A 1970s mid-century house gets a beautiful makeover in the Pacific Northwest

midcentury modern house entry

Graham Baba Architects was responsible for the makeover of this historic 1970s mid-century house located in Clyde Hill, a suburb of Seattle, Washington. The owners of this mid-1970s house came to the design team looking to update and refresh their home without sacrificing the spirit of wood that makes it a quintessential example of its time.

Originally designed by noted Pacific Northwest architect Ralph Anderson, the house sits high on a sloping site. Nestled into the heavily landscaped terrain, it serves as a quiet escape from what is an otherwise typical suburban location. The design challenge was to bring the house up to date without sacrificing its essential character; the solution was a two-track approach to the remodel. Continue scrolling to the end to get all the source details for this remodel project!


midcentury modern hallway

Public spaces—the entry and dining room, those areas most defined by their use of cedar—would receive a light touch, while private areas of the home—areas receiving the heaviest use and needing the most updates—would be modernized and updated for contemporary living. Throughout all areas, updates to the home were carefully considered to honor the original design.

modern curved staircase

Despite falling outside of the traditionally accepted definition of mid-century modern, the home captures the ideals associated with it while translating them into a particular expression of Pacific Northwest regionalism that features a heavy dose of Pacific Rim influence. The owners, originally from Hawaii, were in part drawn to the house for its aesthetic kinship to the design they experienced in their youth.

modern curved staircase

What We Love: This mid-century modern house has undergone a complete makeover, showcasing customized details throughout. We love the warmth of the wood and the integration of skylights to help illuminate this dwelling with natural light throughout the day. Overall, the project team did a fantastic job of preserving the original character of this home while updating it to the twenty-first century.

Tell Us: What are your overall thoughts on the re-design of this mid-century house? Let us know in the comments below!

Note: Take a look at a couple of other fabulous home tours that we have featured here on One Kindesign from the portfolio of the architects of this project, Graham Baba Architects: A revamped lake house beautifully connects with nature on Mercer Island and Townhouse retreat on the California coastline gets inviting renovation.

modern bench in a hallway

The tall, vaulted foyer—the central axis of a T-shaped plan—sets the tone for the experience. The visitor is greeted with cedar-clad walls, ceilings, and soffits which reappear throughout the house. The most preserved space in the house, work here was limited to lighting updates.

midcentury modern light fixture detail

midcentury modern light fixture detail

midcentury modern living room

The living and dining rooms, the two other spaces receiving minimal work were updated with new lighting and rift-sawn white oak flooring. Elsewhere in the house, brightening the interiors was a priority, and interventions were strategically allocated to make the most impact.

midcentury modern living room

The existing lighting was updated with modern LEDs calibrated to cast soft light on the cedar walls and ceilings.

midcentury modern living room

Drywall and Milestone were introduced to create a light, reflective wall surface in areas where the cedar had become monochromatic and dark. Flooring throughout the house was replaced and upgraded to rift-sawn white oak with a custom stain.

modern hallway with a bench and a tall ceiling with a skylight

All finishes were carefully tested and reviewed on site to fine-tune their relationship to the existing interiors, resulting in a subtle, refined collection of wood, steel, stone, and plaster.

midcentury modern living room with a fireplace

In the living room, the fireplace finishes were replaced with a minimal steel and Milestone hearth and surround. Custom light fixtures over the entry, and contemporary lanterns that play off the wood detailing of the original house, were the result of a collaboration between the owner and a local lighting fabricator.

midcentury modern with a Womb chair and ottoman

midcentury modern living room with a fireplace

midcentury modern living room with a fireplace

modern steel fireplace mantel detail

modern accessories

midcentury modern kitchen

The kitchen and family room, which were taken back to the original framing, saw the most change. The kitchen—which had been previously altered—was outdated and finished in materials that made the room overly dark. New, lighter finishes were introduced, including a Calacatta marble counter and backsplash, drywall, and custom white oak cabinetry.

midcentury modern kitchen island open storage detail

midcentury modern kitchen marble backsplash detail

midcentury modern kitchen

The marble-topped island, designed to resemble a piece of furniture more than built-in cabinetry, is the heart of the space, offering a place for cooking, gathering, and entertaining.

