PORTRAIT MAGAZINE V.35
PORTRAIT MAGAZINE V.35
Vol. 35, 2016
TEXT BY PUBLICATION
Under the renowned talents of Stuart Silk Architects and Garret Cord Werner Architects and Interior Designers, a 1909 Seattle landmark residence – originally owned by Samuel R. Hill, and known as the Duchess Mansion – undergoes an extensive makeover that pays homage to its history, industrial structural elements, and dramatic vistas.
Nearly 100 years after entrepreneur, lawyer, and railroad executive Samuel (Sam) R. Hill hired architects Hornblower and Marshall of Washington, D.C. to design his Harvard-Belmont District Seattle mansion, David and Rosangela Capobianco began a five phase reconstruction of the historic home with the help of Stuart Silk Architects (SSA), interior designer Garret Cord Werner (GCW), of Garret Cord Werner Architects and Interior Designers, and Charter Construction. Drawn first to Hill’s mansion architecture, reminiscent of Belgian châteaux he had visited during his travels in Northern Europe, Capobianco later became fascinated by its history.
In 1899, Hill, a Quaker, was considering a move from Minneapolis to Seattle with his wife Mary and daughter, both Catholics. During that same period, cast-in-place concrete became a sought after building material. Ten years later, Hill built not only his Seattle mansion in cast-in-place concrete, but also used it to build another residence overlooking the Columbia River on a parcel of land he named Maryhill after his wife and daughter. First envisioned as a Quaker Community of Farmers, it later became the Maryhill Museum, in 1940, nine years after Hill’s death. Work on a replica of Stonehenge also built with poured concrete began in 1918, but was not completed until 1930. Hill also built the Peace Arch on the border between the U.S. and Canada in honor of their lengthy peaceful relations in 1921.
The Capobiancos chose Stuart Silk to reconstruct the mansion because his vision was consistent with their desire to retain the historic elements of the home, while creating a cleaner, more open floor plan that made better use of the sweeping vistas seen from its windows and terraces.
Garret Werner of Garret Cord Werner Architects and Interior Designers was chosen to create a fresh approach to the interior design that would reflect both David’s contemporary modern style and Rosangela’s Brazilian flare for color and fun. “We knew the materials we wanted,” says Capobianco. “Italian marble, steel, wood, and natural concrete walls and floors.”
“This was a large undertaking that consisted of five different phases be-ginning in 2005, and lasting over a period of eight years,” says Silk. “We were hired because of our extensive experience and deep appreciation for historic architecture and our love for modern design. David and Rosangela wanted an architect who understood both and could reconcile them together into one seamless expression.”
“While the home’s exterior was historic,” continues Silk, “the interiors were not, because of earlier remodels. The house needed a wholly new vision, which SSA provided. In doing so, we developed plans that called for demolishing every interior wall on all five floors. Each floor was re-envisioned to meet their goals. On the main living floor, for instance, we opened up a rabbit warren of rooms to create a more open, interconnected plan that flows seamlessly. By cutting two large windows into the 12” thick concrete walls on the north side, we greatly improved the views and brought light into all corners of the floor.”
During Phase 2, Silk and fellow SSA designers Mike Troyer, Andrew Patterson, and Michael McFadden found remnants of the turn-of-the-century way of life as they deconstructed the five story, 11,100 sq. ft. home – once known as the Duchess Mansion after a European duchess who lived there. The carriage house was located on the basement floor. Horses were brought up a steep ramp, which they removed in order to dig out enough room for a workout room and bedroom.
“We took out 40 tons of concrete,” recalls Capobianco, “and made a phenomenal set of living areas, while keeping with critical elements of the historical architecture, which included vaulted fir ceilings. In addition, we added a new blackened steel hallway, and turned a walk-in Diebold safe belonging to Hill into a wine cellar.”
Soon after Werner met the Capobiancos through a mutual Brazilian friend, he was hired to add his talents to the elaborate transformation of the historic home that Stuart Silk Architects was so artfully undertaking.“
Garret was terrific,” says Capobianco, “a unique guy with stunning aesthetics that blew us away. We saw them in the glass lighting, blackened steel, elements of old with elements that were new – all amazingly perfectly consistent with the overall aesthetic objective.”
“We used a lot of three dimension, hi-tech design with videos, flythroughs and photo realistic images for the clients throughout the process,” says Werner, “so they would know exactly what they were getting.”
He called upon his own architectural background, having grown up in a family of architects, designers and builders, to break down each room for its custom lighting, furnishings, carpet and finishes.
“Everything is custom,” says Werner, “with the scale exactly right. I did all the cabinet and millwork design for the interiors and designed the coffee table in the family room off the kitchen, for example, as a carved solid block of basalt stone that Lambert Marble & Tile engineered and placed with a crane through the new bi-fold Nana glass doors on the new Juliet balcony. You couldn’t put that in a standard home!”
Werner’s chandeliers (part of GCW’s lighting line) run the gamut of über modern – polished nickel and fused glass multi-faceted kitchen fixture – to Art Moderne – his handblown teardrop glass fixture fabricated by Stephen Hirt, with nickel plated tubes of varying sizes hanging from a nickel plated canopy alongside the entry stairs to create visual flow between floors – to an elegant remaking of a traditional design for the dining room. “I started sketching a super elegant style with glass hand shapes made of bronze and a light bulb hidden behind it,” he says. “The larger boat-shaped glass pieces are sandwiched between those two.”
Hill, who convinced Oregon officials to create the Columbia River Highway, used steel girders to build his mansion into a cliff overlooking a ravine, then laid a dramatic concrete roadway up to the carriage house.“
Like Hill, David and Rosangela have highly evolved design sensibilities,” says Silk. “David was raised and educated on the East Coast. Rosangela is from Brazil. They have both traveled extensively in Europe and share a love for modern design and historic architecture. They wanted someone who could merge both, which is reflected in its design which is both uniquely contemporary and timeless.”
“During phase three of the remodel, I recall Capobianco bringing a group of us up to the living room, where the original steel girders were visible during the deconstruction. He was quite insistent that these very industrial columns remain exposed. I thought it was risky at first, but brilliant, and it was all David’s idea.”
“Those steel girders have a bronze patina and the Carnegie steel stamp on them, which gives a sense of history and fit with the aesthetic,” says Capobianco. “The fact that we lived in the house on two separate occasions drove a lot of function from the form. It was painful to move in and out, but really valuable in envisioning what would be optimal for so many unique spaces in the house.”
Werner tied those key structural elements of the exposed steel girders to the complex finishes found in his formal dining table.
“There is a direct connection between the exposed trestle columns and the dining table’s mahogany parquetry top with nickel edging and lacquered piano finish,” explains Werner. “The top’s fine layer of materials give it a more modern flare, contrasting with the rougher legs done in a satin finish, highly polished grain, and the super French polished edge, with wonderful old school luster.”
“It’s hard to mix geometry this way and make it come across as true art; otherwise, it’s kind of a disaster.”
Phase four of the reconstruction was the upper penthouse and outside terrace on which SSA, GCW and Richard Hartlage of Land Morphology all collaborated. Silk, who knew the socialite who owned the house previously, notes that the upper floor was added after Sam Hill’s occupancy. “There was a giant roof deck up there, with two feet of dirt, where they played croquet. At some point the dirt was removed and they built the ballroom. It was a stunningly desirable space. The terrace had a 180 degree view, overlooking Lake Union, the Olympic Mountains, Mt. Rainier and St. Mark’s Cathedral.”
“The top floor deck includes two fire pits, waterfalls, and a Jacuzzi, featuring a Brazilian emerald granite, with emerald and bright blue hues,” Capobianco says. “It’s like a piece of jewelry that glows when sunlight hits it or at night when it’s lit up from within, reminiscent of the emerald blues and greens you see in the Mediterranean.”
Phase five consisted of completing the wrought iron and concrete fence along the property. “Some of the old gates didn’t seal the property,” says Werner, “so we extended them to mark the land as belonging to the whole property.” Trees planted by a former owner were removed by Hartlage to open up the views and celebrate the house from the street. The fence was back planted with clipped Portuguese Laurels, for a very simple, restrained look.
“The neat thing about the house now,” says Capobianco, “are the indoor / out-door spaces on every floor. At every level of the house you can walk out onto a terrace with sweeping views of Lake Union, the Sound and the mountains on one side; and, a rain forest-like green belt on the other side with views of St. Mark’s Cathedral.”
Equally as noteworthy are the original concrete walls in the gym. “We washed away the dirt and grit,” says Silk, “and let the materials come through.” Capobianco calls them a history book. “You can see exactly where the work ended one day and started the next, because the manual process at the time took multiple days to complete a casting.”
All agree. The house has presence. “The work we did,” says Capobianco, “really emphasizes the best part of the original architecture, and it’s just stunning.”
CONTRACTOR: Charter Construction
ARCHITECT: Stuart Silk
INTERIOR DESIGN: Garret Cord Werner Architects & Interior Designers
FABRICATOR: Stephen Hirt
Vol. 33, 2015
TEXT BY PUBLICATION
From the journey across an ocean to summers spent in a serene glass house in a tropical indoor/outdoor setting, this family’s life is reflected in their new home’s wide-open spaces designed by architect Jim Olson of Olson Kundig in Seattle – who created the perfect mélange of art, architecture and nature.
Take a meeting with architect Jim Olson of Olson Kundig in Seattle to discuss his designing your dream home, and you can expect to have a spirited conversation that will address everything from art to architecture, nature and culture – the very roots from which his successful career has spring – all woven together into a tapestry that will grant, improve and embellish upon your wants and needs.
“I work like a renaissance architect,” explains Olson, who opened up shop in 1966, at 25 years old. “Just as Michelangelo worked as an artist, sculpture, painted and architect, I believe that everything – art, architecture, landscaping and interior design must flow seamlessly as one.”
The Pavilion House, located in Bellevue, Washington, grew out of a similar aesthetic. The family knew Olson’s work, and had met through their mutual affiliation as aboard members of the Seattle Art Museum. The couple had built a traditional L-shaped, post modern house on Lake Washington in 1990, and raised their children there. Once the children were grown, they considered moving to a new location, but discovered they didn’t really want to leave the gorgeous setting, and wonderful neighbors. Once they were able to purchase the adjoining waterfront property, they approached Olson with a plan to build a second home dedicated to entertaining family and friends. By giving the Pavilion House the same L-shaped layout as its older counterpart, Olson created an intimate “C” shape that looks out across the water over an enormous lawn dotted with Northwest artists’ work – in what Olson calls a “sculpture park.”
Although the homeowner’s ancestors come from India, both husband and wife grew up in Africa, which they left during political unrest. Their journey, says Olson, became a very big element in their design of the entire home.
“I asked them lots and lots of questions in the beginning,” recalls Olson, who prefers to incorporate his client’s visions with his, rather than repeat the same design over and over again. After showing them various homes he had designed, the couple was drawn to a Hawaiian home he dubbed “Ocean House.”
“They loved the tropical setting, the rich reddish color of the teak that contrasted with the dark metal – all of which harkened back to their time spent in Africa. Most people think of Northwest as light driftwood/gray tones, but they wanted something different,” says Olson.
Olson, who compares his work to conducting an orchestra filled with talented craftsmen, artists, landscape architects and interior designers, worked with Garret Cord Werner of Garret Cord Werner Architects/Interiors on this project, who was brought in after the house was designed. “We knew we would have this long table, but Werner designed it as a beautiful piece of art, which was fabricated by Michael Danielson Studio,” says Olson. Werner’s custom designed rugs are found throughout the home along with another coffee table in the south facing seating area, replete with a custom version of a Holly Hunt sectional and accompanying chairs. Audio-visual cabinet with pop-up projector divides the seating area from the large pavilion. Concrete walls enclose the area – making it perfect for chilly, rainy days.
The architectural drafting stage for this project, which includes working with the homeowners to determine their vision, wants and needs, lasted about one year. Construction took two. “Toth Construction executed the project perfectly down to the finest details,” says Olson. “We were delighted.” During that time, Olson learned a great deal about his clients, not simply from the initial questioning, but also from the day-to-day interactions, and the intimate collaborative process.
“When I’m finished with a home, it’s like a portrait of the people in it,” says Olson, who created a very large, welcoming entry door fashioned from patinated bronze and brass to reflect the family’s openness. “The Pavilion House fits this family perfectly – they are extremely generous people, much more than one typically finds in the West. I enjoy popping over there to help them with hanging a painting or moving a sculpture, like the Deborah Butterfield horse a couple months ago, because they are like family, and I want it all to be just right.”
Landscape architect Charles Anderson was brought on board later in the process. His artistic vision was in sync with Olson’s. “We had already created the large “C” shaped space between the two houses with the lawn open to the lake, but the reinforced the whole idea,” say’s Olson. The two houses are connected by a raised wooden walkway over a reflecting pool. “We added some trellises and new terraces on the previous house to make it feel like they are all one.”
By painting the formerly blue and white 1990’s house a dark brownish color, a choice they originally thought would make it “disappear,” the earthy tones actually improve the relationship between the two residences, causing them to create a more unique whole.
One of the integral steps in the process of creating this whole was introducing the family, who were already well acquainted with art via the women’s position on the board of the Seattle Art Museum, with local gallery owners such as Greg Kucera, Winston Wachter, John Braseth, of Woodside/Braseth, who represent contemporary artists. “By getting clients acquainted with gallery owners, it helps to expand their knowledge and relationships with artists and everyone else,” says Olson, who thought that he would become an artists while attending Lakeside High School as a teen, where he spend all his time ensconced in the art department, which encompassed the whole top floor of the attic. Eventually he decided he liked architecture as well.
Several artists worked on the master bath. Northwest sculptor Julie Speidel created the sculptures on the edge of the sunken bathtub, as well as the glass sculptor outside the master bath window.
CONTRACTOR: Toth Construction
ARCHITECT: Olson Kundig
INTERIOR DESIGN: Garret Cord Werner Architects/Interiors
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Charles Anderson Landscape Architecture
CUSTOM ENTRY DOOR FABRICATION: Metal Solutions
OBJEKT LIVING IN STYLE
A lakeside residence is reimagined for one Pacific Northwest Native after an extended hiatus away: a process that proves you can go home again.
