Midcentury Modern Dwelling Perched on a Hillside Landscape


Modern Charcoal Front Elevations

Because the owner chose a compact corner on which to build, the house rises from a small concrete base by Ace Enterprises, its second floor cantilevering outward to capture panoramic vistas.

Modern Upper-Level Living Room

Heather Hargesheimer’s encaustic hangs above the Napoleon fireplace, which sits in a blackened-steel surround by D&J Custom Metal Fabrication. A 1960s B.P. John sofa from Midcenturyville, redressed by Michael Macom Upholsterer, and a 1964 Lane coffee table create a mod mood in the living room.

Modern Upper-Level Living Room Balcony

The home enjoys views of Puget Sound and Vashon Island thanks to an upper-level living room with Fleetwood’s floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors from Goldfinch Brothers. A thin band of glass maintains privacy from nearby homes and frames a view of a park’s ridgeline. The scissor-style chairs are finds by the owner.

Modern White-Oak and Steel Staircase

With its open setup, the custom stairway becomes a kind of atrium, filling the home with light. The stained white-oak floors here and elsewhere were installed by Voda Constructions Corp., and the steelwork was crafted by D&J Custom Metal Fabrication.

Modern Dining Room with Vintage Table

The dining area’s vintage Lane table, chairs and sideboard, circa 1965, were found as part of an estate sale; a series of stains were experimented with for the oak floors to get a warm, classic complement to the furnishings and woodwork. The art, representing modern chairs, is from Vitra Design Museum.

Modern Kitchen Hillside Views

Teeming with natural light, the open kitchen and dining area look out from the home’s sloping hillside at a small parcel of undeveloped land below. The curve of the vintage Lane dining chairs almost seems to mimic the swoop of the evergreen branches. The effect is a feeling of sitting in the treetops.

Modern Sustainably-Built Kitchen

Locally sourced materials include the kitchen cabinetry from Superior Cabinets and slate-toned PaperStone countertops (recycled paper and resin). Tammy Spears’ pastels splash color next to a Moen faucet from Pacific Plumbing Supply Company. Appliances are from Albert Lee Appliance.

Modern Charcoal Front Walkway

Wood screens on the façade extend past each corner, adding privacy and architectural drama.

With its picturesque views of Puget Sound and Vashon Island, a hillside site in west Seattle offered architect Tim Hossner and his colleagues the chance to design what felt like a secluded retreat without leaving the metropolis. But environmental restrictions (most of the trees needed to be preserved due to steep slopes) and a desire to maintain views for the neighbors left this sizable parcel with just a small footprint on which to build. Fortunately, that seemed to only serve the evolving design, which became a kind of modern tree house, extending upward and outward to capture and frame the vistas.

The house rises from a modest concrete base, where two levels of bedrooms are situated, before giving way to a wider, glass-ensconced main floor with a combined living area, dining room and kitchen draped in natural wood tones. From a desire “to get the best views and not have them obscured by trees came this idea of a reversed floor plan where the main living areas are at the top,” says Hossner, who collaborated on key issues with partners Jim Replinger and Christopher Osolin. “The drama of how that top level cantilevers beyond a column of private spaces below it is a result of needing to keep the footprint very small and trying to get up in the air.” The stairway leading there is also a kind of space unto itself, like a three-story atrium that gets brighter as one moves upward.

Though its clean lines and palette of concrete, glass and steel give the house a contemporary feel, the interior is designed to feel warm and inviting, and to blend with the owner’s collection of vintage midcentury modern furniture. In the living room, for example, the wood of a gondola-style B.P. John sofa from the 1960s and a jellybean-shaped early-’60s Lane coffee table seem to perfectly complement the hue of the quarter-sawn white-oak floor. “We spent a whole afternoon just trying out different stains,” says the owner, who not only selected the furniture but also worked closely with builder Steven Ross on the construction. “To me, it distills this midcentury modern look that always caught my eye growing up.” Sprinkled throughout the home is an eclectic mix of art, be it a family-heirloom tapestry in the kitchen or a strikingly colorful Piet Mondrian-like mixed-media artwork in the living room created by the owner.

The kitchen, too, is all about natural tones and materials. The cabinetry and kitchen island are all vertical-grain Douglas fir. “They wanted to book-match them, so they had to cut the doors and the drawer fronts out of one slab so you can get the whole grain pattern,” Ross explains. The cabinets are topped with a simple and durable yet elegant black PaperStone countertop that the owner sourced locally.

The client wanted wide-open views, but he also wanted privacy from adjacent houses. So Hossner and his team designed a series of wood screens that extend past the north and south façades, giving the architecture a subtle sense of motion. “It shoots out about 6 feet and gives you some privacy, and keeps the wind from whipping there,” Ross says. “You don’t see the neighbor’s house, but you do see the water and the sky.” The house’s floor-to-ceiling western vistas notwithstanding, its best view upward may be from the powder room, with its ceiling consisting almost entirely of a skylight. “It’s like there is no ceiling at all,” Hossner says.

Indeed, though it’s a relatively short drive from this house to downtown Seattle, the design and the setting make this home feel like another world, or one floating above our own. “It’s like being up high in a patch of woods,” the homeowner says. “The house just fits me perfectly.”