Updated Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 07:15 AM
WHAT LURKS there beneath that charming two-story Craftsman, all shingled and new, painted up in proper shades of green? You can see it there, in the flower box. The telltale roman brick of a Midcentury rambler.
"If we hadn't made it a little larger, Daddy's chair would be outside," says Lucy. She's 5 and dead serious about the chair. Her mother nods, yeah. She's right. It would be.
"A lot of people in the neighborhood assumed we took down the house," says Darcy Sera of the transformation. "They're surprised to find out most of the original house is still here."
Darcy and Bryan Sera bought the little Hawthorne Hills rambler (two bedrooms on the main floor, one downstairs) in 2006 with soon-to-come kids in mind. They lived there for a year, then remade the kitchen; modernizing, brightening. Lucy arrived as that project wrapped up.
But that didn't solve the size issue: lack of bedrooms, play space, storage. Not to mention comfort, light and convenience.
It was either remodel again or move.
"We did quite a lot of looking," Darcy says. "It would be quicker and easier to move. But we had already put so much into the kitchen, and the market was not good for us."
So Darcy, at home with baby Lucy, put the word out.
"I put a message on a moms' message board, Northeast Seattle Moms, a Yahoo group, asking if anybody knew of any remodelers.
"I got one back. It said, 'My husband does that.' It was Tiffany."
And that is how Logan's Hammer (and Tiffany's husband, Logan's Hammer founder Sean Meek) came to build a new home around the old for less than $300,000; the new designed by architect Troy Hussing of Ecco Design. "We interviewed about six of each, contractors and architects," Darcy says. "We wanted people we could live with."
That solved, Darcy then checked Craigslist. She found a house to rent while theirs was rebuilt. It was finished in October 2010. Griffin was born in July 2011.
Now, light filters in from all sides. Dad's chair sits in the new "guitar room" off the front door. (Once the Seras' bedroom.) Lucy flops on the sofa and plops down the iPad. She sits near the original redbrick fireplace, now painted soft gray. Her baby brother grins and makes bubbles in his mother's arms.
While the living room remains the same, the dining room has been bumped out 3 feet. New upstairs quarters hold three bedrooms and two baths. Downstairs is Bryan's office, a spare room and TV room. Everything modern and young and on a budget, with interior design by Darcy: River rock (from Home Depot) in front of the fireplace. Linen-finished tiles in the bathroom. Ikea here, in Lucy's ceiling fixture, and there, closet cubbies. Paint colors comforting where needed and cheerful where desired.
And now there is something to love about this house from two centuries; corner living-room windows of the original to the his-and-hers walk-in closets of the new.
"Having majorly enormously big closets was a must, because in our Wallingford house we had no closets," Darcy says. "Mine is so big the baby lives in my closet." She turns on the light. Sure enough, there's a crib in there.
"We wanted something that was us. We'll be here for quite a while. It was too good of a neighborhood to leave."
Rebecca Teagarden writes about design and architecture for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is the magazine staff photographer.
This truly is a home for a young family. Lucy has her own indoor swing, which sits between the living and dining rooms. While the living room remains the same, the dining room has been bumped out 3 feet. The floors have been refinished, but they are the original oak.
A new upper floor holds three bedrooms, including a master large enough for the whole family to hang out in, and two bathrooms.
"We really wanted to keep the corner windows," Darcy Sera says of the windows that wrap the left corner of the original home.
The corner window on the left and the roman brick flower box are a nod to the original rambler the Seras bought in 2006. The flower box was made from stone repurposed from the old rambler.
The living room remains much the same as the original. Darcy Sera reads with Lucy in front of the original redbrick fireplace, now painted soft gray. The Seras loved this corner window and preserved it in the remodel.
The tiles in the master bath are from Art Tiles, "because they were one of the only places that let me bring samples home," Darcy says. The counter is recycled ceramic from Lowe's. A skylight brightens the room all year long.