Phinney Ridge: Budget Puzzle

I’ve visited a lot of cookie-cutter townhouses lately, so it was a real pleasure to walk into this distinctive custom home in Phinney Ridge.


This gorgeous, 1998 contemporary has a casual, Malibu-movie-star feel with crisp white walls, an abundance of windows, stained concrete floors, plenty of built-ins, and decks galore. There’s a bright, minimalist aesthetic here that contrasts with the heavy-on-the-wood-trim, Arts-and-Crafts style dominant in Northwest Seattle. It’s a rare modern find in this part of the city.

I’m guessing that the owners dropped a pretty penny when creating this house, hiring an architect, choosing uncommon features like radiant floor heating, and building a sizeable mother-in-law unit outfitted with an ADA shower.

What puzzles me is why they installed low-grade finishes like laminate counters in the kitchen and man-made, faux marble in the bathroom. Budget? Preference? It’s like seeing a supermodel walk the runway wearing a cheap polyester pantsuit and, at this price point, a glaring mistake.

At $284 per square foot, the house compares favorably to others nearby in the million-plus category. They average around $360 per square foot and run as high as $436 per square foot. (But, really, if you can afford to buy in this range, is bargain shopping your main focus?)

Maybe not, but finding value is every house hunter’s goal. And the schizophrenic divide between expensive design and bargain materials lowers my assessment of this home’s worth by a notch.

Neighborhood: Phinney Ridge
Asking: $1,200,000
Address: 5505 2nd Ave. NW, Seattle, WA 98107
Square footage: 4230 (KCR). Lot size: 6312 sq. ft. (KCR)
Bedrooms: 5 Baths: 5
Last sale price: N/A
MLS#: 27002455
Click here for detailed listing.