Spring 2014/ Text by Publication
Dream Homes of Canada
SPECTACULAR ARCHITECTURALLY DESIGNED WEST COAST CONTEMPORARY HOME
DREAM HOMES OF CANADA, B.C. EDITION
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2012, TEXT BY PUBLICATION
PNW Seattle Times Magazine
Fall Home Design 2012 – Just Hanging Out
Pacific Northwest Seattle Times Magazine
October 14, 2012
In and around a great, great room, breathtaking art has its place.
The exterior of the main house was stained a weathered gray to blend with surrounding cedar and Douglas fir trees. They look as though they’ve stood forever in this lush Northwest forest. Half a dozen structures, as discreet and dignified as graying sheds, peek from evergreen boughs on a 25-acre compound overlooking the waters of Puget Sound. Instead of designing a single home for his client on this remote island off the Pacific Northwest coast, architect Steve Hoedemaker of Bosworth Hoedemaker, a Seattle firm know for refined understatement, created a hillside grouping of small buildings- a central house for meals, and outlying buildings for sleeping, reading, and cookouts. The property contains six modest wooden cottages ranging in size from a small writer’s hut to a renovated barn, half hidden among the alders and firs. “We didn’t want an overgrown, bloated house,” says the homeowner, who planned the property as a place where he and his wife could gather with their friends, four grown children and a first grandchild while maintaining the ability to have quiet downtime. Interior designer Garret Cord Werner designed and custom-made the sofa and club chairs in the living area of the main house. Natural light washes down from a double row of clerestory windows to the dining area below. The rattan chairs with backrests and laced rawhide seats are from McGuire; the table and chandelier are Garret’s custom designs. As with all good home design, the buildings are a response to a specific place, “We live in a part of the country that’s blessed with temperate weather,” Steve says. “The thing that makes this vacation property unique is interacting with the outdoors on a regular basis. If you want to go back to your bedroom, you encounter nature along the way. It’s like camp.” To be sure, the family compound has all the rustic charm of old-fashioned cabins, complete with a timber-framed pavilion, Adirondack chairs, and outdoor fireplace, but without the usual dark rooms or the rough-hewn clutter. “We did not want cabin cliché,” says the homeowner. “We wanted clean lines and brightness.” Seattle-based interior designer Garret Cord Werner made the rooms faithful to their rough-edged setting without resorting to predictable kitsch. In the main house, where the kitchen and the dining and living spaces line up in the manner of a shotgun house, he painted the wood-paneled walls a basic white to amplify wan Pacific Northwest sunlight streaming in from clerestory windows that are positioned high up in the loft ceilings. The picnic pavilion, constructed with lumber salvaged from the site, features a stone hearth. A local carpenter built the cabinetry and kitchen island. The countertops are gray soapstone. The compound includes a mix of places for quiet seclusion, such as the 10- by 10-foot writer’s cabin and family gathering, like the cozy inglenook. The mood shifts abruptly from the bright dining area to the tidy fireplace alcove with its built-in seating. It’s an old British convention known as an inglenook, with walls that are composed of a rough assemblage of rubble and ledgestone. This warm sanctum, furnished with pillows and blankets, becomes a gathering spot on cooler weekends. “The inglenook makes a bigger statement as a rustic insert into an otherwise airy interior,” says Garret. Most of the home’s furniture, with the exception of a vintage coffee table, was custom-made by Garret’s office. The master bedroom resides in its own cabin. A bath in the guest cabin contains a rolltop clawfoot tub from Sunrise Specialty. For the linen upholstery, he chose light neutral tones complemented by pale blue stripes. The interior echoes the simple lines of the architecture, with no skirting, no drapery, no flourishes. “Everything is very linear and symmetrical,” Garret says. “We wanted the look to be serene and sophisticated, but not so sophisticated that the house would seem out of place.” The furnishings are all the more pleasing given the remoteness of the setting, as though the compound were an outpost of comfort and taste on a watery frontier. A private water taxi makes several trips a day to the island, but the family also enjoys the flexibility of their own 25-foot catamaran. They reside well out of sight of their neighbors, but they can still see boats passing in the distance. The view, composed by landscape architect Kenneth Philp, extends from a meadow framed by the forest to the expanse of water beyond. Days are spent kayaking, gardening, or just relaxing. At mealtime, the family gathers on the main house porch. When dinner winds down and the dishes are done, the group adjourns down grass paths to the two separate sleeping cabins tucked among the stands of trees. They are alone in the hush of the forest edge, but they are always one meal away from a happy reunion.
Dream Home Awards
2010 Winners Dream Home Awards
Best Interior Design for Condo.
Volume 26 No 03
Glass, stone and neutral tones complement the outlook from this master suite
The bedroom in the master suite of this condominium is furnished with an understated palette of neutral colors and brighter touches of yellow and deep purple. The bedside lamps are attached to the headboard operate from switches on the side of the night stands.To get closer to the view, sliding windows can be pulled back on each side above the tub, and glass walls ensure the outlook is not obstructed from the shower.The overall impact of a space is likely to be a result of using a variety of subtle and hidden details, as well in the choice of the materials, textures and colors.In this bathroom, spectacular views of the city and sea are emphasized by the limited palette of materials and colors, and a wealth of subtle detailing combines to create an overall impression of refinement.Interior designer Garret Cord Werner remodeled two adjoining condominiums in downtown Seattle to create a single, large unit for a retired couple.
Pacific Northwest-Hidden In Plain Sight
Hidden In Plain Sight
March 21, 2010
Glass, stone and neutral tones complement the outlook from this master suite.
“The client wanted a really neutral palette with really calm color tones,” interior designer Garret Cord Werner says. “It is less condo-like and more residential to use these more natural and organic materials, to make it feel like you’re living in an outdoor space.” The fireplace limestone is the same as was used on the floors, but placed on its side and cut. The television is hidden in the wall to the left of the fireplace.George Nakashima and Deborah Butterfield are a practically royal welcoming committee there in the entrance hall. His black walnut table, her horse sculpture. Each so lovely and perfect one hardly notices Lake Washington and its mountain tiara just outside. The views in this Madison Park condo, in a building designed by Roland Terry, are both near and far. And they are elegant- from Peter David glass at the front door down to the limestone floors- in a modern reinterpretation of details used in the couple’s Medina home. But in spaces that flow with such ease and grace in 2,200 square feet, you would never know it was a fight to the finish for storage, storage and more storage. “They lived directly across the lake in a house designed by my dad,” says architect Steve Hoedemaker of Bosworth Hoedemaker Architecture. “A beautiful house on the lake. Big, big rooms and a big garden. So we brought outdoor things in,” he said. This explains the use of natural materials in this waterfront home, freed from a warren of spaces and warped parquet floors. “Every square inch was used if we could use it,” says owner Nancy. And everything that resides therein was measured and considered. Even the art. “But there were pipes and wires; we had to fight for every inch,” Hoedemaker adds. “We were drawing until the end because as we got in we learned about more limitations and opportunities.”
Ever the condo conundrum. But here beautifully solved by Hoedemaker and interior designer Garret Cord Werner with additional pieces by Christian Grevstad.
The dining room sits under the soft glow of the condo’s custom lighting. “We wanted to use these multiple-headed, recessed fixtures to keep the ceiling clean,” Werner says. “Also, those fixtures have no trim.” Werner designed the custom bronze fixture over the coffee table. The entrance features a George Nakashima table and a Deborah Butterfield sculpture. “This room serves as a nucleus,” Werner says. “From this room you can go into the kitchen, the master wing, the living room. It’s like this little hub you come into. It’s not only beautiful it’s a very functional space.” The floor is limestone.
The client wanted a lot of quietness in the bedroom, so a lot of upholstery was used, including on the wall behind the bed and on the headboard. “This is one of the few rooms that has wall-to-wall carpet, and that was used to soften the noise,” Werner says. Silks, raw linens and fine wools add texture. Werner designed and built the bed and nightstands, which have built-in tea trays.”All this utility behind all that beauty,” Nancy says as she pushes on the horizontal walnut siding that runs the length of the condo. Out comes the television. Hidden in the wall nearby is an entire door. It leads to the guest suite. And then there are hidden closets for coats and utility items.
The theme in the kitchen is cabinets, cabinets, cabinets. Walnut with oil-rubbed bronze pulls everywhere. On the wall, in the kitchen island, over the counters. Even the dishwasher and range hood have been disguised as drawers. “We were having fun with cabinets and pulls,” Hoedemaker says of it. Huge pullouts there were designed to hold Nancy’s collection of Native American blankets. Another drawer holds photographs. Elegance travels a thin yet strong line along the walls of the condo, seen in the reveals and angles of rubbed bronze whenever two corners meet. The already low ceilings (another condo constraint) were modulated to create relief, walnut used on the higher elevations. Nancy is a knowledgable docent for the couple’s art collection. The book “Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths” sits on her desk. Her office, large Indian rug on the floor is tucked away off the master so she can crank up opera music while she studies. Her husband’s office, however, sits out in the open, just off the living room. Both spaces, however, share a captain;s-eye view of the lake. ” My husband is like a moth,” Nancy says. “He’s attracted to light.” The couple bought the home in 2003 and moved into it in 2006. “We love the space. We love the neighborhood,” Nancy says. “It just took 2 1/2 years to move three miles.” Werner says he and architect Steve Hoedemaker originally drew a much bigger island in the kitchen, but “when we mocked it out it looked like somebody parked a car in there, so we reduced the scale.” The island has a lighted glass panel on top that Nancy says makes any floral arrangement look professional. Werner designed and built the desk at far right for Nancy’s husband; bronze pedestals hold a glass top. It sits just off the living room as sort of a command central. Wires travel through the pedestals to a central panel on top. The glass piece behind is William Morris. On the left are art pieces kept in a bronze cabinet, built by Company K, on glass shelves.
Air of Refinement
Volume 26 No 02
With gleaming, metal-plated ceiling panels and black granite countertops, this kitchen is as dramatic and original as the adjoining living spaces. The hall floor in the master wing is tiled in red leather. “That was a real challenge to get somebody to put those in there, but once they’re in they’re very durable,” says interior designer Garret Cord Werner. “They have all that rich color, plus there’s that wonderful Julie Speidel sculpture at the end of the hall.”
What appears to be a stone wall is Venetian stucco. With panoramic sea and mountain views to be enjoyed from every room in this apartment, architect Garret Cord Werner wanted to create an interior that was both refined and neutral, allowing the view to be fully appreciated. The glass breakfast bar, over the black granite countertop, is supported by a metal framework. Creating a kitchen that both stands out against-and blends into-the larger living area is a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, the design and material choice need to be original, while on the other, they also need to link with the overall space. The owners of this condominium wanted their refurbished apartment to be large, open, sophisticated in style, and suitable for entertaining. Architect Garret Cord Werner’s design located the kitchen in an alcove on the rear wall of the apartment, below a dropped ceiling of metal plated panels. Black granite countertops reflect the metal panels, and Macassar ebony cabinetry provides a link with furnishings in the living areas. A solid, metal-framed sheet of glass suspended above the countertop forms a bar. To keep the look of the kitchen as simple as possible, overhead cabinetry has black glass lift-up doors and the black Ceran hob is flush with the granite top.
Remodelling & Makeovers
Located on a bluff in West Seattle with sweeping views of Puget Sound and Bainbridge Island, it’s not hard to understand what first attracted Scott Maxwell to his 2,800-square-foot home. “The reason I fell in love with the house was the area, the view and the potential,” he says. But the house was boxy with small rooms. The two-level, 1950s rambler-like many homes of that time-also had lots of hallways and dark finishes that made the small rooms even more claustrophobic. And since Scott loves to have friends over on weekends, the closed-off spaces were a big problem. Major improvements were needed, so Scott hired local interior designer Garret Cord Werner. “We wanted to make the house feel larger, to feel like a gracious, open place where he could entertain,” says Werner. Detailed discussions between designer and client helped Werner come up with a layout to address Scott’s desire to create a modern and contemporary home that’s also relaxed and comfortable. Eliminating the closed-off rooms was the first priority. After meeting with an engineer and identifying the load-bearing walls, Werner demolished the interior. Now the only thing separating the public space-the kitchen, dining area and living room-is a show-stopping marble fireplace. But the key change was moving the kitchen from a dark corner to the center of the house. The gray-and-black streamlined kitchen features cabinets painted in a pewter satin finish. Upper cabinets have interior lighting and glass doors back-painted midnight-blue. “This adds some interest and reflectivity that allows you to see what’s behind you,” says Werner, much like a mirrored surface. The addition of a multipurpose island with cooktop, oven and freezer allows Scott to prepare meals while visiting with guests. “The kitchen is set up in a very social way and that was important to me,” says Scott, who likes to prepare small plates and tasting menus for his friends. “I needed to really use the space, not just have it look pretty.” In addition to the seating at the island, Scott liked Werner’s idea of creating a lounge area as an extension of the kitchen. This casual entertaining spot keeps guests close by but out of the way of the main work zones of the room. The sofa and chairs in the lounge follow the same simple color palette used in the kitchen. While the lounge area and living room are all about comfort, the dining area is more formal. A 12-foot-long teak table seats a dozen; its wood picks up the dark streaks seen in the rosewood floor. Chairs of black-leather and chrome complete the dining area’s sleek look. With the public spaces complete, Scott and Werner have turned their attention to the more private areas of the home. The next project: transforming Scott’s master bedroom suite that will open up to the backyard and swimming pool. Until then, Scott can enjoy the revamped bathroom off the kitchen (Now serving as his master bath) complete with a steam shower and extra-deep soaking tub. “You can almost swim in there,” he says. “I wanted the palette really simple,” Dow says. “I didn’t want to do all the coolest things you’ve ever seen in any design magazine.” Slots in walls, floors and even staircases offer teasing reveals between spaces, instilling every room and even the landscape with moment of personal discovery. The home’s masculine palette is given free expression in the living room, where a soaring concrete fireplace stripped of any ornament save a sculptural steel poker- rises up to meet a vaulted cedar ceiling. Steel soffits fitted with lights encircle the room, lending scale to the space and preserving the purity of the ceiling plane, which consigns heating, cooling and additional lights to a series of discreet slots. A quartet of French doors supplants the lone window, offering access to a new cantilevered steel deck overlooking the city. The custom lacquered ebony-wood-and-floating-glass vanity with nickel-plated backsplash is a nod to Hollywood glamour. Like the rest of the renovated house, the bath showcases Werner’s dedication to timeless design details and quality. The result? One happy homeowner, who says, “I’ve created my dream house-and that’s what it’s all about.” What was done: -Demolished interior walls but retained the footprint -Relocated the kitchen to the center of the house -Created an open floor plan that allows the kitchen to flow into the living room and dining area -Covered the brick fireplace with Corona marble -Installed rosewood floors-Revamped the bath, adding a soaking tub and steam shower
Visions of Design
Visions of Design Book
An inspired collection of North America’s Finest Interior Designers
For more than a decade Garret Cord Werner has been creating stunning interior space. Whether residential or public, the interiors achieve functionality and understated elegance, as Garret approaches each design through a sophisticated lens of fine architectural detail and dynamic spatial awareness. This approach expands the firm’s artistic scope beyond furniture and ornamentation to provide a strong sense of harmony in every space. Garret and his team fuse metropolitan necessities such as storage, convenience, and multiuse spaces with elements of technology, color, light and shape to compose beautiful and award-wining interiors.
