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Not just another pretty lake view

By on October 28, 2019 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments
Mary Signorelli expects to spend time every season on the long deck just outside her living room, one of three on her end unit. All have glass insert “railings,” part of an earlier remodel of the condominium complex.

 These 1965 condominiums perfectly suit two owners with changing needs

Story By Susan Lagsdin

Photos by Mike Irwin

The play of sun and clouds over Stormy Mountain and Bear Mountain, the crystalline blue span of water, dark sculpted horizons, hillside homes perched above the lake, a faint buzz of road and marina activity — a day hike up Chelan Butte would offer an unforgettable one-time view like this, a perfect vacation photo op.

And to live close to Chelan’s main street with a similar vista as a full-scale backdrop to daily domesticity? Heaven.

The two-story condominium complex, built over 50 years ago, holds its age well. The top two neighboring units on the right are featured.

In 1965, a handsome modern structure was built to capture and hold that classic up lake view. It was one of the first condominiums in the state of Washington, on a hilly lot on Third Street, near downtown Chelan’s south bridge. 

Today, 54 years later, eight owners, some full time and some seasonal, live in the building and treasure their good choices.

Mary Signorelli bought her condo this past summer. She owned Wood & Things in Wenatchee for 24 years, after that a consignment furniture store in Chelan, and she currently works as a real estate broker at RE/MAX Advantage in Chelan. 

She’d already decided to downsize from her labor-intensive, 2,500-square-foot, two-level home just on the other side of downtown; the landscaping and cleaning were not quite as worth it as before. After enthusiastically showing this unit to prospective buyers four times, she’d fallen in love with it herself.

The Larsons’ living room features mixed slate and bamboo flooring and pale wall and window treatment. Terry’s perennial jigsaw puzzles have their own corner, and a long dining table is off right past the stuccoed fireplace.

Jerry and Terry Larson, her next-door neighbors (front doors about four feet apart), bought their unit two years ago. 

He’d been at Pro Build in Wenatchee for years and after retirement, which didn’t stick, now works at Marson and Marson in Chelan. They’d built an orchard home in Monitor and farmed for 15 years, and when their three children matured and moved away, they cozied into a small place up Lake Chelan near The Cove Marina. 

In 2017 they headed closer to town, to “upsize” for yet another chapter in their lives.

Mary’s in-progress living room will see some changes this month: refinishing the floors, swapping in French doors to the deck, and changing wall and fireplace colors. She’ll also switch from firewood to an electric insert.
A perfect example of why remodelers attack the kitchen first: these upper cabinets are just eyeball height, facing Lake Chelan. Mary’s appliances have been donated and will switch position in the newly-opened space.

Mary is in the midst of remodeling — kitchen, floors, HVAC and new rooms — but she hopes to settle in late this fall. 

The Larsons, on the other hand, realized that the updates made by the previous owner suited them perfectly, and they haven’t changed a thing since they moved in.

The easy access to town is a bonus for both owners, plus the use of a quiet pocket park and a closed-off street at the base of the building, and the knockout view holds the most appeal. 

However, the well-designed interiors have their own charm.

The floor plans of the two 1,400 square foot units are similar: the entry, two bedrooms with baths and a laundry room are situated on the east (non-view) garage side, and a long rectangular living/dining space anchored on one wall by a fireplace faces west, with full length deck and window wall. 

Mary’s end unit kitchen has south-facing windows and a small deck. In the Larsons’ inner unit, the kitchen is centered and open to the living and dining area.

An absolute treasure for any aging-in-place owner is the one feature — an important one — that distinguishes Mary’s unit from all the others: a small elevator rises from the building’s common patio/garage level directly to the private extra deck accessible from both her bedrooms. “I think the original builder had an older relative or planned to stay here a long time…” she said. “I don’t need it now, but it will sure be good to have after my knee surgery.”

Mary decided on other sensible changes that will enable her to live there, she hopes, into a long future. 

One involved pulling the HVAC heat exchange unit (and its filter) down to floor level from its attic location. Some closet and hall space were lost but matched her need to also reconfigure and extend the kitchen, taking down banks of overhead cupboards that were tough to access and blocked the view.

She’s envisioning a glassed-in sunroom at the kitchen end in lieu of the tiny deck, and the living area is so spacious she’ll wall off one section for a glass-doored office. 

Buff walls will turn to a pewter color, and she’s bravely considering the wow effect of scarlet paint on both the ’60s dull brick fireplace and the walls of her new kitchen, which will feature brushed stainless-steel counters and open shelving.

Tracking the moving parts of her remodel daily, Mary hopes for a Thanksgiving move-in date. 

The biggest job at her other home is, of course, what to do with “stuff.” A downstairs apartment’s large furniture will be donated to family, and main floor pieces will move to the condo. No lawn mower or big outdoor BBQ and seating needed. 

And about the boxes and bins of a life of memorabilia? She’s undecided.

The view from this living room couch is just as satisfying every day as when Jerry Larson, seen here, and his wife Terry moved in two years ago, happy with the seller’s very recent remodel.

The Larsons, happy from the start with the flow and interior finishes of their condominium, made the downsizing decision years ago, ridding themselves of excess. The recent move into town was one more easy step. 

“We wanted to ‘simplify, simplify, simplify,’ in the words of Thoreau… and to concentrate on what’s most important to us,” said Jerry. “And that is family.”

Their condo sometimes is a family hub. He has five nearby brothers; Terry, born in Cashmere, has relatives all over the region. 

Jerry quipped, “I figure every fifth car I see when I go to Wenatchee has someone I know in it.” 

Their big dining table can seat 10, and the guest room boasts a toy box and sleeping for three; the Larsons intend to fill their home and their lives with loved ones for years.

The immediate impression of their main living area is Northwest rustic: cherry cabinets, brown-toned granite and slate floor tiles fill the wide-open kitchen. 

The Larsons’ master bath is simple and stylish. It has a big walk-in tiled shower and contemporary cabinetry, seen here. Bathrooms in both theirs and Mary’s condos had been recently updated and needed no changes.

The living area has bamboo floors, grayed walls and a stucco fireplace re-do. Barn doors on the bathrooms save hallway space, and the big remodeled master closet is big enough for two (1965’s was probably smaller). 

Good bones and quality materials make it easy to suggest a long life for these condos. With one home in transition, one just fine as is, and a good next-door-relationship, life is good here. Both owners are pleased to be in a small, responsive HOA group where neighbors are close by but there aren’t too many of them. 

For Mary and the Larsons, and their six neighbors, what makes this place special is what drew them to consider this location in the first place: they can enjoy a long, languorous, unobstructed look straight up Lake Chelan to the distant hills — in perfect private comfort, any time, any season. 

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