Even before there was Pinterest, she had folders—“one would be labeled powder room; one would be kitchen,” says a Seattle homeowner of his wife, who became a devoted pinner with the advent of the social media networking site. Set on the banks of Lake Washington, their home, with its effortless mix of old-world and contemporary styles, is a testament to her efforts. It wasn’t necessarily about replicating the exact furnishings or materials in the images; instead, designer Lisa Staton and architect Tim Hossner identified the common visual threads and translated them into a distinctive design. “If you look at all the pins as a whole, you can get a strong insight into the essence or emotion that a client is striving to have in their home,” says Staton. Adds Hossner, who worked on the home with project architect Robin Cinamon, “It was really very diverse stuff—modern, traditional and everything in between. But to me, it all had the feel of being very tailored and crafted.”
Built to replace an existing residence that did not take advantage of its sloping waterside site, the home that the couple envisioned would evoke an old-world elegance reminiscent of the Italian countryside yet benefit from the thoughtful inclusion of modern elements. Such a proposition made Hossner’s firm the logical choice. “We have a body of work that blends classic feeling with modern and even industrial components,” he says. “It’s living in both worlds: traditional and modern.”
The overall design of the house follows an H-like plan with the living/dining room positioned in the center so it overlooks the water on one side and opens onto a courtyard on the other. Natural light pours into the space thanks to the floor- to-ceiling aluminum-clad windows, while exposed steel beams bracket the area, giving it a modern edge. With deep niches on either side, the fireplace wall stops just short of the wood-clad ceiling to create a loft-like feel. In addition to the wood’s warm, rough-hewn aura, the generous archway leading to the kitchen brings a villa vibe to the abode.
Weaving two sets of stylistic impulses presented both aesthetic and practical challenges, such as the exterior staircase overlooking the water. “I had an impulse for the stair to cut through the house and lead to the waterside as a major compositional aspect in the house,” Hossner says. “The wife was interested in an old-world winding stair, which led to our subtly sculpted design.” Says builder Andrew Constan, “Tim included a mostly hidden steel bar within the custom walnut handrail”—a challenging detail to execute. The structure takes guests to the lower-level garden.
As Staton reviewed the wife’s pins, she noted that the homeowner often gravitated toward airy homes in Europe featuring a light palette, and layers of antiques and natural materials such as sisals and linens. “It was actually as much about texture as color,” she says. Drawing from the inspirational pins, Staton kept the color scheme to mostly cream tones with the occasional black, gray and metallic hue. An exception is the couple’s artwork, composed of pieces Staton describes as vibrant and bold. The textural elements include Irish linen for the draperies, sofa pillows made from old Turkish rugs and from linen remnants discovered at an antiques store. Instead of a polyurethane finish on the walnut plank flooring, the design team went with an oiled finish for a more old-world look.
“The house has a duality of traditional and modern elements, so we wanted the same energy in the furnishings,” says Staton. “It was a big priority for the clients that we not get too modern and that the house stay warm with feminine touches.” In answer, she opted for sleek leather sofas in the living area—a stylish yet practical choice in a home that is often filled with grandchildren—and flanked the seating duo with an antique Chinese bench that has been transformed into a coffee table. The dining area boasts similar juxtapositions such as a refectory table surrounded by blond-wood chairs that have the feel of Danish midcentury modern pieces. “It gives the room a sense of rusticity and luxury,” the designer says.
Light fixtures, too, bridge the gap between traditional and modern. In fact, they complete one of Staton’s favorite spaces in the house: the powder room. There, contemporary teardrop-shaped pendant lights flank a small 100-year-old Turkish sink, outfitted with a patinated faucet and steel legs, designed by the architect. “It became an art form and a great example of an old-world piece that gives a richness of depth we cannot recreate with new man-made items,” says Staton. “It was a perfect alchemy, just the right push and pull of modern and traditional to make them all sing happily together.”