When Janice Rosaire & Brian Best first saw the pictures of a classic mid-century modern home perched high on a hillside overlooking Colvos Passage in Gig Harbor, WA they knew they’d found their dream home.
‘We had never even set foot in the house before we made an offer. At the time, we were spending six weeks in Puerta Vallarta, but after seeing the pictures on Zillow we called to inquire about the house. We ended up having the realtor do a walk though of the house with us via Facetime. And that was enough. We knew this was our home.’
Janice and Brian currently live in a well-known mid-century modern building in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. After moving from the San Francisco area two years ago, they did a complete remodel on the condo they’re currently residing in, ‘practically down to the studs’.
They are certainly not novice when it comes to home renovation, and don’t seem intimidated by the sheer volume of the project they are about to embark on. The couple spends their free time traveling and seeing their world, often by motorcycle. Originally, they were just looking for extra garage space to store their motorcycles.
Janice has been passionate about modern and mid-century design for a long time. Far before it was fashionable, Janice had a mid-century modern furniture store in her college town of San Luis Obispo. She explained to me how people would come into her store and be baffled by the fact that she was selling all the junk that they would sooner throw away. Little did they know that Janice was on to something that would soon prove to be a timeless trend that never seems to go out of style.
Janice and Brian had been searching for homes around the region, with no specific place in mind. All they knew was that they wanted more space to spread out, more room for their motorcycles, and a definitive mid-century modern era home. They knew very little about Gig Harbor when they found their home, and are just now getting more acquainted with the area.
In its current configuration, the house has three bedrooms and three bathrooms and is 3,291 square feet. It was originally built in 1965, and most prominently features expansive views of Colvos Passage and Mt. Rainer on the entire eastern side of the house from the continuous floor to ceiling glass windows. The main living space includes a large open floor plan that is perfect for entertaining, and a large and very private outdoor deck that Janice plans to convert into an outdoor living space.
The property itself is situated on roughly two acres of sloped terrain, with access to a private beach directly below, and a few large outbuildings including two separate garages. More than enough space to spread out, and plenty of space for motorcycle storage.
Janice and Brain are the 4th owners of the house. The original owner was apparently an artist, and ‘you can tell by details in the house. There is what looks like custom iron work, and other artistic features from the era in which it was built throughout the house.’
The couple is currently making the trek from Seattle to Gig Harbor several times a week. At present time, they are in the initial stages of renovation, and the first order of business is creating a mother-in-law suite in an area that formally contained two offices off of the main garage. Once their MIL suite, which includes a bedroom and bathroom, is ready they will be able to officially move on site while the main house’s renovations are completed. They are hoping to have the entire project complete by the end of the summer.
It came as a relief to Janice that the home needed so much repair. This way she doesn’t have to feel guilty about the extensive nature of the renovations they are about to undertake. With a strong emphasis on attention to detail, Janice and Brain want to take time and make sure that all the work is done with precision and perfection. Their main goal for the overall feel of the space is to honor the home’s architectural integrity. Over the years, the home has seen its fair share of remodels, and not all of them have kept with the past intent of the home. Janice will be working to undo some of these fixes to return the home to its original luster.
Janice also wants to improve the livability of the space to make the home more functional for the couple’s lifestyle. This will include knocking down walls that once created small, blocked off and compartmentalized rooms, to make a more open flow of space. She wants the modern updates they utilize to feel timeless and keep with the overall aesthetic of mid-century design. ‘We don’t want to turn this into a 2017 home. We want to feel the integrity of mid-century modern architecture, but have it work for today.’
Over the course of being owned by three different families the house has seen several updates, many of which are now painfully outdated. Despite the cosmetic issues plaguing this home, because of when it was built, ‘the remodel should be pretty straight forward’. It is a single level, long house comprised of simple post and beam style construction, so there shouldn’t be any surprises there. However, ‘literately every surface needs to be touched, which will take an extensive amount of work.’ Their plans include doing a complete cosmetic facelift to the kitchen while keeping the layout similar to its current state, and removing a large wall screen that blocks the kitchen off from the main living space, and therefore the phenomenal views. Once the screen is removed, it will create unobstructed views throughout the home.
And this is just the beginning of what they have in store. Of the many upgrades and spatial modifications they plan to tackle, a few examples include replacing all the flooring through the home with new wide plank hardwood flooring, removing and relocating closets, adding a media room, re-configuring a master bedroom and bathroom suite, and creating an additional living space for a future tenant to occupy. Definitely no small task. All of this is in addition to knocking down, and adding walls, removing and replacing existing fixtures, figuring out how to repair a water damaged tongue and groove ceiling, and adding new recessed lighting while having a low-slung roof to contend with. Once the interior details are complete, they will finish off with new exterior paint and trim details. The whole space will be ‘cleaner and more streamlined.’
To pull off a home renovation of this scale will take not only extraordinary attention to deal, but extensive strategic planning, a bit of elbow grease, and a whole lot of love. This place is worth it, and with the right touch this place will really shine.
Janice & Brian wanted a mid-century modern home in a peaceful setting that would nurture their souls and connect them with nature. In this home they have found a place with all of that potential and more. This diamond in the rough is a stunning example of Northwest Regional architecture that exhibits the best characteristics of a classic mid-century modern home. All that’s been missing is the right owners to see past all of its cosmetic issues, and realize the real gem that’s been hiding underneath. Janice & Brian are just the people to make this happen. We can’t wait to see wait to see what they have in store for the next chapter of this great Gig Harbor home!
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