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Sunday, May 20, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Portraits

Marlow Harris | Helps us settle in with our own personal style

You've got your bungalows and ramblers, your Queen Annes and Victorians, your split-levels and the rest. Veer a block or two off main street, though, and you might come upon people living in converted churches or barns, even in their own private castles.

Someone built a sculpture of a house he called "constructivist art." There is a gingerbread-themed house across Puget Sound. Others pay homage to science fiction. And what about those dog-inspired houses some call "barkitecture"?

Seattle realtor Marlow Harris does quite well selling normal houses — well enough that she and her family live in a restored 6,000-square-foot 1914 former Presbyterian church on Capitol Hill. But she has a healthy appreciation, bordering on love, for the idiosyncratic, artistic and eccentric forms in which people choose to express themselves.

Down the left-hand column of one of her several Web sites, www.seattledreamhomes.com, you can find sections listing "unusual homes," "novelty architecture," "artists' homes." There is also a section labeled "Seattle Googie," which refers to the Jetsons-style 1950s and '60s façades that sprung up in Southern California. Seattle is blessed with them, too. Think Space Needle.

A lifelong Seattleite and an only child, she has indelible memories of road trips with her grandparents and their penchant for roadside attractions, such as the "Oregon Vortex."

"We stopped at every single one of those, I think, and I got obsessed with all these weird places; it scarred me for life," she says. "But in a good way! It was Americana at its finest, and more disappears each year."

Her own home, which she shares with her artist husband, Jodavid, and three sons, exudes personal statement. It holds much of the original charm and quirks of its past life, including a big oak front door that opens outward instead of inward. Original art is everywhere.

The living room, where a chapel used to be, features Louis XIV chairs on a leopard-skin rug, which rests next to a fireplace and a mantle on which a statue of David, a glittery Eiffel Tower and a wallet-sized picture of Elvis Presley co-exist. Somehow, it works.

"My home is my creation, my way to create an artistic environment to live and raise my family," she says. "It brings order to the chaos."

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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