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Montlake Spite House briefly returns to the market for $600K

This wedge-shaped house has a complicated backstory

Layne Freedle

The legend associated with this pie-wedge-shaped house, built in 1925, goes a couple of different ways. The first is that a nasty divorce led to a the husband keeping the house and a wife getting a tiny wedge of the property—so she made the best of the situation and built a house that would fit. Another posits that after a neighbor made an insultingly low offer on the parcel, the owner built a house to block their view out of spite.

Regardless of why it was constructed, it was absolutely constructed with spite—the technical term being a “malicious erection.” Such properties are currently block-able by law, but not in time to stop this cult favorite, commonly known as the Montlake Spite House, from joining the neighborhood. It’s one of just a handful of houses like it across the United States.

The home entered the market a couple of weeks ago for $599,900, and quickly courted an offer—so it likely has already met its next occupant. But new photos at least give us an updated look inside, and a sense of some upgrades given in the last couple of years.

The 860-square-foot home’s layout is not unlike that of a houseboat: It’s thin, at just 55 inches wide at its narrowest point and 15 feet wide at the thickest, and it contains some strangely-shaped spaces to get around those constraints. But it patches in period details that go beyond just working with a small space, from the arched front door to thick moulding.

The home’s main entrance is at the midpoint, leading to the roughly nine-by-fourteen-foot living room on the upper floor—enough room for some plush seating and even a small dining nook.

The kitchen sits on the narrower end of the house. This room has been redone since the last purchase, with new appliances and what appears to be a little more wiggle room between the counters.

The narrowest point of the house is beyond the kitchen: a small mudroom.

Opposite the living room, the home’s widest point is home to a master bedroom with a full, en-suite bathroom.

On the lower floor—which, in another small-space constraint, needs to be entered from the outside—the home fits another bedroom, this one with a lofted bed for even more of a houseboat vibe, and a den. The garage is finished enough to become another lounge space, but could still hold a car, and holds a second bathroom and a nook for a washer and dryer.

Outside, a surprisingly large hedge- and fence-lined yard contains a patio, a lawn, and some garden space.

Despite the unique quarters, this house has been hitting the market every few years—although it’s been commanding a steadily higher price each time. The house last sold for $500,000 a couple of years ago, and in 2014 for $375,000. One buyer held onto the house for 14 years; the next most recent sale was in 2000 for $239,500.

(h/t Jakob Lunden)

This article has been updated to correct the square footage of the house from 850 to 860.