midcentury modern dining room

midcentury modern powder room

The powder room required thoughtful moves to feel more spacious. A tankless toilet, wall-mounted faucet, and vessel sink paired with open shelving open up the space, while the subtle texture of milestone replaces the previously dark walls to create a calming, spa-like atmosphere. A future phase of work will continue with an upgrade of the master bathroom and conversion of the basement into a studio.

midcentury modern powder room

midcentury modern home office

The office, a creative work-at-home space, called for new drywall to provide sufficient ambient light. The custom built-in desk is made of ash millwork and features a steel pin-up board above, while porcelain white board paneling offers an expansive wall surface for sketching and a magnetic surface for pin-up.

midcentury modern home office detail

midcentury modern family room

midcentury modern family room

midcentury modern bathroom

midcentury modern bathroom

midcentury modern bathroom

midcentury modern bathroom

midcentury modern bedroom hallway leading into the bathroom with tall ceilings and a long skylight

modern bathroom shower

modern bathroom shower with a built-in bench

modern sauna

modern sauna

midcentury modern home exterior

midcentury modern home exterior

midcentury modern home exterior


Brief Detail: All the custom wood & steel millwork throughout the project was fabricated and installed by the general contractor. Company Name: Dovetail Wood Shop

Brief Detail: Kitchen: 2cm Calcutta stone counter & backsplash
Company Name: Meta Marble & Granite

Brief Detail: Powder Room & Office: Solid glued-up ash with mitered fold edges.
Company Name: Dovetail Wood Shop

Tilework Powder Room & Living/Kitchen Fireplaces(Wall)
Brief Detail: Milestone
Company Name: Studio C

Brief Detail: Custom milled rift-sawn white oak flooring with 7-1/4” face widths was used throughout the main floor. The stain was a custom color and the floors were finished on site.
Company Name: Advanced Floor Design

Brief Detail: Kitchen: Custom rift-sawn white oak cabinetry was used in the Kitchen. The door and drawer faces are rift-sawn white oak veneer plywood, while the face frames around the cabinetry are solid stock rift white oak. The kitchen cabinetry has a custom stain and lacquer.

The interior of the cabinets is pre-finished maple. For the Powder Room & Office countertops, solid glued-up ash was used with miter fold edges. Solid ash was also used for the floating shelves in the Office. Solid ash was finished with Rubio Monocoat. The Laundry & Master Room Closet cabinetry was fabricated from Europly plywood with exposed edging and Plastic Laminate from Wilsonart on the faces.

Company Name: Dovetail Wood Shop

Brief Detail: Powder Room & Office: Ash plywood with plastic laminate interiors. The door of the vanity in the Powder Room is 16 gauge steel on medex substrate. The floating shelving in the Office is solid glued-up ash. Laundry & Master Bedroom Closet: Europly plywood with exposed edges and plastic laminate on the faces of the door & drawers. The interiors are plastic laminate

Metal Work
Brief Detail: Custom steel detailing was used throughout the project, mainly in the fireplace hearth and surrounds in the Living & Kitchen. 16 gauge steel paneling was used in the kitchen island seating area and as a magnetic pin-up surface in the Office.
Company Name: Dovetail Metal Shop

Company Name: Dovetail Wood Shop

Brief Detail: Oven, cooktop, and exhaust hood.
Brand: Dacor Modernist Series
Purchased at: Albert Lee 

Brief Detail: Kitchen-Refrigerator
Brand: Sub-Zero
Purchased at: Albert Lee

Brief Detail: Kitchen-Dishwasher
Brand: Miele
Purchased at: Albert Lee

Brief Detail: Kitchen
Brand: Franke
Purchased at: Chown Hardware

Brief Detail: Powder Room
Brand: Hastings

Brief Detail: Kitchen
Brand: Franke
Purchased at: Chown Hardware

Brief Detail: Powder Room
Brand: Crosswater London
Purchased at: Chown Hardware

Brief Detail: Laundry
Brand: Miele
Purchased at: Albert Lee

Brief Detail: Entry Tansu (Antique) – 100 years old+
Purchased at: Honey church Antiques

Brief Detail: 36Dia Steel
Purchased at: West Elm

Brief Detail: Walnut with Cloud Brand: Jens Bench
Purchased at: Design Within Reach

