Nils Finne opens Fall City farmhouse to painterly views
Seattle architect Nils Finne created "a continuous glass ribbon" around the home's kitchen counter and opened the view in the master bath with a continuous glass wall.
WE GATHER here today not to poke fun at the old country kitchen: little bouquets of yellow flowers traipsing merrily across the wallpaper; their march halted by orangish oak wainscotting; orangish oak wainscotting bumping into orangish oak cabinets; boxy windows gussied up with mullions and white metal mini venetian blinds.
Rather, we gather here today to celebrate that view, that gorgeous unobstructed view. Valley and mountain and sky. Who knew?
Architect Nils Finne, that's who.
"We'd been thinking about remodeling forever and forever," says Peter Jewett, unable to peel his eyes from the nonstop kitchen windows. "A friend of ours said the house had its ass to the view. Nils turned the whole focus of the house around."
Jewett is standing in the no-man's land between the newly liberated dining room and the kitchen, spaces made contemporary but with respect to the 1970s farmhouse that is this Fall City home perched atop a single rolling acre. Two cushioned benches and a gas fireplace speak to hearth and home. But there is also a place for the laptop in the smart and small kitchen office.
Jewett and his wife, Lolly Shera, raised their kids here with horses in the pasture and a treehouse in the yard. But they also had a toilet they flushed with a chain. When the kids left for college it was time for everybody to grow up.
"We weren't clear on what we really wanted," Jewett says. "But Nils made it very clear that if he was going to do this he was going to be involved from drawing through color selection."
And, so, their architect guided them. He opened walls, added lighting and drew up a 25-foot-long addition to the kitchen, built out by Ian Jones and Treebird Construction.
This provided for what Finne (thinking fire lookout) calls "a continuous glass ribbon" around the limestone kitchen counter, accented with Ann Sacks tiles. A custom island reuses elm from Urban Hardwoods. It sits on a blackened steel base and is inlaid with limestone around the sink. Over the dining table are Finne-designed blown-glass light fixtures.
The architect also opened the view in the master bath with a continuous glass wall. Then he plunked a large, comfy Duravit bathtub front and center. Finne designed blackened steel-frame vanity mirrors, suspended them in front of the window wall and lit them with LEDs from within. On floors and counters is the same limestone used in the kitchen. There is also a "way killer" (according to Jewett) new shower with steam and a walk-in closest.
"For this kind of remodel, we have more custom than most people," Jewett says. Those special touches, however, have been tempered with money-saving techniques. As Finne says, "My philosophy is, let's put the money where it counts, and in lesser areas, let's save it."
"We passed on some swanky ceiling cans we were never gonna see," Jewett says. "Nils told us to get California Closets for the walk-in; those would work just fine and be far less expensive. We ordered all the plumbing fixtures from some guy in Minnesota, and we saved a ton of money.
"Nils really listened to us. He had no ego about it."
And now, in this house of light and view, Jewett says it is perfect, and they are more than content right where they are.
"Oh, it's killer," he says. "We never go anywhere."
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.