If you think the polished, custom woodwork covering this condo in the classic 1908 Strathmore co-op looks a little nautical, there’s a reason for that: Its current owner, woodworker Iain Graham, restores wooden boats for a living.
When he initially moved into the studio unit, Graham tells Curbed Seattle, it was pretty plain—so he started out by essentially gutting the place.
“One of the first things I did was demo the exterior wall, remove all the lathe and plaster, and then re-point and seal all the brick,” said Graham over email. He removed and re-hung drywall, replaced insulation, and knocked out poorly-made built-ins.
The bathroom took special care. The ceiling had been lowered, so he knocked that out and restored the ceiling to its original height—and years of stacked flooring had put it at a higher plane than the rest of the home, so he stripped those out, too, replacing it with salvage tile from a job he’d worked on.
“I didn’t have enough of any one size to do the whole thing, so I ended up using the small stones in the middle and the two larger sizes of squares around the border,” said Graham. “Of course then I realized I couldn’t cover up that pattern with a vanity cabinet, which is why I made mine floating.”
The cabinet is curved—”being a boat guy, I like curves,” noted Graham—with a coopered door to fit. Graham also built the medicine cabinet and a series cabinets over the toilet, re-tiled the tub, and built a live-edge, full-length mirror.
One of his favorite parts of the job, though, was the bathroom door. Since the bathroom is largely made of mahogany while the rest of the house is maple, he built the door with mahogany on one side and maple on the other. “The double sided door is actually something I’d seen in the Pabst mansion in Milwaukee,” said Graham, “and [I’d] always wanted to try it.”
At the entry of the home, Graham noticed a “dead space”—but there was “just enough room for a bookcase.” He also works on upright basses and cellos, so he built a shelf and a built-in desk “mimicking the purfling on an upright bass.”
On the other side of the wall from the bathroom mirror, Graham built a shallow, recessed bookcase.
That maple was largely salvaged—some was purchased from a few local sources—and mostly Western Big Leaf Maple. Some of the window trim was from a tree on Mercer Island that Graham fell and milled himself, working with an arborist friend. “I really liked the curve above the windows, so I tried to mimic it elsewhere, in the upper rails of the doors and the trim above,” said Graham.
But the kitchen, said Graham, took the most time. When he moved in, the fridge was partially blocking the window—so moving it was the first layout choice, but he had to think for a while to “figure out how to cram everything I needed into that small of a space.”
Graham opted for open shelves above the sink so the space wouldn’t feel too crowded and to add visual interest, and built full-depth cabinets above the fridge with two shelves on sliders. He opted for concrete countertops—partially because of doing concrete work in young adulthood, partially because “I’m getting sick of looking at granite”—which he made himself.
The built-in table came from wanting more counter space without wanting to cram a cabinet against the eastern wall. Two floating, maple shelves help keep the table from getting too crowded.
The home’s walk-in closet was also completely reimagined by Graham, lined with aromatic cedar and custom shelving.
The home is listed for $210,000; co-op dues are $462 per month.
- 7 Harrison Street #34 [JLS]