Lighting hanging in the stairwell
Brief Detail: Pendants co-designed by the owner and local lighting manufacturer as modern lanterns with a mix of modern steel warm LEDs with parchment, and stained white oak to complement the original interior cedar walls.
Brand: RESOLUTE Lighting
Purchased at: RESOLUTE Lighting

Brief Detail: ~14×15–north wall end of hall Artist: Paul Horiuchi Gallery: Woodside Braseth, Seattle WA Year: 1956

Brief Detail: acrylic(~36×48-multi-colored–south wall) Artist: William Cumming Gallery: Woodside Braseth, Seattle WA Year: 2002

Living Room
Key design concept for room/space:
We wanted to keep a light touch throughout in terms of our design modifications. The over-arching goal was to complement and blend with the beautiful existing bones and character of the house. The fireplace in the Living Room was updated with steel and milestone to compliment the white oak floors. The hearth is simply a 3/8” plate steel set just above the finished wood floor. New paint and lighting throughout.

Brief Detail: Mohair Upholstery
Brand: Custom
Purchased at: Ornamo

Window Bench

Brief Detail: Custom Upholstery
Fabricated By: Queen Anne Upholstery

Barcelona Chair
Brief Detail: Ivory
Brand: Knoll
Purchased at: Design Within Reach

Womb chair and ottoman
Brief Detail:
Brand: Knoll
Purchased at: Design Within Reach

Coffee table
Brief Detail: Walnut and Steel
Brand: Custom D
Designed by: Holly McKinley Interiors

Brief Detail: 300cm x 388cm Wool, White Pearl 80
Brand: Kasthall Doris
Purchased at: InForm Interiors

Brief Detail: Baby Grand
Brand: Yamaha
Purchased at: Classic Pianos

Art above fireplace
Artist: Dennis Evans
Gallery: Woodside Braseth, Seattle WA
Year: Purchased 2002

Brief Detail: Walnut with Cloud-Colored Upholstery
Brand: Jens Bench
Purchased at: Design Within Reach

Dining room
Key design concept for room/space:
Salvaged cedar siding, new paint, and lighting throughout.

Dining table
Brief Detail: Bubinga Wood and Steel
Purchased at: Custom
Designed by: Holly McKinley Interiors

Brief Detail: Black LED Pendant
Purchased at: Y Lighting

Artist: Ken Kelley
Gallery: Howard House, Seattle
Year: 2002

Key design concept for room/space:
The previous kitchen was very monochromatic and somewhat overwhelmed by all the cedar, so we updated the horizontal walls with drywall to bring more brightness and light into the space. The existing cedar ceiling plane was kept in order to keep the consistency with the Living Room and Entry. The cabinetry was unique in the use of the solid stock white oak frames around the cabinet faces. The large island was meant to feel like a piece of furniture with one side carved out for shelving and display.

Brief Detail: At Kitchen Island
Brand: Tractor
Purchased at: Design Within Reach

Cabinet hardware
Brief Detail: Edgecliff Appliance Pull for refrigerator and dishwasher, Ledge Pull for cabinets and drawers
Brand: Schoolhouse Electric
Purchased at: Schoolhouse Electric

Key design concept for room/space:
A functional workspace for creating, with a simple material palette to compliment the rest of the house. The existing cedar siding was replaced with drywall. Steel paneling at the desk below the solid ash floating shelves allows for a pin-up area, while porcelain whiteboard paneling offers a place to sketch out ideas

Desk Chair
Brief Detail: Aeron Chair
Brand: Herman Miller

Powder Room Key design concept for room/space:
The previous Powder Room was very dark and rather cramped, so our goal was to lighten up the palette and make the most of the small space. The existing cedar was replaced with drywall, and utilizing a tankless toilet and in-wall faucet helped to make the space feel larger. The new walls were coated in milestone, a plaster-like finish that offers a soothing aesthetic. The vessel sink and steel detailing at the mirror provide some subtle modern touches.

Brief Detail: Bocci 21.3
Brand: Bocci
Purchased at: InForm Interior

PHOTOGRAPHER Haris Kenjar and Ross Eckert

One Kindesign has received this project from our submissions page. If you have a project you would like to submit, please visit our submit your work page for consideration!

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