Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

A Mod 50s Seattle home gets a family DIY remodel

Audrey and Kevin McGill are living in what some may call the best of both worlds — and very stylishly at that. Their 1958 mid-century modern house is nestled in a forested setting just 25 minutes from downtown Seattle in Lake Forest Park. The couple and their sons Aidan, 13, and Evan, 11, moved into the 2,240-square-foot house in May of 2014, and since then have worked as a family to help the house reach its full potential.

The house was originally designed by John Burrows, known mostly in the North Seattle area for building homes with cedar post-and-beam ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. “I'm a big fan of having natural light flood the house,” says Audrey. “I love the original ceilings. They create such a warm feeling.”

The boys also appreciate the large, bright windows, which give nature a front-and-center seat in the house. “They love living with woods and creeks in our backyard,” says Audrey. “We have set up a tent and they’ve camped out with their friends!”


The family is currently at work on building a pergola in the backyard.

Yet the house’s fine historic elements and pedigree hasn’t stopped the McGills from undertaking DIY projects to make it more functional and customized to their needs. Audrey is a freelance writer and Kevin is a security engineer at Holland America, but worked as an electrician out of high school and learned “everything else” from his brother-in-law, says Audrey.  Other than that, the two have just picked up knowledge from working on a few previous homes — and looking up a lot online.

They tackled the exterior first, building upper and lower decks, fencing and an entryway courtyard. After a year of getting to know the house, they renovated the kitchen as well, replacing and removing cabinetry, installing a tile backsplash and adding open shelving.


Audrey McGill has found nearly all the home’s mid-century furniture in thrift shops or on Craigslist.

Aidan and Evan lend a hand in the process, helping with various tasks, no matter how small. “We want them to feel a part of the process, and to learn about the aspects and responsibility of a project from start to finish,” says Audrey. The boys assisted with designing and landscaping the front yard, and in the backyard helped build a fire pit where they now get to roast marshmallows and hot dogs. Currently they’re pitching in with painting outdoor furniture and posts for a pergola that Kevin is building, shoveling and raking gravel for a slate patio, and planting flowerbeds.

“Working on our house and landscaping projects together has brought us closer as a family,” says Audrey, “And we all enjoy the satisfaction of seeing how our hard work can create something beautiful.”

For more about the McGill family’s home, visit