Pacific Northwest | August 24, 2003Pacific Northwest MagazineAugust 24, home
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The master bedroom at the top of the house has a wide view of sky and lake; Peggy designed the curvaceous metal railing on the private little balcony.
With handsome windows and harmonious colors, an old farmhouse finds its place

PEGGY AND GREG Petrie had plenty of time to study how the sun falls across the highest piece of property by Green Lake, and which outlook offers the best views. They owned the old farmhouse for a decade, renting it out while they lived around the corner. Peggy grew vegetables and berries in the farmhouse's back garden, all the while planning the remodel and move to come.

The narrow, lofty old house, built around 1890, was the original residence at the south end of the lake, its lot spreading for blocks now populated by dozens of families and houses. Remnants of the old house live on in the extensive remodel, designed by architect Peter Stoner. Peggy made sure that all the old brick stripped from the house's foundation was saved, and is now busy building brick pathways and a round patio in the back corner under a magnolia tree. The warm, rusty red of old brick outlines the raised beds in her new vegetable garden and edges aggregate patios and walkways.
The height of the new house is captured clearly in its curling stair tower that starts in the dining room and leads to a rooftop deck.
Even the aged radiators were put through a sandblaster and repainted to run along one wall of the kitchen/dining area. She salvaged the old fir subflooring. "Every neighborhood kid was in here pulling nails out" of the old floor, Peggy laughs. She hauled it to Tacoma to be remilled, and now the reddish wood warms the upstairs of the new house. "The floor guy really tried to talk me out of using the old fir, but I stood my ground, and it looks marvelous, nail holes and all," she says.

The new house, reached by walking up stairs through a series of sunny terraces, presides over the property with even more presence than the old. Its size is mitigated by the harmonious color scheme of soft brown-gray siding with plenty of creamy-white trim and doors painted the rich cordovan shade of your best high-school penny loafers. Protruding bays, curvy metal balcony and handsome oversized windows break up the tall façade while capturing the light high above the neighborhood.

"The light in this house is such a treat," says Peggy, pointing out how it is encouraged to flood in by the series of transom windows. Walking through the front doors, you're transported back in time by the wide, dark walnut floor boards, dark woodwork, high ceilings and open staircase. The couple's eclectic collection of exuberant contemporary art (mostly bought at school and social-service auctions) enlivens the spaces, making it clear a modern family, including two teenagers, lives in this new-old house.
The bay window in the library is the only remaining wall of the old farmhouse. New, oversized wooden windows from Sierra Pacific flood the living room and library with light, keeping the interiors bright despite the dark walnut floors and woodwork.
Most of the 110-year-old farmhouse was demolished to make way for the new house. Only a bay window wall in the library remains of the original framework. The new home is 4,000 square feet, including two home offices and a studio apartment. The space is effectively broken up by 12 different paint colors (the kids chose the colors for their rooms and baths). The various colors are held together with cream ceilings throughout and glossy cream trim in some rooms, dark woodwork in others. Even the old concrete basement has been refurbished, with radiant heat in the floors — except in the wine cellar, which is kept cool by the aged brick walls. It is a long way from the shadowy chill of the basement wine cellar up the curving stair tower, past the main floor and a floor of bedrooms and bathrooms to a rooftop deck with a 360-degree view.
The wooden pantry doors in the eating nook off the kitchen were originally from Coe Elementary School, saved because they were in storage when the school burned down.
Peggy Petrie loves to cook and was active in helping to design her new kitchen. Stainless-steel counters and appliances are mellowed by wooden windows and floors, cabinets painted pale gold, and a slab of Jerusalem gold limestone that tops the center island.
The kinship of new and old was greatly furthered by Peggy's scavenging for old materials. "A big part of the story of this house is the building-material ads in the newspaper, which I searched every day." She saved thousands of dollars and added bits of history by tracking down used tile for the library fireplace, hunks of marble from old conference tables, and stone for the bathrooms from an auction that stops in Seattle every few months. The glass and wood pantry doors in the kitchen were originally from Coe Elementary School (fortunately they were in storage when the school burned), and when Peggy found them at the RE Store in Ballard she knew she wanted to design the kitchen around them. Now the old doors coexist beautifully with the well-appointed modern kitchen. The patina of their wood contrasts with the island topped in Jerusalem gold limestone, stainless-steel counters, and cabinets painted in tones of soft, buttery gold.

Peggy loves to cook, and the first thing she did this spring after moving into the house was plant her vegetable garden. Right outside the kitchen door is a spacious deck, and a few steps away is the raised-bed vegetable plot, squeezed in a warm corridor between the fence and the south side of the house. Working with plans from landscape architect Rich Cromer, the couple intends to develop the garden over the coming months.

The magnolia shades the back garden, reached by a wide, curving brick pathway that leads from the front steps along the north side of the house. Well-established grapevines flourish in the terraces leading from the street up to the house.

The Petries give much credit for the masterful blending of old and new to Stoner, the architect, as well as exterior contractor Greg Prindle of Woodlawn Avenue Co., and Jean Patterson, their custom-finish contractor. All involved helped maintain the aura of the old house, despite the fact so much of it had to go. "We speculate that much of the wood in the original house was from trees around here and milled at the sawmill at Green Lake," says Peggy. She has carefully preserved an old photo, taken around 1900, of the original farmhouse and the mill as inspiration for the tall new house on the historic site.

Valerie Easton is a Seattle free-lance writer and contributing editor for Horticulture magazine. Her e-mail address is Barry Wong is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.

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