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First Hill Fixer Becomes Perfect Family Home

By August 31, 2012

First Hill, Seattle Condos, Urban Living

Urban Living reader Dave recently wrote in with an update on his condo search and sent along some before and afters that make an excellent case for fixer uppers.

We met Dave about a year ago at an Urban Living Meetup at the Monique Lofts.  He and his girlfriend Jami were having a hard time finding a 3 bedroom condo on Capitol Hill, particularly in their price range.  After several offers fell through, including one at the Monique, they agreed to see a 3 bedroom, 2 bath unit in the Parkview Plaza building on First Hill.

Built in the 80s, and outside of their original search area, it wasn’t at all what they had set out to find.  Kitchen walls sliced up the floor plan and obstructed impressive city views.  All of the finishes were original, and not exactly top of the line for their time.  This was their first impression:

Despite the dated details, the condo was the perfect size, priced below what they had budgeted, and included “wish list” amenities like an indoor pool, hot tub, and sauna, a recently remodeled workout room, rooftop access, resident and guest parking, and an on-site manager, which prompted a second look.  With an eye for design, Dave and Jami sensed a ton of potential.  They closed on December 23rd and immediately started mapping out their remodel.

The goal was updated mid-century.  Following their own plans and working with trusted contractors, they completely overhauled the kitchen and bathrooms, replaced all of the floors, installed new closet shelving, updated the lighting, and painted the entire home.  Dave discovered semihandmade online, a custom manufacturer that designs doors, panels, and drawer faces specifically for Ikea cabinetry.  They chose grain-matched, rift-cut teak cabinet doors, and spent far less than they would have on a basic fully custom kitchen.  The results are remarkable.

Removing the upper halves of two kitchen walls completely opened up the space to allow for direct downtown views from the front door through the kitchen and dining areas.  Modern appliances, including a countertop stove with pop-up exhaust, brought the home into the 21st Century.  And custom lighting details highlighted the unique cabinetry and tile backsplash.

Both bathrooms also received significant facelifts.  Stock cabinetry was once again revitalized with semihandmade doors and fronts.  New countertops, fixtures, and pendant lights provide an entirely new look.  But the real stunner is the backlit mirror that gives the impression that the glass is floating out from the wall.  A luxurious his and hers dual shower in the master was a must.

Another upside of starting with an older condo was all of the great in-unit storage.  A large closet by the main entry was converted into an enviable shoe closet.  I see a few pairs of Dave’s shoes in there, but we all know that closet is Jami’s dream.

After living on the north end of Capitol Hill in the Joule Apartments, Dave and Jami had their doubts about moving to First Hill; however, they’ve quickly come to appreciate living in one of Seattle’s first neighborhoods and sharing their tree-lined street with two historic mansions.  While they do miss Vivacci, they’re just 4 blocks from Melrose Market and the Pike/Pine corridor, within easy walking distance to the heart of downtown, and now they have The Hideout.  Plus, their location enjoys a 100 transit score for added convenience.  Dave raved about his neighbors, the community feel at the Parkview, and the views.  I think it’s safe to say they found – and created – their perfect home.  Now, they can just kick back and enjoy the sunsets.

If you’re considering a remodel, here are some of Dave and Jami’s Resources:

Joshua McCaffrey with 36th Avenue Design Build – [email protected] – Fantastic contractor, finish carpenter, furniture designer, etc.

Mark Cooper with Cooper NW Electric – [email protected] – A great electrician

Randy with Innovative Solutions – [email protected] – Great detail oriented tile work

Semihandmade – www.semihandmadedoors.com – Amazing custom grain matched doors for Ikea cabinets and great customer service.

Denby Barnett – [email protected] –  Very detailed drywall work

Stalwart Plumbing – [email protected]

Jesse with Rising Tide Painting – [email protected]

Mike with Artisan Hardwood Floors – (206) 933-1703 – great hardwood floor work