PORTRAIT MAGAZINE V.17-37
PORTRAIT MAGAZINE V.17-37
Vol. 37, 2017
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Designer Garret Cord Werner spent a great deal of time studying this sloping Vancouver BC lot to discover how to integrate his new home design into the landscape and still achieve the best view, privacy and liability possible.
It’s only fitting that Canadian-born, dual US citizen Garret Cord Werner of Garret Cord Werner Architects & Interior Designers of Seattle, was chosen to build a stunning contemporary home near his childhood home in Vancouver, BC. Garret and brother Darren of Werner Construction both grew up slinging hammers, doing electrical work and taking tightrope style walks on 11 story building girds. “We were well schooled,” says Garret, who collaborated with his brother on this home and many other projects, “because our father and grandfather were in real estate development and high-end residential construction, while our mother did the interior design.”
When Garret was approached by a family who discovered his work online to visit this North Vancouver lot, he was delighted to spend time assessing the challenges inherent in building on a lot that sloped up “a fair amount.”
“Not only were the adjoining houses close together, but there was also a height variance to consider,” he says. His solution was to tuck the house up toward the north corner of the lot so that it opened onto the southern light with a view of the city.
“I didn’t want the garage to show,” he adds, “so I placed it beneath the main viewing spot in the living room and opened up the living room onto the deck. From the street it almost appears as if the living room is on the ground level, because there is a gate that obscures the garage
Working from an approach that knits home, interiors and landscape design into a single unit that jells together as a whole accounts for Garret’s company’s success. “So many times, homes are just placed on a property without integrating them into the surroundings,” says Garret. “We consider all three elements during the design stage to make the whole.”
Garret met only four times with these clients in person, but it was sufficient, he says, because they were very clear and concise about their vision. “They were dream clients, because they let us do our job and respected what we did. It was truly amazing; it flowed so easily, and we came in on time and on budget, which are all good things.”
Typically when meeting for clients the first time, Garret will inquire about their requirements for each area, rough sizes for each room and which room relationships are important to them. Pinterest boards are a good way to get clients started on their end, and from there, Garret and his team create their own home, interior and landscape designs.
One of the key elements in Garret’s design for this home was the play of light. By setting the house on the elevated northern corner of the lot, and facing it toward the south, he opened each and every room of the house to the life-giving light. Glass-walled staircases keep the light that beams through a multi-paned skylight above and floor-to-ceiling slices of windows at the entry level below teaming through the split-level home.
In keeping with his client’s budget and lot size, Garret refrained from creating one of his more elaborate designs that often incorporate separate, interconnected pavilions and stuck to a clean and simple design – a box with shifting planes and volumes and a playful way to wend one’s way through the different levels.
“The hallway wraps around the garage,” explains Garret. “Then it jogs a little bit past a sunken storage space, up four to five steps to the semi-basement and media/family room underneath the master.” By limiting his materials to concrete, wood and glass, he created a uniform look that underscores the elegant simplicity and held the budget’s bottom line exactly where it was first projected to be.
Light enters the kitchen in a multitude of ways, whether it’s pouring through the windows flanking the cooktop stove or reflected from the skylight above onto the very linear island fabricated from Caesarstone quartz with its waterfall edge and space for five classic chairs, or streaming through the sliding glass door from the backyard and bouncing off the back painted white glass cabinetry. As with many of his clients, Garret recommended a Miele induction cooktop, because it takes up less space, cooks more evenly than gas and is easier to clean. “If they use a wok or like to toss ingredients in a fry pan when cooking,” he says, “I’ll add a gas fob.”
Most clients are loathe to bathe near a towering floor-to-ceiling window, but Garret’s philosophy is that you don’t need a lot of landscaping to create a private sanctuary that enables clients to enjoy a luxurious soak in an exquisite bath surrounded by greenery and light.
“We can create such a space in these types of installations wherever we want to,” he says, “by buying mature plants or getting something that grows quickly, then facing it toward the backyard.”
In addition, Garret opened up the side yard using glass, an area he feels most architects and designers forget to consider. “It really doesn’t take much to make that a beautiful experience as well.”
Calling on his talents as home and interior designer with experience in construction, Garret enhanced his clients’ furnishings that arrived from abroad with artful touches, including Canadian artist Martha Sturdy’s resin platter seen here on the dining table and a handwoven Tibetan rug in the living room – its bold turquoise mimicking the brilliant Canadian skies – ‘As above, so below.’
“These clients were very minimalist,” says Garret, “so the look is a little sparser than I usually do, but we made sure it all worked together and luckily it all did!”
Wonderful, too, is the spaciousness achieved in the 4,600 sq. ft. home, which includes three bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs, alongside an office. Spaces serve a multitude of uses, with a large storage wall that runs from the kitchen into the living room, which houses audio equipment for the television, games and toys for the children in the living area and a desk at center.
“I love having the green garden wall in the center of it all,” says Garret. A drip irrigation with micronutrients is located in two large tubs in the basement that only have to be filled every 6 months. The only maintenance is keeping the plants trimmed back.”
