated work spaces while they were at it?
“As discussions progressed, it was obvious that they wanted to think about the entire home, updating other floors, too,” says Troyer, who began the project while working at Stuart Silk Architects before completing it under his own firm, Studio AM. The owners wanted multipurpose areas that allowed for working and entertaining, as well as play areas for their children. After six months of discussions, the residential designer and his colleague, designer Danielle Krieg, reimagined the 1904 residence from top to bottom. The duo brought in natural light, improved function and circulation, along with livable furnishings—all in a crisp palette.
On the main floor, Troyer opened up rooms to each other with large cased openings in keeping with the style of the original home. “Previous remodels segmented the spaces from each other and did not allow for good circulation,” he says. At the home’s east-facing entry, the residential designer removed the large porch that restricted light into the living room. He created symmetrical openings around the fireplace in the west wall there, resulting in passages to the dining room and a sitting room through which light could now flow from both sides of the house. On the exterior, the kitchen’s expansion allowed Troyer to consolidate rooflines from earlier additions.
On the second floor, a new hall allowed the residents’ bedroom to occupy the larger former sleeping porch while configuring a new sitting area and walk-in closet. In the attic, now a polished third floor, the formerly open space gained four distinct areas: a family room, a guest bedroom and bath, and, by enclosing that exterior deck on the south side, a home office.
Aesthetically, one of the owners is from the East Coast and loved the Shingle style look, while the other owner was drawn to the existing moldings and casework in the home. In keeping with their preferences, the team landed on stained shingle siding with white trim and balustrades on the exterior, along with interior moldings and painted wall paneling. Much of the existing oak flooring was kept and refinished, says general contractor Henry Wasenmiller. “There were some areas of rot and areas that had settled, but we feathered in new materials and kept the face-nailed installation.”
Troyer and Krieg have a 12-year working relationship, which shines through in the home. “We collaborate on every single detail,” Krieg explains. “We complement each other’s expertise to keep our vision in harmony.” Krieg, who worked with Carrie Anderson on the project while also at Stuart Silk Architects, was in on the early design schematics and chose hard surfaces to brighten the space: tile and marble for the main bath and marble for the kitchen’s countertops and backsplash. A bright white paint for the interior trim—on window casings, wall paneling in the dining room and attic, and on the kitchen’s ceiling—and the walls help bounce light.
“The homeowners have an amazing sense of style,” adds the designer. She and the couple compiled images, shopped in San Francisco, and even visited stone slab showrooms together, deciding on a palette of greys and blues with pops of vibrancy—a cool but kid-friendly vibe. In the living room, for example, a big cobalt blue velvet sofa is an energetic accent that also balances the scale of the grand piano. Patterned pillows in fiery orange contrast with the blue banquette cushion in the kitchen’s breakfast nook but also pick up the warmth of the oval elm-topped table—a perfect surface for kids to do puzzles and build Legos. Soft shades of warm gray dress the residents’ bedroom, where an upholstered bed beneath windows covered in striped Roman shades offers a leafy view and feels almost like Nantucket.
Having been back in the renovated house during the past year, one of the clients remarks, “It’s serendipitous that we wanted this third floor to be a work space—and here we are, every day,” she says, laughing. “It’s not what we expected, but it’s been so great.” Says her wife, “I never thought I would love a porch like I love that porch. The world has been unpredictable, and just sitting here listening to the birds can really calm you. This is a really special place for us.”