Our beloved Seattle bungalow, updated from its 1924 origins
My interest in garden design from the American Arts and Crafts era is connected with the affection we have for a 1924 Seattle Craftsman bungalow, which my husband and I bought in 1996.
The one-story house, about 1,100-square-feet in size, was painted light gray. With faded white trim, it was not much to look at, as it had been a rental house for so many years (seen at right). On our first visit, we ignored the sofa on the front porch (below, left) and instead gazed at the breathtaking views of Lake Washington, the Cascade Mountains, Seward Park and Mount Baker.
Thus began our love affair with Craftsman architecture. We wanted to expand the house while also preserving its character. My husband Bruce met Toby Taylor of Caledonia Bay Builders after previously seeing his work and tracking him down through a real estate agent
Toby (seen below, right) and Bruce hit it off immediately, an almost unheard of phenomenon between a builder and a potential client who is also a lawyer. Toby introduced us to Robin Abrahams, a Seattle architect who he described admiringly. We were impressed when Toby told us that Robin was “way cool.”
Miraculously, we went with our “gut” feelings and hired them both (this was highly rare for my lawyer-husband, who typically would have insisted on competitive bids from three candidates). We’d heard all the horror stories. Nearly everyone we knew who had restored, renovated or built a home was unenthusiastic about the process, or about their contractor, or about their architect.
But our little project was blessed. We adored Robin and her colleagues at Abrahams Architects. She is a bundle of creative energy, a thoughtful, very smart, incredibly gifted designer. We also loved Toby’s verve, his hard-working, can-do attitude, and his often amusing ski-bum vocabulary.