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A modern, beachy West Seattle waterfront home

The Chow family's fun renovation of a small beach house even has river otter admirers



Bob and Shirley Chow with sons Max and Quinn in their beachy digs.

Photo: Joshua Huston

 

Bob and Shirley Chow know how to vacation — right in their home city of Seattle. Don’t go thinking that it’s a staycation, though! When they want to get away, the couple and their two sons, Max, 14, and Quinn, 12, take a quick trip just 8 miles away from their Central District residence to their modern, beachy West Seattle waterfront home. 

At the bottom of a winding road, hidden from traffic and passersby, the 1,100-square-foot house is nestled on its own private beach and boasts a beautiful garden, filled with tasty treats at harvest: raspberries, garlic, onions, olives and more. The house and beach offer a stunning view of all sorts of native wildlife. “There are eagles and otters and wildlife I can’t even name,” says Shirley. “We can catch Dungeness crab, mussels and salmon from our own little piece of waterfront.”

Photo: Joshua Huston

The Chow family takes advantage of their outdoor space.

The house wasn’t always such a perfect slice of heaven. When Bob and Shirley purchased the property, it was admittedly not to their taste. “It was dark, dated and had odd spaces, but I knew that would change,” says Shirley. “We bought the home, enjoyed it for the summer, then I started the renovation with my handyman and some of his friends.” 

Max and Quinn got to help with the deconstruction stage of the project, taking a sledgehammer to the walls and making special requests. “They wanted their own space, with enough room to share with friends. I made sure their bunk room was a room I would’ve killed for when I was young,” says Shirley. 

Photo: Joshua Huston

Max and Quinn carved out enough square footage to share with friends.

From there, the new home was completely redone, and began to take shape with modern details like white rubber floors, distressed grey fir and a brand-new kitchen, plus swipe-control lights, multicolored LED foot kick lights, and lots of snacks in easily accessible drawers and cabinets. Not to mention newly sourced (new and vintage) furniture and décor to complete the space. 

“My husband and sons were completely floored with the brand-new house,” Shirley says. “It was barely recognizable, and in fact, the previous owner came by and was stricken by the change. I don’t think they would’ve moved if they had seen the possibilities!” 

Photo: Joshua Huston

A masterful retreat on the water.

When they aren’t spending time in their fantastic digs, the family takes advantage of the West Seattle outdoor scene at its best: beachcombing, paddleboarding, sailing, fishing, and even a little hiking. The boys are able to explore the neighborhood and even discovered a “private, hidden stair-climb park.” 

The problems don’t disappear just because your second home is close to your first home, Shirley tells us: “My problem right now is ousting river otters!” 

That sounds like a problem we could get used to. 

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