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Updated Friday, January 18, 2013 at 02:01 PM

Country contemporary living from Malboeuf Bowie Architecture

By Rebecca Teagarden
Pacific NW associate editor

GOD HELP you if Alison Pember wants to buy your house. Because Alison Pember is a marketing professional, and she will make you a PowerPoint presentation that will melt your heart and close the deal.

That's just how she and Jason Hansen ended up buying the only cool contemporary on an otherwise unremarkable Greenwood street in fall 2011.

"When we walked in I thought, 'Ohhh yeah,' " Pember says. "I lived in New York for a few years, and it reminded me of the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea and their round windows."

Pember says this while plucking fresh fruit from a platter on the dining-room table. She is sitting not far from the large, round, unblinking eye of a kitchen window.

"Jason thought the window looked like an eyeball," she says of her husband, a MacGyver sort whose expertise in such matters includes general contracting (formerly with Prestige Custom Builders) and now selling homes with Exclusive Home Realty. "When he looks at a house he goes, 'Uh-hmm, uh-hmm.' He looked at the concrete floor really hard, he touched the drywall, and I thought, 'Uh-oh, what's wrong with that?'

"Then he said, 'Alison, we have to buy this house.' "

The home, a box wrapping a box, was designed by and for architects, Joe Malboeuf and Tiffany Bowie of Malboeuf Bowie Architecture. There are heated concrete floors, aluminum-clad fir windows, 9-feet-wide sliders to a rural-sized backyard, 10-foot ceilings, two living roofs, two bedrooms and 1 ¾ baths in 1,620 square feet. The exterior is cedar siding and HardiePanel with a rain screen. The kitchen, with the faintest-of-blue lacquer cabinets and a white Pental Chroma island, is clean and functional with lots of storage packed into its galley layout.

"There's so much crap out there," Hansen says of their yearlong home search. "Alison would show me stuff online, and I'd say, 'OK, but I'm not fixing that.' "

It's remarkable they agreed on any house at all. Pember is a North End woman, Hansen a South End guy. She's new house, he's old. They merged at quality construction, a nice-sized yard and compact-and-proper living spaces. And a home the architects, who are married, originally built for themselves.

"We were living in a 600-square-foot apartment across the street from the Little Red Hen, and Monday is karaoke night," Hansen says. "We had to hear Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing' five times a night!"

But they did stop.

"A lot of people thought this street was too busy, but nothing's too busy for me after living in Chelsea," says the woman who shepherded the Wu-Tang Clan to platinum-record status, worked with Beyoncé, cofounded "The Flavor," Seattle's first hip-hop magazine published by a woman, and now markets Microsoft's Xbox Video.

With ample room out back, their home is also a little bit country. There's a large garden, compost bins, Hansen's beehives (he's on the board of the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association), an outdoor run for Harvey and Chunk, the family Holland lops, and running room for Pomeranians Logan and Biggie.

"I think it's great," says the farm-raised Hansen of his newfound love of contemporary living.

"I look at houses and see things that cost three times as much, and I don't think they're as good as our house," Pember says. "It's so awesome. You can't ask for more than this."

Rebecca Teagarden writes about design and architecture for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.


BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
The 9-foot-wide sliding doors allow for circulation to the backyard and additional ventilation during the summer. With doors in the dining room and living room open, the backyard is welcomed inside.




BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Jason Hansen kicks back in the living room with heated concrete floors that are easy to clean and handy when you have dogs and bunnies. Large sliders open to the backyard. The credenza beneath the television is really a hutch for bunnies Harvey and Chunk. Hansen made the hutch for the family rabbits by refashioning a piece of Ikea furniture. The peep holes keep Harvey and Chunk connected and available for carrot treats.




BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Chunk pokes his nose out of the contemporary hutch Hansen made for the family rabbits by refashioning a piece of Ikea furniture. The peep holes keep Harvey and Chunk connected and available for carrot treats.




BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
The exterior of the Pember-Hansen home is HardiePanel and cedar. It is a box dissecting a box, with a round window defining the kitchen and a view straight through to the backyard.




BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
"There's so much storage here," Pember says of the open galley kitchen with its wall of lacquer cabinets that also flow across the dining room. "It's easy to make cocktail-party ready," says Hansen.




BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Pemberton hoists Biggie in the dining room while Logan lounges. The couple made the photo wall themselves using vacation photos and a color copier. "We just couldn't find any big art we liked," she says. Hansen and his brother, Josh, made the dining-room table, walnut with steel legs, to match the buffet counter.




BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Biggie (Smalls) and Logan (aka Wolverine) hang out on the heated concrete floor in the open living space. "The stairs are all steel, including the treads," says architect Tiffany Bowie. They were crafted by Caleb Carlson.




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