A Seattle couple willingly downsizes from Craftsman to MCM for the pristine original features of a Wendall Lovett home in Hilltop. Although in perfect condition, the size of the kitchen needed updating and the couple expected quick results.
Wendell Lovett was one of seven architects who developed a 63-acre residential parcel in Bellevue, Wash., beginning in 1947. “Hilltop is an area well known by MCM aficionados in our area,” says Kirsten Robertson, a Realtor with 360° Modern in Seattle. “It is a unique community in that all of the 40 homes were constructed in a modern style and must stay that way—the Hilltop architecture committee ensures that. The lots are large, at over an acre each, and the homes range from 1,740 to well over 4,000 square feet.” In 2012, Robertson had the listing for a distinctive Lovett home designed for Gervais and Connie Reed that had been feted in Domus, Arts & Architecture and several books when it was built in 1957. The hovering, split-level plan took advantage of views of the Cascades and Lake Sammamish by placing the public rooms on the upper level. “The home was in original condition,” Robertson remarks. “Some upgrades had been made to the systems, namely converting from oil to gas heat, but not much more than that. The Reeds raised three kids there, and it was well loved but in very good condition for its age. There was a wall in the kitchen that still had the kids’ heights marked on it.” Courtney and Patrick Stanton had already sold their 2004 Craftsman-style house and were looking for a smaller home on a larger lot closer to town. Coincidentally, both had grown up within a mile of Hilltop, but were unaware of its existence.
“I saw the house online on a Sunday night and found the exterior really different,” remembers Patrick, a 44-year old program manager for Nokia. “We looked at it on Monday and made an offer that night.” He liked the unique design and open floor plan, all of the windows and the fact that it was a house on a hill. “I’ve always loved midcentury modern, but there aren’t a ton of them in Seattle, so that wasn’t a priority on our list,” says Courtney, 38, a buyer for Nordstrom. “I was in awe when we walked in. There’s a great openness to the house—even though we were going from a 5,000- to a 2,000-square-foot house—and it has a very homey feeling. When I came up the stairs and saw the spectacular view out the back, I was like, Done! You can write up the offer.”
The couple liked most things about the house—the location, the lot, the two bedrooms, one bath and kitchen/dining/ living room on the top level—but not the rabbit-warren lower level nor the original kitchen. “It was very closed off,” Courtney says. “There was a tall bookcase by Wendell Lovett that blocked the view through the family room, and the side that adjoins the dining area had a standard refrigerator with hanging cabinets and just a low pass-through.” “It was like a little cave in there,” chimes in Patrick.
Lovett or Leave it
There was a lot to love about this midcentury home, but the kitchen had some unlovable bits. Find out how the couple decided to tackle the problems in the kitchen in part 2.