Lake Washington villa offers living both gracious and grand
Along Lake Washington, a Tuscan-style villa makes grand seem graceful with elegant woodwork, crystal chandeliers and a pair of friendly dogs.
NO VISITOR goes undetected. Molly and Murphy see to that. The two-retriever welcoming committee, tongues and tails wagging hello, hits the circular, cobbled driveway even before the car rolls to a halt.
The ceremonial stuffed animal is offered, and the greeting is complete: Welcome to Tuscany by way of Bellevue.
"The family liked the feeling of a villa," says interior designer Pamela Pearce. "They wanted something more formal, European, and they wanted it built for family gatherings: They have four grown children."
This is Pearce's way of explaining her gargantuan task: making a new waterfront home of 10,500 square feet, with a 2,000-square-foot veranda, a 1,000-square-foot carriage house and 1,400-square-foot garage feel at once grand and cozy; elegant and comfortable. Blending his-and-hers preferences (his for dark woods with hers for lighter finishes; hers for antiques and color with his for view and garage) and balancing the scale in every room, among ceilings that range from 10 feet to 16 feet high. Not to mention tastefully working the family crest, cast in bronze, into the floor.
"When we were finished with the construction, someone came by and asked when the resort would be open," Pearce says. Blame it on the lakeside swimming pool and surrounding lounge chairs — just down from the sprawling (12 feet deep) custom-furnished veranda with the cypress ceiling and skylights. Or, perhaps the 5-foot-by-8-foot chandeliers in the entrance hall. Or the Romeo and Juliet balconies in the living room.
Of course, the interior designer did not work in a vacuum on a home she affectionately calls "over the top." It takes a village to make a village. And the credit? "Where do we stop?" Pearce says. With three cabinetmakers alone, she has a point: The Holloman Group in Burlington, Seattle Cabinet and Millwork in Monroe, and E.A. Fischer Architectural Woodwork in Burnaby, B.C. Then, of course, there's the architect, Tom Kuniholm of Kuniholm Architects; the builder, Toth Construction; the landscape architect, Linda Attaway; fireplace, balcony and corbel carving by Stephen Hultberg; lighting by Kevin Woehrlin of Light Crafters.
But making grand feel personal fell largely to Pearce. So she gathered and placed fine European antiques upon ancient rugs, hung exquisite paintings over imported fireplaces, commissioned an imposing dining table for 20 and two matching buffets, and melded oak-herringbone floors with Venetian plaster walls and Italian marble countertops. She ordered from Israel a marble mosaic scene to wrap the wine lounge banquette. Tying inside to outside, she searched for just the right stone, breaking the plane with Chinese Silk Road sandstone from Rhodes Architectural Stone.
Then she slipped comfort into every room. Take the carved-edge living-room chairs, for instance. Fine antiques from Europe, yes, but with inviting deep seats and thick cushions. In the downstairs wine lounge, floors are honed, soft-white stone tiles that are pillowed on top and heated underneath — a sensual treat for bare feet.
There is more. Much more.
Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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