“An outside-in philosophy, harmonizing the exterior architecture and interior design of a building allows our design to become greater than its sum, an integral part of the whole rather than superfluous elements within”
-Garret Cord Werner
Metropolitan Home Glamour: Making it Modern
Book: Published in 2009
Bigger is not always better. A Faberge egg is only a few inches high, but you won’t find an object with a more refined pedigree. Exaggerations in scale, however, and subtle manipulations of proportion- the relationship between the sizes of things- can produce the drama that we associate with glamour. There is little doubt that Michelangelo’s David is immortal partly because it towers above us and the hand that threw the giant- killing stone is more massive relative to its arm than it would be in life. In the world of interior design, it is often more desirable to create a room from fewer, larger pieces than to fill it up with bits and pieces. Upping the scale of the objects-painting with large brushstrokes , as it were-tends to make rooms seem grander than their proportions, no matter how large they are. Playing oversize objects against normal or even undersize pieces can make spaces seem taller or wider, more or less open. Big pieces command attention the way a real movie star does on a red carpet crowded with lesser celebrities. “Grand” objects can create focal points, organize a room, draws focus, state or recapitulate design motifs, create architectural gravitas, and imbue a room with a gratifying sense of abundance and largesse. They are often also a great deal of fun. The gallery-scale photograph of horses by Roberto Dutesco on the wall of building contractor Jim Dow’s renovated lower-level family room in Seattle creates a sense of grandeur while it establishes a masculinity common to all the rooms and reflects the home’s earth-toned color palette (interior design by Garret Cord Werner).
My real estate agent will tell you: Home buyers love fireplaces. Fireplaces are the new spa bathrooms of the real estate world. It’s not surprising. Who doesn’t look good sitting around in the warm glow of firelight? Ever since our prehistoric ancestors figured out that a hole in the roof was a good way to keep the fire from filling their cave with smoke, fireplaces have played a core part in the design of homes. For centuries, homes affluent enough to have one were built around the fireplace, since it provided warmth for the family as well as a convenient place to braise the evening brisket. There seems to be something universal in the appeal of fire, which, after all, is one of the four basic “elements” (water, air, and earth being the other three). Virtually all new upmarket homes have fireplaces, as do many renovations. One of the great things about them is that, once you’ve installed the actual mechanism of the firebox, your fireplace surround can be almost anything you want it to be, from adobe to stainless steel, from brick to Corian-and it can change whenever your decorating style evolves. Wherever you install your fireplace-living room, bedroom, kitchen, or bath-the space becomes instantly more inviting because it invites you to spend some quality time. Contractor Jim Dow’s masculine Zen makeover of his Seattle home brought new materials and streamlined detailing to the most standard building components. In the living room, he used blackened steel for the frames of new windows on each side of the soaring fireplace and again on the log boxes he devised for storage.
No room of the house has made a more dramatic transformation over the last century than the bathroom. Call it the home’s biggest splash. From a closet retrofitted with a commode, the salle de bain has become a spacious, spa-inspired playground for adults. Without a doubt, bathroom fixtures-from tubs that look like bathing vessels for Cleopatra to vessel sinks that are carved, cast, and molded into shapes never before seen outside MoMA-have practically become pieces of design art (and at the prices they fetch, they should only be as good an investment). Although no room has a more practical rationale, none offers such endless possibilities for sybaritic invention. The bathroom is nearly a blank slate. Now the size of the average postwar living room or larger, today’s wish-fulfilling bathroom would doubtless stun the Levitts of the world, whose mass-produced homes had six-by-eight-foot family bathrooms, about the size of a latter-day toilet enclosure. Bathrooms incorporate walk-in closets and dressing rooms and boast all the accoutrements of a hair salon or country-club locker room-plus faucets that gleam like tiaras. The newly glamorous bathroom may retain ease of maintenance, but it does not limit the design imagination. For a master bathroom that feels like a vacation, Seattle contractor Jim Dow installed a custom-made, concrete Japanese soaking tub at floor level. The enormous window next to the tub opens onto a matching pool in a privacy garden that makes bathing seem like an outdoor activity. A glass wall separates the adjacent shower stall.
2009 Northwest Design Awards
By Design: Seattle Design Center
Whole House More Than $400,000, First Place
Seattle Design Center celebrated the best of regional interior design with the eleventh annual Northwest Design Awards competition. Northwest designers, architects and students competed in ten competition categories- the number of project submitted increased by 21 percent over the 2008 competition, meaning tougher competition. A panel of local subject experts evaluated submissions through an anonymous process, measuring each on the basis of proportion, composition, use of space, lighting, materials and appropriateness. Awards were presented at the 2009 Northwest Design Awards Gala on September 24. Congratulations to all participating designers. Here are the designers and projects we recognized as defining design in the region.
Center of His Universe
Seattle Homes & Lifestyles
Scott Maxwell’s West Seattle home goes minimal after its makeover, giving him a tranquil place in a hectic world.
Western Interiors & Design
April/ May 2008
In a remote spot in the San Juan Islands archipelago, north of Seattle, s small farmhouse campus meander across a hillside meadow on Decatur Island. Taking their cue from the adjacent renovated barn, five structures with skins of weather- bleached cedar melt into the landscape with pastoral ease, their pitched zinc roofs repeating the changing hues and patterns of the Pacific Northwest sky.
The owners, a Seattle couple with older children, gave careful thought to the siting of this weekend retreat, choosing an island accessible only by private boat or plane. “We had a chance to frame a family legacy,” says the husband,” and have a place where the kids could eventually bring their own children.” But family members perpetually moving in multiple directions would need to gather without feeling shoehorned into spaces that didn’t fit their lifestyle.
Architects and partners Tom Bosworth and Steve Hoedemaker, of Bosworth, of Bosworth Hoedemaker, recognized an opportunity to develop a tactile connection among several small buildings and heighten the experience of the verdant landscape that would bind the structures together. An architect prolific in the Pacific Northwest for four decades, Bosworth has amassed a body of work notable for residences that synthesize historic, rural elements with classical principles of axial symmetry.
Near the center of the property is the main cottage, a sunlit hub for cooking, dining and other communal activities. Down the hillside beside a grassy meadow is the cottage’s more rustic counterpart- an open- air stone- and- timber pavilion and hearth overlooking the waters of Lopez Sound. Nearby, a narrow guest cabin joins two bedrooms and their porches with a shared bath. A footpath leads to the master- suite building and beyond that, amid a grove of firs and cedars, the writer’s jut. “It’s easy to design a big building,” says Bosworth, “but a smaller scale allows you to do several things, including use more windows. The trick is to avoid feeling cramped.”
The main cottage is wrapped by a broad porch under deep eaves and outfitted with large chairs to capture views of the changing maritime weather. The interior provides an enfilade of main rooms- kitchen, dining room, living room and study, all lined with walls of tongue- and groove hemlock and fir floors. Painted a gentle white and virtually shadowless, the bright spaces are a rare treat in these sun- starved latitudes. The inglenook’s stacked Montana ledgestone walls and fireplace, with steps and cushioned benches of Huckleberry basalt anchor the heart of the house to the earth like a centuries- old altar.
The kitchen connects easily with the dining room through sliding doors beneath clear transom windows. Open shelves cut a clean line across a sky- to- ground view, tracing only a faint division between architecture and nature.
To complement the crisp living room details laid out by the architects, interior designer Garret Cord Werner designed a sofa and armchairs with dimensions that temper the informality of vacation furniture with the sleekness of an urban condominium. With dark wood legs, they feature natural fabrics in light hues of salt and bleached cedar, Werner felt an easy kinship with the scheme for this rural setting because of its avoidance of clutter. “Many homeowners mimic what they see in shops full of stuff,” he says. “Getting rid of things eases your physical and emotional burden. There’s freedom in having less.”
The separate master suite structure hovers amid a soft carpet of fallen leaves, its interior serene and luxurious. “there’s that little sense of adventure you get shutting down the main house,” says Hoedemaker, “then grabbing your flashlight and trekking out through the trees to find your sleeping cabin, it feels like camp.” The bedroom contains a four poster bed with slender columns that reach toward the exposed rafters and white ceiling. A wood-burning stove is in the corner next to French doors that open to a private porch amid surrounding trees. The couple must take a few sheltered steps in an open-air passage to enter the adjoining bath.
“Normally, a client says, ‘here are the things I want in my house,'” explains Hoedemaker.” In this case the client came to our door, saying,’ we want to spend time up here and have a great experience, help us design what it is that we could be doing.’ We created the fantasy of what it’s like to disappear into the woods.”
A great view is a design opportunity too good to pass up-especially a bird’s eye view of the Seattle skyline and Elliott Bay. So it’s no surprise the bath in this condo takes advantage of the scenery.
In fact, the room’ss piece de résistance-an architectural tempered glass tube-shape shower-let’s the view literally soak in. The shower is positioned to face windows overlooking the city and bay. A stainless-steel bar hides the plumbing and supports the fixtures, while a second showerhead mounted on the ceiling provides a rain like spray.
The shower is part of a bath suite designed to service the master bedroom and a smaller bedroom that has direct access to the tub and vanity area. Having only one toilet in the condo challenged the designer to ensure privacy while accommodating access from both bedrooms when the homeowner has guests. Pocket doors provide the solution, allowing a smaller vanity and the tub to be closed off from the shower and a trough sink-which are open to the adjoining master bedroom.
The condo’s location on the 21st floor of the building offered another logistical puzzle: how to reroute the plumbing. Boring through concrete was not the answer. Instead, the entire bath was constructed a step up from the adjoining bedrooms-a move that adds subtle drama and, more important, allowed the plumbing to be reconfigured easily under the floor.
A slew of earthy materials adds a sense of nature in the urban high rise. Made of Zimbabwe black granite a mitered trough sink tops a rich Macassar ebony wood stand to form the elongated vanity. Behind the vanity, hand-hewn, stacked green limestone walls support the mirror. A smaller vanity with a round Macassar wood base that echoes a tree trunk services the second bedroom. Such details make the bath-just like the Seattle skyline-a sight to behold.
The Gold List
The Gold List recognizes Garret Cord Werner as one of the top interior designers in the U.S. Internationally recognized interior designer, Garret Cord Werner has been creating dramatic interior spaces for over a decade. With every design, Garret’s sophisticated approach artistically balances functionality with an understated elegance that is achieved by fine architectural detail and dynamic spatial awareness. Necessities of each space and elements of contemporary design are beautifully composed into award-winning interiors.
Kitchen and Bath Ideas
Drama and practicality coexist peacefully-and beautifully-in the penthouse of a Seattle condo, where Linda Wyman enjoys an all-inclusive master bath of sophistication and substance.
At the entry from the bedroom, double pocket doors with bronzed-glass inserts set the stage. They open to a large oval tub that’s encased in marble and backed by a stacked-limestone wall. “The tub resembles a throne,” interior designer Garret Cord Werner says. “It’s a very sculptural piece.”
The limestone wall continues into the adjacent steam and shower, which boasts a heated bench where Linda likes to sit and unwind. Set a few inches lower than the main floor, the shower floor features a distinctive trough drain to catch water.
On the wall opposite the tub and shower, two raised vanities with large mirrors and storage-packed bases flank the pocket doors. Electrical outlets in the top drawers allow Linda to keep small appliances plugged in and ready to go, while one of the mirrors is a two-way pieced-glass panel that hides a TV.
Another pair of pocket doors leads to the suites pièce de résistance: a dressing room influenced by Linda’s passions. Teak-stained mahogany flooring allows the dancer to practice moves, while a sit down makeup vanity along a wall of windows gives the avid boater views of Elliot Bay in Puget Sound. “I have arguably the best view in the area,” Linda says.
The director of a modeling school, Linda also craved storage solutions that would allow her to discreetly store all the clothes, shoes, and accessories she has acquired over the years. “It’s always been my dream to have my own dressing room and to have a place for everything,” she says.
Such smart storage adds brains to the beauty of clean-lined limed-oak cabinetry and creamy Crema Marfil marble surfaces. The result is a calming, stress-free atmosphere that makes this Linda’s favorite space. “There’s nothing fussy about it,” she says. “It’s very understated and elegant.”