Working in tandem with his brother Darren made the experience even more gratifying. “We have a natural understanding,” says Garret, “but we still push the boundaries, always wanting to do new and better things all the time. Constantly growing is our goal.”
CONTRACTOR: Werner Construction Ltd. / www.wernerconstruction
DESIGN: Garret Cord Werner Architects & Interior Designers / www.garretcordwerner.com
PHOTOGRAPHER: Artin Ahmadi
Plumbing Fixtures: Aquabrass, Duravit, Dornbracht, Mr. Steam, CR Laurence
Kitchen Appliances: Miele, Julien, KWC
Countertop Materials: Caesarstone
LUXE MAGAZINE V.17-34
Vol. 34, 2017
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A dated mid-century modern Clyde Hill home gets a 21st-century reboot – morphing it into a stylish, view-packed abode.
Residential designer Garret Werner is very clear about the foundations of good design. “Repetition and balance are two of the keys to a successful house,” he says, stressing, however, that the repetition needs to be done in ways that are surprising and perceived almost subconsciously. To those ideas he adds the importance of aligning visual elements, pulling furniture styles from one room to another and judiciously using color. “These are essential,” he says. Werner brought those notions to bear recently, converting a basic mid-century box in Clyde Hill into a home graced with light-filled volumes and a Zen-meets mod aesthetic.
Homeowners Valerie Wasserman and Scott Moore took their time before embarking on any renovations, living there for three years. “We wanted to get to know the place,” Scott says. One thing was for certain, though: “We’ve always loved the view,” Valerie says. To preserve the spectacular vista stretching across Lake Washington, Werner determined that scraping off the existing house and starting anew would necessitate moving the residence down the site because of building codes. So instead, they decided to strip the place down to its bones and build a completely fresh structure on top of the existing walls and foundations.
View preserved, Werner set out to better connect the house to its surroundings, a critical element in all his work. Notably, he revamped the interior’s layout, allowing the master bedroom and other rooms to open to the vistas. The staircase also received an overhaul: Werner pushed out the mechanical room wall to align with the floor above to create a single volume and used glass railings and open treads. Glass along the south and entry walls also helped, as did relocating the sport court and pool and adding a large covered outdoor seating area. “All you see from the inside is a meticulously landscaped pool and yard area, with a nearly unobstructed view of Lake Washington and the Olympic Mountains and even Mount Rainier on a clear day,” he says.
To provide spatial definition and to draw visitors in, Werner placed two low concrete walls at the front of the house. Behind them, adjacent to the front door and on the site of a former storage shed, he created a calming Zen garden complete with Japanese maple and raked gravel. “Enjoying this little space has reawakened my meditation practice,” Scott says. The steel trellis enclosing it foreshadows the acid-stained steel framing inside that holds up the cedar-paneled ceilings in the rooms on the upper level. “The entry sequence creates a visual path of interest from the outside world right into the heart of the home,” Werner says.
At the heart of this home is an expansive living room featuring a wall of glass and low, wood-clad ceilings anchored by a fireplace mass covered in steel. It fits Valerie and Scott’s aesthetic to a T. “We love the spirit of midcentury modern,” says Scott. In that vein, furnishing the space are an Eames lounge chair and a Carl Hansen CH07 chair, both of which Scott purchased when he was living in Southern California. Valerie and Werner agreed, though, that they didn’t want the room to look like a showroom. To balance things out, Werner custom designed a plusher pairing of a sofa and a chaise. “We needed a strong piece that would complement our living room space while taking advantage of the sweeping views of Lake Washington,” Valerie says about the sofa. “Comfort is obviously also important, and the sensual curvature of the design works well in social settings when we entertain.” Chic, the sofa is covered in Holly Hunt outdoor fabric, making it resistant enough to stand up to the couple’s children. The settee, covered in mohair, is intentionally stylistically ambiguous. “We were after timeless,” Werner says. The dining room similarly incorporates midcentury furnishings, such as Robsjohn-Gibbings chairs and a table.
In the original house, the kitchen was a long dark galley with very little natural light. Werner opened it up to both the view and the dining room, separating the space from the children’s study area and the breakfast nook with a bank of storage cabinets finished in the same dark color as the kitchen cabinetry and the steel support structure. “There needs to be variety in any home, but there needs to be a consistent design to tie it all together,” he says. That explains why he snuggled a Saarinen table and chairs up to the breakfast banquette—to help tie this space to the living and dining rooms. The yellow fabric on the banquette echoes the yellow in the cedar ceiling and the blue of the pillows is picked up from the nearby powder room. “This is the hangout zone for kids and adults,” says Werner. Brad Pitt also hangs out there, or at least a portrait of him by Chuck Close—a piece from the couple’s burgeoning art collection.
With Valerie and Scott’s enthusiasm for their residence and after Werner’s thoughtful intervention, personality now infuses the home. “The beauty of this project is how from the moment you enter the property, you are directed by the design and led by visual pathways—at each turn the eye experiences a focal point and a forced perspective,” Werner says. All it takes is a focus on the fundamentals.
