The rear of the house, with its recently installed hardscape, is mostly glass, including the bumped out breakfast nook. A walkout basement holds the children’s bedrooms, a family room, a bath and laundry and utility areas.

Not long ago, my husband, John, and I came across a rare find, a listing for a 1951 house designed and built by the late, great architect Paul Hayden Kirk. At the time we weren’t looking for a new place, but something about this particular space captured our interest.

The two of us met by chance, studying industrial design in England. After achieving our master’s degrees, we agreed that it was time to try something new, to take a chance with one another and our surroundings. We moved to Paris, then Holland, Hong Kong and New York; the world became very broad, and we were pleasurably lost in it. The traveling, the culture, the diversity—it all seemed quite open, as open as we were to it.

During that time we had two children, our daughter Morgane, and soon after, our son, Oscar. While we loved the nomadic lifestyle we embraced as a family, we wondered if the next adventure might actually be settling down. We moved from New York to Seattle in 1999 with this in mind.

Pacific Northwest modernist postwar homes often include a raised, covered entryway leading from the parking area, similar to the AR summer 2008 cover home. While carports were more modern and less expensive to build than garages, midcentury architects still needed to address wet weather practicalities.

In our past we had always lived in, or very near, the center of a city. We considered the city our home, finding comfort in common places, people and our neighborhood. When we first arrived in Seattle, we felt somewhat similarly until we ran across the rare Kirk find. Considering this opportunity, we realized that, while we had always had a home, we had never, in fact, made a home.

With this last move I transitioned from industrial designer to real estate agent specializing in modern design homes. Not too long after, I joined 360° Modern, a group of Seattle agents with a passion for midcentury and contemporary modern architecture. From this perspective I knew opportunities such as this were few and far between.

Living the Kirk Life

The Barrett family set out to make their new Kirk structure their home. Find out more in part 2.