With more room and light, a lofty lakeside goal is met
Josh Taft and Cindy Gantz spent four years looking for their perfect house. As the search stretched on, Josh began teasing Cindy that even wishful thinking wouldn't get her a loft on Lake Washington...
Ballast steadies a soaring space
Josh and Cindy Gantz thought the kitchen/living space, with its soaring ceilings and wall of glass doors, needed an anchor, organic notes and some texture, so they used Belgian limestone from Rhodes Architectural Stone (www.rhodes.org) for their kitchen countertops. Originally used as ballast in ships traveling to Indonesia in the 1700s, the slabs are massive — measuring 24 inches square and two inches thick. The finish is "evolved" — it has been worn down naturally by centuries of foot traffic. "The beauty," notes master mason Richard Rhodes, "is that it can't be reproduced mechanically."
Josh Taft and Cindy Gantz spent four years looking for their perfect house. As the search stretched on, Josh began teasing Cindy that even wishful thinking wouldn't get her a loft on Lake Washington.
Cindy had lived in a loft in New York for 10 years before moving to Seattle, where she and Josh bought a home at the Fremont Lofts. When they decided to buy a house, they chose Seward Park for its location on the lake and proximity to the airport (they both travel a lot), and found a small, Midcentury Modern house there to rent while they looked.
Years went by, but their search never turned up a house for sale that could compare to their rental, which they adored. Meanwhile, the couple walked to Seward Park every day past a large lot with a swimming pool and sport court. After a couple of years, a construction fence went up, and then an eye-catching new house. But although it was just across the street from the beach in their favorite park, it wasn't exactly what they were looking for.
A Northwest contemporary, it was a far cry from Midcentury Modern. And while the couple was looking for a backdrop for their eclectic collection of furniture, art and antiques, the house was painted throughout in greens and browns, and lit to accentuate the beautiful bones of the house rather than what the couple planned to bring into it. But they loved the loft-like space, the location on the lake, and the view of the park and the beach. When they found out they had a baby on the way, their real-estate agent persuaded them to take another look. That's when they decided to buy their loft on the lake and renovate.
The house had been built by Dyna Contracting (www.dynacontracting.com) as its first spec house. Cindy says owner Ren Chandler and his wife, Sarah, put "so much thought, so much love, so much care" into the house that "it seemed natural to have them do the work" on the remodel.
"We had to make space for ourselves in the house," Cindy explains in describing Dyna's renovation, which involved a lot of lighting changes. "I'm obsessed with the feel of the lighting," admits Josh, a commercial and video director.
The living room and kitchen were already completely open, but they opened the main-floor spaces even more, removing a wall between the dining room and kitchen, and another between two bedrooms to make a large study. Today you can see all the way from the southeast corner to the northwest corner of the house, and the space is filled with light.
Cindy is a designer, filmmaker and founder of the nonprofit droppingknowledge.org ("an online resource for innovative thought"). Both she and Josh often bring home objects and art from their jobs, and "the house had to be able to accommodate that," says Cindy. "The background needed to be more of a canvas so that we could have a red carpet and a yellow chair, and it could all change in a day." To that end, they simplified the trim on most of the windows and painted the entire main floor white.
"The house was so serious," remembers Josh. "And we're not." So they replaced a blown-glass chandelier over the dining table with an enormous spinning disco ball. "Right when you come in the door, your eye goes right to this thing, which really says more about us than anything else."
Their work takes Josh and Cindy all over the country as well as to Europe and Asia, but they love coming home to Seattle. And although Josh used to rib Cindy about looking for a loft on the lake, he happily reflects that, "It's funny how it all kind of lined up without really trying."
Leora Y. Bloom writes about beautiful homes in and around Seattle. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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