From the Ground Up: Bringing the Outside In


Bringing the Outside In: Seattle

A remodel-turned-rebuild on Lake Washington connects to its site and becomes part of the landscape. Sitting nearly at water’s edge on the east side of Lake Washington, it embraces views of Mercer Island and downtown Seattle, something the project’s designer, Susan Marinello, describes as “180 degrees of wonderful.” With more than 7,000 square feet spread over three levels, the home moves easily from small to large gatherings, indoors and outdoors. “It’s the kind of house where you can sit back and put your feet up,” Marinello says. “The windows and doors are open all the time; dogs are running back and forth. It’s relaxed and unpretentious.”

Hand-Chiseled Stone Inside and Outside

Across a short walkway from the street and down a few steps, a 10-foot-tall pivot door opens to a vista through the house and across the lake to the Seattle skyline. On one side of the stairs, a monumental stone wall extends from the entrance gate out to the lake façade, while a band of skylights runs the length of the interior.

Hand-chiseled stone runs inside and outside the entrance to a Bellevue residence transformed by architects Stanford Hanson and Henry H. Lo. The entry now takes full advantage of the home’s waterside locale, offering views through the abode and to the lake beyond.

Stylishly Minimal Minerals Palette

Freed from making spaces work within the existing confines, Hanson and Lo went back to the drawing board and came up with a plan that capitalized on the sloping site. Placing the entrance at the landing between the upper and main floor of the home, they created a dazzling welcome for the family and their guests.

Reg Willing worked with a stylishly minimal materials palette, which is introduced in the foyer. Cerused-white-oak flooring from Salisbury Woodworking runs throughout the home, as does the hardwood facing many of the ceilings. The revamped plan provides generously proportioned windows and a band of skylights to ensure plenty of light.

Light Gray Living Room with Fireplace and Metallic Chairs

Freed from making spaces work within the existing confines, Hanson and Lo went back to the drawing board and came up with a plan that capitalized on the sloping site. Placing the entrance at the landing between the upper and main floor of the home, they created a dazzling welcome for the family and their guests.

For the living room, designer
Susan Marinello chose a CFC console table from Michael Folks Showroom to complement The Natural Carpet Company rug and the Vaughan Designs candlestick lamps, all from The Dixon Group. More illumination comes from The Urban Electric Co. sconces. The chairs are by Rose Tarlow Melrose House and are from Jennifer West, as is the Holly Hunt Great Plains fabric on the sofas.

Dining Area with Modern Art and Staircase

The stone plays a dramatic counterpoint to the white walls and the fresh yet muted palette that Marinello wove throughout the rooms. “People tease me because I love white interiors,” the designer says. “But if we have a space that connects to any kind of a view, we get quieter in our interior work. That’s a philosophy I adhere to pretty rigorously. We create backdrops for people. We want their colors, their clothes and their friends to shine.” 

A 1963 acrylic-on-canvas by
Michael Graves adds a fresh touch in the dining area, which is set near the sculptural floating staircase connecting the home’s three levels. Marinello conceived an elegantly minimal dining table in cerused wood while the custom armchairs are upholstered in Perennials fabric from Susan Mills Showroom.

Softened Metal Kitchen with Landscape Views

In the kitchen, the honed limestone from Pental Surfaces on the counters, the wall tile from Statements, and the cabinetry crafted from rift-cut white oak continue the home’s understated palette. Custom barstools pull up to the island. The range is by Wolf, and the faucets are KWC.

Gabled West Facade on Lake Washington

Natural light streams into the house, thanks to expansive windows and glass doors stretching across the main floor’s lake façade.

Decks and
NanaWall doors ensure that the home’s gabled west façade is oriented to the view. Off the ground floor, which contains a family room, bar, fitness room and guest suite, a covered terrace offers additional spots for lounging year-round.

Curved Deck with Cloudy Lake Washington Views

Landscape architect Darwin Webb of Darwin Webb Landscape Architects, Claire Higgins of the landscape firm Evans Creek, and Dan Groves of Sander Groves Landscaping also ensured an easy connection between indoors and outdoors. A stone terrace doubles as an outdoor room, and lush plantings dot the property. “We use the covered seating area off the family room all year long,” says the wife. 

Curved steps of stone sourced from Marenakos Rock Center lead down to water’s edge and a boat dock. Plywood Supply provided the decking material. The space is furnished with outdoor pieces from the owners’ existing collection.

Custom Gray Master Bed with Twin Lamps and Nightstands

The architects set the master suite in a gabled wing that projects toward the lake, bringing in light on three sides. “The entire west side of the house opens up,” says Lo. “The walls disappear, and it’s all open to the water.” 

Marinello designed a custom bed, upholstered in a
Duralee fabric, with a television that lifts and lowers from the footboard. Atop the Plantation bedside tables are Currey & Company lamps from DFG.

Large Square Tub with Lake Views in Seattle

Rohl faucets accent rift-cut maple vanities in the master bathroom. Stone from Ann Sacks covers the counters and floor, lending the room a tranquil feeling. The Phoenix Day pendants are from Trammell-Gagné.

Intimate Seating Group with Lake Views

In the master bedroom, Lee Industries chairs in Holly Hunt’s Great Outdoors fabric and a Formations table create an intimate seating group—the perfect spot to enjoy the stunning views. Providing a soft landing is a carpet from the C. James Collection.

There are vacation houses, and then there are houses with the appeal of a never-ending getaway. A couple in Bellevue wake up every day to the latter, thanks to a luminous design that makes the most of its setting and delivers everything they wanted—a warm and inviting family home that’s bright and airy even on the cloudiest days. It didn’t start out that way. Though it was beautifully sited, the existing home, which had been remodeled several times during the past two decades, did little to take advantage of the panorama before it. Raising the ceilings was high atop the couple’s to-do list. “The only way to bring the outside in was to have larger windows on the lake side and higher ceilings,” says the husband. “We wanted the house to flow from one room to another.” But when architects Stanford Hanson and Henry H. Lo and builder Reg Willing began opening up the interiors, they discovered conditions that suggested a ground-up rebuild would be the best solution. 

With the rebuild came a stunning architectural aspect: “Throughout the day, the sun shines light on the wall,” says Lo, who finished the project after Hanson passed away during construction. “It’s the focal point of the house.” The wall’s warm-hued cladding strikes just the right note of rusticity. “It’s a really thin stone veneer,” says Willing. “Every piece had to be hand-chiseled and scraped to fit into place. It was like a big Tetris game for the mason.” 

For designer Marinello, the home is the perfect blend of classic sophistication and contemporary warmth. “Our goal was to create a home that’s light and comfortable and fresh, a place that feels very welcoming to the couple’s friends and family,” she says. “It’s a relaxed lake house that honors where it is.” 

Kelly Vencill Sanchez