Right Place, Right Fix
With cleaner lines and cooler colors, the urban emerges from the suburban
Randy and Melanie Hassler were moving here from Southern California for Randy's biotech job and they needed to find a house. They loved Yarrow Point and looked at a place there. But it wasn't quite right.
Then they looked at 69 others. Really.
Their realtor gave up. There was nothing left to see. So the Hasslers went back to house No. 1. It would do. Wasn't perfect — with its wedding-cake moldings, medieval red-brick fireplaces and outer-space octagonal soffits — but it was in the right neighborhood with a secluded woodsy view Melanie loved.
All it needed, really, was a new master bath and some cosmetic touch-ups. So they called upon Pamela Pearce of Pamela Pearce Designs.
"We came in with Pam, and we just needed to do the bathroom and the carpet," Melanie says. "And pretty soon she said, 'I think you need to call an architect.' "
That bathroom remodel spread through the house like a fever. One thing certainly does lead to another, especially in home remodeling. But now, almost four years and 4,700 square feet later, Melanie, Randy, Alan, 14, Claire, 12, and Socks the cat have a soft, warm, welcoming home that is truly theirs.
"When it's all open and connected it's hard to know when to stop," says Randy.
"There was a day when I was here and the architect was here and Randy came home and they all said, 'Are you sure you don't want to redo the kitchen?' " says Melanie.
"The whole project pretty much lasted all of the third grade," says Claire.
Do try this at home"It's kind of an editing process, to remove as much of the excess detail as you can on a project," interior designer Pamela Pearce says of adding a contemporary urban flair to any home. "For instance, a square piece of trim without molding, window casings without detail.
"We soften the colors rather than have extreme contrasts. The Hassler house had very light walls and very dark cabinetry. It always makes a space feel bigger and more pleasant to bring those tones closer together, to make them lighter.
Also, simplifying the lighting with more contemporary pieces increases the urban quality of a house.
If imposing brick cannot be removed, Pearce suggests either painting or staining it. "A semitransparent stain still gives it that brick or masonry character, but it softens that intense red."
Architect Luther Hintz came in with a light hand, too. "We wanted it to remain in the character of the neighborhood, but we wanted to give it more character than it had," he says.
Pearce's goal was to reduce the overwrought detailing, simplifying the house and bringing an urban quality to a suburban home. A kind and gentle contractor, Alan Lindberg, made the overhaul much less painful.
Pearce had the red-brick portion of the exterior painted a neutral beige, the same as the rest of the exterior to calm it down. The dark wood cabinets and polished marble in the kitchen were replaced with cherry and a sage-colored honed marble. The golden-oak floors were refinished in a softer tone with a touch of gray. Pearce designed the new kitchen table, crafted by master woodworker Stewart Wurtz, and hung a contemporary Resolute chandelier over it.
In the family room just off the kitchen, she substituted seafoam green granite on the fireplace surround for stone in a dark, livery color. Then she added a coffee table and end tables by Urban Hardwoods, along with a Dakota Jackson chair.
Gone is the giant brass faucet, caulked-down sink and "gold everything" in the master bath. It now features cherry cabinets enriched with Jurastone beige limestone tiles featuring big fossils. Barbara Barry carpeting adds elegant comfort to the Hasslers' bedroom.
The front door is custom-designed by the architect, Luther Hintz. It features frosted panes trimmed in clear glass to offer both privacy and light.
You get the picture.
"I haven't seen anyone else do this kind of thing — take away the suburban quality," Pearce says of her clients, who were decisive and, thus, a dream for their designer. "And Melanie's not good at compromise. She wants it done right."
And now she has a home that elegantly highlights the leafy view she so loved to begin with.
"This is what I liked when I came in," she says, taking it all in. "I didn't like anything else, and I felt like I had bought a house I didn't like. But now, it's perfect.
"We are so done. Oh . . . wait, we need to replace the deck."
Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is the magazine staff photographer.