Thanks to its location in the southern part of picturesque Lake Washington, you don’t have to look far to find beautiful vistas on Mercer Island. Natural light, on the other hand, can be a bit harder to come by—and on the soggiest winter days, it’s as elusive as a glimpse of Mount Rainier. A local couple who requested an abundance of both light and views from their new waterfront home on the island—including glimpses of that shy, snow- capped mountain—knew this well, but they also considered their residential and interior designer, Katie LeClercq, up to the test.
“My goal was to give every room access to the amazing Lake Washington scenes,” says LeClercq, who was working with the added challenge of a steep site that slopes down from the street at the front of the property and to the lakeshore at the back. To accommodate site conditions while also addressing the practical concerns of garage and street access, she divided the dwelling into three staggered forms on two levels. “This allowed for more wall surface area where we could place windows,” she explains.
To finalize the design, LeClercq collaborated with architect Michael Picard. When it came time to build, general contractor Thom Schultz along with project manager Arwa Hijazi and superintendent Dave Lemieux joined the team. “Their experience working with the sloped terrain along the waterfront was extremely valuable,” LeClercq notes.
Throughout the home’s lower levels, tall perimeter windows let the light pour in while framing views of the water as well as the garden designed by landscape architect Britton Shepard. For rooms that are built into the hillside, such as the kitchen and office, interior glazing allows them to share in the natural illumination.
Of course, windows of this size required high ceilings. To keep the spaces from feeling “too large or cavernous,” LeClercq describes, she tempered the rooms’ scale by paying close attention to the ceiling plane, adding wooden beams and a constellation of pendant lights in a palette of burnished and polished metals. These, along with custom millwork, natural wood flooring and soft white walls, “provide a quiet but tactile backdrop against which other components can shine,” she says. With this background, elements like cane panels on medicine cabinets and closet doors as well as walls of deep blue-green cabinetry become even more special.
“If you know my work, you understand I’m a fan of green; there is something so pure and grounding to it,” LeClercq says of the hue that appears throughout the house, from the pantry’s dark-green cabinets to the kitchen island, which is painted an earthy shade to match the soapstone countertop’s veining. In the children’s bedrooms, LeClercq played with more whimsical hues while adding a layer of pattern to the walls. “The two pink tones we used look like those found on worn ballet slippers,” she notes. “The colors are fun for little dreamers but also calming and timeless for teens.” In the powder room, she made her boldest statement, choosing a painterly floral wallpaper with deep teals, bronzes and blues to contrast against a graphic stone floor mosaic.
If such combinations hint at the homeowners’ preference for a traditional-meets-modern aesthetic, the mix of new and antique furnishings LeClercq selected makes it crystal clear. In the kitchen’s intimate dining nook, a modern table made from a single slab of Calacatta marble stands in stark contrast to a forest-green leather banquette and cane-backed chairs. In the living room, an ochre velvet sofa and antique wooden chair bring warmth and patina to balance a tailored bench and armchairs. But it’s the dining room’s juxtaposition of a traditional carved-leg table with tubular-steel chairs that best illustrates the homeowners’ point of view, the designer says. “This playful pairing reveals their desire to have fun and not take themselves too seriously,” she adds.
These rooms are, after all, a place for a young family to grow up and, as such, will continuously evolve. “These busy working parents were looking for an anchoring space for memories to collect over time,” LeClercq says. “And I can see an opportunity for the interiors to shift over the years, with additional artwork, family photo walls, and little oddities here and there providing more and more context to their story.”