Steve and Nancy's Vintage Sunset Inspired Home

House Tour

Name: Steve Thornton & Nancy Ostrander
Location: Seattle, Washington
Size: 1048 square feet, 378 of that is the basement
Years lived in: 11

Steve and Nancy live in the Green Lake area of Seattle. Steve works for a non-profit social services agency, Solid Ground. Nancy works at City Peoples’s, a garden and hardware store. Their charming 1958 home has retained a lot of its character because they purchased it from its original owners, Chellis and Nympha Easton. I was told to make a point of mentioning that they “are SO PROUD to own a house built by a guy named ‘Chellis’, with a wife named ‘Nympha’.” Some aspects of the home underwent an unfortunate 1980’s makeover, but they are doing what they can to bring it back to their vintage aesthetic, mostly inspired by 1960s Sunset Magazine.

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This couple has many interests and it is reflected in their home. Both are avid photographers, anglophiles, world travelers, and music appreciators. Check out Steve and Nancy’s flickr sites to see some of their photos. To say they are collectors would be an understatement. Though Nancy claims she's done with collecting, some of her past interests include vintage Christmas LPs and 45s, 50s & 60s chrome postcards of motels and modern architecture, Instamatic cameras, Photo books, and vintage cookbooks and pamphlets from the 20s-70s. Steve's collecting habits over the years have made him the proud owner of many records, books (especially Vladimir Nabokov and Kingsley Amis, over 100 items by each), more books, and a large collection of Russ Berry figurines (those terrifying off-white big-head figurines with big eyes and slogans like "I Love You This Much", "I'm Sorry" and "I Mith You"). You will forgive me if I stop here... the list does go on. They have found several clever ways of displaying/containing their collections throughout their home while making the most of their space. I am most impressed by their “archives” in the basement. Custom built shelves by Kerf Design beautifully house their many books, pamphlets, postcards, maps, etc. In the office, formerly a tiki bar, many of Steve's cameras are on display. A portion of Nancy's vintage china collection is exhibited in the kitchen. Regretfully I visited their home in late fall and missed out on photographing Nancy's spectacular garden in its prime. This time of year their living room is super cozy thanks, in part, to the vintage electric fireplace that was once a fixture in Steve's parents home.

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AT Survey:

Our style: Post-retro comfort modern

Inspiration: Sunset Magazine issues from the 1960s

Favorite Elements: Dorothy Napangardi Western Desert Dot Painting, all the built-in cabinets, the garden, corner window in the living room, 1980s Tetley pub sign, dual-flush Australian toilet

Biggest Challenge: Avoiding kitsch. Undoing some of the damage done to the kitchen in the 1980s. The gorgeous cabinets will stay, but the ugly, peeling vinyl floor and the scarred beige countertops will go. So will the about-to-die refrigerator and ugly stove. We'd also like to have more than one electrical outlet in the room!

What Friends Say: I love your bathroom.

Biggest Embarrassments: Moss on roof, bad 80s kitchen counters, dated kitchen vinyl floor, grease on kitchen ceiling, crumbling aluminum windows, fading exterior paint on metal siding

Proudest DIY: Steve designed and built the side fence and bluestone patio!

Biggest Indulgence: Dorothy Napangardi painting

Best advice: Buy fewer but better things. You really don't need to get every record you see in a thrift shop with a cool cover, in fact you probably need to stay away from thrift stores. Also, don't put a flat-bottomed sink in the bathroom. It looks cool, but then everything in the water precipitates out while it's slowly swirling down, so when the water's gone, all your toothpaste grit or whatever is still there.

Dream source: Mod furniture we can't afford. Kobo at Higo, an old Japanese variety store that's been turned into part-Japanese-variety-store-museum and part stylish Asian and Asian-American design and furnishings shop.

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Resources:
Kerf Design: Custom shelving in bathroom and basement
Richlite: Black countertop in the bathroom. It's actually a natural product, resinated paper. It's the same stuff your high school science lab counters were made out of!
Seattle Environmental Home Center, now Ecohaus: They are where we found the Richlite, the vintage-style linoleum in the bathroom, the magic Australian dual-flush toilet, and a few other odds and ends
Connor Remodeling & Design: bathroom remodel
Antika: Eclectic mix of British inter-war and midcentury modern furnishings and housewares

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(Thanks, Steve & Nancy!)

Images: Molly Anderson

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