Seattle condo listings lovingly revamped by creative couple for $420,000
When is a one bedroom condo more than its modest floor plan? When its owners – in this case, architect Hank Butitta and artist Nell Nordlie – personalized the space with built-in furniture, hidden storage, handcrafted lighting, and pops of colorful patterned tile. It’s also telling that Hank and Nell, even as they plan their new home, are reluctant to leave.
“Hank is teasing me, because I said I was going to live here the rest of my life in this little condo in Fremont,” Nell says. “I love him so much.”
Back in Minneapolis, before the couple reunited and moved to Seattle in 2016, Hank converted a school bus into a small house for his master’s thesis at the University of Minnesota, and the experience provided lessons useful.
“That was my introduction to ‘How to Make the Most of Small Spaces,'” Hank says. “There’s actually a sort of progression from the bus to this project, where we’ve self-renovated a bland, compact condo into a mid-century inspired urban retreat filled with art and furniture that we’ve designed and built specifically for space.”
The 512-square-foot condo is on the second floor of a late-1980s 10-unit apartment building in Seattle’s bohemian, if gentrified, Fremont neighborhood. There’s a view of nearby Lake Union through the trees, and an even better vantage point from the building’s communal rooftop terrace. “It’s just kinda tucked away in the perfect spot,” Hank says.
Before they decided to make an offer on the condo six years ago, its lack of storage space gave the couple pause. So they did a design exercise to make sure it could work for them. “We made a SketchUp model of how everything was going to be laid out, so we knew if we could fit everything we needed to survive in this small space,” says Hank.
The condo’s real estate listing details their additions – the “custom built-in furniture” listing includes the entry closet, pantry, ceiling-height bookcase, large corner sofa with storage, large desk with drawers, the floating shelves, the desk, the nightstand with large drawers, queen platform bed with storage, closet organizers and laundry area.This means that the unit is almost fully furnished with a sleek and modern interior .
In still photos, it’s hard to do justice to all that hidden storage, so the couple created an animated GIF to show all the compartments in the kitchen, living room and bedroom opening up, almost like a series of secret doors in a mystery novel. The pieces are more than practical – they’re a delight to see in action.
The couple worked closely together on the entire renovation, with Hank making the wooden pieces at a local store and Nell creating the textiles.
As a manufacturing manager for Seattle-based LMN Architects, Hank worked on large-scale projects such as the Seattle Aquarium and the Washington State Convention Center expansion. He is therefore used to working with high performance custom materials.
Nell is a visual artist, graphic designer and Etsy veteran with a passion for handmade. Her activities range from quilting to collage (many works hang on the walls of the condo in these photos), and she is also a nanny who enjoys taking care of people.
When they’re not working or pursuing home improvement projects, the couple volunteer for Sawhorse Revolution — they’ve ventured into the nonprofit Estelita’s library community space.
The vibe of the apartment strikes a happy medium between their sensibilities. “Sometimes when people who do different things come together in cool ways, there’s more variety in what they’re able to do,” Nell says. “We also want our creations to be an act of care.”
The glass pendant lights in the condo’s living room, kitchen, and bedroom are of particular significance. Each comes from the Hennepin Made studio in Minnesota, where Hank worked making lighting molds. “They’re really special to me, personally, because my friends made them and I helped too.”
The couple won’t give away the lights, but they hope the next owner will want them. “It definitely feels like an extension of us,” Nell says. “There are a few things we are ready to leave behind.”
The condo’s bathroom and kitchen are eye-catching with handmade tile walls by Heath Ceramics. At first, Hank resisted the extra expense, “but Nell said, ‘No, handmade tiles are really important. It’s a star piece,'” he recalls.
“The tile has become the first thing everyone comments on,” says Hank. “So when it came time to redo the bathroom, I said, ‘We need more of that tiling for the shower surround – and she said, ‘I don’t care about the bathroom. bath.” So I was the one who said, ‘We’ve got to have it.
Nell and Hank are about to embark on a new adventure, having bought a vacant lot north of Seattle with a lot more square footage that will allow the couple to each have their own studio, and allow Nell to possibly look after his younger brother, who is disabled.
Yet even as they step out, the couple continue to polish their longtime home. “It’s about caring,” Nell says. “I’m proud to be a nanny because caregivers hold everything together. Caring for people, community and home is the same for me.”
952 North 35 Street #202 in Seattle is offered by Andrew Hafzalla and Maria Torres of Kelly Wright Real Estate for $420,000