A Design Team Conquers A Seattle Home’s Site Challenges


contemporary neutral entry staircase map...

In the entry of Travis Penn and John Wicher's Seattle house--conceived by architect Geoffrey T. Prentiss and designer Holly McKinley--custom pendants by Stephen Hirt Studios share space with artwork by Stuart Slind from Bau-Xi Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia. White-oak flooring sourced by builder Paul Vassallo finishes the space.

contemporary living room neutral fireplace...

In the living room, a Vitra chair and ottoman from Design Within Reach and a pair of swivel chairs re-covered in Rogers & Goffigon linen mingle with a custom sofa covered in Glant chenille and a pair of Holly Hunt lounge chairs from Jennifer West. The antique console behind the sofa is from the owners' collection.

contemporary kitchen waterfall island white-oak...

Mark Albrecht Studio counter chairs from Trammell-Gagne pull up to the kitchen's waterfall island featuring Taj Mahal quartzite from Meta Marble & Granite. White-oak cabinetry shares space with a Zephyr vent hood and DCS cooktop, both from Albert Lee, and a Blanco pull-out faucet from Seattle Interiors. Tech Lighting pendants from Lighting Supply illuminate the scene.

contemporary dining room expansive windows...

As an extension of the kitchen, the dining room is framed with expansive windows and a door from Quantum Windows & Doors that lead to a covered deck area. Existing chairs re-covered in Romo Ultrasuede Surround a refinished table that stands on a rug from Driscoll Robbins Fine Carpets. Hovering over the setting is a Rich Brilliant Willing fixture while Jerri Lisk paintings from Patricia Rovzar Gallery add color.

contemporary office metal fireplace artwork...

Chairs from Design Within Reach face a patinated metal fireplace in the office. Artwork by Marianne Brabanski from Museo Gallery graces the wall. The Oaxacan pottery vessel on top of the fireplace was purchased in San Miguel de Allende.

For the upstairs hallway, Tech...

For the upstairs hallway, Tech Lighting pendants highlight a work by Janel Jefferson from Wally Workman Gallery in Austin. The settee, a family heirloom, is covered in antique needlepoint; the carpet is also from the owners’ collection. Referencing the homeowners’ love of travel, the two-story world map wallpaper is by Murals Wallpaper.

Perched nearly 40 feet off...

Perched nearly 40 feet off the ground due to the steeply sloping site, the master bedroom feels as if it's floating in the trees. An existing bed and bedside tables rest on carpet by Godfrey Hirst Carpets. The ottoman was recovered in Powell & Bonnell chenille from George Associates.

contemporary exterior deck with canopy...

A massive wood-and-steel canopy extends over the deck to shelter the outdoor dining area, which is furnished with the clients’ own table and chairs. Prentiss recessed lights, speakers and heaters into the overhead structure, ensuring the homeowners can enjoy the space nearly year-round.

contemporary deck outdoor dining area

The deck offers spectacular views of Lake Washington as well as the perfect vantage point to take in the gardens, which were designed by landscape architect Scott Holsapple and emphasize native and ornamental plantings.

Seattle couple Travis Penn and John Wicher’s new home came with several challenges — most notably its difficult site.

“There’s almost no flat land, so the foundations are enormous,” says architect Geoffrey Prentiss.

With a steep hillside and narrow driveway access, the project “was a complex three-dimensional puzzle that took an extreme amount of coordination,” says builder Paul Vassallo.

Still, Prentiss set to work on a design that would capture the views, provide ample storage and contend with the steep slope and property restrictions.

Landscape architect Scott Holsapple, too, tackled the exterior of the property, weeding out overgrown invasive species, incorporating ornamental elements and transforming the yard into a peaceful sanctuary where Travis and John could entertain.

Inside, designer Holly McKinley worked on a transitional look that would highlight the homeowners’ family heirlooms and artwork from their travels.

“I love to mix old and new pieces to give spaces layers of time,” McKinley says.

Despite the challenges, the home turned out perfectly, according to both the clients and the team members who poured their hearts into the project.

“The house was designed to capture the beautiful views and it retains a kind of warmth,” Vassallo says.

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