Pretty much everyone has heard the old adage “Good things come to those who wait.” But few would argue that in our high-tech, gotta-have-it-now world, patience is a diminishing virtue. To hear the story of a Seattle family who took their time determining the style of home they wanted to build on property that had been in their family for generations is downright refreshing. “The owners and their four children lived in an existing circa-1930s bungalow for nearly a decade while deciding what direction they wanted to go,” says their designer, Julie Massucco Kleiner. They did make good use of their time, though, Kleiner points out, because they put together an impressive pre-Pinterest inspiration binder that serendipitously included clippings of rooms she had designed.
Working with architects Peter Conard and Suzanne Findley, the family eventually decided on a Shingle-style home (builder Tony Giaquinta and landscape architect Randy Allwoth rounded out the team). “They wanted a home that looked like it had been there for many years with additions made over time but suitable for modern living,” says Findley. In conjunction with Conard, who passed away after the project was completed, Findley imbued the structure with classic Shingle-style details such as a prominent main gable, painted wood columns and mullioned windows in varying shapes and sizes. “It’s rich in detail and tradition, but it’s also designed for contemporary, active family life,” she says.
In the entry, for example, the paneled walls, crown moldings and gently curving staircase establish the requisite classical bones, while a separate informal entry features a place for coats and boots. The job of installing the array of custom elements fell to Giaquinta. “Getting everything right required a major coordination effort,” says the builder, pointing to the installation of the graceful main stair, which was built off-site before “our carpenters framed in the curve and then the traditional plaster subcontractor came in with their mesh and plaster finish coat.”
Kleiner had no trouble convincing all concerned that the elaborate woodwork needed to be high-gloss white. “It created the perfect blank slate for the pomegranate red grass-cloth walls in the living room,” says the designer, citing an antique Oushak as the starting point for the home’s bold red, blue and green palette. ‘It was one of the first things the owners bought after they got married, so there was sentimental attachment.”
Other notable floor coverings serve as the introduction to the home–an animal print stair runner and a graphic acid green-and-blue rug–and the unexpected patterns tamp down any notion of stuffiness. Similarly in the living room, a sleek 1970s goatskin-veneer coffee table stands as a glam counterpoint to a velvet-dressed daybed and damask-upholstered armchairs. In the formal dining room, home of the Oushak and some stately family portraits, grass-cloth walls and navy leather chairs with traditional profiles tweaked just a bit for a modern edge keep it fresh.
Throughout the project, Kleiner was mindful of matching the high level of craftsmanship evident in the intricately carved marble replace surround and the reclaimed hardwood floors with soft goods of equal caliber. Saddle-stitched sofa cushions, button tufting on the daybed and knotted embroidery on the draperies–“so beautifully detailed I could stare at them for hours,” she says–are among the thoughtful offsets.
In the husband’s study, the melding of a heavily textured rug with a clean-lined sofa and the juxtaposition of a shiny leather chair with suede on the ottoman prevent the room from being just another ho-hum space. “The contradiction of textures is definitely a signature of mine,” says Kleiner. She took that notion to another level in the wife’s office, combining lacquered blue cabinets with a tufted tangerine leather wall.
When it came to establishing the kitchen layout and getting the lighting just right, the team made three-dimensional models of every fixture and mocked up the kitchen cabinets and island in plywood. “Attention to scale and detail is what made this house super successful,” says Kleiner about the team’s dedication.
That commitment extended to Allworth, as he honored the owners’ request for a somewhat rambunctious entry garden. “They gravitated toward the unbridled and wanted lots of hydrangeas and roses–nothing too manicured,” Allworth says. The landscape architect employed boxwoods and bluestone pavers to establish a sense of order. “It was important that the hardscape balance the informal softscape,” he adds.
In the end, it was the embrace of the need for balance by all team members that ensured a happy result. “We honored the historic style of the architecture, but it’s also a welcoming home where nothing is off-limits or precious,” says Kleiner. “By keeping things fresh and young, we created a place that will grow and evolve with the owners over time.”