Stuart Silk Architects draws up minimal yet rich in Seattle
The owner of this Queen Anne contemporary likes an unstaged and unexpected look. She got it with big views, clean lines and a cool, minimal feel.
photographed by Benjamin Benschneider
THE NAME OF the Benjamin Moore on the walls says it all: Simply White.
That's just what this light-as-air nest atop the southeast corner of Queen Anne is.
Stark raving white. Yet homey. It is a very good trick relying on a stew of ultra-contemporary and timeworn antique, but not too much of either and usually successfully achieved only by professionals.
But Anna's got an eye.
"We were at the Mercer Hotel in New York, and they had this long couch and a bench to divide the room. We were going to have this big, long living room, so I thought, let's do that."
Anna absorbs design everywhere she goes. Adding, dismissing, considering. For 10 years she tore pictures from magazines. Collecting, learning, growing. Describing her process as, "I just like what I like. I like an unexpected look, and I don't want it to look staged."
When Anna and her husband traded their West Seattle views for those on Queen Anne, she was loaded with ideas and ready to grill her architect, Stuart Silk of Stuart Silk Architects.
"I knew he would do it and agonize over making it the best. And he did," she says.
The project was a yearlong, complete interior remodel of a 6,600-square-foot Northwest contemporary. Leaving the exterior unchanged kept city code tussles to a minimum. Inside, however, walls fell, the living room expanded, girders were dressed in oak box beams, wasted upstairs space opened, the kitchen doubled. All crafted by Schultz Miller.
"I love drama," Anna says. "I told Stuart, 'I want the biggest door possible (12 ½ feet tall, glass) and the longest counter possible (24 feet long, Caesarstone)."
The ta-daaa all-glass entrance opens clear to the upper floor and is crowned by a crystal chandelier scored in Palm Springs. The steel stairs are open, weightless.
Lower ceilings in the family room and kitchen, a single step up from the living room/entry, comfort like a hug for man, wife and two tiny dogs, Stella and D.J. And, like most of us, "this is where we spend most of our time," says Anna. Beneath the coffee table are dog beds.
There is captivating art in all the right places, abstract to advertising. Everything united by white and warmed by wood. A variety of textures and surfaces that leave a subliminal impression.
"Sometimes, I think, 'Oh, my God, it's too cool.' And I scale back.
"But I'm in it all the time, so I always think there's something better I can do," Anna says. "But people do love to come here. It's a feeling."
Take the floors, for example. White-stained oak. "I like 'em to look all beat up," she says, explaining the oh-just-leave-your-shoes-on policy.
Anna's husband requires a view. Boy howdy, have they got view. Cascades across to the Olympics, scooping up Lake Union, the city and the working waterfront along the way. The sights are downright heavenly from the top-floor master suite. On the Space Needle scale, it's a 10 (view from the ground up). Even the swimming pool has a view (a 4, upper third of Needle only).
Standing at the top of the stairs, overlooking the two courtyards, one featuring water, the other a fireplace, Anna says, "There's a lot of stuff on this 7,400-square-foot lot.
"My next project, if I do get to do a new one, will be a modern farmhouse. But small."
Rebecca Teagarden writes about design and architecture for Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.
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