Susan & Herb’s Handmade, Mid-Century Split Level

published Aug 4, 2014
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(Image credit: Andie Powers)

Name: Susan and Herb Albin, and their two dogs, Owen & Henry
Location: Richmond Highlands; Shoreline, Washington
Size: 2,300 square feet
Years lived in: 21 years; Owned

After twenty-one years and a variety of renovations under one roof, Susan and Herb have turned their “empty nest” into a home full of life, color and light. These split levels are common in this area of Shoreline (a suburb of Seattle), but rarely is one able to capture the warmth of bright jewel tones with a modern sense of mid-century style.

(Image credit: Andie Powers)

An avid crafter, Susan creates small vignettes around her home that showcase her work, with a large-scale studio space in the basement. Their two daughters, Lillian and Louise, both relocated to Massachusetts for college and work. “They really flew the coup!” Susan says, which gave her more time and energy to devote toward her Etsy shop and home improvements.

The top level of their home is a nod to mid-century design, with warm colors and a fluid layout. Most of their artwork is personal in nature and gives life to the walls—plus a few portraits of their redheaded daughters! The lower is the hub of the home with work spaces, a sewing studio, storage for Herb’s scuba diving gear, and room for relaxation (I loved that the World Cup was on while I was photographing!). Enjoy this relaxed and homey space!

(Image credit: Andie Powers)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern with a nod to Mid Century roots. After constructing slipcovers for over 25 years, I’ve entered into what my oldest daughter has perfectly termed a “midlife refresh”—stepping away from custom work and creating only what I love, stitching textiles to new life—pillows, pouches, ottomans….giving Etsy a shot with my shop, Textile Messages, and other craft/flea market venues. Even as recent empty nesters, Herb and I use literally every square inch of our home with passions for scuba diving, biking, cooking, YARN and FABRIC.

Inspiration: Textiles, art, humor… anything with a story.

Favorite Element: Grandmother’s oil painting of my husband as a young boy posing with his dog “Two Spot”— a stray that he lured home.

Biggest Challenge: Nature of the split level beast: STAIRS. They have evolved from carpet, to wood, to painted wood and finally vinyl, which kind of works.

What Friends Say: “This is a happy place!” and “I remember that!”

Biggest Embarrassment: While mowing the lawn, I accidentally threw a ball for my dog straight through the newly installed entry way window.

Proudest DIY: We purchased this house because of its good bones and southern exposure. Asbestos ceilings, wall to wall carpet, single paned windows, and wallpaper has been removed. The new surfaces are simple, providing an even backdrop for the things we enjoy. Stitching, scuba diving, biking, cooking….

Biggest Indulgence: Refrigerator or hot water hose in the garage used to rinse scuba gear and dogs.

Best Advice: Don’t waste money on new furniture that is of poor quality. There are many unique and solid “finds” at thrift stores, Craigslist, eBay… With a little DIY action these can become lasting pieces that won’t fill up dumpsters on your next move. Art! Art! Art!

Dream Sources: Pinterest and Bloglovin’ — so many creative ideas from around the world! Stuf Consignment (like an adoption agency for cool things), Ebay, Etsy, Fremont Flea Market (Although we’ve purchased some pieces from higher end places, my favorites are “hunted” finds with character! 🙂

(Image credit: Andie Powers)

Resources of Note:


• Light: From now demolished Camelot Hotel in Seattle • Wall Hanging: David Hamlin/Sub Materials, Santa Fe • Stairs: Roppe Stairtread • Monoprint: Elizabeth Sandvig 1992 “Her Head is In The Clouds”


• Lamps are Mid Century “finds” from the Seattle area or Ebay • Eames Chair – DWR • Console – DWR • Tile Coffee Table – Ludlow Home, Seattle • Mirror – Kings Lane • Pillows – handmade by Susan except • Knitted Canyon pillow by Lauren Saunders and • “Quail” pillow – Stuf Consignment, Seattle • Large Oil Portrait Painting by Nick Kosciuk • Framed Fabric Collage by Maxine Sutton 2005 for Anthropologie


• Table: John Widdicomb • 1972 Brody Swivel Chairs: Stuf Consignment Seattle • Oil Painting “Lily in White” by Nick Kosciuk


• Cabinets – Canyon Creek Cabinet Company Seattle • Countertops Caesar Stone – Rosemary • Refrigerator – Liebherr • Sink – Elky • Zero Table – DWR • Globus Chairs – DWR • Large Paper Collage – Gail Grinnell, Seattle • Coffee Machine – Rancillo


• Collage of Needlepoints above bed from ebay, etsy, flea markets… • Mid Century Orange Globe Lights – Stuf Consignment, Seattle • Nightstands – DWR • Pastel on Paper – Pat Decaro, Seattle


• Cabinets – Canyon Creek Cabinet Company, Seattle • Countertops – Ceasar Stone • All Fixtures – Todo • Shower Curtain handmade by Susan


• Shelving – IKEA • 1968 Scissor Poster – Kings Lane • Large Acyrllic on Paper – “Thinking of Heron” by Elizabeth Sandvig.
(Image credit: Andie Powers)

Thanks, Susan and Herb!

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