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Pacific Northwest | May 23, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineMay 23, home
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Spring Home Design

Colorful Comfy: An Asian-fusion aesthetic keeps this lofty condo cozy

Photo Eric Lagasca cooks dinner while visiting with employee and guest-room tenant Jerry Ines. Both frequently travel to trade shows in New York, take in fashion shows and keep up on design trends reflected in the Asian-fusion import company that Lagasca started with his partner, Ken Hayes.
Like Harry Potter discovering the portal for the Hogwarts' express, you have to be resourceful to navigate the entrance to the Crawford condominiums. An obscure gate, narrow ramp and unadorned lobby open up nearly as startlingly as Harry's Platform 9¾. Rather than an alternate train track, the Crawford's gateway reveals nine sleek, modern, tucked-away units. The mesh entry gate and high-tech lobby lighting offer clues along the way. Still, nothing prepares you for the transition from Capitol Hill street to the penthouse condo's perch above the city, with its vast view of both Elliott Bay and Lake Union. You can bet owners Ken Hayes and Eric Lagasca have great Fourth of July parties, for their fifth- and sixth-floor decks offer a panorama of dueling fireworks displays.
The ultra-urban townhouse sports decks on each floor. The wider balcony off the top-floor master bedroom is roomy enough for a teak chaise, pots and a bar. The hedgehog-like sphere in the corner is a coco-shell lamps imported from the Philippines.
The couple moved into the penthouse a year ago, leaving behind a Belltown condo overlooking Puget Sound. "The last place was all off-white and felt cold, and we just looked at tall buildings and water," says Hayes. The views from their new place offer a complete cityscape, as well as a more distant outlook to mountains and Puget Sound. "Now we feel like part of the city," Hayes enthuses. "We leave our windows and doors open from April through October."

Despite the industrial finishes and 9-foot ceilings, there's nothing white or cold about the colorful, comfy spaces in the 1,750-square-foot, two-story townhome. When they bought the place, it was painted a soft vanilla color throughout, a shade the pair have spiced up in nearly every room. An oil painting of an off-beat restaurant scene by local artist Molly Norris Curtis inspired color changes. Lagasca bought it off the wall of the Coastal Kitchen Restaurant, and so admires Curtis' color sense that he painted several walls in the living room and entry the same warm green as one of the partiers' outfits in the painting.
Lagasca collects African masks because they remind him of Philippine tribal art; they're displayed above the low bookshelves he designed to encircle two walls of the living-dining area. The green of the living-room walls was taken from the suit of the guy in the left corner of local artist Molly Norris Curtis' lively painting of carousers.
Despite its loft-like, high-tech feel, the large, open kitchen takes on the old-fashioned role of heart of the home. This is the hippest part of the condo, with glowing little spots strung along curvaceous silvery ceiling strips above a metal island and stainless-steel appliances. The metal vibe is softened by the dark-stained oak floor, as well as two-toned wooden cabinetry in rich shades of gold and brown. The lower cabinets and drawers are striped African zebra wood, and the uppers are equally striking African wenge wood. Tall metal bakers' racks display supplies and dishes. Taking a cue from the handles on the Wolf stove, Lagasca chose a cinnabar shade for the window wall and painted a partial kitchen wall in a complementary golden curry.

The main floor of the condo is an expanse of open space, from the kitchen to the dining and living rooms. Lagasca, who used to create costumes for theater and clothes for Anne Klein, designed the low, cube-shaped shelves that run around two walls of the living room. The television, stereo, CDs, books and art are grouped on the shelves, lending an uncluttered yet personal feel to the rooms. Furniture and shelving were kept purposefully low to augment the sweep of space.
These very visual owners didn't feel the need to make many changes to the high-quality finishes in their new condo. In the master bedroom, they added bookshelves and darkened the almond paint to a richer shade of khaki.
"People come over and they all sit in the kitchen anyway," says Hayes of the lack of delineation between rooms. Doing without many interior walls means the condo lives larger than its actual footprint, and that the view is visible from the front door and in every part of the place; 400 square feet of decks on two levels further expand the space.

French doors lead to a downstairs guest bedroom, while upstairs the master bedroom and adjacent study share a concrete-paved deck and the spectacular view. This is the wider of the decks, sufficiently large to house a bar, teak chaise and pots holding hostas and a Japanese maple. This must be the party deck, with its unobstructed southwest view out to sunsets over Elliott Bay.
A red Eames chair, stacked Noguchi lamp and Le Corbusier chaise lend a modern air to the comfortable living room. Lagasca commissioned the oil painting of a circus contortionist from Molly Norris Curtis after seeing her work at a one-woman show in a Pioneer Square gallery.
A few years ago Lagasca and Hayes, a computer engineer at the University of Washington, started a business selling fusion furniture imported from the Philippines. This modern aesthetic of dark wood, simple lines and unabashed texture carries through in both their wholesale-furniture line, called Asiatix, and the interiors of their condominium. They seek the atypical, both at home and in the furniture and accessories they sell mostly in New York, California and Florida.

Despite the main market for their furniture centering in other cities, these transplants from Washington, D.C., can't imagine living anywhere but Seattle. They marvel over a range of Seattle virtues, from the laid-back people who hardly ever honk to the fact they can tilt open their oversized metal windows without worry about aggressive mosquitoes and flies. Perched smack in the middle of a heavily populated city neighborhood, Hayes says, "We hear the sirens up here, but we're pleasantly removed from the street."

Valerie Easton is a Seattle free-lance writer and contributing editor for Horticulture magazine. Her e-mail address is Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.

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