Designed and constructed in 1962, this Montlake, Seattle dwelling has stood the test of time with thoughtful design and careful renovations.
In 1962, Seattle developer Hugh Ainslie purchased an empty Montlake, Seattle lot for $4,500, and designed his own Modern home. Now, nearly 60 years later, the home stands tall, boasting a wealth of history and character behind its simple, timeless design. From the chic living room fireplace originally built by a retired Swedish craftsman to the home’s clean wood-paneled façade (more on that later), 1414 E Lynn Street is undoubtedly fresh at 58 years old.
Situated on top of a tree-filled slope, the wood-paneled residence sits at the end of a small footbridge, like an unassuming Modern treehouse. But step through the bright red front door, and the home transforms into a mid-century sanctuary filled with clean lines, warm wood accents, and sprawling window walls. Because of the main floor’s elevated structure, visitors are at eye-level with the trees, evoking an otherworldly feel that takes them out of the city. Sliding glass doors also lead to a covered deck with original mid-century tile and a custom brick fireplace, another piece built by that Swedish craftsman.
“When people walk in the door, the word we hear most often is ‘wow’,” says the home’s current owners, who purchased the dwelling in 2015. “[At] first, everyone is drawn to the windows and view of the trees, but then they realize nature is brought in in other ways.”
Judging by the home’s effortless beauty, it’s hard to imagine Ainslie struggled to even break ground. When he designed the house in the early ’60s, the country was entering a recession, leaving it difficult for him to find funding. “I used to say that I only built during the recessions because I couldn’t afford to buy the property when real estate was hot,” he says. Plus, the home’s unconventional layout (the bedrooms are located on the lower floor to accommodate the hilly terrain) caused most investors to go cold. Eventually, through an unexpected connection with a West Seattle lumber company, Ainslie received a loan to build the house in exchange for cladding the entire exterior in his lumber, giving the residence its cabin-like feel.
Today, the bedrooms are still on the lower level and uphold the same character they did when the home was originally constructed. One of the four bedrooms, which reminds the current owners of a terrarium for its views facing the tiered front yard, features a unique wood-paneled bump-out wall designed to accommodate a small bed. The other guest bedroom is dubbed the Shoji room for its custom Japanese-inspired closet. The lower level also includes two additional decks; one jutting out of the master bedroom and a Juliet balcony off one of the guest rooms. And although the home’s façade appears to be buried behind trees, light pours in from all angles, giving each room a different tone throughout the day.
“Every room is amazing in a different way, and you can’t usually say that about a house,” the current homeowners say.
Ainslie wasn’t the only designer to put their personal touch on 1414 E Lynn Street. Beginning in the 1970s, prolific Northwest Modern architect Audrey Van Horne converted the extra-long carport into an office-slash-library with warm wood-paneled ceilings and a dramatically sloped roof. The kitchen was also updated with bright white finishes and thoughtful storage from a toaster drawer to a serving platter cupboard. More recently, the current owners replaced a half-wall along the main floor staircase with a custom stair rail, showcasing the windows right as you walk in the door. They also contemporized the master bathroom and renovated one of the large bedrooms, adding new lighting, walls to replace outdated painted wood panels, and carpeting. As custodians of Modern architecture, the owners increased the home’s longevity with a new metal roof, chimney, and gutter system outside. With these careful renovations, the home is equipped to take on the next 60 years.
The homeowners say, “We view our home as a living piece of art, original and unique with timeless qualities.”
1414 E Lynn St. is now on the market, represented by 360Modern broker Heidi Ward. Contact Heidi at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (206) 419-4285 for more information.
For more mid-century Modern homes in the Seattle area, visit 360modern.com.