A Contemporary Seattle Residence with Elegant Black Interiors


Contemporary Black Living Room with Cast-Glass Wall

A striking Damian Jones coffee table, from Blackman Cruz in Los Angeles, and Jean de Merry chairs rest on a Holland & Sherry carpet in the living room. Designer Jules Thomas conceived the bronze-and-nickel fireplace surround, fabricated by Metal Solutions. The cast-glass wall was produced by Peter David Studio.

Contemporary Black Bathroom with Custom Cabinets

In the master bathroom, cabinets designed by Thomas and fabricated by Seattle Cabinet & Design sandwich a Devon & Devon vanity purchased through Cabochon Surfaces & Fixtures in La Jolla, California, which rests on flooring from Ann Sacks. Thomas also conceived the mirrors fabricated by Metal Solutions.

Contemporary Black Living Room with Cast-Glass Wall

A striking Damian Jones coffee table, from Blackman Cruz in Los Angeles, and Jean de Merry chairs rest on a Holland & Sherry carpet in the living room. Designer Jules Thomas conceived the bronze-and-nickel fireplace surround, fabricated by Metal Solutions. The cast-glass wall was produced by Peter David Studio.

Contemporary Black Entry with Black-Oak Floors

In the entry, a Christian Liaigre console sits on fumed black-oak floors by EBHF, while a Michael Gregory painting from Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum, Idaho, hangs on the wall. An Alison Berger Glassworks pendant from Jennifer West coordinates with the door by Delta Door supplied through Little Pigs Distributing.

Contemporary Black Dining Room with Banquette

Gregorius Pineo tables from Kelly Forslund pair with Christian Liaigre chairs from Susan Mills Showroom and a custom banquette in the dining room. A custom Holland & Sherry carpet runs underfoot. Builder Klaus Toth seamlessly executed the complex finishes and details throughout the house.

Contemporary Black Dining Room Vignette with Sconces

A Jean de Merry sconce illuminates a wall in the dining room. Thomas tapped the skills of Seley Painting services for the custom paint and lacquer finishes throughout the house and called upon the talents of Studio C for the plaster, stenciling and sgraffito work, as well as the silver-leaf ceilings.

Contemporary Black Hall with Statement Panel

Peter Waite’s acrylic on panels, Duomo, from Winston Wächter Fine Art makes a dramatic statement near the dining room. A Christian Liaigre bench provides a spot to perch underneath the piece, while a sconce from Alison Berger Glassworks lights the hall beyond.

Contemporary Black Den with Black Sectional

Judith Kindler’s It’s The Law punctuates the den, which is open to the kitchen. A Jiun Ho sectional from Trammell-Gagné is placed with a tufted George Smith ottoman from The Dixon Group. The bronze Metal Solutions mirror features a hidden television; Christian Liaigre floor lamps and a Promemoria bench complete the vignette.

Contemporary Black Hallway with Lacquered Walls

An Alison Berger Glassworks sconce shines a light in the hallway, and at the far end, a Jack Spencer photograph from Gail Severn Gallery hangs on the wall. The custom Holland & Sherry carpet adds contrast.

Contemporary Black and White Staircase with Bronze Railing

The custom bronze staircase railing with blackened-steel posts was conceived by Thomas and produced by Metal Solutions. The Judith Kindler work at the top of the stairs was purchased from Gail Severn Gallery.

Contemporary Black Kitchen with Black Cabinets

Lacquered cabinets from Seattle Cabinet & Design, featuring inlaid bronze-and-nickel trim by Metal Solutions and marble countertops from architectural Stone Werkes, coordinate with a custom Ann Sacks backsplash in the kitchen. Appliances through Albert Lee Appliance and a Waterworks faucet offer shiny counterpoints. Thomas designed the runner in collaboration with Holland & Sherry.

Contemporary White Bedroom with Antique Stools

The Alex bed by Kerry Joyce for Dessin Fournir stands on a custom hair-on-hide Kyle Bunting rug from Trammell-Gagné in the master bedroom. A work by Ġoxwa from Axelle Fine Arts Galerie in New York hovers above antique Biedermeier stools purchased from an auction; a gold-framed Russian work circa 1920 marks the fireplace.

