A beautiful home overlooking Shilshole Bay is a celebration of craftsmanship.
NO GABLE ROOF. No broad front porch. No bulky front-porch columns. No way, even from the most introductory approach to Terry and Debbie Miller’s organically elegant new home, that you’re going to mistake it for a Craftsman.
It would be a huge mistake, however, not to approach more closely — prepared for awe and admiration. This contemporary triumph, exquisitely situated on the edge of Sunset Hill above Shilshole Bay, is a dazzling showcase of craftsmanship.
“We really wanted a new house: natural wood, stone, steel, concrete, of the Earth,” Debbie says. “And we wanted to use local artists … so many great craftsmen.”
Including the Millers.
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Terry, in the process of retiring from the general-contractor business he co-founded, Schultz Miller, as one of its crews constructed his home, “was owner and superintendent,” says Debbie. “There’s a lot of his work in here.”
There’s a lot of Debbie’s, too: along a gallery-like, fabric-wrapped hallway wall designed to display her artwork (and, occasionally, others’), and in a brand-new studio custom-outfitted for creating it. (Debbie also led the home’s interior design, including stain and paint samples — “Not something I usually do,” she says.)
Among the other highly creative contributors:
• Architect Rick Sundberg of Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young Architects (who worked with the firm’s John Kennedy and Jeremy Imhoff) “brought the structure into the house,” says Terry.
• Artist Arunas Oslapas crafted the coolest powder-room door ever (for possibly the coolest powder room ever): a textured, patterned metal “quilt” of many, many colors.
• Custom Steel Fabricators handled the big structural columns, Debbie says, while Decorative Metal Arts (DMA) “custom-made the cantilever section and all the steel finishing in the building and in the cabinets.”
Everyone’s one-of-a-kind work works together, to beautiful, unified effect, but one high-profile element in particular stands as a solid collaboration of artistic creativity, technical precision, and a meaningful tribute to nature and history: the front door.
Sundberg designed it, DMA fashioned the metal and Terry put it together. Its substantial wooden planks, accentuated by flame-sprayed, sanded and patinated aluminum and steel, came from a giant tree on the property that had rotted on the inside. (“It literally was where the guest room is now,” Debbie says. “Now we call that The Tree Room.”)
Its second life pulses with repurpose throughout the home.
“We took down a bigleaf maple and used that for the front door, the stair treads, the dining table, the headboard in the guest room, and a coffee table and two end tables [which Terry also created],” Terry says. “[The door is] kind of cool. It looks simple, but the columns went in at the foundation; it all had to be exactly laid out.”
Speaking of timber … once inside that emblematic entry; beyond that uber-cool stand-alone powder room; and into the great room, below its gently sloping cedar ceiling: so much wood. So much glass. So many details. So much thought, expressed so eloquently — and brightly.
“Every room has natural light, even in the laundry,” says Debbie. “That really makes a difference.”
As does creating (and contributing to) a personal, meaningful new home, as a celebration of Northwest craftsmanship, and Northwest craftspeople.
“That drove a lot of the design,” says Terry.
Adds Sundberg: “It’s all about the craftsmanship. Now I’ve died and gone to heaven. We can really craft this well. A lot of attention was paid to that. Other people would cover this up with Sheetrock. This takes a little more effort.”