Functionality And Picturesque Surroundings Set The Stage For A Pacific Northwest Home


Living room of Seattle house...

Rift-cut white-oak floors by Sheoga Hardwood Flooring define the living room of a Seattle home by architect Joseph Herrin. The living room is furnished with B&B Italia sofas and a pair of Maruni’s Hiroshima armchairs from Inform Interiors.

Exterior of Seattle house with...

After a thorough renovation helmed by Herrin and general contractor Chad Rollins, a Seattle home overlooking Lake Washington now capitalizes on its stunning views thanks to a flipped floor plan that places the main living spaces on the top floor. The homeowners consulted with Nussbaum Group on the landscaping.

Stairway with cantilvered treads

The team “future-proofed” the home “by putting in an elevator shaft so it’s ready if and when the homeowners need it,” Herrin says. Until then, they use a three-story staircase with white-oak treads that wraps around the shaft and appears to float in midair thanks to some clever engineering.

DIning room with adjacent kitchen...

As a housewarming gift, the general contractor’s team designed and crafted a dining room table for the homeowners, who paired it with a set of contemporary chairs and glass Futura SP 23 pendant lights by Vistosi. Doors integrated into the far wall conceal the powder room from view.

Kitchen facing island

The view from the kitchen’s Julien sink, inset with a Blanco faucet, focuses on a heritage Douglas fir outside. Seamless expanses of rift-sawn white-oak cabinetry with Lapitec porcelain tops run around the perimeter, while an oak island is topped with black granite. The ovens are by Miele; the cooktop is Wolf.

Detail shot of main bedroom...

In the master bedroom, custom built-in furnishings make the most of the relatively small space. Rollins’ team made the bed frame and headboard wall, which also supports cantilevered bedside tables. A wall-mounted Tolomeo lamp by Artemide provides reading light without taking up valuable nightstand real estate.

Detail of main bath with...

Chic simplicity rules in the master bath, where Rollins and his team also fabricated the casework. The undermount Laufen sink integrates into the vanity top for a harmonious feel. Above is a pair of polished chrome Graff faucets.

Main bath shot of freestanding...

By positioning the main bathroom at grade and incorporating a floor-to-ceiling window wall, the feeling is of a much larger space that connects seamlessly with the garden outside. A cast-in-place concrete floor, Ann Sacks tiles and an oval soaking tub by Wetstyle fitted with a Hansgrohe spout all hew to a soft white and gray palette.

Exterior shot with seating area...

Pushing the den 18 inches below grade allowed for an adjacent sunken terrace with a fire feature and is accessed through a lift and slide door by Quantum Windows & Doors. Vertical tight-knot cedar clads the exterior.

Seattle’s View Ridge neighborhood is known for its bird’s-eye views of nearby Lake Washington and the Cascades beyond, and an impressive stock of midcentury-modern homes, many by notable Pacific Northwest architects. But until recently, this particular home in the heart of View Ridge had neither the architecture nor views of note, thanks to a series of haphazard renovations that ignored aesthetics, functionality and the picturesque surroundings.

For seven years, the homeowners and their architect, Joseph Herrin, had searched for a site on which to build a new house. “But nothing was ever really right,” Herrin says, “and in the end, it was because they loved their neighborhood and didn’t want to move.” But while the owners weren’t leaving, their existing house would have to, so Herrin, project architect Tony Salas and their team set about devising a new structure that would celebrate the views and their clients’ passion for contemporary design.

To do that, Herrin decided they had to start at the top. “We wanted to make sure that no matter what happened—even if the neighbor across the street decided to build a three-story house—we would have that view in perpetuity,” he says. “So, we created a reverse floor plan with the living spaces on the top floor, the bedrooms on the middle floor, and the garage and utility spaces on the lower floor,” with the first two levels both situated at grade to take advantage of the sloping site.

When viewed from the street, the new house would be three stories tall, and Herrin worried that a towering structure might not be the friendliest neighbor. To break down the scale, he and his team envisioned a stack of three boxes that shift horizontally as they ascended. The first is a heavy base with concrete walls; above it rests what the architect describes as a wood box clad with clear cedar; and the top floor, sheltered by a cantilevered roof, “is expressed as much as possible as a hovering horizontal plane.”

The journey to reach the living, dining and kitchen spaces is a revelation. Herrin worked with the project’s general contractor, Chad Rollins, whose firm has an in-house architectural concrete, framing, cabinetry and metalworking shop, to create a series of concrete entry stairs outside—shaded by a mature fig tree and accented by a modern steel guard rail and archway—and a dramatic staircase inside. “Like so many of the home’s details that look really simple, there was a party going on behind the scenes,” Rollins says of the latter, whose oak treads appear to float in midair. “Each tread is a U-shaped configuration that’s slipped over the top of a steel angle hidden in the wall, then capped from the bottom with wood.”

If the stairs are the teaser to entice visitors upstairs, the top floor is the payoff, and not just because of its lake, mountain and treetop views. Here, the home’s palette of glass, steel and wood merges in living spaces that feel at once airy and intimate, thanks to wide window walls, warm oak floors and angled ceilings clad with clear cedar. “It’s a very classic Northwest look,” Herrin says, “though we like to take a natural material like cedar and desaturate it with a light stain, so it’s a little quieter, so your eye is drawn to the furnishings and art.”

In this case, those furnishings are simple and streamlined. Some, like the family room’s sofas, made the cut from the previous house, while others, like the sculptural armchairs that pull up to the fireplace, were chosen for this space. And a few, to Herrin’s delight, were built right in. To save space in the main bedroom, Rollins’ team fabricated a solid walnut bed frame and headboard wall with built-in cantilevered nightstands that float above the floor. For the bathrooms, they turned sleek expanses of rift-sawn white oak into cantilevered vanities. And in the kitchen, they used the same material in two contrasting finish colors to build streamlined walls of cabinetry and an island encased in jet-black granite.

Driving each of these custom details was the common goal of creating deceptively simple design elements that come together in quiet harmony. “Our work is about riffing off one another to make sure that these details come to life while retaining the subtle moments that everybody hopes for,” Rollins says, all in service of one not-so-subtle feature—those dynamic, iconic Pacific Northwest views.