Garret Cord Werner: Balance
Western Interiors and Design
When a Seattle couple decided to downsize, they transformed dowdy high rise interiors with materials and open spaces that reflect the natural world of the Pacific Northwest Architect Steve Hoedemaker and designer Garret Cord Werner updated the interior for a 1960’s high- rise condominium in Seattle. A stacked limestone- and – bronze fireplace is the center piece of the living area, which has walls and a ceiling sheathed in bleached black walnut panels. For the seating area, Werner grouped a B& B Italia chaise longue and armchairs around an Isamu Noguchi low table. Through the telescope in their living area- a sleek, tailored lair twenty- two stories above Lake Washington- a Seattle couple has a bittersweet view into their shared past. The scope is fixed on the site of their former suburban residence across the water, designed for them decades earlier by architect David Hoedemaker. Fond of that house as the two were, their appetite for travel outgrew their patience for battening down the homestead for extended absence. Downsizing to a condominium made all kinds of sense. The couple found a unit in a lakeside high- rise created in 1969 by the late Roland Terry, an architect considered a pillar of northwest modern design. Evidence of the master’s hand, however, had vanished from the interior. The floor plan was a warren of incongruities and fussy details, with dropped fluorescent fixtures and striped wallpaper. Low ceiling compounded the cloying effect. For their new space, David Hoedemaker referred them to his son Steve, a principal of the Seattle architecture firm Bosworth Hoedemaker. “The wife was feeling a little claustrophobic about the condominium,”recalls Steve Hoedemaker.”There were two imperatives: Open things up, and deploy natural materials that connect with the northwest and convey a sense of the outdoors.” A series of framed spaces trimmed to the millimeter, the remodeled condominium showcases hard surfaces and crisp edges in browns and ashy greens that possess an earthy, burnished luster. A soft blue-green panorama of lake Washington and the north Cascades wraps the space at its outer edge. “This project was as much about interior design as it was architectural manipulation,” says Hoedemaker. He called on designer Garret Cord Werner, who specializes in the detail of condominiums. “Garret’s talents overlap into architecture. He can assess spaces in terms of utility and function, not just limits his treatment to fabrics and pillows.” The previous arrangement for rooms followed the traditional postwar convention of erecting walls around eating, sleeping, bathing and lounging. “The rooms were tiny and unfriendly,” says Hoedemaker. “We needed to reorganize a chaotic space and create clear rhythms so it didn’t seem so haphazard.” The transformation began with broad strokes, by removing superfluous walls to erase visual clutter. The architect grouped the kitchen, dining and living areas at the unit’s core. In private quarters, he linked separate bedrooms and baths to form luxurious master and guest suites without squandering precious square footage. The next challenge lay in devising a strategy that further downplayed the transitions from room to room. “In terms of the surface design details,” says Hoedemaker,” we developed guidelines to understand exactly how materials would behave how two materials would meet, how they would turn a corner and how they would shift from plane to plane.” Three materials jacket the condominium throughout: planks of black walnut, panels of bone- white fiberboard, and narrow channels of bronze. Werner attached the walnut to the ceiling and walls while lowering the fiberboard ceiling panels by several inches- a counterintuitive move that actually creates the illusion of more room as the darker black walnut recedes into shadow. The focal point of the living area is Werner’s driftwood- colored stacked- limestone fireplace. “You want to sit down there and toast marshmallows'” says the wife. The same material in coarser dimensions covers a full wall in the master bath. “This remodel is a completely new design, but it echoes their old home,” says Werner. “I do miss my garden,” the wife muses, “but not the maintenance. We just live closer to the sky now than we do the ground.
Seamless in Seattle
Western Interiors and Design
A dramatic design strategy gains space and light for the master suite in a high-rise condo. Designer Garret Cord Werner created a bath with an open, flexible floor plan and a scene stealing glass shower column for a high-rise Seattle condo. With his remodel for a 1970s Seattle condo, interior designer Garret Cord Werner proves that a small space can make a big impact. The entire twenty- fifth- floor residence measures about 1,200 square feet, but it’s the master bath where Werner’s design ingenuity commands the most attention, “The client wanted the bath to feel like part of the whole space,” says Werner, who transformed the three-bedroom condo into a large, open area with one master suite. So instead of separating the bath with doors and walls, Werner left it open to the master bedroom and defined it by raising it one step. “This also allowed us to redirect the plumbing under the floor, without having to core through the cement slab,” says Werner. The higher level created a vantage point for looking out through the bedroom windows to the harbor.
A Werner designed Macassar ebony vanity is flanked by stacked limestone and custom torcheres. A stainless-steel column bolds a showerhead and other fittings from Dornbracht, whole a second shower-head is mounted to the ceiling. The vanity sink was made by hand out of 3/4 – inch-thick Zimbabwean black granite.” We also designed a custom drain that’s a linear series of stainless bars,” says Werner. The faucet is from Dornbracht. To make the most of this view, Werner designed a freestanding cylindrical shower made with clear glass that rises seamlessly to the ceiling’s full height. “It’s definitely the focal point,” says Werner. “But we didn’t put any wild texture on the glass or try to jazz it up. To me, the simplest things are often the strongest.” The clear glass allowed the back wall, which has two panels of stacked limestone flanking a custom vanity of Macassar ebony, to have a strong presence. “The limestone was hand- cut and laid up in the space,” says the designer. “With the clear glass and the stone walls you feel like it could almost be an outdoor shower.” This sense is amplified by small landscape up lights that illuminate the rough stone. For continuity, the same materials are repeated in the bath’s small self-contained section that houses a tub/shower, a vanity and a toilet. A pivot door connects this area to the main bath space, and a picket door slides open to an adjacent hallway through which guests can enter. “It’s one bathroom,” says Werner, “but it functions as two.” “Bathrooms today are much like kitchens in that they’re becoming a focus of the home and of the design,” says Werner. “It’s an evolution based on modern thinking and living.” Werner center- mounted a faucet from Dornbracht’s Mem line over Kohler’s Tea -for- two tubs. “The faucet has simple lines and creates a cascading, waterfall effect, he says. In the self-contained area of the bath, Werner designed a cylindrical vanity that mimics the shape of a tree trunk. A glass panel keeps water in the shower and swings open for access to the tub.
- -A cylindrical glass shower makes the most of the small space. The glass is flush with the floor and ceiling for a smooth appearance, and the floor was sloped just enough to let water drain.
- -Werner gave the floor plan flexibility by separating one section- which contains a vanity, toilet and shower/ tub-with a hidden pivot door.
- -By raising the floor one step, Werner created a platform for taking in the harbor views and used the space to conceal redirected plumbing beneath.
- -For a consistent feel, both of the vanities were make with Macassar ebony, and he used limestone- stacked on one wall and laid flat on another- for texture.
- -Landscape fixtures were used as up lights beneath the stacked limestone walls for an outdoor effect and were ceiling- mounted above the vanity mirror, where recessed lights wouldn’t fit. Custom floor- mounted torcheres take the place of sconces.
- -Werner chose fixtures with simple lines from Dornbracht’s Mem collection. The waterfall effect created by the faucets adds to the outdoor feel.
- -As a foil to the Seattle weather, Werner kept the walls white and used a pale quartzite stone from Lambert Marble & Tile Works for the floor.
A Resource Guide to Enlightened Living
Lumen is about living big. What is enlightened living? A introduction with LUMEN Designer, Garret Cord Werner
Granted, the floor plans are small, but the style, craftsmanship, and experience of living at LUMEN won’t be topped. Many condos in Seattle attempt to miniaturize the suburban experience- people are encouraged to haul their armoires and sofa sets into tiny spaces. At LUMEN, we’ve done the opposite. Our philosophy is, you’re going to have a smaller space, so let’s redesign how you live. Instead of having a boxy kitchen that takes up a 10x 10 space in your 50x 50 unit, now your kitchen is organized in a row, so you gain a third of that space back. You are living in the middle of a vibrant city, coming and going constantly, so you want a place that’s clean and uncluttered. Our minimalist design, exacting standards and attention to detail have created units that stimulate dynamic people. It’s not complicated to do great design- sometimes it’s as simple as barring contractors from using felt pens, so the concrete ceilings are pristine, or installing self- closing bathroom drawers. We went to extraordinary lengths to execute basic but important design concepts. To give one example: An outdoor patio should flow naturally into the indoor space. When you throw open your doors in the summer, it should feel like you’re doubling your living space. But in most condos, there’s a step between the interior floor and the patio, to prevent water intrusion. The whole notion of the continuous floor is lost. Not at LUMEN. We spent thousands of dollars sinking the patio’s concrete slab, then placing tiles on top, so the indoor and outdoor surfaces are, to naked eye, level. It’s a simple detail, but an important one. In other cases, we had to splurge to get the design we wanted. The NanaWalls glass doors that separate the interior from the patio- cost $9,000. But since they essentially disappear when you close them, they were the only solution that provided the seamless look between indoor and outdoor that we needed. People who buy LUMEN units realize that they aren’t going to get a suburban home reconfigured in the city. They embrace the fact that their lives will be a little different. And this style of living draws similar people. They may be of different ages and backgrounds but they share an affinity for design and a youthful dynamism. It will be an interesting experiment to have all these like- minded people living together. We asked designers from Roche- Bobois, Kasala, Lighting Universe, and container Store to design model units for the LUMEN open house. It was thrilling to see their expressions of these spaces. Within this booklet, they explain their design choices.
What steps did you take to maximize the space?
There are some tricks of the eye that you can do. I’ve put a mirror behind the long dining table to make it look twice as long. The raumplus sliding door system that separates the living space from the bedroom- when you open these doors it adds more space to the living area. We also added some artwork by Matthew Olds, a young up- and- coming artist. He’s doing atmospheric artwork right now, which really fits.
Everybody has a different idea of comfort, and when I design custom furniture for a client, my goal is to create what’s comfortable for them. Here I was thinking about what would best maximize the space.
Does the neutral color of the walls also help?
Yes, this is one of the smallest units, so putting in a bunch of colored walls would really close in the space. In a larger space you might define a few areas by doing a feature wall, but here it would seem too busy. Also, there are a lot of see- through spaces, so if you painted one wall, you’d probably feel like you had to paint the wall that sort of connects to it, and then where would you stop?
What about storage?
There are optional upgrades for this build-in storage: you can put in a desk or a bookcase, or fill it with camping supplies- whatever maximizes your lifestyle. The bed had a hydraulic system that lifts up the mattress, there’s room for storage underneath the mattress. Garret Cord Werner is the designer of LUMEN and Principal of Garret Cord Werner Interior Design.
Bucking the Trends
The Puget Sound Business Journal
Seattle interior designer Garret Cord Werner’s motto is no trends. Instead he strives for timelessness and urban elegance in his designs.
Garret Cord Werner has earned a reputation as one of Seattle’s award- wining designers. Recently the 39 year old was dubbed one of the “Seattle Seven,” an elite group of interior designers tapped to work with architects to plan the showcase penthouses at 1 Hotel and Residences in Seattle. He cleaned up at the 2006 Northwest Design Awards, winning Best Bathroom Design, Best Home Design under $200,000 and Best Home Design over $200,000. Last year, he also was lauded on the global stage, winning the International Interior Design Association’s Best in Show Residential award. His work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Beautiful Homes, Northwest Home + Garden and Seattle Home & Lifestyles magazines, among others. The Puget Sound Business Journal chatted with Werner, whose firm Garret Cord Werner LLC operates from 2212 Westlake Ave. in Seattle, to better understand how he got to this point in his career and to get his point of view on interior design.
PSBJ: How did you decide you wanted to be a designer?
Werner: Historically my family’s background is founded in real estate development. I was influenced from a very early age by my grandfather and father in the building and design industry. This is what initially inspired me to find my own voice and perspective as a designer. It also gave me unique real world experience before entering formal training as a designer.
PSBJ: What kind of formal training do you have?
Werner: I have a bachelor (degree) of interior design.
PSBJ: For those who haven’t seen your work, how would you describe your style?
Werner: I feel that respecting each building and its architecture is a fundamental factor in all designs we create.
This outside-in philosophy, harmonizing the exterior and interior of a building, is what allows an interior to becoming an integral part of the architecture rather than a superfluous unconnected component within the overall design. Functionality and understand urban elegance are a primary approach in our interiors. We look at each project through a sophisticated lens of fine architectural detail and dynamic spatial awareness. This break from a mainline “decorative” approach to interior design expands the firm’s artistic scope beyond furniture and ornamentation to provide a strong sense of harmony in every space. While utilizing environmentally friendly and natural materials, my work fuses metropolitan necessities, such as storage, convenience, and multi-use spaces, with elements of technology, color discreet and enduring interiors. Custom furniture, lighting, art and unique accessories are paired with the architectural space to complete the interior.
PSBJ: You’ve gained quite a name for yourself as one of the “Seattle Seven,” designing the showcase penthouses at 1 Hotel and Residences. How did you get discovered?
Werner: My clients are my best promoters. I have been very privileged that clients and peers have recommended me over the years. This is (the) best compliment, and it has been prominent in my success.
PSBJ: Who is your mentor?
Werner: My mentor is Robert M. Ledingham- a very talented designer in Vancouver, Canada, where I received my post academic training. I believe he was instrumental in honing my abilities and forming the foundation of my work today.
PSBJ: How would you describe the style of your own West Seattle home?
Werner: Very simple and minimal. I get bored easily and like to keep my own home peaceful and uncluttered.
PSBJ: What are the favorite things in your own home?
Werner: A special place in my home is the kitchen- I love to cook and entertain and it is the social center of every home. I enjoy the process of being creative in planning multiple courses.
PSBJ: What music would you put on for a dinner party?
Werner: My music tastes are eclectic. It really depends on the mood and season.
PSBJ: Let’s talk about trends. First, color. What’s out and what’s in for the coming year?
Werner: I have never subscribed to trends. In fact it is one thing I detest. I have strong belief in color as it exists in nature- it never grows tired or outdated if used in a tasteful manner.
PSBJ: Same question for furnishing?
Werner: I have the same response to furniture. Good design is always in fashion. It is easy to find examples of furniture that are icons or antiques that are as beautiful today as the day they were introduced.
PSBJ: What about home electronics?
Werner: I believe electronics and home automation are wonderful if used appropriately in the design of a home. I find it is when the electronics become overly complicated or not user friendly when they fail. I always try to be involved in this aspect of the design as so often I have seen clients be railroaded into some overloaded system that in the end is not enjoyable or simple to use.
PSBJ: If money were no object, what’s the coolest new idea you would want to incorporate into your next design?
Werner: Although this is not a new idea, I believe one of the most important aspects of home design today that is missing sis the incorporation of inside- outside spatial relationships.
I feel that too often home do not embrace their exterior. One primary example is a side yard of a typical home. These are often just left as occasional access points. Imagine a closed bathroom, for example, that faces a side yard in your home. A simple renovation of a floor to ceiling window, a planting of contained bamboo, an up light and a private fence could create a wonderful private indoor garden experience. There are so many ways to experience more space with minimal changes to a home’s layout- both inside and out.
