It All Started With A Wish For A Stellar Glass-Walled Great Room


Detail shot of living room...

The living room was intended as a “dramatic and sophisticated place to gather and entertain,” says architect Amanda Cavassa of this Seattle home she designed with fellow architect Stuart Silk. A pair of Berman Rosetti tables stand before a custom steel fireplace by Twisted Metalworks. Above is a painting by Betsy Eby.

Entry to house with front...

“The owners wanted a dramatic entry that opened up to the view of the water beyond,” says Cavassa, who, with Silk, conceived the front door fabricated by Old World Door. The pebbled water feature hints at the shoreline newly restored by landscape designer Richard Hartlage at the rear of the property.

rear facade view of modern...

The home follows the slope of the hillside. Landscape designer Richard Hartlage chose native plantings, installed by Nussbaum Group, to further tie the house to the site.

Shot of living and dining...

A two-story great room forms the heart of the home. The Tufenkian carpet from Driscoll Robbins Fine Carpets defines the living area, appointed with a Holly Hunt sofa and Joseph Jeup side chairs, all from Jennifer West Showroom, alongside Berman Rosetti coffee tables from Trammell-Gagné. The windows are by Glasbox Windows & Doors, and the doors are by Sky-Frame.

Covered outdoor seating area with...

Just outside the great room, a covered outdoor space offers a cozy spot to take in the views or watch a game, no matter the weather, thanks to a fireplace and hidden, integrated screens. The space is furnished with the homeowners’ existing outdoor pieces.

Curving staircase

In the entry, set against a backdrop of Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, “The stair creates a sculptural element experienced from all angles as you move through the space,” says Cavassa. It was fabricated by Beautiful Custom Stairs with stone from Meta Marble & Granite and railings by Twisted MetalWorks. Hovering above is a Cameron Design House light.

wood paneled office with desk...

A walnut Altura desk stands on a rug from Driscoll Robbins Fine Carpets in the office. The dark stain of the millwork by Northwest Custom Interiors plays off the lighter finish of the oak flooring from Eurocraft Hardwood Floors.

Primary bedroom with bed and...

The primary bedroom is a quiet retreat and maintains a materials palette similar to the rest of the home—such as the oak flooring from Eurocraft Hardwood Floors and the rift white oak cabinetry by Northwest Custom Interiors. Above the fireplace is marble from Pental Surfaces, while nearby is a custom ottoman by Village Interiors.

primary bathroom with oculus above...

Since there are no views from the main bath, an oculus positioned above the MTI tub fitted with Gessi plumbing fixtures makes for a special moment in the space. Completing the spa-like feel are Carrara marble tiles from Statements Tile & Stone.

pool facing boathouse and wanter

“Entertaining was the driver behind the lower floor’s gathering areas,” says Cavassa. There are multiple grassy terraces intended as play spaces for the children. The pool by KrisCo Aquatech Pools & Spas features tiles by Fujiwa Tiles.

During the initial phases of a home’s design, the possibilities seem limitless. Architect Stuart Silk and his clients found that to be true as they envisioned a new dwelling for the couple. “There was a lot of dialog about what this house could be stylistically,” recalls Silk of his early meetings. The couple gravitated toward a contemporary structure but also wanted the home to fit comfortably within the more traditional vernacular of Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood. What Silk gave them is a house that blurs the lines. They have the expansive, light-infused interior spaces they desired but set within an architectural envelope of white brick and cedar siding that feels appropriate to the area. “This house was built more from the inside out than the outside in,” says Silk, explaining that it all began with the clients’ wish for a two-story, glass-walled great room that wowed. 

Immediately entering the home reveals that double-height main room and, moving deeper, its 30-foot glass window wall framing panoramic views of Mt. Rainier to the south and the Olympic Mountains to the west. Making it all possible is steel—“lots of steel,” says general contractor Klaus Toth, who worked closely with superintendent Rick Werden on the project. “Most residences have wood frames, but this house is built like a little high-rise.” To keep the focus on the view, Silk and senior associate Amanda Cavassa chose a subtle palette of materials. “We really feel that the design of a home should be consistent throughout,” says Cavassa. To her point, the Indiana limestone used for the front walk continues right into the entryway, and the great room’s wood ceilings extend out to shelter the rear terrace. “There’s also an architectural language that repeats inside and out with the interior and exterior columns,” she notes. 

For Cavassa, “The joy in this kind of contemporary home comes in creating a beautiful formal composition and keeping that rigor as we work through each detail,” she explains. “I love whittling traditional elements down to their essence. For example, the living room fireplace has the fire, hearth and mantle, but it’s pared down into a simple composition.” Furnishings, initially conceived by Danielle Krieg, a former designer at the firm, follow a similar precision. “Careful attention was paid to materiality and how the furnishings took the color palette of the finishes—earthy tones recalling beach sand and the forest floor—and expanded on so that they complemented the architecture in every space,” continues Cavassa. 

To counter the stately nature of the great room (it was designed to accommodate parties of 50), the owners also needed spaces for everyday living. The result is a secondary great room that houses the family room, kitchen and casual dining areas. “It’s where everyone can hang out,” Cavassa adds, pointing to the island’s leather barstools and a custom sectional built for lounging. The main suite—its sanctuary-like bathroom dramatically illuminated by a cone-shaped oculus—and the sons’ bedrooms and shared study are on the second floor, accessed by ribbon-like central stairs. The stairs also spiral down to the home’s lower-level entertainment areas, which spill out onto a large terrace with the swimming pool and spa. “The whole house sits on a geothermal system,” notes Toth. “The pool can be steaming in winter, but no fossil fuels are used.” 

In the garden just beyond, landscape designer Richard Hartlage created a series of terraces that offer just enough lawn to kick a soccer ball and stairways lined with flowering grasses that encourage guests to meander down to the waterfront. There, Hartlage and project manager Lindsey Heller replaced the old bulkhead with a beach. Not only does it now allow the family a safer place for water sports, but the pebbly cove is also the preferred habitat of the endangered sockeye salmon who live there too. “They come through on their way to Puget Sound,” explains Hartlage, who used native plants, including a mock orange shrub for shade, at the water’s edge. 

Silk and Cavassa suggest this house challenges typical preconceptions about modern architecture. “This house is comfortable and accommodating in an everyday kind of way,” Silk observes. “People have the impression that modern means cold or hard, but this home really shows that doesn’t have to be the case. Contemporary homes can be inviting,” echoes Cavassa. Just ask the salmon.