The First Hill condo is the homeowner's respite from a very busy lifestyle. Her one-bedroom place is her home away from hotel.
SANDY IS ALL smiles when she opens the door.
Behind her is what she calls her little oasis from the world, packaged in soft shades of calm in a tidy First Hill condo high over Seattle.
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“This is my respite, where I create calm in a very busy lifestyle,” says Sandy, a consultant who travels from Monday to Thursday. “When I’m here it’s about the weekend mentality.” That makes this, her 1,450-square-foot home with one bedroom and den, her home away from hotel.
“I live very cleanly and very simply because I grew up with a hoarder,” she says with a sigh. “I couldn’t stand any clutter, so I like this.” You don’t have to search to know what she’s talking about. Her home is spotless and precise. (Dust-bunny hunting is always in season.) Yet it is also elegant and feminine.
“Didn’t she pick a beautiful color in here?” Sandy says. She refers both to her interior designer, Amy Baker, and to the charcoal walls of the open living/dining room. Tucked to the side is the newly opened kitchen, dressed in a more serious shade of the same.
Sandy lived here 15 years before this. Wraparound views of both lakes, Sound, city. She did a little remodeling “to get rid of some of the gold,” but was too busy for more. Then she decided to retire and give her home a thorough going-over.
Except, “I flunked retirement,” she laughs. “I went back.”
The remodel, however, went forward.
Sandy and Baker touched every room, crafted by contractor Krekow Jennings. To keep lines clean and free-standing furniture to a minimum, Baker outfitted the condo with built-ins. Along the entrance hall: for coats, a washer and dryer, glassware and dishes. In the bedroom, for clothes. In the kitchen: for the coffee maker, other appliances. In the back hall: a wine closet. In the den: for books, DVDs, office supplies.
Sandy is quick to point out all the design elements that make up this high-style island of calm:
• The large mirror that doubles views inside and out: “I call it my Versailles mirror. What was there was an outdated wall of mirrors.”
• The rift-cut-white-oak-dark-stained screen at the entrance to her bedroom: “I asked Amy, ‘What can you do so you don’t think bedroom when you walk in the door?’ And Amy designed the screen.”
• A shower where there had been none: “I’m so excited to have my shower. And the old tub, it had gold and foofies on it.”
• The new kitchen: “I always thought, I’m too much of a neat freak to ever want an open kitchen. But Amy knows me, and she designed the counter so you can’t see in there. For the first time, I’m dining with my guests.”
In the bedroom, Baker also flipped the bed, which was not taking advantage of Seattle University views, and created a spa-worthy bathroom in Carrara marble and charcoal-gray limestone with white veining.
Sandy’s one guilty pleasure bubbles cheerfully away in the living room, embedded into the wall and visible from the front door. A fountain by Tom Torrens.
“This was my gift to myself when I got my MBA in 1995.”
Relaxing in a tuxedo chair, Sandy surveys the living room.
“A good interior designer; they help prevent mistakes. And they help you understand who you really are,” she says.
“This is always the way I envisioned it could be. It is kind of a little jewel.”
Rebecca Teagarden is associate editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.