An enlightened approach honors both busy family and beautiful things.
The first thing you notice inside the Madison Park contemporary — even from way outside at the end of the driveway — is the art. The glass entrance makes sure of it. Front and center is Hung Liu’s oil, “Yellow River.” Ann Gardner’s hanging glass-tile sculpture sparkles bronze at the front end of the hall; Viola Frey’s 7-foot-tall ceramic woman stands waiting at the back. A narrow window to the left reveals Robin Lowe’s “Mad Putti Tub,” a large, practically neon baby afloat.
And then you notice the most stunning frame for it all: the house.
“I built this house to show my art. And the house is a piece of art,” says homeowner Linda.
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“This house is a perfect expression of Tim’s genius and our desire for a light-filled and an art-filled house,” she says, speaking of architect Tim Carlander of Vandeventer + Carlander Architects. Linda does not say this lightly, having finally moved into their new home in May 2007 after a 10-year ordeal that began with a failed remodel and shuffling her family into and out of five rental houses.
“Craig and I pinch each other every day that we live here,” she says.
Linda describes herself as a homemaker, what with four kids and all. But that’s not quite right. She is really a home curator, molding kids and art collection, both growing. And the three things she holds most dear, her family, her art and all things logical, combined to create a particular challenge for her architect.
“I was a computer programmer,” Linda says. “I think in very linear terms. And this house does that.”
Linda is originally from Illinois, and even after 17 years here there is no getting used to the Northwest’s dark days. “It still drives me nuts,” she says. But sunlight and paintings do not mix. Another design conundrum Linda credits Carlander with meeting and beating and SBI Contracting with building. He did so with a 22-foot-tall light-well gallery that runs the length of the house. Light enters at roof level and reaches the below-ground kids’ space (containing the television and foosball table) through a frosted-glass floor. Lit for evenings, it is an impressive welcome.
The gallery separates the 5,500-square-foot house of five bedrooms and 3 ½ baths into served and service areas. Served, on one side, defined in glass and steel — for entertainment and display. Service, on the other, behind a rusty Corten steel skin — storage room, bathrooms, closets, laundry and kitchen. Upstairs are family functions, bedrooms (served) cloaked in Alaskan yellow cedar connected to bathrooms (service) with glass bridges.
On the exterior, blocks of space, defined in Corten, Milestone and a floating volume of the cedar, insert themselves into and reach out of the home.
The private backyard was designed by Samuel H. Williamson Associates of Portland. It has an expanse of green, green lawn outside the back door, a barbecue-dining area on the side of the home and lounging pavilion atop a path of molded-steel steps, just beyond a trio of happily burbling water features involving heavy chain and large pots.
Finally, Linda, her family and their art are reunited in a home fit for all involved. Art and architecture joined.
“When we brought some of the paintings back I almost wept,” she says.
Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.