Cecilia “Cec” and Eric Vogt were looking for a house to buy in 1977 when they came across a bungalow in a neighborhood they liked.

The place seemed to have possibilities, but neither Cec nor Eric was foolish enough to believe it would be a breeze to update this 1940s house. However, they were definitely up for the challenge to make it their “Forever Home.”

Fast forward to 2021 and I’m sure the original owners would not recognize the major transformations inside and outside the house, all due to the creative design and hard work this couple has put in over their many years of ownership.

Boy, was I in for an amazing surprise when I walked up to the couple’s door and before knocking, noticed the beautiful sidelights and front door window that featured colorful, stained glass designs within the clear glass. This made me even more intrigued about what was on the other side.

Cec ushered me into the adjacent, open-concept living room and at first sight I admit that I was instantly taken by the contemporary décor.

My husband and I met Cec, the Yakima Greenway director, when we volunteered to work at one of the early Gap-to-Gap events. Her tenure lasted 11 years before she moved on to become the director of the local Red Cross chapter for two years. Later, she consulted for nonprofits and spent time working for the Cowiche Conservancy.

Her husband Eric’s path to Yakima included serving in the U.S. Navy and then spending 26 years as a Hanford plant manager. Today, both of them are retired and over the years they have become adept at the art of remodeling their house.

Just beyond the front door is their contemporary living room. A large picture window provides a seasonal view of the beautiful tree in their front yard. They have decorated their living room with comfortable, contemporary furnishings and a beautiful wood floor.

Eric, a man of many talents, created a brick façade on the living room’s north wall, complete with a wood mantle and a natural gas fireplace to keep the space warm and cozy during Yakima’s colder months. In addition, he has a talent for woodworking and has built a number of beautiful pieces that enhance the home’s ambiance.

The couple also love original artwork and have painted one wall a soft purple to enhance their display of a beautiful painting of a waterfall. They both delight in traveling and have enlarged and framed several wonderful photos of their international adventures to countries like Africa, Spain and Greece. They even had the amazing experience of floating down Africa’s Nile River.

When they took ownership of the house, it didn’t take long for them to realize they needed to do some remodeling to accommodate their family. One of the first projects was ripping out walls to open up what then was a tiny kitchen. Today the kitchen is much bigger with lots of light, plenty of cabinets and counter space and room for the latest appliances.

Adjacent to the kitchen is their open dining space, which features bright red walls that make the displayed art pop. A modern light fixture over the dining room table provides the perfect atmosphere for great meals. In contrast, they placed an heirloom cupboard in the corner, displaying a collection of antique dishes just waiting for a dinner party.

Matthew and Travis, the couple’s two boys, had bedrooms just off the living room on the main floor. Eric and Cec claimed the second story bedroom. It didn’t take long for them to realize that the staircase leading upstairs and down to the home’s basement desperately needed to be replaced. Fortunately, Eric had become adept at construction and took on this major task.

Cec led me up to their master bedroom. Their second story has a four-season view, which always makes her feel like she’s living in a treehouse — she has a wonderful view of the neighborhood and its beautiful tall trees.

One of the biggest projects the couple undertook had to be the renovation of their large basement.

“We opened the ba sement to make one big room. We took the garage door out and put in windows,” Cec explained. It turns out that the project has made a big difference in their family life.

“We spend a lot of time here,” she said. Plus, when their boys were growing up, they had room to bring friends over, watch television, and do homework.

Today, their sons are adults. Matthew, their oldest, lives in Kansas and his younger brother Travis lives in Seattle. But never fear, this couple loves to travel, so visiting their adult children has to be a priority.

As much as I loved their home’s interior, with summer coming I have to say their elevated back porch, which overlooks their backyard, really captured my attention. With access through the dining room’s glass doors, visitors can step onto the porch that runs across the back of the house. To the left is an outdoor dining table, perfect for summer dinners with friends. To the right, guests can make their way to a lower level and be seated around a tall heater to enjoy a cocktail hour while relishing the beauty of the tall trees and garden below.

I decided to save the best for last. Obviously, over the years Eric has become an accomplished carpenter. He even built a two car-garage for the home. Not to be left out, Cec’s artistic accomplishments are notable as well. She gave us a tour of her workshop in the basement that boasts two kilns. In fact, she pointed out that she has been working with stained glass for 45 years. Making soap is also in her repertoire and I was gifted with a lovely, purple bar to take home. It’s currently in a place of honor by my kitchen sink.