Homing in on the city of the $15,000 sofa

Comfortably rich

So your investments have taken a beating this year and you have only about $15,000 to spend on a sofa? What can you get? We looked around and found a meticulously handcrafted model that started at $10,000. (A version heavy with silk and resembling a perfectly sewn tapestry sold this past year for about $15,000 at Masins Furniture in Pioneer Square.)

"It sells well. I'm shocked," said store owner Bob Masin, who remembers when one could buy a nice house for that price. These sofas can be difficult to deliver, since many are bound for penthouse suites, he said. A 9-foot sofa can't fit in many condo elevators so they have to be hoisted up from the outside of the building. "You can't break them apart," he explained. "At least intentionally."

The strange house that spite built

TAKE A $15,000 sofa, break it in half and what do you have? A worthless sofa, but also the width of possibly the first "skinny house" in Seattle. At least at the south end, where the house is 55 inches wide. The north end is 15 feet wide.

The one-bedroom house at 2022 24th Ave. E. in Montlake was built in 1925 by someone trying to get back at a neighbor for making an insultingly low offer for the tiny slice of land on which it sits. It worked; the house blocked the neighbors' open space and they moved. The so-called Spite House, all 860 square feet of it (including the basement), is doing fine, however, recently selling for $235,500. An open house attracted 150 people, mostly out of curiosity, said Windermere agent Steven Isaacson, who knew the target market was limited.

"There's no way a family would live there," he said.

Well, maybe a small family. That's why Peter O'Neil, a Seattle attorney, and his wife moved out in 1990, after seven years there. They wanted to have some kids, so they bought a two-bedroom house. "We wandered around and it felt so huge," he said.

This old house is really old

IT WAS BUILT in 1854 near Alki Beach for Seattle pioneer Doc Maynard, but doesn't look like it. Mike Moratti, now living in Kingston, grew up in the house, the city's oldest surviving residence. What was that like?

"I liked it because was so close to the beach," said Moratti. That's it? How about the character, the history? Was it haunted? "No. The only thing that was haunted about it was that it didn't have any heat upstairs."

Moratti said the house, moved years ago to its current location at 3045 64th Ave. S.W., had few obvious signs of its age except for a sloped floor in the kitchen. "When you were eating peas, the peas would roll to one side of the plate," he said. And the pioneers thought they had it tough.

Bill Kossen is a writer for The Seattle Times. You may e-mail this page at pacificnw@seattletimes.com, or write P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. Planet Northwest response line: 206-464-3337.