Living large on a small lot

Designing an elegant solution for urban living

Story by Jamey Bradbury

Photography by Dave M. Davis and Denny Wells, DMD Real Estate Photography

“Hear that?” Dennelle Seetomona of MX&B Development LLC asks as we stand beside a window in the living room of her company’s latest project, a duplex on the corner of L Street and 11th Avenue. Thanks to the room’s high-STC (sound transmission class) windows, foam insulation and Quietrock sheetrock, I don’t hear anything but the faintest engine rumble. “It’s so quiet; it’s hard to believe we’re right on a busy corner downtown.”

Architectural design:
Blind Monkey Design; John Rankin Designs; MX&B Development, LLC
Interior design:
MX&B Development, LLC
Roofing/vertical metal siding:
Rain Proof Roofing
Roof top deck:
A Wasler Specialties; H&K Sheetmetal Fabricators
Nowka Cabinet Company, LLC; A Wasler Specialties
Hard Rock Designs
Custom kitchen backsplash:
Spartan Design
Teeple Cabinets & Construction; A Wasler Specialties; Alaska Glazing Inc.
Tiles & flooring:
Andre Kozel, AK Floors
Mag Electric
Bowman Mechanical Contractors
Frontier Landscaping Inc.; Grass Roots Services
Driveway, patio & curbing:
Diggins Concrete

There’s a lot that’s hard to believe about the modern, urban-yet-elegant condo newly built by MX&B Development, a project two years in the making. Located just one block south of the Delany Park Strip, the new home enjoys easy access to restaurants, the Performing Arts Center and other downtown locations, yet the tranquil atmosphere and the spacious interior could fool you into thinking you’re touring one of the Hillside’s huge, secluded homes.

For Terry and Dennelle Seetomona, who once actually lived in a house on this site (“It was like living in a tent – the road noise was so loud,” Dennelle recalls), creating a quiet home that offered ample living space, abundant storage, a garage and plenty of conveniences was a challenge on a 7,000-square-foot downtown lot. They pulled it off by building up, rather than out – the condo is three stories tall, with a rooftop deck, but only 16-and-a-half feet wide – and designing a semi-open floor plan.

The open concept is most apparent on the ground floor, where a large living room with Wicander cork floors gives way to a sleek kitchen filled with sophisticated touches, like the Carrara marble countertops laid by Hard Rock Designs, basalt lava flooring and a custom, handmade concrete floral tile backsplash. There’s plenty of storage, with a walk-in pantry, wine cubbies, lots of acrylic cabinets and metal draws outfitted with servo drives that allow them to be opened at the touch of a hand and prevent them from slamming closed. Viking appliances, including a built-in coffee maker, would complete any kitchen, but this space offers even more.

“We tried to live large in a small space,” Dennelle explains. “So we have these high ceilings, and we have a living room and a family room, but the way it’s laid out, we couldn’t fit a formal dining area in.”

The Seetomonas brought in Paul Wasler of A Wasler Specialties for the solution: He created a sapele “dining room” table connected to the kitchen island, all of which “can comfortably seat up to seven or eight people,” Dennelle says.

The builders designed the column staircase with glass panels, parallam stairs and Douglas fir treads to let in natural light from the large garden windows and give the condo an open feel. Downstairs, they chose elements like acrylic panels and glass tiles that would reflect light to keep the lowest level from feeling too dark. There’s less natural light in the entertainment and wet bar area, but that’s only because the room is outfitted with adjustable lighting to set exactly the right mood for watching a game or taking in a movie on the top-of-the-line entertainment center.

Up another flight of stairs is the rooftop deck, a smart solution for expanding this home’s living space even further. Taking full advantage of its cityscape setting, the deck offers views of the mountains, Cook Inlet and downtown Anchorage. Here, the use of exterior-grade African mahogany floating tiles along with a commercial roof drain make the deck area virtually no-maintenance; when rooftop snow melts, it simply goes down the drains.

A metal roof and siding, by Rain Proof Roofing, give the exterior a sleek, modern look. Dennelle says the project wouldn’t have been possible without the exacting workmanship of subcontractors like Rain Proof. “We build long-lasting homes, and part of that has to do with material choices. The vertical metal on the sides, the flashing, the rooftop on the garage – everyone sees those things, so Rain Proof is really particular about what they do. Everyone who worked on this project is just as conscientious.”

A secluded patio behind the house offers a downtown oasis, while the 400-square-foot loft over the garage has been left unfinished “because we thought the tenant would know best how they want to use it,” says Dennelle. “It’s a clean palette that can be used for storage, as an exercise room, a home office or even extra living space.”

“My husband, Terry, is the brains behind the project,” Dennelle says of the sophisticated downtown duplex. “He’s the risk-taker and the one with the vision.” In this design, the couple tried to create a look that was urban and chic, yet timeless. “Our plan is that in 20 years, the materials we’ve chosen will still look stylish and classic.”