Creating a new home can feel like writing the first chapter in a novel,” says designer Tim Pfeiffer. “As our client embarked on a new journey, we were thrilled to help craft a warm, inviting space for him.” Working with his firm partner, architect Steve Hoedemaker, the duo updated and reimagined the terraced house on a Pacific Northwest hillside, which features an easy flow of rooms. Some are generous. Some are intimate. But each can shape-shift into whatever the homeowner needs, should he be working from home independently or hosting small groups of friends and family.
Originally designed by architect Stuart Silk in the 1990s, the residence needed some fine-tuning to suit its new inhabitant. “The biggest thing was to design a main floor where someone could live and also work from home—a comfortable place to be at all times of the day,” says Hoedemaker. And while significant changes were needed to make the house function for their client, he also felt strongly about respecting Silk’s design. “It’s a forensic design opportunity to step inside the mind of another architect,” he says of renovating a contemporary’s work.
From the street, the house “masquerades as single-story,” notes Hoedemaker, adding, “There’s a sense of discovery as you dive down into the home, only to find yourself overlooking the water.” Hoedemaker and Pfeiffer turned to the bones of the structure—the architectural vocabulary—to inform their decisions. “It had the baseline of a Mediterranean contemporary home—iron, stucco—but things had been done over the years that moved it away from that,” says Pfeiffer. To harmonize all the elements, the duo, along with general contractor Scott White, project manager Greg Poliseo and superintendent Thomas Flaherty, replaced the stair rail with a more refined iteration and clad the entry’s vaulted ceiling with oak paneling.
In the kitchen-dining area, they imparted a sense of age with the addition of a stone wall, fireplace, paneling and beams. “The homeowner wanted to live in that space,” Pfeiffer says, explaining that it needed to be as easy and welcoming as it was functional. “You can see an evolution of a great room concept—cooking, dining, living—but sometimes there are limits. You don’t want to lounge where you do dishes,” notes Hoedemaker. “This house is about living seamlessly; how to have cooking and lounging coexist in a way that you’re not just perched at a counter.” The owner requested a large island to accommodate casual meals and serve as a buffet for dinner guests. He also wanted the nearby dining table to sometimes serve as a desk; a place to work while watching the big-screen television. A pair of handsome upholstered chairs at the fireplace adds another layer of comfortable elegance. “I love the kitchen’s masculinity and sophistication,” says Hoedemaker, crediting principal architect Bryan Chilcote and senior interior designer Peak Petersen as instrumental to the project’s success.
For the furnishings, Pfeiffer drew on his client’s interests and passions. “This was an opportunity for him to set up his own home,” recalls Pfeiffer. “He prefers intimate gatherings, and he loves cigars, wine, bikes, cars and golf. We kept elements of those sporty aspects and brought all together for him.” A 19th-century cabinet in the library, for example, holds collections of books, trophies and other mementos. The space, previously a formal dining room, is also intended to host meetings. “The power position is the towering, mohair wing chair in the corner,” Pfeiffer points out. In the adjacent living room, the designer studied the natural walking path through the space in order to yield “visual treats,” as he puts it, using furniture placement. Pfeiffer chose a Belgian-style sofa but gave it a casual feel with nubby linen upholstery. “This house is about comfortable, not formal, seating,” he says, highlighting the swivel chairs and an armchair and ottoman, all of which display the home’s hushed palette. “The room pulls light from the water and changes with the atmosphere,” says the designer, “so we reflected that with tones of blue, teal and silver, plus some chartreuse and greens to reflect courtyard. Nothing is overt because the light is ever-changing.”
Those same hues drift down through the home’s lower levels and generous master suite, designed to welcome the owner home from his travels. Says Pfeiffer, “The balance of traditional with modern elements and a crisp palette creates a fresh, chic space and underscores the aesthetic story in the home, the marriage of mass and light.” Also downstairs are guest rooms, a wine cellar, a gym, and a bar area with humidor drawers.
“This home is decidedly a move away from any kind of austerity, but it’s not overly packed, there’s not a lot of extra here,” muses Pfeiffer, explaining that clients’ requests these days generally are “all about nesting and how comfortable and flexible we can create a home to be.” With its storyline of quiet contentment, this home’s first chapter foretells a very happy ending.