Using windows of all sizes, architect Ben Trogdon lent the midcentury home a modern appeal and created exciting new vistas to its stunning surroundings.

Image: Will Austin

LOOK CLOSELY, and the one-story rambler is still there. In fact, if you hold up a “before” photo of the house for comparison, you can easily identify the original bones of Brad Weed and Susan Pappalardo’s radically transformed Kirkland home. Early in their married life, the couple, both computer software and graphics professionals, purchased the plain brick structure—the kind of cartoonishly simple, single-story dwelling that children sketch by topping a rectangle with a triangle. Cramped for space and encumbered with a demeanor as sober as a drill sergeant, the 1948-built house wasn’t going to win any beauty contests.

Often, when people of means discover such a construction atop a desirable piece of property—in this case a breezy double lot on a suburban hillside overlooking Lake Washington—their next move involves a wrecking ball. Weed and Pappalardo, however, recognized an armature on which they could build “a good first home,” located in an area they enjoyed for its neighborly cadence and proximity to the town center. When improvements became financially feasible, the couple shunned the idea of demolishing the place to start from scratch and instead approached architect Ben Trogdon to guide them in a remodel.

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Image: Will Austin

The whimsical blobs composing artist Bryan Smith’s Jackaroo juxtapose with the sharp edges of the living room fireplace and furnitures.

“Part of it was the cost,” Pappalardo explains. “We’re miserly in our nature. But really, our attitude was if we didn’t have to wreck it, why would we? It was in good shape, and we didn’t burden ourselves with the task of creating the perfect place.”

For an architect, the words “dream home” almost always forecast gauzy guidelines—heavy on expectations and light on practical specifics. But it’s not the sort of language home owners Weed and Pappalardo use. Practical considerations drove their requests to Trogdon. Of utmost importance was simply making room—relieving the congestion of the ground floor by removing walls that, without much daylight to illuminate them, made the interior feel pinched and stuffy. “We wanted to have enough room for a family,” Weed says with a smile, gesturing to their twin toddlers at play across the room. “At least two kids, we planned. We just didn’t realize they’d arrive at the same time.”
To create more space, Trogdon articulated the remodeled structure like a weekend vacation caravan; new rooms emerged from the old ones, as if he had unhinged the roof and facade to reveal tentlike hatches that had been collapsed and concealed within for decades. Awakened to their surroundings through numerous glass apertures, the new walls expand in every compass direction in shades of jade, custard, and moondust gray. Large patchwork sections of the old brick carapace remain, now woven into the new and improved one, and painted the elegant, deep gray color of raw coal coke.