When Brandon Ebel and Sarah Jio started planning a life together, they couldn’t miss the parallels between their own families and a certain TV show.
“We have an ongoing ‘Brady Bunch’ situation,” said Mr. Ebel, 51, who has two daughters and a son from his previous marriage, while Ms. Jio, 43, has three sons from his previous marriage. .
“We had met in the 90s, when she was dating the lead singer of one of my punk rock bands,” said Mr. Ebel, founder of Tooth & Nail Records and Solid State Records, and owner of the coffee company Caffe Vita. “Then we both ended up getting divorced and saw each other online again, 20 years later.”
Mr. Ebel owned a home in Seattle, as did Ms. Jio, a journalist and author whose latest novel, ‘With Love from London’, came out this week. But after getting engaged in December 2017, they realized neither house was big enough to hold their combined entourage, including six children aged between 10 and 17.
Fortunately, Mr. Ebel had a plan. “I had the vision of building a modern house for almost 20 years,” he said. “And when Sarah and I fell in love, I was in the process of finding the perfect pitch.”
In 2015, he spotted a potential house for demolition on prime hilltop land in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood and approached the owners to sell. It turned out they were nearing retirement and were receptive to the idea, and after two years of negotiations, Mr. Ebel bought the property for $1.2 million.
Ms. Jio immediately understood why he loved her. “It has this beautiful view of the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle, the ferries coming from Bainbridge Island and Mount Rainier,” she said. “It really takes your breath away.”
She was less certain of Mr. Ebel’s intention to create a modernist complex. “I was sort of a latecomer to modern design, and I was a bit worried that the house he had imagined would be cold and not a warm place for a family,” she said. “I write a lot of historical fiction and often go back to the 1940s, 1930s in my storytelling, so I like a traditional house.”
The couple’s architects, Jon Gentry and Aimée O’Carroll, of GO’C, allayed Ms Jio’s worries when they presented their design for the 5,500 square foot home. “I loved it immediately, and I didn’t expect it – it really shocked me,” Ms Jio said. “It was such a warm modern house.”
The couple had given Mr Gentry and Mrs O’Carroll a detailed wish list for their new home, and the architects had apparently ticked all the boxes. “Brandon said he didn’t want to give all the kids huge rooms to hide in,” Ms O’Carroll said. “So we created a common space where children can relax and smaller rooms that encourage people to be together.”
The result is a series of six compact bedrooms, around 80 square feet each, grouped around a dedicated children’s living room with communal offices, on the upper level of the three-story house. “I call them the ship’s cabins,” Ms. Jio said. “They have their privacy and autonomy, but then they can go out and be siblings.”
A bridge-like walkway leads from the children’s area to the master suite, which has a bedroom cantilevered from the rest of the house, to make the most of the view. “It just explodes with glass and steel to frame that view,” Gentry said.
One level lower, the ground floor has more space for gathering. A sprawling double-height living room opens to a large kitchen with walnut cabinetry, an eight-burner Lacanche range, and an island that seats six.
“This kitchen is so well used and so appreciated,” Ms. Jio said. “I am a great gardener and a great cook.”
In the summer, she harvests vegetables, fruits and herbs from the rooftop garden, accessible by a perforated sheet metal staircase. “We have a kiwi vine, vines and this year we had a big harvest of figs,” she said. “The kids love it and come upstairs to pick golden raspberries and blueberries, or I’ll ask them to bring me some basil or rosemary for dinner.”
The kitchen flows seamlessly into an indoor dining area ending in sliding glass doors that open to an outdoor kitchen and a large deck with a fire pit. There’s also a library with a steel fireplace and walls lined with books and records that reflect the couple’s passions. The lower level has more lounging areas, including a home theater and games room, and access to the pool.
After their contractor, Thomas Fragnoli Construction, began work in April 2018, Mr. Ebel and Ms. Jio married in July 2019 while their dream home was under construction. “We kept delaying our wedding, just because this house was taking so long,” Mr. Ebel said.
Even after they got married, they continued to split their time between their two individual homes and didn’t fully move in together until their new home was completed in November 2020, at a cost of around $1,000 per square foot. .
They are now finally settled and marveling at how the house allows the whole family to spend time together, while providing enough separate spaces for each person to find a private space.
“It has become our family home,” Ms. Jio said, “and a place of joy.”