PSBJ: What are the other major trends and items that your clients want to see in their homes.
Werner: Again- my motto of no trends is what most clients come to me for. This is not to say that innovation can be left aside but there is a big difference. Trends are like fashion- here today, gone tomorrow. My clients come to me for enduring design. A home is not the place for trifling decoration, in my opinion. This is a waste of time and money. A home should be a reflection of one’s personal taste, smart design and wise investment.
PSBJ: I know you’ve been able to work with a number of clients who commission custom projects and designs. What’s the most outrageous request you’ve undertaken?
Werner: Probably the most challenging requests was to complete the design with almost no input form the client and to have them simply move in once it was finished while they traveled the globe. The project was a big success but I prefer to have the client’s personality in the home, not my own. I like to be inspired by each client and their personality. This is in part what keeps my profession always fresh and exciting.
PSBJ: What’s your take on all of the TV home makeover shows? It seems every channel has at least one and a celebrity designer fad or fashion? About time or past its prime?
Werner: I find the majority of them defeat the interior design profession as a whole. Most of the so-called designers one sees on the TV are not formally trained and show very little professional skill, in my opinion. Most of these shows feature quick decorative makeovers and rarely tackle fundamental architectural issues with a space. I suppose it is fun for the average consumer that wants a simple embellishment on a budget. But for me, as a trained professional, it makes me cringe.
PSBJ: Would you ever want to do your own show or write your own book? Anything like that in the works?
Werner: I would like to eventually contribute in the form of teaching or creating a book that would help educate the public about design from my own perspective. We will see. Finding the time now is the only barrier.
PSBJ: What is your next big thing?
Werner: We are working on the planning if several condo projects in the city. This is important work. These buildings are going to be around for a long time, and I feel a responsibility to the future owners to make the space as livable as possible. We are one the few firms in the city to be involved in this level of design that is beyond the decoration. Traditionally, tower projects are planned by the architect and them the interiors are decorated by the interior designer. What sets out firm apart is our ability to focus on the maximum use of a floor plan within a building. I believe that without “good bones” in the interior, the space aren’t fully utilized. Werner is known for taking natural materials and pulling them together in a refined way that- even when combine with cool colors- creates warmth.
Taking a Condo to the Maximum
Seattle @ Home
The rooms were small, dark, and maze-like. “We basically took the shell and opened it up,” said Werner
Werner opened up the kitchen, eating and living areas, while implicitly defining each as a unique space.
The spaces flow and adapt as the owner entertains or has guests.
To make the master suite feel grand in a small space, the designer created a showpiece shower and an elegant vanity.
The shower is a captivation focal point, “It was very difficult to bend the radius of the custom shower glass,” said Werner. “The shower has a stainless steel column that houses all the plumbing and the drain line is just long enough – in a concrete tower you are limited to how far you can move plumbing. “Stacked plumbing running through the building is always a challenge in condo spaces,” he said. “One of our challenges here was three pipes in the entry. We actually exposed these pipes because we wanted to gain more entry space and we wanted this strip to run right through the kitchen to make it feel larger.” The pipes are clad in Macassar wood veneers to look like tree trunks. Here, too, stacked Kota limestone lines the walls and waterfall pours into a stone and pebble garden. “it is an organic and interesting way to come into the space. We took the plumbing that was at first a problem and made it into an embellishment,” he added. “Often clients need a little help when visualizing the space,” said Werner. His firm utilizes state-of-the-art computer-generated renderings that convey photo-realistic impressions of spaces. His staff of five includes an architect and an artist so they have the flexibility if both computer and the hand sketching worlds. Werner is also instrumental in several of the new condominium developments under construction of on the boards in Seattle, planning the interiors and doing the architectural layouts. Originally from Vancouver, B.C., Werner worked for renowned design consultant Robert Ledingham while pursuing his interior design degree. Werner gained experience in Vancouver’s downtown high-rise condo market before coming to Seattle eight years ago to help Ledinghan establish a practice. Werner took over that practice and stared his own firm when Ledingham left Seattle. “Seattle’s downtown is just now starting to blossom,” said Werner.” For me this is a really exciting time”
Beautiful Window Treatments
Beautiful Window Treatments
Sheer wool draperies are unexpectedly elegant at master bathroom windows. The loosely pleated header glides easily on a ceiling- mounted track.
Daily Journal of Commerce
Lumen Condos: Doing More with Less
Daily Journal of Commerce
March 2th, 2006
When Alan Winningham bought his Belltown condo he requested that it come as is, just the shell. Then he and his partner created a home that combines high design and functionality. Room dividers also act as furniture and storage. Some walls move so that rooms can transform into other uses. Liberal use of glass gives a sense of lightness. “I got great reaction to it,” said Winningham. If you want to see photos of their home, mosey on down to Lumen, the newest condominium development of Seattle base Landstar Development, co-owned by Winningham and his Texas based business partner, Gerhard Kleinschmidt.
The 94-unit Lumen is at 500 Roy St., on the old Tower Records site. Units are priced form the mid-$200,000s to well over $1 million and come as lofts, town homes and flats, with one, two and three bedrooms. The project is being developed with Winningham’s sensibilities in mind, including his mantra that all space be usable. The interiors, designed by Garret Cord Werner of Seattle, have high ceilings, movable opaque glass “wall,” hallways that hide office nooks and storage, and other touches like recessed bathroom cabinets that make spaces feel more sleek. The great room blends into the kitchen, but dishwashers are disguised behind wood cabinet fronts, the area appears larger and more conducive to entertaining. Sliding glass doors lead to the patio, again adding to the expansive feel.
A kitchen island divider also serves as a bar and a media center. Some room separators have storage on one side and a china buffet on the other.
100 Things That Define Seattle Design
Seattle Homes & Lifestyles
In tandem with Seattle’s condominium explosion, award-winning interior designer Garret Cord Werner has helped shape the aesthetic of the city’s young, contemporary urban lifestyle. He originally arrived in Seattle to open a satellite office for Vancouver, B.C. – based Ledingham Design, Inc., before going solo in recent years. Crediting Robert Ledinghan as his design mentor, Werner has made strong interior statements in several condominium developments, including The Vine and Avenue One in Belltown. His innovative menu of choice for Avenue One, in particular, presented buyers with stylish-but-functional choices with which to personalize their interiors, including built-in storage, wall niches, room dividers and Murphy beds. On the boards are interiors for Lumen, an urban project of town homes and flats at the former Tower Records site on Mercer Street and Fifth Avenue near the Seattle Center. by Debra Prinzing
Urban Living Evolves in Downtown Seattle
The Experts Weigh In: Design “Consumers are becoming far more discerning and so the days of building production apartments sold as luxury condominiums are over. Builders are slowly realizing that good design- just as in the automobile and other design industries- results in enhanced value and repeat customers. The increasing constraints on floor space means tomorrow’s interior programs need to work harder to serve today’s urban lifestyles. That said, there’s always room to personalize an environment and that’s where the (design) trade will always have a role to play.” -Garret Cord Werner
In A New Light
Interior designer Garret Cord Werner brought punches of color into the living room via artwork but let most of the space’s definition come from the light and dark tones of the wood- and- steel structure.
The dining room is a simple space with wood floors stained ebony and glass doors that fold and slide open.
For 30 years, a Colonial-style home stood on a lush lot near Seattle’s Lake Washington, but it was a functional misfit that took little advantage of the light, the land, and the view. When faced with the realities of remodeling to take advantage of the incredible site, the owners opted instead to build something new. They asked architect Rex Hohlbein to plan another traditional home because they liked the coziness of their Colonial. Hohlbein did as they asked, but also presented the couple with a contemporary plan. They Colonial lost. “The contemporary adapted itself to the site better,” Hohlbein says. To harness natural light and integrate interior and exterior spaces, he created a long, thin building with all rooms opening to the outside. Front and back courtyards define the home’s main entryways and blur the lines between indoors and out; the one facing the front greets visitors and creates an open-air entertainment area complete with a two- story concrete fireplace. Hohlbein then devised a plan with three free-flowing zones: an open living/ dining/kitchen area, a bedroom wing for the teens, and an upstairs master suite and study. The owners didn’t want to sacrifice coziness for the contemporary plan, however, so Hohlbein balanced the openness with little nooks. Anterooms and varied ceiling heights create warm and inviting spots, such as a reading corner in the living room and a work niche in the kitchen. A balance also exists between industrial- style and natural building materials. “We introduce very strong materials, like concrete and steel, to the building environment to create almost a primal shelter, strong and protected,” Hohlbein says. Expanding on that sense of comfort are natural materials, such as Douglas-fir, oak, and concrete floors; countertops of soapstone in the kitchen and granite in the master bath; and vertical cedar siding on the exterior. Besides adding warmth, such elements further the Pacific Northwest vernacular. The soapstone will take on a beautiful patina with time and use, whereas the concrete colors that run through much of the home’s main level are waxed and sealed, and fitted with in-floor heating/ the wood unifies the home with the lot, which has a stand of fir and cedar trees on the northern boundary.
Open shelving replaces the standard upper cabinets in the kitchen. The low ceiling above the work area creates coziness. Steel beams and fir joists define the kitchen and family room as separate spaces. The overall look is serene because warm fabrics, woodwork, and art pieces mute the hard edges.
Perhaps the most warmth comes from a generous window arrangement that floods every room with natural light. In the dining room, a bank of glass crates a virtually seamless connection to nature: the accordion-style doors fold and slide back, completely opening to the outside. The home’s loftiest and most lived-in space is the kitchen, which sits the center of the main floor and opens to the living room, family room, and courtyards. Hohlbein refrained from using upper cabinets, opting to leave room for shelves and windows. To provide adequate storage space, he designed a pantry alleyway between the kitchen and family room, with a built-in hutch on one side and floor-to-ceiling storage on the other. Interior designer Garret Cord Werner saw his job as adding yet another layer of softness to the contemporary design, so he worked closely with Hohlbien from the project’s inception to select materials and colors. “We built a juxtaposition of light and dark, which gives the home a sense of ease and calm,” Werner says. He used linens, wools, and cottons as upholstery and window coverings to balance the hard architectural materials. As with the public spaces, the home’s bedrooms are thoughtfully designed. When the owner’s children go to college, for instance, their bedroom wing can be shut down- or reworked to serve as office and guest spaces. And the master suite, which sits on the upper level along with a study, a window- wrapped tub, and a private deck, provides the ultimate escape. They’re further examples of the practicality, ease, and understated sophistication that permeate the home’s design. “Buildings should be quiet, not stand- up and showy,” Hohlbein sys. “A house should be a backdrop to your life. You, your art, your family, your life , should be the focus.” The master bath uses traditional elements, such as working radiators, a freestanding tub, and sheer wool draperies.
Buyers Demand Greater Design
Northwest Home + Garden
While the convenience of these lifestyle centers are attractive, homeowners still choose their particular home based on its design and ultimately it price. As urban housing costs have increased rapidly, developer vie to build more efficient spaces, yet still feature the same or better living experiences. According to Jones, the market is changing. Developers have built more value into today’s condominiums, he says. They are providing better finishes, more unique features and more appealing amenities. What you find in new construction today was not available before. The re-sale market no longer competes on the same level with new construction as it once did- there’s a measurable difference. Case in point, one up-coming development in lower Queen Anne will cast new light on the subject of design. Located on the former site of Tower Records, construction has commenced on the condominiums and retail center at 500 Mercer. Developers say the project is similar in concept to University Village, rather an urbane version. The project will feature a 40,000 square foot, full-service urban grocer, restaurants, and a variety of upscale retail. Well timed, the project’s three-story glass storefronts will soon grace the landscaped, two-way boulevard planned for Mercer Street connecting Seattle Center to South Lake Union. Its’ architecture, comprised of concrete, steel and glass promises to make an iconic statement, says David Hewitt of Hewitt Architects, principal architect for the project. The expansive use of glass and translucent materials will enliven the streetscape and provide a real sense of connection to the surrounding neighbor-hood. In addition to air conditioning and other thoughtful features, Hewitt adds that the full-block community will also feature a generous homeowner amenity pavilion at Fifth and Mercer. This two-story, glass walled jewel box will showcase a fitness center, community kitchen and dining spaces, meeting spaces, business center and a home theatre entertainment room for its residents, all with sweeping views of Downtown Seattle and Seattle Center. The 100 residences will be known as LUMEN, so names for their inspiring interplay of light and space. Interior designer Garret Cord Werner explains the vision for the community as light meeting form. The homes are being designed in such a way as to allow for individual expression and flexibility, all within a gracious, light- filled space, shared Werner Working with Hewitt Architects, the development team fashioned the open-plan homes so they could be flexible and evolve as desired by the owner. When complete next year, LUMEN will have provided construction excellence will have provided construction excellence with a bold design sensibility, says developer Alan Winningham of Landstar Real Estate. Most importantly, we will do so while maintaining affordable prices. It’s just what the market has been missing and we’re building it.
Project Designer Garret Cord Werner, Ledingham Design Consultants Inc.
Seattle Homes & Lifestyles
An Eastside couple finds traditional solidity in a contemporary package.
Upper cabinets were banished form the kitchen (left) to make it feel like an extension of the living areas. Additional storage is consigned to adjoining hall. The family watches lots of sporting events, so a plasma TV was installed over the fireplace in the family room (right).
Oversize pavers lead to the front door and fireside terrace. Board- formed concrete walls echo the cedar siding, which was applied in varied thicknesses to accentuate its texture.
