An old saying has it that lightning never strikes in the same place twice. But in the case of this Seattle home, it did when the new owners called Katie LeClercq for an encore performance. The residential designer, who had built the house from the ground up in Washington Park, a neighborhood populated by older dwellings, agreed to re-tailor it for the new family.
To be clear, the owners, Los Angeles transplants who fell for the residence after seeing it online, weren’t looking for aesthetic-changing alterations. “We felt incredibly lucky to have stumbled on a house that already fit us so perfectly,” says the wife. Part of what drew them to it is the seamless way it fits in with the historic homes around it. While conceiving the design, LeClercq had spent a lot of time strolling the neighborhood taking in its stately architectural details; but, at the same time, the Seattle native was contemplating the hallmarks of classic townhomes located nearly 3,000 miles away. In her mind, East Coast and West Coast styles merged in a confluence that might seem unlikely in theory but is easy and appealing in execution. “I wanted the new home to nestle into the area in a pleasing way. At the same time, I wanted to incorporate the kind of factory elements you find in a New York City townhome,” she says. “You could say this is a Pacific Northwest historic classic with a nod to a traditional East Coast city dwelling.”
LeClercq, who initially completed the project under the shingle of her former firm, H2 Design Build, and in consultation with since-retired architect Holden Withington, allowed her natural design inclinations to lead the way. “To create this home, I let the site and the surrounding neighborhood inspire me, and I followed my instincts. My choice of materials and colors—it’s all instinctual,” she notes.
LeClercq’s design gut led her to marry regional details like a brick exterior and a steeply pitched roof with the more industrial-leaning features commonly found in urban East Coast residences, such as interior metal windows. While the brick exterior makes the dwelling right at home with its established neighbors, the interior layout is decidedly more modern. “This house is about family gathering and entertaining,” LeClercq explains. “The kitchen and the great room—a combined dining and living room—are the heart of it.” Although the kitchen is subtly delineated from the larger space by a passageway lined with steel-framed windows, the rooms live and feel as one. All three enjoy a connection with the large fireplace set within a wall of green shelves, making the space feel cozy and welcoming. “The thought was that the rooms would feel accessible and allow people to gather easily, whether the residents are hosting a dinner party, or kids are doing their homework at the table while the adults are relaxing in the living area with a book,” she notes.
The color palette, largely pulled from nature, was chosen for its timeless appeal. “Again, it goes back to instincts,” LeClercq says. “We used a lot of greens, the kind you find in a rich forest—an element that’s central to the Pacific Northwest. When I go outside, these are the colors I see.” Referencing the deep green of the kitchen cabinets and the lighter shade of the same hue in the great room’s fireplace wall, the designer notes that the verdant shades are timeless classics. The color scheme also includes touches of mustard, brick red and pink. “This is a Northwest-friendly palette. There is a lot of gray in Seattle, so it’s nice to walk into a space and feel the warmth and depth of the colors,” she says. “The balance of saturation and tones gives the home a comfortable and inviting feeling.”
To furnish the home for the new family, LeClercq sourced items that reflect the timelessness and collected nature of the architecture. “I call this project the ‘eclectic classic,’ ” she says. “It’s eclectic in its layers and how styles are combined, but ultimately it’s classic as I don’t see these things as being trendy or ever going out of style. It’s a combination of vintage items, new elements and textures.”
The blend creates a house with an enduring appeal that belies its age. “When people visit, they are always surprised this is new construction and not a remodel,” says the homeowner. Since LeClercq’s goal was to create a home for the ages, she takes that as a high compliment, noting: “The residences in Washington Park were built to last—that’s how they did it then, and that’s how I do it now.”