Architects are famous for their freshly pressed white shirts, obsessive attention to detail, and “my way or the highway” personalities. But after more than 25 years as an architect-—and nearly as many as a husband—Stuart Silk knows that a successful home design as well as a happy marriage requires good communication and plenty of give and take. Happily, Stuart and wife Mary's seemingly opposite visions blended beautifully when the empty nesters built an environmentally responsible house on a lot overlooking fairways at Seattle’s Broadmoor Golf Club.
From the start of their project, it was a joint effort, with Stuart wearing his professional hat. “He treated me as a client and asked me what I wanted,” Mary says. For inspiration, the couple collected images from books and magazines. They drove through neighborhoods in Seattle and elsewhere, pointing out houses, landscapes, and architectural details that appealed to them.
While the exterior design choices were made early, Stuart’s approach from the start was to design “from the inside out,” he says. “We built the house to accommodate the way we live, so we were concerned with spatial relationships, adjacencies, views, and light. Those are the things that informed the exterior of the house.”
The interiors reflect Stuart’s contemporary leanings with walls of windows and French doors and a casual open floor plan, where rooms flow one into another. “We wanted contiguous spaces, so the main living space is quite open to the kitchen, and the kitchen opens to the dining room,” Stuart says.
Quartzite slabs were cut into large-scale tiles for the foyer floor. Arched openings at the end of the hall lead to the living room.
“The only room that is separate on the main floor is the library, and we can close that off with pocket doors,” Stuart says. Not surprisingly, that cozy room with a wood-burning fireplace, painted wood-paneled walls, and furnishings upholstered in textured and patterned fabrics is Mary’s favorite.
The inspiration for the oak floors and ceilings came from a book showcasing vintage French homes, Mary recalls. To create the subtle warm effect the Silks wanted, the rift and quartered white oak was bleached to remove its yellow tones, and ceilings were hand-finished with a paste wax.
The overall palette and design sensibility are definitely minimal, Stuart says, with no one feature or colorway demanding attention. “Everything conforms and is harmonious—even though there are stone floors, steel railings, Venetian plaster, waxed wood, and painted cabinets. We have a richness, a mosaic of materials, but we made a conscious decision not to have any one thing shout, be boisterous, or stand out. The palette is muted.”
Stuart had a victory in the kitchen, when he eliminated the sink on the island to create a sleek, non-kitchen look. “Mary still gives me a hard time about that,” he says, laughing.
Stuart limited the number of upper cabinets and eliminated a sink on the island to downplay the utilitarian features of the kitchen because the room is visible from the living and dining areas. The refrigerator, wall ovens, and microwave are partially out of view in a side corridor. In a nice juxtaposition of modern and traditional, the rectilinear stainless-steel hood is flanked by blue and white ginger jars.
Mary worked with interior designer Danielle Krieg to choose fabrics to re-cover existing furnishings and to find new pieces, such as a custom pine plank table suited to the more casual style of their dining room, which opens to the kitchen. A wall of windows and French doors that lead to the back terrace ensure the room receives ample natural light and provide great golf course views.