Nestled between the adventurous outdoors and Bellevue’s urban downtown lies the quietly posh suburb of Medina, where designer Steven Hensel transformed a French-influenced residence into a casual, transitional stunner.
Prior to deciding that this would be the place where she would plant her roots and raise her children, homeowner Rene´e Harbers embarked on an extensive house-hunting excursion that spanned most of the West Coast. The long journey concluded in Medina, where Harbers came upon her dream home—complete with her desired layout, a handsome pool, and a coveted neighborhood located on a prestigious golf course. But she still had one last hurdle: The fussy French interiors didn’t reflect her family. “The home had all the features for which we’d been searching, but the de´cor simply wasn’t our taste,” she says. “I knew I needed to find a designer who understood my lifestyle.”
Harbers found her ideal match when she was introduced to Hensel after word spread of a nearby project that the designer had recently completed. The two immediately clicked, and after seeing the home, Hensel calculated his course of action. “Upon entry, I was instantly inspired by the home’s intricate detailing and grandeur,” says Hensel. But he also wanted to soften the formality. “By introducing clean, contemporary lines that contrast with the more ornate nature of the house, we achieved an approachable complexion that matched Renee’s expressed desires,” he says.
Case in point: To give depth to a small formal living room and scale down its hearty hearth, the designer mirrored the north wall and painted the fireplace to blend with the room’s neutral shell. “This was one of the project’s most exciting challenges for me because the end result was especially transformative,” says Hensel, who customized a Barbara Barry-designed rug with a calligraphic pattern for the room. “The fact that it became the focal point in the space that all other elements referenced was fantastic.”
Hensel designed the custom coffee table that echoes the rug pattern’s loose, organic shape. “The calligraphy feel manifests a formality while the application has a natural, organic whimsy that appeals back to the owner’s more casual sensibilities,” he says. And though the space is formal in design, there remains an underlying casual elegance as rich fabrics collide with light, bright paint colors and accessories.
A deliberate color thread runs throughout the rest of the home, weaving a tapestry of buttery tones through the regal but welcoming dining room near the entry, as well as the inviting kitchen and breakfast area that open onto the family room. The creamy hues are complemented by cool, soothing counterparts; this can particularly be seen in the bedroom. “Bedrooms need to be tranquil to promote restfulness,” states Hensel, “and artwork is often such an important key element when evoking that feeling.” Featured in the bedroom is a painting that Hensel commissioned from local artist Jared Rue, whose piece exudes an ethereal notion that supports the calming interiors and balances the carefully selected color tones.
“Though it is a traditional-style home, it was built for modern times,” explains Hensel when describing the workable floor plan of the house that became a home. “This residence places the emphasis on its family spaces, where the majority of time is spent.” And although the home consists of durable fabrics that will stand up to the rigors of children and entertaining, they also possess, Hensel says, “a beautiful hand and an element of luxury that didn’t need to be sacrificed.”