A lot of time has passed since Grace Boyd first moved into her West Seattle home. That year, a barely known computer company named Microsoft had recently released its first general-consumer product, Microsoft Basic; the Kingdome debuted; and the Seattle Police Department hired its first active female patrol officers.
It was 1976, and Grace was unpacking boxes in her craftsman-style waterfront duplex. “It really was a gem,” she says of the home facing out over Puget Sound. “Property was really inexpensive then, and this view is absolutely unmatched.”
The home fell into the category of “cute fixer-upper,” as it was an older structure that needed some TLC. But with its surrounding scenery, it was well worth the work to make it livable—until a few years ago, at least.
“As you get older,” Grace says, “you have less tolerance for continuing to upgrade and repair your home.”
So she decided it was time for a change. Knowing she’d never be able to find a piece of property she loved as much as her own, Grace realized the only thing to do was to replace old with new.
Grace hired architect Mark Travers and designer Alexa Milton —both of whom she’d worked with in the past—to take on the project. Down went the 2,800-square-foot craftsman-style home and up came a light-filled three-story contemporary building.
Topping Grace’s wish list was plenty of light and ample wall space to hang her art collection. The president of Phenix Glass Art, which designs and manufactures glass tiles, Grace is a former painter—though it’s a goal of hers to begin painting again someday—and she has a large collection from Northwest artists she’s met over the years.
“In the old house, rooms were so chopped up and dark,” she says. “There wasn’t anywhere to give these beautiful pieces prominence.”
Thirty-two years after moving to her West Seattle abode, Grace’s striking view remains the same, but her home is a new style for a new time. The square footage is identical, but thanks to numerous large windows and a soaring ceiling in the living room, it feels much grander.
The entrance to the three-story residence is on the second level. The
foyer looks out over the large living room, where custom windows create
a horizontal sightline to Puget Sound. The floor in the living room is
12-inch-by-24-inch Italian tile pavers that make a commanding hard
surface; their embedded metallic finish adds shimmering softness.
The kitchen, at the opposite end of the room, is a refined space. The same pavers cover the floor, making a visual connection. Stainless-steel appliances and blue-green granite—an ode to the bay beyond the windows—keep things simple. A dining area with a 12-foot-long wood table from Thailand separates the living room and kitchen, and an enclosed case with a lighted stainless-steel interior on the outside of the kitchen island puts Grace’s Japanese ceramics collection on dramatic display. “I designed it so that her collection would become this artistic focal point when you walk into the room,” Milton explains.
Grace’s favorite piece in the house is a traditional Hinoki Japanese soaking tub in the third-floor master bath that nods to Grace’s heritage. The tub, as well as the silvery gray pebble tiles surrounding it, establish a serene, spa-like atmosphere that continues into the master bedroom, where luxurious blue-gray bedding covers the bed, an antique Tansu chest adds a traditional touch and a large sliding glass door opens to a deck overlooking the bay. Even in winter months, the modern-style custom glass door fills Grace’s bedroom with light, connecting her with the constantly changing scenery outdoors.
“These are all just things,” the homeowner says. “What is most important to me is the space I have—room to entertain family and friends and plenty of walls to show off my art.”
“All these years I’ve accumulated things that mean something to me—Japanese artifacts, all this wonderful artwork—and now I can finally show it off.”
Allison Lind’s work also appears in Ty Pennington at Home and Remodeling & Makeovers.
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