The main floor is dark, mysterious. Upstairs is light, fresh, open. Oh, and there’s a view from Queen Anne Hill, too.
“THIS IS THE fluted concrete entrance. There are three flutes around the bronze bar. The jamb is milled from bronze. It’s a mitered wing-shaped bronze front door.
“The idea was to replicate an old Manhattan municipal building, make you go, ‘Wow! Who built that?’ ”
OK. Wow! Who built that?
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Interior designer Mike Sofie (speaking above) and his partner, contractor Bob Shepp, did, that’s who. (The building was designed by Joseph Greif Architects, built by Edifice Construction. But Sofie and Shepp handled everything from the structure inward.) We are standing at the deliberately impressive front door of their client Ken Woolcott’s new home across the street from view-perfect Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill. Across from that, the Space Needle, Mount Rainier in a snowy cap. It’s a sunny day. The water and the city sparkle.
But all of that is going to have a tough time competing with what’s behind the bronze, fluted, mitered entrance.
“Typically an owner has an idea of what he wants, but Ken didn’t,” says Sofie. “I sat outside one day and stared at the house, because often it will tell you what it wants. I told him, ‘You know with all the curves, it has kind of a Deco shape. He said, ‘I love Deco!’ But then, we said, ‘To do it right, you have to have really high-end materials.’ ”
Woolcott was in.
Shepp and Sofie were thorough in their task. Because most Art Deco homes (Roaring ’20s, delineated geometric shapes, strong colors) were remodeled from earlier periods, they began their work by placing an Empire-era fireplace in the living room. With columns and hand-painted ionic capitals: “If Gianni Versace were building them, that’s what he’d put in,” Sofie says.
It goes from there, the detailing endless, priceless. The main floor is dark, mysterious, sexy. Upstairs is light, fresh, open. A few highlights:
• Alaskan white granite floors, bookmatched slab.
• Sapele-paneled walls and cabinetry from one tree.
• Egyptian columns in the dining room. (Hiding wires.)
• Vintage chandeliers. (Some from Restoration Hardware. “I’m not going to punish Restoration Hardware for having nice products,” Sofie says.)
• A Carrara marble master bathroom. Water flows into the claw-foot tub (feet in nickel) the usual way or spiraling from the ceiling.
• An elevator entry rimmed in mother-of-pearl tiles.
• Dark plum marble on walls, columns, at the entry.
Frankly, for its 5,600 square feet of space, the place does not ramble. Front door opens into the main living area: living and dining rooms, kitchen. OK, there’s a “Champagne niche,” but it’s a small one. And a man cave with a rotating floor for proper automobile display. But then it’s four bedrooms, office, a bunch of bathrooms.
Sofie and Shepp have given this thing a lot of thought, down to the lighted globe set into the bar. “The idea is that when Ken’s son meets guests, instead of typing on his phone, he looks them in the eye, asks them where they’re from or where they’re going, and they go to the globe,” says Sofie. “It’s a conversation starter.
“And, look! Take out the globe, and it becomes a serving bowl.”
This project was so encompassing that early on interior designer and contractor joined up professionally as West Highland Design.
The philosophy here was quality first. “If it doesn’t last 60 years, we wouldn’t touch it,” Sofie says. “The idea for the master bathroom was, if you were in the finest Deco ocean liner in the world, what would your bathroom be like?”
But now, five years in, it’s not easy letting go. Sofie sums up the designer’s lament: “Go ahead. Wipe your Cheetos hands on the back of the priceless this or that. Knock yourself out.”
He jokes, sort of.