In design, as in life, it all boils down to balance. For a Seattle couple, this meant creating a new home that would bridge aesthetics while serving the needs of the adults and three growing children alike. “I didn’t want a high-maintenance house,” the wife remembers. So to achieve that perfect blend of sophistication and family-friendly ease, they tapped the design talents of Stuart Silk, Anne Adams and Christian Grevstad, who found a balance of their own while collaborating on the project.
From the start the couple was “looking for traditional bones but were open to some modern influences,” recalls Silk. Together with Adams, who worked for Silk at the time, the architects created a floor plan arranged on a horizontal axis, taking advantage of the unusually wide site beside a golf course. A covered outdoor room at the rear serves “as the nexus of the house and knits it all together,” explains Adams—and overlooks a 75-year-old cherry blossom tree whose natural beauty was an inspiration to all.
Despite the rooms’ formal progression, the effect reads light and open, since the architects avoided enclosing the central spine to create a traditional hallway. Instead, “We maximized every square foot,” says Silk, so nearly all the space is usable. The dining room, for example, takes a bite out of the open main circulation path, which gives it a gallery-like feel and a bump of extra space. While spatial definition exists, “We also talked a lot about maintaining visual connections,” says Adams, both across rooms and into the landscape. The living, dining and family rooms all have direct access into the gardens via glass doors, and doors in the living and family rooms open onto that loggia, defining space even further.
As the work progressed, Grevstad joined the project to give a designer’s perspective “on the functionality of the interior spaces and the finishes palette for the interior and exterior,” he says. In this vein, he reconceptualized the master bath, a showpiece that’s clad in creamy stone, opening it up and orienting it to views of the golf course. For the interiors, “we created a neutral palette with some high contrast,” says Grevstad, who doubled down with contrast in the double-height entry. “I wanted to enhance what is so great about the architecture and give some depth and color and texture,” Grevstad says, so he opted for a cerused walnut taken to an inky gray. It makes for a rich experience set against the warm, pale tones of the walls, ceiling and plank floors, the installation of which, along with the overall construction, was overseen by builder Michael Brooks. “The project moved at an intense pace and required a lot of coordination,” Brooks notes.
The organic Northwest palette of creams and grays continues into the rest of the house, staying away from color changes that would interrupt the architectural flow. Furnishings were kept neutral, as well; Grevstad went in a contemporary direction, “looking for clean and simple—less is more,” he says. “I wanted to create enough space to for the owners to collect art and allow freedom for the eye to move without a lot of clutter.” Unexpected pieces break from tradition, like the modern clear glass pendants in the entry, while others were chosen to harmonize with the architectural foundation. “I didn’t want to throw in a bright green sofa. Large pieces have to take in the context of the spaces they’re in,” Grevstad explains, so he populated the rooms with refined though still comfortable seating covered in fabrics to hold up to the boys and their friends.
Landscape designer Keith Geller sought balance in his piece of the project, too, in response to the structure’s strong, straight horizontal lines and graphic exterior palette of cream and black. “I wanted to create vertical forms,” he says, “so I used a lot of Italian cypress trees in groupings.” Round boxwood forms pop up here and there and softness comes from maple and apple trees that create canopies around the garden.
In the end, a collaborative approach yielded just the home the owners wanted for their family. “The whole team had so much fun, and the clients were really wonderful to work with,” says Grevstad. Adds Silk, “We worked as a unit and everyone was a good listener.” And the client agrees. For her and her family, she says, the result is “a house that will grow with us.”