How To Do Neutrals With A Dash Of Whimsy, As Seen In This Seattle Home


gray white dining room with...

CR Laine host chairs in a Castel fabric pair with side chairs Dotolo reupholstered in a Fabricut blend around the existing dining table. A Visual Comfort & Co. floor lamp stands beside the metallic painted Bernhardt credenza.

bar cart wool and bamboo...

A wool-and-bamboo rug from Driscoll Robbins Fine Carpets picks up on the watery hues of the lake beyond the dining area. Dotolo incorporated the clients’ own bar cart, filled with cocktail essentials, and artwork in the space.

mosaic hawthorne albescent tiles gray...

Mosaic Hawthorne Albescent tiles by TileBar set off the game room’s bar area, which opens to a deck. Four Hands counter chairs face the island wrapped in planks of Duchateau European oak separated by custom-stained trim details.

gray chevron tile fireplace family...

Contemporary accent tables from Ambella Home Collection bring an organic touch to the lower-level family room, where the star is a generously proportioned, multisided Bernhardt sectional just right for lounging. Tile by Olympia Tile + Stone in a chevron pattern covers the fireplace and offers another visual dimension.

playroom built-in desk abstract wallcovering

Intended for both work and fun, the playroom offers a built-in desk, with Uttermost chairs, and shelving for homework. The abstract wallcovering is by S. Harris. Underfoot is a Jaipur rug.

floral Schumacher wallcovering bedroom

An abstract floral Schumacher wallcovering forms the backdrop for a Vanguard Furniture bed outfitted in Peacock Alley linens. The Gabby ottoman infuses a shot of vivid color. An Arteriors lamp supplies bedside illumination. In the adjacent office, a Century chair joins a built-in desk.

Interior designer Beth Dotolo grew up on the move. With one parent on the East Coast and the other often between the East Coast and Texas, she spent her youth hopping planes back and forth. She also found herself recreating “home” in every location, looking for an anchor. “I developed this impulse to create a sense of place,” she says. “Now there’s almost a passion to construct environments where people feel connected to their surroundings; that are a true representation of their personalities.”

Walking through her clients’ Seattle home perched above Lake Washington, Dotolo felt that same desire arise. The bones were beautifully set: a modern build by the architecture firm Gelotte Hommas Drivdahl that was elevated by classic, streamlined details. Missing was a true sense of who her clients—a couple with three children—were. “They had old furniture that didn’t work and weren’t maximizing spaces.”

Avid entertainers with impeccable taste and a full family life, they desired interiors that fit their lifestyle and would transition seamlessly from everyday living to dinner parties and were executed with a clear articulation of their personal aesthetic. “The home had to be a stylish workhorse for them—down to the details,” says Dotolo, who takes clients through an in-depth consultation and then assigns homework to determine their styles. “We landed at Ralph Lauren-meets-Chloé with splashes of culture: understated and classic, yet bold in select places.”

Dotolo’s vision begins in the entry, where an air of originality arrests the senses—the eye is immediately struck by the juxtaposition of a moody landscape with a retro arrow sculpture. Underfoot, a hand-knotted rug surprises with geometric contrast. Then the eye wanders upward to the ceiling, where the unexpected placement of wallpaper elicits a flash of awe. “Everywhere you look there’s an element of tension,” says Dotolo, who worked with her partner Carolina V. Gentry on the project. “We like to design spaces that make you think.”

Wallcoverings work to amplify visual intrigue throughout. The playroom, which serves as a homework station, comes alive with an abstract choice. Across a watercoloresque background, large-scale ribbons twirl like doodles. Dotolo paired whimsy with efficient built-ins and classic furnishings with updated lines. In the master bedroom, where “serenity and sophistication” were the goal, the designer made a striking selection to complement the canopy bed. The mix is pristine: Against the pattern of overscale, impressionistic blooms, the bed’s tapered posts rise and criss-cross. “The wallcoverings added a ton of personality,” she says. “They helped the owners put their stamp on the home.”

The interior is mainly awash in neutrals, a color cue that echoes the landscape surrounding nearby Lake Washington. The palette’s softness sits like the mist off the water—light and airy, welcoming in its subtlety yet never cold, thanks to her dynamic mix of textures. In the open living and dining areas, metallics and metals strike a satisfying sharpness against lush fabrics. In the basement family room and bar, oak, marble, porcelain, velvet and polished concrete all artfully coexist in a spectacular dance of optical harmony. Even in a space as visually stimulating as this, functionality remains at the heart. The sectional breaks apart and rearranges like building blocks accommodating anything from lounging to game night to cocktail hour. “It’s like a giant modular pit for the family,” she says. “It lends itself to relaxation and interaction on any occasion.”

Even the home’s pièce de résistance is imbued with personality. Adjacent to the basement staircase is a woodpaneled wall—push gently and a portion surprisingly gives away. It’s a hidden door (complete with a staggered edge) that opens to the wine cellar. “We took advantage of a cool design opportunity,” notes Dotolo.

She says this as if it’s something she doesn’t always do—discover design opportunities. Case in point: a photo taken by the husband’s father and displayed in a cabinet. Dotolo blew up the image, floated it in an acrylic frame, and placed it in view of the entry to highlight its significance. “Intuition is one of my design superpowers,” she says. “This photo represented their family culture; it helped tie them to the physical space.” In essence, it established a sense of place—and turned a house into a home.