After enduring a decade in their cracker-box colonial, an Eastside couple was ready to throw in the towel. Despite additions and remodels, the home’s floor plan remained awkward, providing little natural light, view or access to the outdoors. Flimsy hardware and snap-in window grids only emphasized the home’s cost-cutting construction. The couple contemplated a more radical a more remodel but soon decided they’d be throwing money away. “Why would you put a substantial amount of money into a house that wasn’t well-built to begin with?” asks the husband, an investment banker. Resigned to begin anew, the pair approached architect Rex Hohlbein and asked him to design a new house for the site: something solid and old- fashioned, like the Tudor- and Spanish- style home they’d lived in before. Hohlbein realized that these kinds of homes were not ideally suited to the couple’s narrow, sloping lot. “If we went with a traditional house, “he reasoned, “We’d be replicating a lot of the problems we already had.” The architect bowed to the couple’s wishes and prepared a traditional scheme but also presented a contemporary design that took its cues from the contours of the site, the light and the owner’s lifestyle rather than any historical precedent. His clients loved it. Without hesitating, they chose the modern plan. The new home’s 5,100 square feet of living space is distributed among three interconnected volumes that bisect the long, narrow site, living sunlight from every direction and easy access to the outdoors. To give the home the solidity the owner craved, Holhbein, associate Matthew Waddington and contractor Fulks Incorporated worked with a rugged palette of wood, concrete and steel, fashioning these elements into simple, unpretentious forms.” The visual interest comes from those materials, as opposed to some soaring, dynamic shape,” explains Hohlbein. One of the couple’s chief complaints about their former house was that they spent all their time in the kitchen and family room and never used any of the more remote formal spaces. To make certain every space got used, Hohlbein placed the kitchen and family room in the center of the home, allowing other rooms to radiate out from them while remaining in full view. Steel I- beams and steel channels inset in the floor help delineate transitions within the open plan, as do changes in flooring and ceiling finishes. Because the I-beams rest several feet in front the side walls, the spaces beyond them look like nooks, making each room seem like several smaller ones joined together. “People are afraid of a space being too small,” explains Hohlbein. “But if a space is too big, you lose all intimacy and coziness.” South-facing clerestories flood the kitchen and family room with light, while a wall of windows opposite them overlooks a verdant border of evergreens. The concrete floor stands up to teenagers and a rambunctious black Lab, as does the black chenille sectional stationed in front of the plasma TV. Seattle interior designer Garret Cord Werner, formerly of Ledingham Design Consultants, designed the sectional, as well as the as the accompanying hassocks, whose tops flip over to become trays for halftime snacks. The floors change to ebony-stained oak in the living and dining areas, which Werner furnished with a more formal array of mostly custom- designed pieces in shades of black and white. Large works of modern art provide the primary touches of color. To give the contemporary design a foothold in the past, Hohlbein equipped the interior with old-fashioned radiators, which were sand-blasted and painted a deep bronze color.” It’s radiant heat, and that’s the best kind of heat you can put in a house,” says the architect. A cantilevered steel stairway brushes the top of the living room fireplace in its gravity-defying ascent to the master bedroom and bath, where a free- standing tub beckons beneath a wall of sun-washed windows. “Every time I go in there I smile,” says the husband. The teenager’s bedrooms are located in a shed-roofed wing at the opposite end of the house. Since the kids don’t like doing their homework in their rooms, Hohlbein designed a communal study area in the hallway where they can work within earshot of the kitchen and family room. Although the house enjoys a view of Lake Washington, equal attention was given to the view of the courtyards flanking the house. Windows overlook the sunny pool area in the southwest corner of the property as well as the shady fireside patio to the north. Landscape architect Kenneth Philp paved the latter with over scale concrete pads fringed with moss- a subtle approach that doesn’t compete with Hohlbein’s dramatic architecture. After owning traditional houses for so many years, the owners admit they’re amazed to find themselves living in- and loving- such a contemporary structure. Could they have pictured this a few years ago? “Never in our wildest imagination,” concedes the husband.” Rex was very good at educating us on architecture.”
Aqueous glass tiles surround the sunny master bath, which features a furniture like vanity and mirror designed by Garret Cord Werner.
The Complete Guide to Belltown
Northwest Home + Garden
Feel the sidewalk between your toes.
Living in-city expands the residential experience.
Seattle is a city known for it dynamic neighborhood structure. More than 100 unique, vibrant neighborhoods make up this city. Downtown itself is divided into many distinct neighborhoods; perhaps none with more name recognition that Belltown. Belltown is bounded by Denny Way to the north, Elliott Avenue to the west, Sixth Avenue to the east, and Virginia Street to the south, the population is roughly 12,000, but with many new buildings under construction or older ones remodeled, that number is constantly changing.
In the old days, Belltown had a much rougher character, with cheap housing for blue-collar workers. But times change, and progress moved in, along with dozens of condominium and apartment buildings, new restaurants, art galleries, night clubs and specialty shops. Many of the old guard are still there, as the neighborhood still houses homeless shelters, low-income housing, the Millionaire Club and a street corner where day workers offer their services for manual labor. The old and the new are learning to live together, and celebrating the differences.
The face of Seattle really started changing in the early to mid 1990s. First, Frederick and Nelson, a Seattle icon, went out of business. The Nordstrom moved its flagship store to a new building, complete with artwork consisting of cast shoe prints of famous locals.
“That was a signal,” explains former condo developer Dean Jones, now owner of Belltown based Real Estate Applied Logics, a real estate consultancy and marketing firm. He is also senior member of bireM (builder’s international real estate Marketing).
“You’ve got to take note of what’s happening around us. We’ve got tow new stadiums, then EMP, then the Washington State Convention Center expanded, then Pacific Place Mall opens and the housing booms. We have a new courthouse, a new civic center and a new library. All you have to do is look at the last seven years of Seattle and it goes like this,” he says, using his hands to mimic a graph line gong off the charts.” Billions of dollars will change the face of a city and make it more attractive to be here.”
The flurry of building began a decade ago, almost in conjunction with the rise of grunge- and the city’s “discovery” by the rest of the country. Once Pier 70 became home to the newest resident s of MTV’s The Real World, the city’s popularity was cemented, and Belltown, just one block up form the waterfront, took advantage of it.
“It was sort of a labor of love,” she admits. “There are architects in town doing eight or 10 buildings a year, and we did one in eight years!”
Belltown is connected to the rest of the city through its easy access to the waterfront and traffic arterials. And, of course, there’s always the bus and walking, plus five Flex cars, to get you where you need to go. It’s more of a New York or European style of living than most standard American neighborhoods. And it didn’t happen by accident. For example, the Concord, which Jones complete in 1999, feature a sales office with a neighborhood information center, so that anyone moving into Belltown would feel immediately connected to the neighborhood.
“When you are responsible for positioning large properties in a neighborhood, you get to know a neighborhood pretty well,” Jones says. “It’s been more fun than work.”
“It’s really evolving. It really has changed all for the better,” says Betty Blount, and architect and owner of Zena Design Group, who lives and works in the 81 Vine St. building. “It’s becoming a place that people feel comfortable living today. All of a sudden you start seeing little corner grocery stores, and little corner bistros and neighborhood shops and retail. When you start feeling safer at night, walking around, that’s really what makes a neighborhood.
Depending on how you look at it, the lack of a large grocery store in Belltown it either a bad thing, or a good thing, crating a more European-style shopping experience. Residents tend to shop small, buying what they need that day form Pike Market and the specialty food and beverage shops in the neighborhood. Jones is also the vice-president of Belltown Business Association, so he’s intimately involved with goings on in his neighborhood.
“One of the reasons I was so interested in Seattle is I saw what happened to Vancouver, B.C. since the mid-’80s. We saw the demand for downtown living, predicated by lifestyle, traffic congestion, geography and property investment,” he explains. “That whole lifestyle is seen as nouveau, but it’s been in more mature urban markets for decades.
“Belltown is kind of downtown’s heart.” Jones says.” It’s where people want to be.”
For many people, the American dream is a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, a big yard- and a ling commute to work. But for many residents for Belltown, commuting is simply strolling down the block. Seattle’s horrendous traffic has given rise to one good thing- people are no longer willing to have a big house in the ‘burbs if they can’t get out of traffic long enough to enjoy it.
” You can afford to buy a lot of things in life, but you cant buy more time,” Jones says
Instead of commuting to work, resident can use that extra hour in the morning to have breakfast at Macrina Bakery, or work out at Club Zum, take the dog for a walk, or go for a run at Myrtle Edwards Park.
“People who want to be here know what they want and know what they’ve been missing,” Jones explains.” This is going to be the next generation of downtown living. Developers are becoming more sophisticated. All of this points to a new product of higher design and smaller square footage.
“Partly it’s the whole empty-nester phenomena. We see a whole bunch of people who are rediscovering their relationships.
Many of the buildings are stair-stepped, allowing views from units behind them up the hill. The tow newest condos in Belltown are the Vine and Bellora. The newly finished 89-unit Bellora, on the corner of Clay Street and Elliott Avenue, opened at 2605 Western Ave. in May 2002. In face, The Vine was named “2003 Attached Community of the Year-Urban” by the National Association of Home Builders, bringing home national honors for Belltown. Another two are under construction- the 116-unit Avenue One at First Avenue and Clay Street, and the 189-unit Cristalla, at Second Avenue and Lenora Street- with occupancy expected in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Also, just outside Belltown proper is a yet unnamed project at 500 Mercer, which will have about 100 condos atop mixed-use lifestyle retail center and a major urban grocer.
“There are many different types of down-town residential living,” explains Garret Cord Werner. “There’s penthouses, there’s studio; just like regular houses, there’s many different types of homes.”
A downtown penthouse could be as big as 5,000 square feet, while a studio could be as small as 400,” and within those different options there’s a huge amount of flexibility as well.” Werner, who has designed small studios as well as large penthouses, says “entry-level condominiums usually strive for multiple use spaces, combining kitchen, dining and living areas into one flexible space.”
For example, s studio would probably bring the kitchen into the main space, getting away from the traditional L- shape or U- shape and making it more linear, perhaps putting the dining table right into the kitchen. Werner is currently incorporating these concepts at both Avenue ONE and 500 Mercer, each with a unique design aesthetic.
“Furnishings are a real crucial aspect of some of the smaller studios, for example, you could have one long sofa that could be 10 or 12 feet long and that would function multiple ways. It could have a sofa sleeper in it, or a dining table beside it. So it could be social cocktail seating, as well as dining seating.”
With one- bedroom units, sliding panels can be used to block out space when needed and left open at other times,” to try to give as much visual space as possible,” Werner says.
Even in a 3,500- square- foot space, many larger furniture pieces don’t really function that well in a condo,” he says. “Many of these condos have huge window walls, so in a traditional home they have more wall space. The view now is a real critical feature, so all of the furnishings- huge armoires, huge buffets, grandfather clocks- can be incorporated, but a lot of times the view becomes a priority.”
Because of that, every unit, no matter how big, places a premium on storage. Werner and other designers solve that problem with built- in cabinetry and new furnishings that do double- duty.
The bigger penthouses will traditionally feature larger master suites, larger closet with space to unpack a suitcase, built-in desks, bathrooms with multiple showers and bathtubs with a view of the water.
“I think it’s a definite lifestyle change, “Werner says. “I’ve had some clients request their kitchens be designed more for socializing than serious cooking. Because there are so many restaurants downtown, people eat out a lot instead of cooking. So it’s a little different approach than a traditional family home.”
Apartment means home, too
It’s not all condos in Belltown, oftentimes, people changing their lifestyle from the suburbs or a different region of the country will want to “road test” a community before moving in permanently. That’s where Belltown’s apartment homes come in, and there are several dozen to choose from. The Olympus Apartments, on the corner of Western Avenue and Board Street, offer 327 high- end units form studios to there-bedrooms, including seven luxury penthouses ranging from 2,200- 2,400 square feet, with phenomenal views of downtown, the Seattle Center and West Seattle.
The Olympus opened its first 14-story tower in March 2002, fallowed by the second tower in June 2002. The apartments occupy the enviable spot of directly across the street from the future Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park. General Manager Kevin Buckley says the company didn’t know about the sculpture garden until halfway through construction.
“It’s a great addition for us,” Buckley says.” We would have assumed that high-rise apartments would be built there, and our view would go away, but now those views will be preserved forever.”
Buckley says many people loving in the Olympus give up one of all of their cars after moving in, especially since there’s a Flex car parked in the building’s garage. And downtown living is especially handy for seniors or anyone else who can’t or don’t want to drive and deal with parking when coming into the city to see a game or a play. And at the Olympus, where there is 24-hour concierge service, someone can still walk your dog and pick up your dry cleaning when you’re out of town.
“It’s an ability to try out the area. Our largest demographic tends to be mid-20s to late 30s, although we have all ranges,” adds Buckley. “They’re management-level-type employees from Washington Mutual, Amazon, Microsoft. I have some military officers living here. And a lot of them are transplants from other parts of the country. It ‘s a way for people to try out the downtown area and see if they wan to be here.”
A sense of self
Dean Jones and his spouse Stacy Truax made the move to Belltown in 1999 and never looked back. And it appears more and more people want to be in Belltown, not only for the views, but also for the art, the restaurants, the shops and the certain sense of self-lifestyle change.
“In the last month I’ve met three couples who’ve told me,’ I want to discover myself within the urban context,” explains Truax. “They totally buy into the idea-there’s more to experience in the next stage of their life. And, if you’re going to change your lifestyle, city life has a certain cache. Choosing your environment and lifestyle is a real privilege. Living in Belltown makes it that much better.”
This is Pacific Northwest Style
The Vancouver Sun
“We’re more outdoorsy, less fussy than Easterners and it shows in our choice of interior decor”
Seattle Interior Show
Showcase Room, by Garret Cord Werner – Seattle, WA
Seattle Interior Show
Garret Cord Werner’s formal dining room features an elegant fireplace that compliments the transitional furniture and contemporary art that he has chosen. Werner’s design awards include the 2001 ASID and Seattle Design Center annual Awards of Excellence and a 2001 Seattle Homes & Lifestyles Magazine “Home of the Year – Private Residence”.
The Vine Belltown: Sales Brochure
Inspiring lifestyle though thoughtful design
- Garret Cord Werner is an international award winning interior and architectural designer for Ledingham Design Consultants
- Garret designed the interiors of The Vine’s Urban Home Tour
- Each model home was created to showcase different approaches to in-city living, each as individual as you are
- Come experience innovative designs, floor plans, furniture concepts and new approaches to urban living
- Vine owners have preferred access to Garret for additional design services
- The Urban Home Tour is exclusively at The Vine
Northwest Classifieds: New Homes
Belltown condos earning national recognition
Seattle Homes & Lifestyles
A Belltown penthouse marries technology with streamlined design
By Mia Nicholson Photographs by Nic Lehoux
101 Great Design Ideas
Fine Furnishings International
Northwest Design Awards to be Celebrated at SDC
Fine Furnishings International
Best Interior Design for Condo.
