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Pacific Northwest | October 10, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineMONTH, DAY, YEARseattletimes.com home Home delivery

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CONTENTS
COVER STORY
Taste To Spare
Classical Modern
Uptown Downtown
Suburban Zen
Up and Over
New Meaning
DESIGN NOTEBOOK
PLANT LIFE
TASTE
ON FITNESS
NOW & THEN
PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


FALL HOME DESIGN 2004
WRITTEN BY REBECCA TEAGARDEN
PHOTOGRAPHED BY BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER

 
Classical Modern

Old World grace elegantly overlays new-world edge
 
There’s no shortage of play space at the Lafreniere family’s home. Every place is a play space. Seen through the arched doorway of the play room, Max, 4 1/2 , lays out his train set on the dining-room floor.
Louis and Robbie Lafreniere come to the door in bare feet and big smiles. Robbie has a child on her hip. Their life is casual. Kids, toy castles, dolls, puzzles. A sandbox out back. A cup of juice on the couch during "SpongeBob Squarepants."

"We're not too formal around here," Robbie says.

But Mr. Squarepants is playing in some grand surroundings.

Arched doorways and 12-foot columns; turned balusters of centuries past; fireplaces worthy of "Citizen Kane"; box beams on ceilings and walls; chandeliers, some sparkling like a Vanderbilt dressed for dinner; marble counters: Fortuny sconces from Blakely Home Store in the dining room.
 
The concrete stops here. At the first stair riser, just inside the front door, the floor becomes quarter-sawn oak with a dark stain for a rich, classic feel. The sensual sweep of banister lures visitors upstairs.
The Lafrenieres' 3,900-square-foot home on Lake Washington has Old World stamped all over it.

"If we put a circle here in the middle, we'd have a basilica, we'd have a Byzantine church," says Stuart Silk of Stuart Silk Architects, explaining the house plan that resembles a fat cross. Designed by project architect Aaron Mollick and job captain Aaron Spencer and built by Delta Construction's Toby Lumpkin, the plan draws light deep into the house, illuminating both the forward-facing living room and the dining room behind it.

Yet despite its classic mold, the Lafrenieres' is also the very essence of right now.
 
The house’s light-luring cross design can clearly be seen from across the street. The dining room sits to the left, the living room and master bedroom are in the center, and the home’s main entrance is off to the right. Stuart Silk Architects balanced it by putting the steps in the center.
Those stately fireplace surrounds and the floors are concrete. Modern art hangs from the walls. The dining-room set from Design Within Reach is a combination of metal, glass and resin. Aluminum kitchen stools are from Current. The backsplash behind the Viking oven is stainless steel stamped in a diamond pattern. The one-piece sink and counter in the powder room is stainless steel, too. Next to it hangs a pair of rich deep-green curtains — made of rubber.

The Lafrenieres credit interior designer Rocky Rochon with the cool, but Rochon credits the Lafrenieres. His job, he says, is to teach clients how to get what they want.

Arched doorways and 12-foot columns; turned balusters of centuries past; fireplaces worthy of "Citizen Kane"; box beams on ceilings and walls; chandeliers, some sparkling like a Vanderbilt dressed for dinner; marble counters: Fortuny sconces from Blakely Home Store in the dining room.
 
Interior designer Rocky Rochon suggested turning east-west beams into box beams for grand effect. Under them hang Fortuny sconces on each side of the Isokern fireplace, which uses a much lighter volcanic pumice stone than traditional masonry versions. The surround is precast concrete. There’s a handy wine refrigerator next to the table.
"I used imagery when I first worked with them," he says. "I had them start going through books and magazines, piles of them. What they were constantly attracted to was Gothic imagery. Then I zeroed in on key words they kept repeating."

And what he determined was this: They wanted moody and edgy. Cozy was important, too.

"They kept saying they didn't want a Bellevue house. What they meant by that, it's nothing against people in Bellevue, they didn't want their house to look like a model home," Rochon says. "It's got artifacts, it's got culture, it's got patina, it's got history."
 
In the kitchen, the massive proscenium arch (which Silk calls the ‘Arc de Triomphe’) over the Viking range and the diamond-pattern steel backsplash go for the Gothic look.
With Silk's Northwest-meets-Georgian design and Rochon's interior wizardry, the Lafrenieres got the best of all worlds. It's grand and classic, modern and clean, casual and elegant. Robbie's father, Robert Shinbo, even came out of retirement to carve out the landscaping.

And it all works. The colors of the rooms change so subtly, like moods, one hardly notices passing from green to gray to taupe. Pulling together a palette like this is another Rochon signature move. "It's like a symphony," he says. "Color against color is what makes color."

Somewhere along the way, Robbie got a thing for chandeliers. "This one is from David Weatherford," she says, nodding at an antique-crystal sparkler that dangles like an opera diva's single earring in the otherwise simply decorated living room. Seven others are sprinkled throughout the house, even in the stairway to the garage and the play room. Only one, the white bucket design from Resolute, is new.
 
The deep-set oval window and the bay below it bring the morning light into the master bedroom.
Arched doorways and 12-foot columns; turned balusters of centuries past; fireplaces worthy of "Citizen Kane"; box beams on ceilings and walls; chandeliers, some sparkling like a Vanderbilt dressed for dinner; marble counters: Fortuny sconces from Blakely Home Store in the dining room. "Louis said, 'You can't put a chandelier in a play room. And I said, 'They'll get older.' "

Same with the heated-concrete floors. "People said we couldn't have concrete floors with kids," Louis said. "But they're already past that point. They're walking."

In fact, when Robbie and Louis started talking to Silk about tearing down their 900-square-foot Leschi beach cottage, they didn't even have kids. But they had two by the time they moved into the new house in 2002. Now Madeline is 3½, Max is 4½, and this is the only home they've ever really known.
 
Robbie chats with Max on the terrace while Louis reads to Madeline in the living room. Light filters in from the south and over Lake Washington to the east, casting elegant shadows.
"We only wanted to build one house, and we never planned on moving," Robbie says. "Louis really likes the location because he's a big wind surfer.

"We wanted some place he could wind surf in front of, and we wanted a comfortable home for our family."

Louis got the great wind-surfing location, and his very own room, as well — a chandelier-lit wine cellar. He says the 750 bottles inside ought to just about do it, and now they're in "maintenance mode" of consuming and collecting.

The wine-cellar door is his little bit of revenge on home-building frustrations. It took so long to hack through all the red tape required to remove the telephone pole from in front of their lot, that it was cut up and made into the wine-cellar door.

Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine.


 
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