Tiny modern home remade for bright light and big views
This contemporary overlooking Lake Washington and other homes will be available for viewing during the Seattle Modern Home Tour on Saturday, March 22.
Pacific NW associate editor
Seattle Modern Home Tour
See this home and others on the Seattle Modern Home Tour, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 22. Tickets are $30 in advance, $40 the day of tour (available at predetermined “will-call” homes.) Kids under 12 may accompany an adult for free. Readers of Pacific NW magazine can get $5 off the price of each advance ticket purchased online using the code PNWMAG at http://modernhometours.com.
I HAVE TO go to the bathroom.
No, really, I do. Because that’s where the glass-wall shower is. The one that appears to be hanging in midair, higher than the treetops, peering over Lake Washington far and wide. The Cascades stuffed into little white hats and lurking there behind the bright and shiny skyscrapers of Bellevue.
Homeowner Dilys Walker leads the way and simply waves toward the room as introduction.
It needs no other.
“The No. 1 priority for us was the view,” says Walker. With that she heads to the master bedroom. Same view, only this time Walker and her husband, Stefano Bertozzi, can get it lying down, snuggled beneath comforters.
Walker and Bertozzi, both doctors, moved to Seattle from Mexico when he took a job with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Their home in Cuernavaca, of course, had a strong indoor-outdoor connection, and they wanted that here, too. The couple rented in Leschi initially, mapping out nearby open houses for house-hunting walks.
“We crossed it off our list because it was a one-bedroom,” Walker says of their home, a real study in geometry cloaked in silver standing-seam metal and stark-white-painted cedar. “But we went anyway. The minute we walked in, literally, we knew that this was it. From then on it was, ‘How can we make this for us?’ ”
It was something they thought about for a year, cramming themselves into the place, daughter Lena, 13, sleeping in the closet. (“It was a really big closet, with windows,” her mother says.)
Robert Hutchison, their architect, describes his work as a “substantial interior renovation.” But it feels more like a residential rebirth: the 1980s home cantilevered over its steep slope (tests were done; the home is securely tethered) with that new master suite. Above that is a ship’s-ladder climb to a crow’s nest of a loft: Bertozzi’s office.
“We loved the whole idea of keeping the white shell and making it more organic within,” Walker says.
On the main floor, walls have been removed, and now there is a single open space for living, dining and cooking. The ceiling is lowered over the kitchen, a protected command center for entertaining and highlighting the black, marbled sandstone island and the four-burner-plus-wok-station cooktop. (“It’s Italian, Scholtès,” Walker says. “Stef got it there and carried it on his back. We couldn’t get it otherwise.”) A small guest room and bath nearby can be closed off with a door that to the unsuspecting appears to be a white-paneled wall.
The couple called out for help with interiors from designer Rocky Rochon. His work begins at the front door with the light-washed oak floor: “Driftwood,” Walker says. “We wanted it to be like driftwood.”
Treasures from the family’s travels are placed here and there: a mesquite coffee table from Mexico, weathered, solid, heavy. A wall of masks in the living room; Rwanda, Congo, South Africa, Kenya. Carved wooden baskets from Mexico in the corner.
Work was finished in April 2013. Now, light floods this home of zigs and zags from all of its sides. The main living space, for instance, contains 58 windows, double pane, 18 feet floor to ceiling. No artificial lighting is used during daylight hours year around.
Lena has a real bedroom now, her streetside space angling like a ship’s prow and creating a protected entrance at the front door.
Walker considers it all and says simply, “It certainly is not your standard Seattle Craftsman.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.