The Seattle Design Center, along with the Washington chapter of the ASID, will be hosting the Northwest Design Awards on October 11,2001. The Awards recognize individual design professionals and firms in the Pacific Northwest whose work within the past three years has made a significant contribution to the design industry.
Projects are judged on the basis of problem solving, creativity, quality of design and beauty of space. Designers can enter projects in various commercial and residential categories. Project submissions must be received at the SDC by 5 PM on Tuesday, September 4, 2001.
Garret Cord Werner won the 2000 Seattle Design Center Awards Competition for the Entire Home Category.
Seattle Homes & Lifestyles
A penthouse pied-a-terra exudes streamlined sophistication
If it weren’t for the views of the Space Needle and Elliott Bay you might mistake Mark and Maggie-Hitch’s Belltown penthouse for an apartment in London, Paris or New York. Having raised two children in the suburbs, the Hitches were ready for something a bit more sophisticated. “It just seemed like this would be a chance to have our own place-our own little ‘adult’ house,” says Maggie. She envisioned a downtown pied-a-terre where she and Mark could retire after a night at the opera-or retire for good when Mark leaves his job as a software engineer. Unfortunately, soon after they signed the closing papers on the 1,740-square-foot shell, Mark was transferred-to Sweden. Their dream home would have to be completed long distance. Consulting via e-mail and occasional visits, the Hitches and their designers, Robert M. Ledingham and Garret Cord Werner of Ledingham Design Consultants, fleshed out the unit’s floor plan, finishes and furnishings, completing the project just in time for the owners return 14 months later.
Much of the inspiration for the design came from Maggie. A native of Los Angeles, she grew up surrounded by vestiges of old Hollywood, from its grand movie stars (Loretta Young was known around her house as “Aunt Loretta”) to its grand movie houses.” I’ve always loved art deco and that kind of look: streamlined and sophisticated, with built-ins and exotic woods,” she says. The art deco ambience is established in the entry, where a bronze node by Kevin Pettelle stands in front of a semicircular wall covered in scalloped maple paneling. A round, recessed ceiling sheathed in white gold leaf bathes the foyer in flaxen light.
An open floor plan wouldn’t have been conducive to the formality of art deco, but the Hitches still wanted an easy circulation flow. So Ledingham and Werner devised a circular floor plan punctuated by diffused-glass pocket doors, allowing the owners to close off rooms when they entertain without sacrificing light transmission. To add architectural interest to the space, the designers (working with contractors from Schultz Miller Inc.) squeezed utilities into narrow soffits, creating stair-stepped ceilings ringed by recessed lights. Walls of satiny bird’s-eye maple conceal a bounty of built-ins accessed through flush doors fitted with recessed marine hardware. Base-boards are defined by incised lines and doors extend all the way up to the ceiling, reducing visual clutter. The passageway to the den even conceals a pair of hinged doors that fold out from the walls, closing off the room when guests sleep over. My other home is much more cluttered and eclectic;’ admits Maggie. My vision of being in the city was just cleaner, with less fuss and fewer objects around, because that’s a little more soothing if you’re right in the heart of things” Although the interior is spare, it’s hardly simple. True to the art deco tradition, Ledingham and Werner employed a sumptuous array of materials and finishes. Creamy honed-marble floors dissolve into off-white walls. In the living room, art deco staples such as burl walnut, Macassar ebony and gleaming black lacquer adorn a custom buffet set against a backdrop of luminous silver leaf. Swoopy leather lounge chairs from William Switzer are outlined with traces of silver leaf, while ever-so-proper dining chairs from J. Robert Scott get flirty when treated with white-gold trim. Icy fronds of Murano glass spill from a chandelier hanging over the lemon-wood table. Since neither Mark nor Maggie likes to cook, the kitchen was treated like an extension of the other living spaces.
Guide to Home Theater
Guide to Home Theater
Contemporary, clean, and full of light, art, and laughter, the Vancouver residence of an international businessman had it all – except for a home theater. So after six years of living in his home, the owner decided it was time to add a dedicated home theater for his family’s enjoyment. The Daniel Evan White architecturally designed home is a remarkable study in glass, concrete and sandstone floors. “The dedicated theater was installed in an unused downstairs bedroom space I had done years earlier,” comments architect Daniel Even White. “When the homeowner and his wife first commissioned me to design their home, it was prior to their growing family. Well, nine years later, there are a couple of great children, and the need for a home theater grew from the need to enjoy family time together.” White is renowned for his architectural brilliance, but he is also an unassuming man who readily admits that aside from some “mild re-shaping” of the main home-theater space, full credit should go to La Scala Audio/ Video Interiors Ltd. in Vancouver. Aaron Miller, La Scala’s president and technical director, and Mark Blackwood, vice president of sales and marketing, are particularly proud of the home-theater systems they’ve designed and installed for this homeowner and his busy family. “We had originally done a modest system for a friend of the homeowner. It was a nice system, but not too exciting,” Blackwood recalls. “Now, the homeowner wanted his own high-end home theater. We did a demo for him, and he ended up buying the same system as we have in our showroom home theater: a Vidikron Vision One, Famudja quadrupler, Proceed electronics, and a full M&K speaker system. “He was familiar with most of the components. The homeowner is a very astute businessman; he follows the latest and greatest in the world of consumer electronics, and he came into our showroom with a list of equipment he wanted. Most of the components on his list are popular in the Far East, but after listening to Proceed surround decoding and power with a full M&K speaker system, we persuaded him that this was the best system to meet his particular needs.”
The complexities of today’s high-end home-theater systems make it especially important to hire a highly experienced installation/design professional. Proper installation and calibration of the system is all-important,” Miller says. “We always use a real-time audio analyzer for sound-system calibration and a Phillips color analyzer for the projector calibration.” An AMX Axcent 2 controller uses a color active-matrix LCD touch screen and operates every aspect of the theater with an easily navigated menu. “It must be easy for the entire family to operate when someone wants to fire up Air Force One or any of the other action hits they crave,” comments Blackwood. The AMX touch screen controls a very impressive home theater. A Vidikron Vision One projector is mounted on the 94-inch-high ceiling, and it’s paired with a Famudja VP400A line quadrupler, making the system fully compatible with all future HDTV formats. The Vision One fires onto a Stewart Studio Tek 130 micro perforated screen from a distance of 13 feet, 6 inches. Providing THX-certified surround sound is a full M&K speaker system. Arrayed in cabinetry across the front of the theater are three S-5000 speakers, their facing edges 51 inches apart. A pair of SS-500 THX surround speakers were positioned level with the second tier of seating, 5 feet from the floor, and they provide exceptional detail. An MX-5000 II THX powered subwoofer has a 400W internal amplifier that provides plenty of dynamic range and headroom with very high output levels. Powering the five full-range speakers is a Proceed AMP 5 multichannel amplifier. “The Proceed AMP 5 is the most powerful amp on the market,” Miller says. “It’s the only multichannel power amp that can double down from 125W into 8oms to 250W into 4oms driving all five channels.”
In addition to installing the equipment, La Scala was also responsible for specifying the equipment, which remains hidden in the dedicated secondary theatre in the master sitting room. Garret Cord Werner specified all materials, finishes, art and furnishings. In the main theatre only, La Scala was responsible for specifying the equipment and all materials including paint color. Plush, commercial-grade, Scotch-guarded red velour,” says Irwin’s home-theater manager, Rosemary Pefhany. “Like the other soft surfaces in the room, such as the ultra thick carpeting, they aid in room acoustics.” An acoustical fabric from Guilford of Maine runs along the screen wall and both sidewalls. La Scala specified the fabric and its claret color as well as the absorptive material behind it: Fiberglas boards 1 inch thick along the screen wall and half an inch thick on the two sidewalls. The sidewall Fiberglas extends five feet into the room from the front wall. According to Miller, “This front- and side-wall absorption helps break up the mom modes and reduces unwanted acoustical reflections. A heavy dual-backed blackout drape covers the 6-foot-wide by 7-foot-high sliding glass door on the room’s right wall.” The distance from the screen to the first row of seats is 12 feet, 3 inches; from the screen to the second row is 16 feet, 5 inches. The first row of three seats is installed on a small riser about half an inch off the floor. The second riser, with the remaining four seats, is 10 inches off the floor, and the seats are positioned off-axis from each other to avoid obstructing sightlines. The risers, which are built of 2x10s and plywood, are bolted down with special concrete bolts. (The house is constructed mainly of concrete.) Because the system can generate excessive amounts of heat, a dedicated air-conditioning unit was placed in a separate room built in a remote area of the house. “The air-conditioning unit is specifically for the theater and has its own ventilation and return system,” comments Blackwood. “It’s absolutely dead-quiet.” Two fans for additional cooling are built into the equipment cabinet. One fan pulls heated air from the Proceed amp on the upper left of the cabinet, and the other services the entire cabinet. The hot air is pumped through vented spaces at the top of the cabinet. “The fans are so strong that they keep the cabinet at around 75 degrees,” Blackwood says. “That’s why the amplifier doesn’t need its own shelf; it can actually share a space with the equalizer because the space is so cool. We had a limited area for storage, so this gives the homeowner more room for his beloved karaoke discs. This was one of his specific requests.” The room’s lighting was also redesigned. La Scala used a four-zone Lutron GRX-MR-4 Grafik Eye system that can accommodate 16 different lighting configurations. The lighting keypad is on the rear wall of the theater, along with the thermostat and extensive security-system controls.
In addition to the dedicated home theater downstairs, the homeowner wanted two theater systems upstairs as well: one in the family room, the other in the study/sitting area off the master bedroom. For these systems, aesthetics were almost as important as performance, so the visibility of audio and video equipment was kept to a minimum to retain the clean, peaceful design of these areas. Two nearly identical systems were selected for ease of use, performance, and pleasing appearance. The homeowner was familiar with flat-screen plasma-display technology, so the 42-inch Fujitsu PDS-4203W-H plasma monitor was chosen for both systems. The picture quality of plasma displays has improved significantly m the few years since the first models for the home market rolled off the assembly line. The Fujitsu has SVGA, component, S-video, and composite inputs, and a resolution of 852×480 pixels. An optional PCI computer interface is available if the homeowner wants to use the monitor for work related pursuits. “The idea of using plasma thin-screen TV’s was to have a good-sized monitor mounted elegantly on the wall,” says interior designer Garret Cord Werner Robert M. Ledingham Design Consultants. “It had to fit in with the design of the room, its furnishings, and its art.” The homeowner was just as adamant about avoiding big, bulky speakers. According to Miller “We installed the best-quality in-wall speakers we could find.” For the family room, La Scala chose Speaker Craft’s 8.5 MIT in-wall speakers; for the sitting area/study, Speaker Craft’s 6.5 MITs were deemed appropriate. The 8.5 MIT is a three-way design, with a 3/4-inch titanium-dome tweeter, a 2-inch textile-dome midrange, and an 8-inch woofer cone of braided glass fiber said to be more rigid than Kevlar. The tweeter and midrange are mounted on a pivoting assembly called the Uni-Pivot. This allows the installer to toe-in the upper drivers or rotate the entire assembly up to 90 degrees for horizontal mounting. Antique aspect of the 8.5 MIT is the AcoustaCell system, which is a precision-cut foam pad sandwiched inside the wall cavity to damp the enclosure. This helps eliminate resonance’s, thereby improving performance and preventing sound from leaking through the wall to other rooms As a result, the speaker behaves more like a free standing, direct-radiating speaker than a concrete wall with drivers mounted in it. “The Speaker Craft in-walls provide seamless sound that the homeowners just love, and they are visually undetectable around the 42-inch plasma TVs,” Blackwood says. Both rooms have been constructed years before the redesign, so the wall openings for the right, left, and center speakers around the plasma TVs had to be jack hammered out of solid concrete. “This proved to be very problematic, because the wall had to remain as clean as possible,” comments Miller. “The original studs had to be built into the walls on their sides, which is an unusual Construction configuration. Because. of this, we didn’t have the depth we normally would have had but with some additional jack hammering, we were able to install the SpeakerCraft in-wall speakers properly.” Nearly identical electronics arrays can be found in both rooms. Power is supplied by Pioneer Elite VSX- 09TX THX Dolby Digital receivers supplying 100 Wpc, additional bass in the family room is provided by an M&K MX-350 THX subwoofer with dual 12-inch drivers and 350W of internal amplification. In the sitting area/study, an M&K MX-150 THX powered sub with dual 12-inch drivers and an internal 150W amp are necessary for the powerful action yarns that the children enjoy so much. Source components are kept to a minimum: a Pioneer Elite DVL-90 DVD/LD player and a JVC HR-S9400U S-VHS VCR.
According to interior designer Garret Wemer, “We upholstered the walls with a 54-inch-wide taupe fabric. It’s a lightweight cotton/polyester blend from Bauman Fabrics that you can easily blow through. Seating was dictated by the size of the rooms and the fact that they’re multipurpose spaces. Two black-leather armchairs from B&B Italia in the family room are on coasters so they can easily rotate toward the plasma TV or toward the black-leather sofa when conversation is in order.” Because the home is constructed mainly of glass and concrete with sandstone floors, acoustics are a problem. Werner came up with a special rubberized padding to go under the carpet, and the taupe wall fabric covers ‘3/4-inch acoustic padding to help absorb sound. However, he admits that not much could be done about the extensive glass surfaces. “We installed a thin linen blind in keeping with the design aesthetic. Unfortunately, the blind is so thin; it doesn’t really aid the acoustics of the space. That’s really why they wanted the dedicated theater space downstairs; it exists solely for the purpose of watching movies.” Indeed, the upstairs design aesthetic was taken so seriously that Werner had to upholster the sides of the 42-inch Fujitsu plasma monitor to give it a more built-in look. But what about ventilation for the TV? “I kept the top and bottom of the set material-free so plenty of air can circulate, as the plasma sets do generate quite a lot of heat.”
