The striking exterior is charred cedar, a first for Suyama Peterson Deguchi. To test the technique, Jay Deguchi's kids did a "burn mock-up" in their driveway.
THERE’S THAT life-stress test that tells you, without a doubt, how bad a year you’re supposed to be having. Getting married, changing jobs and moving are three of the biggies.
But Nancy sailed through all three two years ago. And it wasn’t that bad, she says. Not that bad at all. In fact, it was something of an adventure.
“We did just fine,” she laughs, seated at the dining table of her contemporary Seattle home, a simple-yet-surprise-of-a-place consisting of a floating box of light and views.
Nancy and Paul got married in June 2011 and kicked off the building of their new home, something they had never done before, the same month. And they did it with Suyama Peterson Deguchi Architects.
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“We are the unusual client” for George Suyama and Jay Deguchi, Nancy says. “We had a budget, and we were working with a house that’s on a hill. But they always put us at ease and wanted to know what we had in mind.”
What the couple had in mind is precisely what you see here: a thoughtfully designed budget-minded place for a couple of homebodies who really do like to entertain. A 2,800-square-foot home (three bedrooms, 2 ½ baths) of Sheetrocked white walls, concrete and bamboo floors, glass, blackened steel, HardiePanel and cedar. A home with an open living space (kitchen, dining and living rooms) and a sky-high, city-view deck that runs practically the length of all three rooms.
“We wanted a place for our friends and family to enjoy, too,” Nancy says.
“We don’t need big bedrooms. We don’t want something so precious that people don’t feel comfortable.”
The couple may be first-timers, but they are first-timers who gave their new home much thought. Paul had owned the property for 18 years. Nancy lived in the same neighborhood since 1999. Their merger required some out-of-the-box design. (They broke it in with a crowd immediately after it was finished in June 2012.)
Principal architect Deguchi intended for the home to be a pure box (straight face without undulation) but he discovered that Seattle has a modulation requirement, so he pulled the left side out. The entry court was created to cross over the original foundation footprint.
The rooftop is a deck waiting to happen, a window on the top floor designed to be replaced with stairs.
From the street, the home is not quite like anything else in its well-tended neighborhood of many building styles. Frankly, it’s not like anything else anywhere. The exterior is charred cedar (a first for Suyama Peterson Deguchi. The latter’s children tested the technique with a “burn mock-up” in their driveway) and aluminum entrance and garage door. “The overall aesthetic?” Nancy says. “Jay asked, ‘How do you go from earth to sky?’ “
He did it with a large “well” that washes the below-ground lower floor in light; clerestory windows in tight spaces such as a powder room; tall, narrow windows here and there, frames to intimate views; the expansive back deck; and large window walls to the forested view east.
The couple asked for an at-home house. A place to feast and laugh and watch movies. “I want to have Super Bowl parties. I love to cook. I love to bake,” Nancy says. “We want to be here forever.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.