CONTRACTOR: Method Construction
INTERIOR DESIGN: Garret Cord Werner Architects & Interior Designers
PHOTOGRAPHER: Andrew Giammarco
LUXE MAGAZINE V.17-33
Vol. 33, 2017
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Driven by the dramatic landscape that offers abundant natural resources and a mild climate, the Pacific Northwest has evolved a distinctive residential architectural style. From modern marvels to cozy contemporary bungalow, there’s a little bit of everything – and even room for traditional elements. What do the best of these have in common? For these architects and designers, it has to do in large measure with a strong sense of place and connection to their surroundings, not to mention a feeling of refuge.
Garret Cord Werner: The inspiration for this home (above) was to create a space that embraced the lakeside location and opened up the interior to the outside views. We chose natural and timeless materials—the use of steel, cedar wood and concrete created an enduring palette. Looking through the home from the entry was a key concept that emphasized the view and created a dramatic sequence. Placing an infinity pond to introduce the lake in the background was central to the design, while adding sculpted Japanese pines created a buffer in the entry; a sculptural pair of twisted rock formations make a Zenlike feature. Working in the Northwest is a real treat as we have a wonderful climate of green forests and a natural environment that lends itself to creating homes that can integrate as part of their surroundings, rather than simply dominating it.
Rick Potestio: I love the ability to work within the dramatic and sublime Northwest landscape. The character of the light and the temperate climate allow for a greater use of glass than would be feasible in hotter and sunnier areas of the country. For the same reason, spaces can be opened up to the outdoors throughout the year, providing the opportunity to integrate the outdoors with the interiors.
Jim Olson: The movement toward a more relaxed lifestyle that is also sustainable and in tune with nature appeals to me. I think a less ostentatious style fits the world better now—I like a more low-key approach using muted colors, natural materials and a design that weaves architecture into its setting.
NESTLED INTO THE HILL
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Creating an elevated-ranch style home allows builder to deal with the challenges of a slope.
New home construction is often a slippery slope, filled with unforeseen obstacles that can arise. But the slope was literal with this 5,300-square-foot home in the Edgemont Village area of North Vancouver. “Once we tore down the existing house, city zoning meant we had to respect the current pitched grade,” says homeowner Darren Werner, the owner of Werner Construction.
In making their home, the veteran builder and his wife put their heads together and came up with a wish list for Darren’s brother, Garret, who designed the house.
Garret, principal at Garret Cord Werner Architects & Interior Designers, which is based in Seattle, devised a plan to reverse the layout of the home and to put most of the living area and bedrooms on one floor. The result is what Darren calls an “elevated ranch,” with the main floor raised off street level.
It took some persuasion to get his brother to agree to the plan, says Garret, “but after Darren saw the photo-realist renderings, he was amazed.”
The couple and their two teenage children enjoy a wide-open great room with the kitchen, living and dining rooms at one end of the house, and a wing with three bedrooms at the other. A fourth bedroom for guests is in the basement.
“Darren was very specific about room sizes, the relationship of rooms to one another and the square footage,” says Garret. “We took that information and created the design that you see.
Consider the home’s front entry on the lower level, an awkward spot at best. “We created a grand hallway that leads to a beautiful staircase up to the main level where all the living takes place,” says Garret. “It gives a sense of procession that is quite dramatic and filled with light.” The cantilevered staircase stands out thanks to back-lighting from a light well that is filled with greenery. The subterranean garden also provides a source of natural light for the basement. So much so, the family can spend time there and not feel as if they’re in a basement, Garret says. “It’s important to bring light into a home, and to open it up to view as much greenery as possible while still maintaining privacy — not always easy to do.”
Carefully considered landscaping creates a privacy screen on the 9,000-square-foot lot, allowing for the use of floor-to-ceiling windows wherever possible on the main floor. Sliding doors in the back admit light and provide direct access to the swimming pool, one of the family’s must-haves. They particularly enjoy the seamless flow between indoor and outdoor spaces when entertaining.
Effortless continuity was also the aim in the home’s overall design, a “natural contemporary” look. Darren’s wife, who loves to play interior decorator for her own homes, was assisted in the choice of finishes by Garret. The completed look is a neutral backdrop with white and light-grey walls, engineered oak flooring in a light smoke-grey finish, and concrete-look porcelain tiles on the great room fireplace surround.
For drama, the same clear cedar with an oiled finish that was used on the exterior was applied to the 13-foot ceiling in the great room. “Modern design can be so cold and sterile,” says Darren. “I think we succeeded in making a warm and live-able house. This is very much a family home.”
CONTRACTOR: Werner Construction
DESIGN: Garret Cord Werner Architects & Interior Designers
PHOTOGRAPHER: Artin Ahmadi
PORTRAIT MAGAZINE V.16-35
Vol. 35, 2016
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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
PORTRAIT MAGAZINE V.15-33
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
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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 counter tops 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 ledge stone. 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 roll top claw foot 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.