The clients were only reluctantly coming out of retirement. After happily living in tranquil waterside surroundings off Vancouver Island, they were returning to Seattle for business reasons. And finding an extraordinarily quiet, comfortable home looking out at lush greenery would reaffirm their decision to go back to the city. “They wanted a private estate,” recalls architect Stuart Silk, who designed the couple’s sunny oasis along with project architect Anne Adams and team member David Marchetti. “They created their own inner world. It’s a very happy house. I drive by it every day, and it always makes me smile.”
Georgian in style with a crisp stucco façade and interior millwork and moldings true to the vernacular, the Broadmoor residence effortlessly combines formal and casual. The entry is marked by a sensuous curving staircase to one side, with a stately living room occupying the front of the house and a view to the formal dining room beyond. “You could have put a rectangular staircase there, but the elliptical one has a beautiful sense of flow,” the homeowner says. Here, the creamy color palette of the furniture and walls combines with the richness of walnut floors, elegantly patterned woven rugs and unusual details such as a custom dining room mural and a study paneled in walnut and polished with countless layers of hand-applied lacquer.
Yet in the rear of the home, the mood becomes more relaxed. “The owners really do use both the formal and informal spaces of the house,” designer Kylee Shintaffer says. “They eat in their dining room every night. They entertain a lot. But they still have a comfortable breakfast nook, family room and kitchen in the back where they can do more of their casual day-to-day living.”
Though traditional in architecture and décor, the home has a central nervous system that is decidedly 21st century. The clients, who own a mechanical contracting company, sought a simple amenity scarcely found in any home: individual climate controls for every room. “It’s hard to keep big homes at a universal temperature, but this house is like The Six Million Dollar Man,” builder Klaus Toth muses. A hydronic system embedded in the ground-level floors sets a baseline temperature, which is augmented by a chilled water system that can heat or cool to keep a steady room temperature despite environmental conditions. The house also includes automated controls for lighting, audio/visual systems, spa features and security. “We’re not gadget people. We just want comfort,” the homeowner explains. “We built this house with family and friends in mind—lots of overnight visitors—and we wanted them to be able to control their own spaces.”
With all of its mechanical prowess, the house remains remarkably energy-efficient. It has been awarded LEED Silver certification—think FSC-certified framing materials, high-efficiency HVAC systems and water conservation measures both indoors and outside—and the house is exceptionally well insulated. Yet it’s the quiet that the insulation brings as much as the energy savings that inspired the owners.
Nearly mature maples, rhododendrons, edible gardens and LED lights— planned by landscape architect Bill Williamson before construction began—surround the house and underscore its sustainable theme.
“Privacy was the biggest thing for the clients, but they also wanted to be able to have vegetables and herbs, an ornamental garden rather than plants that solely screen and segregate,” he says. “They also wanted trees, shrubs and perennials that would attract birds, so we added plants such as camellia sasanquas and penstemon husker reds. And we tried to match it to when the owners would be there and could see things blooming.”
Passing this turn-of-the-20th-century-style house on the street, one would never know the residence is quite so technologically advanced, or so sustainable, as it is inside. “When you’re doing a Georgian, you tap into the precedents of that style,” Adams says. “But this is definitely a high- performance house as well.” Perhaps it’s just this combination—roots in the past, reaching to the future—that helps the house to bloom.