After living in a traditional Tudor-style residence, a retired Seattle businessman was ready for another approach. “I wanted a home that was different and reflected a new phase of my life,” he says. So, he turned to designer Jules Thomas to fashion this next phase. “I saw this spark in him—a Southerner’s ease mixed with corporate toughness—and decided to push the envelope,” she explains. “He trusted me to move forward with a design that was new to him.” Looking beyond the dated oak cabinetry, pink marble and sheetrock railings, Thomas “envisioned a masculine home with a soft edge,” she says. “I wanted to bring a freshness to the combination but with a sense of history as well.” The new spaces would conjure a 1930s Parisian gentlemen’s smoking club—mixing the relaxed sophistication of the Ritz Paris’ Bar Hemingway with a vibe that evokes the effortless ease of actor Jack Nicholson.

Getting that Paris-in-Seattle feel required an extensive undertaking on the part of both Thomas, who worked with Alev Seymen, a former project manager at Castanes Architects, for the drawings, and builder Klaus Toth. For Toth’s part, he ensured that every detail—from the living room’s dramatic custom fireplace to a tailored staircase railing near the entry—was installed with the utmost care. “The quality of the finishes was essential to this project,” says Toth, who worked on the home with superintendent Chris Nason. In the combined living-dining room, for instance, the sterling-silver-leaf ceiling, which now perfectly aligns with black plaster walls, was a challenge that required careful engineering. “There are points of connection where different materials come together,” Toth says. For example, high-gloss wood-panel walls, black hardwood floors, mirrored walls with glass moldings, Italian plaster surfaces, white veined marble, and full-height tile and stone wall finishes all make an appearance in the home. “A lot of thought was spent on those unions: what the material choices would be and how they’d play together,” he says. “Jules also wanted to celebrate the light and how it reflects off these different finishes.”

For the color palette, Thomas chose a black backdrop punctuated by metallics and white. “I thought it would be elegant yet understated, like Seattle, to play the gray light off a black palette in a variety of finishes from muted steel and mohair to lacquered walls,” she says. “I let the light in the spaces dominate over the idea of a color scheme. It’s really the absence of color in favor of enhancing the natural light.” To capture the natural brightness and to better match the scale of the house, the designer raised the doors and ceilings—those doors and windows will frame the gardens that are currently being designed by landscape architect Kenneth Philp. Thomas then considered the custom staircase, which features a bronze railing and blackened-steel posts. The black hue of the plaster walls became a beautiful canvas for an extensive art collection that includes Peter Waite’s large acrylic on panels that hangs in the dining room. “My client picked pieces he really loved,” says Thomas, who helped the homeowner curate the various works.

The graphic yet luminous palette well serves the luxurious surfaces. “Each finish or surface in this home was part of a layer cake,” Toth says. “There were so many materials to consider and finishes laid on top of each other that create a unified look.” Those layered elements that Thomas chose include the dining room’s black plasterwalls, which bestow a traditional but fresh patina; the entry hall’s custom paneling that plays off the living-dining room ceiling; metalwork including doorknobs, floor grates and the master bathroom’s console legs; and the living room’s hand-cast glass mirror wall. “It all comes together and is beautifully strong but soft at the same time,” Thomas says. In the living room, a brass coffee table and sinewy leather armchairs rest on a custom silk-and-cashmere rug, and the dining room’s cozy tufted banquette effortlessly pairs with bespoke cabinets and two tables for dining flexibility. “Every detail plays off each other seamlessly,” she says. Meticulous details can also be found in the kitchen, where custom lacquered cabinets with inlaid bronze-and-nickel trim balance the creamy marble countertops etched with a linear motif. “There’s so much depth to this project and blending of finishes that’s very cool,” Toth says.

The renovated abode now reflects Thomas’ client perfectly. “A house has to really belong to its homeowner in every way, like a custom-tailored suit,” she says. And the personality of the owner is truly displayed in each area of his house. “If you want a home that’s a personal reflection, a designer with a critical eye is key,” he says. “I love how the dark walls and floors add warmth to the house and reflect light. The finished product is absolutely magnificent.”

—Brittany McGuire