Cleaning House

Two empty-nesters remake their small, midcentury Bellevue house into a colorful, fun and efficient next-stage home.

Written by Allison Lind
Photograph by Alex Hayden

The Challenge:

Nick and Katherine Stojkovic have given a whole new meaning to the term “empty nesters.” After the couple’s son fled their 3,800-square-foot coop in Edmonds, the Stojkovics opted to downsize to a 1,200-square-foot ’50s-style rambler in Bellevue. They completely gutted and remodeled the house and in the process decided to ditch nearly all their belongings and start anew—with a truly empty nest.

Starting with a blank slate gave the Stojkovics room for creativity, but the limited space left little room for design error. The result is a streamlined, vibrant decor with an open, airy floor plan that feels larger than its square-footage.

The entryway leads into an open space that encompasses the living room, dining area and kitchen. But the eye is immediately drawn past the room to the backyard. Lush with unexpected and easy-to-maintain plantings (such as bamboo, shark ferns and palms), a unique water feature (originally sketched by Nick on a restaurant napkin), and entertaining spaces (including a cabana), the yard was designed so that even on the rainiest of days, “it wouldn’t feel so dreary, so Northwest,” Nick says. To best utilize their limited space, the Stojkovics installed glass sliders that span the length of the house, creating the illusion that outside and inside are one. “When we open those sliders in the summer, that’s our living room out there,” Katherine says.

When it came to the kitchen, the couple opted for openness over extra cabinets. Bright, funky finds float on display shelves above the airy island, dramatically set off against the strikingly subdued iridescent tile backsplash of silver, brown, black and bronze, with hints of purple and blue. “We wanted that to be a piece of artwork, so we chose tile to specifically capture the eye,” Nick says.

This once self-professed “beige-and-gray” couple continued the colorful theme throughout their new home. In the living room, a rich, mink-colored couch splashed with turquoise and “orangeade” provides ample seating, and a comfy, vibrant-orange chair serves as a functional piece of art in the corner. (Though it’s a 10-year-old style from Kasala, the chair has maintained its retro appeal.)

Light wood flooring prevents the small floor plan from feeling stagnant, and rich, dark furnishings and vivid colors punctuate each room and creating synergy in the design. More unique but well-executed design aspects are found in the bedroom, where walnut doors are matted on adjacent walls. In the side bathroom, the floor and walls are covered in round, iridescent-turquoise glass tiles.

“Everything at our previous home was too high maintenance,” Katherine says. “It’s all about quality of life now.”

But—as evidenced by the vibrant décor—it’s also about fun.

“It was a change of lifestyle for us, so we needed to shake things up,” Nick says. “We definitely don’t like to do things normally.”

Allison Lind is the assistant editor for Seattle Homes & Lifestyles magazine.