The cabinets that conceal the equipment were given a rich, detailed, high-gloss finish. The cabinets in all three theaters were made by Intempo Interiors of Vancouver. According to Intempo president David Dumbrell, “The entire process of doing cabinetry with an automotive finish takes approximately one week. Five coats of automotive paint are used: the initial two base coats, a color, a metallic coat, and a clear coat. Then the entire cabinet is highly buffed using an automotive buffing compound.” The results are stellar. Says Blackwood, “The homeowner is thrilled with the performance of all three theaters, and for different reasons. The dedicated downstairs theater provides the high-level performance he demanded with complete ease of use in an exceptional theater environment. The family-room system is perfect for informal viewing when the family is gathered upstairs, and the master bedroom/sitting area is great for cozier viewing. Plasma technology has improved tremendously in the last 18 months, and in-wall speaker technology has also improved over the last decade. This made a huge difference for us when trying to balance performance with aesthetics in the upstairs rooms.” Interviewing the principals involved in this story, I found that each has a high level of appreciation for each others areas of expertise. As Blackwood summarizes, “This home-owner and everyone involved on the job was a dream. They all understood the importance of quality sound and video performance, and they wanted us to provide the best home theaters possible. In short, everyone was thrilled with the results. You can’t ask for more than that.”
ONE West Vancouver
The Vancouver Sun
September 12th, 1998
Bathrooms have to be functional. But they’re also places where designers can let their imaginations run a little wild. Garret Cord Werner, a bright young star with Robert Ledingham’s interior design team, says the Hollywood-style master bath he designed for one West Vancouver couple is probably more luxurious that they would have thought of them selves. And now that it’s done? The lady of the house recently told Werner: “It makes me feel like a princess.” The original bathroom, dating from the 1960’s, was tiled from floor to ceiling, giving it an institutional feel. The shower area featured sliding glass doors to a private deck at the side of the house – something that might have been a design plus, only now the deck had become un-used and was wasted space.
At Home in the City
At Home In the City
-Ital Kitchen and Bath
-Diane Farris Gallery
-Terra Sal Ceramic, Ltd.
Principal Robert Ledingham and project designer Garret Cord Werner’s task in this 3,200-square-foot apartment project was to create distinct living areas while maintaining overall flow in a space that had lacked definition and character. The clients’ extensive collection of antiques and art some of it Asian, served as the inspiration for the shoji screens that are used to separate the living room and the entrance foyer. The screens serve to break down the large space and create a distinct entry foyer area without enclosing it. They can also be moved to open or close the space, as the client desires. Semi-transparent roller-shades that drop out of the ceiling give the clients further flexibility in terms of light and privacy. Custom wool area carpets define the living, dining and games rooms. The games area is further defined by its coffered ceiling, which picks up on the grid of the shoji screens. The designers have also ensured flow throughout the space with crÃ¨me marble floors in the main living areas and hallways. In addition, all millwork is custom-designed and finished in warm-colored butternut wood. The millwork is kept simple to highlight the clients’ art collection. Low voltage halogen lighting was carefully planned to accent the art. Living room furnishings include two sofas finished in custom-woven chenille, accented with hand-painted silk pillows (in tones that pick upon the various art pieces), rattan wood side chairs, and iron and glass tables. In the master bedroom, the designers eliminated the walk-in closet, instead opting for custom-designed butternut storage units. Garret Cord Werner adds, “An upholstered wall provided a foundation for the bed and night tables, which are balanced within the building architecture of columns and clerestory windows. The look is completed with two tight-back armchairs upholstered in heavy cream chenille, and custom night tables and an armoire finished in antique linen.
THE TAO OF DOW
BY FRED ALBERT
Seattle contractor Jim Dow used natural materials and a minimalist aesthetic to transform a homely hilltop Mediterranean into a tranquil retreat worthy of its setting.
A few years ago, Jim Dow was sharing a sprawling Seattle estate with his two teenage children and a live-in girlfriend. But when the girlfriend moved out and the kids left for college, Dow found himself alone and adrift in a 6,000-square-foot craftsman in the city’s Magnolia neighborhood. Vowing to find something smaller and closer to the city’s core, he purchased a 2,600-square-foot 1920s Mediterranean atop Queen Anne Hill. “It needs a contractor,” the real estate agent confided, and she wasn’t kidding. Happily for Dow, heis a contractor, and he was able to see past the facts to the home’s potential. The cloistered rooms were cloaked in gothic appointments that looked like something out of a horror film. And although the site boasted a remarkable panorama of the city, bay and mountains, the home’s disregard for the scenery bordered on the comical, with just a single window oriented toward the view. Inspired by some of the modern houses built by his company, Schuchart/Dow, the homeowner enlisted the services of Garret Cord Werner and landscape architect Bruce Hinckley. Working from initial plans, the trio preserved the painted-brick exterior but gutted the rest, fashioning a series of free-flowing spaces rendered in a muscular mix of walnut, concrete and blackened steel. “I wanted the palette really simple,” Dow says. “I didn’t want to do all the coolest things you’ve ever seen in any design magazine.” Slots in walls, floors and even staircases offer teasing reveals between spaces, instilling every room and even the landscape with moments of personal discovery. The home’s masculine palette is given free expression in the living room, where a soaring concrete fireplace — stripped of any ornament save a sculptural steel poker — rises up to meet a vaulted cedar ceiling. Steel soffits fitted with lights encircle the room, lending scale to the space and preserving the purity of the ceiling plane, which consigns heating, cooling and additional lights to a series of discreet slots. A quartet of French doors supplants the lone window, offering access to a new cantilevered steel deck overlooking the city. Noting the lack of vertical connection between the upper and lower levels, Hinckley proposed peeling back one end of the living room to reveal the basement below. Excavating around the latter allowed Dow to turn the subterranean space into a light-filled family room; concrete retaining walls hold back the soil outside and mimic the exposed foundation within. Custom sectionals by Werner offer plenty of space to sprawl when the eight-foot movie screen descends from the fir ceiling above. Werner, who collaborated on the architecture as well as the interiors, chose tactile fabrics like mohair, wool and linen to counter the home’s hard edges. He combined colors and materials in lieu of pattern to instill a bit of variety, and selected generous down-filled seating to accommodate Dow’s love of reading. “I wanted to be able to take a nap in anything,” the homeowner says. Since Dow loves to cook, and friends always end up in the kitchen, he decided to make that room the focal point of the house. The design team vaulted the ceiling over the dining table (borrowing space from the attic) but lowered it over the cooking area to help break up the room’s shoebox proportions. Open steel shelves take the place of upper cabinets. A five-burner Miele cooktop is the only appliance in view; Miele ovens are stashed under the island, and Sub-Zero cooling drawers take the place of a refrigerator, making the space feel more like a gathering room than a galley. Although born and raised in Seattle, Dow vacationed on the family farm in Kansas, where he was surrounded by walnut trees and the furniture that his grandfather and great-grandfather made. He still loves the material, using it on floors and cabinets and commissioning a custom dining table from a 12-foot slab that he found in Oregon. The table’s ragged edges echo the outline of the original tree, narrowing as it progresses from base to trunk. “Everything in this house is sort of square and crisp,” Dow says. “I thought, ‘Let’s just do this live edge and have some fun with this one piece.’?” To help bring the Mediterranean architecture into the 21st century, Hinckley improved the connection between the interior and the garden, establishing outdoor seating areas and extending windows to the floor. Nowhere is this more evident than in the master suite, where windows frame still lifes of solitary pines and rockeries laced with ivy. A suede-paneled headboard and storage island help soften the décor, while walnut wardrobes keep clutter from upstaging the living artwork outside. Learning that Dow loved baths, Hinckley and Werner extrapolated an affection for water in general — so they wove a water motif throughout the garden, starting with a pond outside the master bathroom. A Japanese soaking tub, set flush with the floor, is separated from the pond by a window, so the two appear continuous. “I take a bath in that tub every single night,” says Dow, who even opens the window in winter, sending billows of steam skittering across the water. The water progresses through the garden, culminating in a cascade that plummets 14 feet into a rock-lined pool. Guests scaling the steep staircase to the front door always pause to contemplate the water feature before continuing their climb. Passing twisted black pines and stone walls embroidered with sedum, they eventually arrive at the top, where they must cross a narrow channel of water before reaching the front door. “It forces you to slow down and take notice,” Dow says. “I like the subtle things in the house that do that. They’re not big, but they’re effective.” What the Pros Know “At the end of the day, I just love sitting in hot water to unwind,” says Jim Dow, whose master bath features a Japanese soaking tub, or ofuro. Deeper and narrower than conventional bathtubs (Dow’s is unusually roomy), Japanese soaking tubs are designed to be used solo in a seated position, submerging the bather up to the neck. The tubs are generally round or square and feature vertical sides, and can be custom-made, as Dow’s was, or prefabricated from wood, metal, acrylic or fiberglass. The tubs are designed for contemplation, not cleansing, so users normally shower before entering. Dow keeps his tub filled, relying on a recirculating heating system to warm the water before use. Japanese soaking tubs are ideal for small bathrooms where a conventional tub won’t fit, but because the water is concentrated into a smaller footprint, care should be taken to make sure the floor can support the weight.
Of Earth and Water and Sky
The Seattle Times Sunday Magazine
May 8, 2011
Seattle’s Garret Cord Werner gives condo its own glow. The one-bedroom 2,700-square-foot home in Belltown has an organic peacefulness about it.
By Rebecca Teagarden
The definition of NEO-NORTHWEST Contemporary
Seattle Homes & Lifestyles
Through the horizontal slats of a wooden fence, a little body stops to gawk at what looks like a spanking new house. His mother, pushing a baby carriage, also takes a peek. Even the family dog pokes its nose into the fence.
The object of their admiration is a two-bedroom, two-bath Northwest-style house on the edge of Washington Park, a block up from Lake Washington. Amid old-fashioned bungalows and stone mansions, in neighborhood where Zillow lists waterfront properties at more than $7 million, the taupe metal-roofed structure looks as if were beamed in from the Pacific Science Center.
Its look is new, but the house was built in 1959. It was designed by Ralph Anderson, a trailblazer in Northwest-style architecture, which features dramatic lines, natural lighting, indoor-outdoor rooms and local stone and wood. Michael Myers purchased the three-level property in October 2005, when he and his wife, Shera, were dating. They went through the 19-month remodeling process together, completing it just in time for their August 2007 wedding.
With the help of interior designer Garret Cord Werner, they have created a stylish 1,580-square-foot dwelling that’s cheerful and bright even on windswept Seattle days. Its paparazzi appeal both amuses and disconcerts the owners. It was worse during construction, when workers came every day and strangers could stroll in off the street. “They were shameless,” Michael recalls.
The Myers are both fans of Northwest style. “We live in the Northwest–I just think we should live in houses that reflect that style, not something brought in from somewhere else,” says Michael, a Bellingham native and an avid reader of Architectural Digest. He likes the openness, the way the rooms flow, the natural light and the merging of indoors and out. “The style is simple, clean, maybe with a little Asian influence. All those things appealed to me,” he says.
Before finding this property, Michael searched several years for a house designed by Anderson or Roland Terry, another Northwest architectural pioneer. He discovered his dream house while jogging.
Michael and Shera knew the home’s old appliances, worn carpets, dated fixtures and cabinets would have to go, but they were determined to remodel without altering the original footprint. They insisted on stripping the house of fussy added-on details, such as “faux drapery and fancy wallpaper,” Michael says, explaining that “Ralph Anderson has the Northwest-style ethic, but the house been remodeled several times in ways that worked against that. We have restored that now.”
Outside, contractors painted the chimney a dark gray, ripped out overgrown landscaping and replaced the front door and obscured glass in the entryway with a new wooden door and clear glass. To make more room and improve traffic flow inside, they took out a wall in the kitchen-dining area and moved back the stairway that connects all three levels.
The contractors ripped out the original hardwood and linoleum floors, then applied a durable Milestone finish over plywood subflooring on the master-bedroom upper floor level, the main living areas and on the existing concrete slab on the guest-suite lower level.
An open-tread stairway leads up to the master bedroom, which has a walk-in closet and a large bathroom with a spacious shower. Downstairs are a guest room, bathroom and laundry room. Out back is an enclosed garage painted the same taupe as the house and a patio area with a barbecue grill.
On the main floor, the dining area, kitchen and living room flow into each other, and a warm-toned fir ceiling offsets the crisp white walls. In the kitchen, a Thermador stove and oven and Sub-zero refrigerator add shine. Wherever possible, undraped windows offer views of green foliage outside.
The designer’s goal was to “keep the essence” of the original 1950s-style home, while freshening its design. “Unfortunately, people lived differently then, in closed kitchen, with more hallways and lots of rooms,” Werner says. “There was a big separation between men and women. They lived separate lives. Women were relegated to the kitchen. The guys hung out, smoking in the house, in the rec room or wherever. It was a much more formal way of living.”
Werner kept design details–such as white walls and custom walnut cabinetry by Henrybuilt–consistent throughout the interior. For furnishings, he chose simple, modern, cool-toned sofas and chairs to complement pieces the Myers already owned. Everything is calm and relaxing. Nothing grabs the eye.
“We respected the architecture,” he says. “You couldn’t do a super-modern Italian design or put French antiques into a house like that.”
Werner designed the comfortable living-room sofa. The Myers bought the coffee table and small end tables at Crate & Barrel. “We have two lounge chairs in the living room that Michael picked out,” says Shera, noting that the dining-room set came from her husband’s parents. “We simply had the wood ebonized and the chairs reupholstered.”
They describe their house as a soothing retreat from the noise and clutter of downtown, where both have lived and still work. Michael heads a litigation firm, while Shera is paralegal at a different firm.
“This is a beautiful neighborhood with great school,” Shera says. “It gave us a wonderful chance to get out of downtown and into a residential neighborhood.”
Perhaps the most startling change was replacing the original shake roof with metal. “The clients like a clean, contemporary look,” Werner explains. “We changed the roof to move the date up, to make the design a little more crisp and modern.”
That may tamper with Anderson’s ode to Northwest style, but the designer makers no apologies. “We have taken the house forward,” he says. “Now it’s more modern than modern. It’s newer than new.”
No wonder so many people stare.