This multilevel Seattle home on Lake Washington shows what can happen when the owners’ desires become the architect’s guideposts. The man and wife who had the home built wanted a place that felt modern and up-to-date but with traditional touches that tied back to the site’s earlier days. The pair previously owned a house on the property for many years, but when they decided to expand that home, mixed feelings arose about the direction they should take. They loved the Tudor style, the established feel and great layout of the existing house, but that layout didn’t take advantage of the surrounding water views.
Enter architect Jim Castanes and project manager Alev Seymen, who, after confirming that a simple remodel wouldn’t accommodate the clients’ requests, had the original house torn down to build anew. “The owners loved the old floor plan,” Castanes says, “so we used it but in a contemporary language.” He called upon builder Robert Kruse, then of Kruse Brothers Construction, to lift the living and dining areas one level above ground and tuck the kitchen onto the street side. On the ground level, they created a walk-out family room with a glass wall that stacks open, blurring the line between indoors and out. “Some folks have an infinity pool,” says the owner, “but we have an infinity home.”
With the walk-out ground level, balconies on the upper levels and expansive swathes of glass, the major rooms and gardens are open to views that stretch from Mount Baker to Mount Rainier. Castanes created a trellis off the family room and covered it so the residents could sit outside in good weather and bad. And because the owners enjoy the sound of rolling water, Castanes expanded the trellis to include a water curtain on one end and, above that, a sculptural drainage system that allows rainwater off the roof to create a variety of soothing and sensual sounds. “You can hear the architecture,” he says.
Inside, the interiors demonstrate a mix of old and new through Castanes’ detailing and interior designer Nancy Burfiend’s choice of materials. There are beams, but they are sleek and painted. The kitchen is awash with stainless steel appliances and gleaming white marble, but softened with oak cabinetry and reddish floor tiles. The walls and ceilings throughout are also light, but they are balanced with warm hardwood floors. Castanes consciously created a contem- porary envelope for Burfiend to fill with traditional touches. “It’s the design equivalent of a blended family,” he says.
While the architecture is in-the-now, the furniture is from-the-then. Burfiend and designer Devin Fitzpatrick worked closely with the owners to bring beloved older pieces into the new home and to buy new things that felt stylistically from another generation. Two wingback chairs in the living room, for instance, had belonged to the wife’s mother; the designers updated them with a creamy linen. Also, the owners had traveled in Europe years ago and had long regretted passing up a pair of leather club chairs in Paris. Burfiend found them a similarly entrancing set from Jean de Merry. Plus, says Burfiend, “The wife has a wonderful eye and she brought in a lot of really cool, older artifacts.”
If the house is about old greeting new, the landscape is about romance meeting running water. “They love everything about water,” says land- scape architect Anita Madtes, “especially its sound.” Madtes crafted a lakeside yard to conjure up European villas that use a series of terraces to rise to a visual focal point. From the dock, the layers of land ascend to a romantic round space the owners call the turret. Here, a sweep of cypress encircles a seating group under which water off the roof runs through a series of fins to create that magical sound the owners love. That feat of modern engineering is invisible; what you’re more likely to see is the chandelier the wife has hung from the ancient willow, and up a few steps, the covered trellis.
With its old-school floor plan and new-kid-on-the-block windows and materials, this home on the water blends the best of old and new while giving the owners a soundtrack they love as much as the home itself. “Inside or out, we are where we want to be,” the husband says, “within earshot of water.”