Office-building strength with family-home comfort at water's edge.
WHAT IS your favorite thing about your house?
It can be a tricky question.
Homeowners look around, don’t know the answer offhand. But then it comes.
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“It changes throughout the year and the day as to where you want to hang out. In the morning I love to be in the bedroom. So I put a coffee maker upstairs.”
“Outside there are so many areas to hang out in.”
“We look across at Seward Park, and I can imagine Seattle as it was when it was founded.”
“I can stand in my shower with this view and I have privacy.”
“These doors are so beautiful, they’re afrormosia.”
“This is the best view from any garage I know.”
The answer is personal. And private.
“My business is owning and operating office buildings, and I didn’t want the standard house,” Martin says. “I wanted sturdy. That’s why you see beams and tall ceilings.”
Office-building strength with family-home comfort. And, by jingo, that is exactly what he got from architect Regan McClellan of McClellan Architects, interior designer Betty Blount of Zena Design Group and landscape architect Kenneth Philp, built by Jergens Construction. The collaboration shows everywhere.
Steel does here what steel does so well, the heavy lifting; beams traveling up, down, across the interior; soldering kitchen to living room to dining room, wrapping bedrooms. Carrying its charges upward as stairs. Outside is a blackened outline of the spaces therein.
Then wood and stone take over, adding warmth and comfort to this contemporary lakeside lodge. Turning up the flame is a smashing textured two-story Venetian plaster wall designed by Blount and executed by LC Jergens Painting Co. that is butter cream or gold or silver or all three, depending on the light, time of day. Interiors are saturated in browns, beiges and grays, sparked by flashes of orange.
“We also wanted to bring the outside in, and I think we’ve done that,” Martin says.
Very much so. The terrace holds a kitchen, dining room and living room. And if you want to count the hot tub as bathing, half a bathroom. From there it’s a short trip across the lawn to the family dock and Lake Washington.
All of this is to be found at the end of a journey of a driveway, common to the waterfront homes of Mercer Island. In the run between mailbox and lake is a mother-in-law dwelling (with an actual mother-in-law in residence!) and a sizable P-patch. Mother-in-law has water views over what appears to be her own sedum meadow, but is, in fact, the flowering green roof of the main home.
This spot has always been the family’s home. (Martin, a sixth-generation Seattleite, was born and raised on the island. He and his wife sweethearts since seventh grade.) It was the house that wasn’t up to the job. But now there is a proper wine cellar and movie room.
“It’s funny, we lived here for 20 years before this, in a rambler that was 70 years old, a classic Mercer Island beach cottage that had been added onto a few times,” Martin says. “We raised two kids here, my mother-in-law lived with us, and we had 2,500 square feet. Then everyone moves, and now we have 6,000 square feet for the two of us.”
Yes, but now there are grandkids nearby. Also an elevator, for days when the climb up the 67 black-basalt steps daunts.
To be born in your right place, and to live in that place all of your life is the very definition of lucky.
“I’m very lucky,” Martin says. “I travel around the country and the world, and to have this kind of escape 12 minutes from downtown Seattle. I always am happy to come home, I tell you.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.