When Dr. Robert Pavalunas and his wife, Judy, were ready to downsize after 42 years in a cozy rambler, they wanted a clean slate—something that read airy, modern and downtown. They found exactly that in a condo set within a glamorous building that enjoys views of Seattle’s urban streetscape, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
After seeing several projects by designer Christian Grevstad, Judy admired his subtle sensibilities and knew she had found a partner in their vision for an open, elegant home with good use of space for entertaining and lounging. That vision also exemplified one of Grevstad’s design tenets: Less is more. So the couple bid farewell to their previous 5,000-square-foot house, along with most of their belongings, and said hello to sophisticated simplicity that offered the fresh start and metropolitan feel they desired.
Before they approached furnishings, Grevstad brought in general contractor James Forslund to make architectural changes in order to open and reconfigure the layout. “We look at the interior architecture to see how spaces relate to each other,” says Grevstad, “and we work within that to create a harmonious interior envelope.” The team removed dark kitchen cabinetry and altered the kitchen layout, designed a new lighting plan throughout, installed wide-plank European white-oak flooring, put in two fireplaces (one outside on the terrace), and raised or lowered the ceiling to help delineate the open-plan concept.
“The living room, salon and kitchen were all one room,” says Grevstad, “but we achieved a sense of space by making adjustments architecturally.” The ceiling is now lower in the kitchen and bar area, and higher in the spacious dining area and living spaces, all set against a backdrop of floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic views. The team also mirrored the support columns so that they almost disappear in their act of reflecting the light surroundings.
“I wanted a very white, modern interior,” says Grevstad, and the owners were on board. To keep it interesting, he incorporated a mix of textures—though all within the same color family—for a surprising effect. Lustrous white cabinetry, given its sheen by high-gloss lacquer, keeps the kitchen cool and slick, while soft fabrics warm the heart of the open living area. For example, a plush crescent-shaped sofa by Michael Taylor Designs, in Larsen velvet, faces a high-back sofa covered in raw silk and velvet, also by Larsen. Between them, Wendell Castle Collection’s Sizzle table with sculpted lacquered sides and a matte-wood top, from Trammell-Gagné, echoes both the contours of the curvy sofa and the materiality of the cabinetry and the island, which comprises white-cerused mahogany and polished Caesarstone cladding.
The custom island was its own design feat, but it meets the couple’s requirement for dining that accommodates both small and large groups. Designed by Grevstad, it features a floating counter and mates with the nearby custom dining table, which weighs about 600 pounds yet rolls effortlessly on concealed casters. Forslund oversaw their complex fabrication, which called for a large team to implement metal stud framing, structural steel, woodwork, stone cladding, plumbing, and electrical work. When its leaves are in, and it’s moved to marry the island, the table can serve up to 14 guests—which covers the couple’s grown children, spouses and grandkids. “The wood tops for the floating counter and moveable table are cut from the same flitch of mahogany,” says Forslund, “which allows the two surfaces to appear as one with the grain flowing through when they’re mated to each other.”
The interplay of textures continues into the master bedroom, where soft offsets sleek. A white upholstered bed—like a cumulus cloud in the sky, especially given its towering vantage point of the Space Needle—is wrapped in white bedding. In contrast, a crisp white ledge (in the same finish as the kitchen cabinetry) supports a Japanese screen with an apropos depiction of birds, as though the room itself were in flight. Furniture is free-floating for an added airy feel, and sheer white draperies soften the expanse of glass, as does the fact that the window is slightly curved. “Curvature can bring elegance to an otherwise linear environment,” notes the designer.
In a sweet neighborhood twist, the couple’s old house was sold to a young family who went to high school with their kids. Do they ever miss it? “I thought I might have some regret moving out, but I’ve never looked back,” says Judy. “We were once told that everyone has his or her perfect place. I never quite understood that until now.”