Owners didn’t want to play it safe when they designed their dreamy family home.

Share story

TO GET TO KNOW her new client, interior designer Kim Gorsline gave Amanda a color-profile test.

Amanda passed. With, ah-hem, flying colors.

“I would look at those traditional mushroom-colored rooms and think, ‘Uck! Not for me.’

“Red is my favorite,” she says, referring, specifically, to the glass-painted backsplash in the kitchen and dining-room portions of her family’s Mercer Island home, a well-curated rainbow of contemporary design. This shade, in particular, recalls a fat tomato at its most ripe.

“I know it’s not for everyone,” she says. “But I didn’t want to make choices that were safe.”

With Gorsline by her side, Amanda did no such thing. (Today she’s wearing a simple black dress and a large watch with the color wheel across its face.) They hunted and gathered from Room & Board, West Elm, Roche Bobois, Design Within Reach, Seva Home, the Seattle Design Center and more.

The home has five bedrooms and five baths. Amanda is particularly fond of the emerald green velvet bed in the master bedroom. Interior designer Kim Gorsline paired it with a gold-mirrored nightstand from Horchow. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

“When Kim found the bed in that emerald green velvet at Room & Board, she brought it to us, and I thought, ‘Oh yeah!’ ”

The family arrived in the Seattle area eight years ago from Chicago for a change of lifestyle. But two is now five — they have three boys under 6 years old — and the family needed a family home.

Interior designer Kim Gorsline found this painting online. It shares a colorful relationship with Arne Jacobson’s chartreuse Egg Chair nearby, from Canadian artist Elena Baker. Philippe Starck’s Ghost Chairs sit beneath the piece in almost a whisper. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

The couple loved the location — north end of Mercer Island, on a secluded street descending to the water — and liked the home, built in 1993, 5,400 square feet. It had good flow, fine bones, bright spaces, places for kids, places for grown-ups. But it was also full of brass and stainless steel; needed a cosmetic do-over. The couple hired contractor R.W. Anderson Homes for that, changing out counters, lighting, fixtures, stair railings and more. Cabinets, still serviceable, got new pulls.

After that, for wall coverings, paint and furnishings, it was up to Gorsline of Kimberlee Marie Interior Design. “We were very lucky,” says Amanda. “Once we moved into this house, we were able to hit reset” (out with Ikea and college hand-me-downs).

Gorsline went for the boldest shades of every color, but she held those choices in each room down to one or a few pieces for a pop that becomes pow! Such curation, in her words, keeps the whole thing from “feeling too much like a circus.”

The library once resembled a law office, dark with green wallpaper. Nothing coral paint couldn’t fix. “I think this is one of my favorite rooms in the house because of the color,” says Amanda. Notice that books are arranged not by title or author, but by color. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

The living room, for example, is all about that lush royal blue sofa from Design Within Reach. A deepest violet table commands the dining room. Walls, like proper canvases, are stark white. Accompanying pieces are neutral, or in the case of the Philippe Starck Ghost Chairs in the dining room, invisible.

Amanda and Gorsline shopped for art, contemporary and most colorful, finding a large painting by Erin Parish at Winston Wächter Fine Art for the entry and another from Canadian artist Elena Baker for the living room. An Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair, in chartreuse, sits nearby.

The home had good flow and fine bones. But it was also full of brass and stainless steel. The entry had a green marble inlay in the maple floor and a wood banister. The inlay was removed and the floor refinished. The mirrored consul table and the blue velvet bench are from Seva. The chandelier is Moooi from Inform. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

The effect everywhere is playful. Sophisticated.

Work began in July 2014, and the family moved in that November. “I’m not someone who belabors decisions,” says Amanda. “We like and trust the people we hired. You can’t get mired in every choice. We spent a lot of time looking for tiles for the shower in the master bathroom. I found an example of what I wanted on Houzz, and Kim said, ‘OK, I’m on it.’ She found them at Ann Sacks.

Mercer Island remodel. Interior design by Kim Gorsline.

“When the contractor first came over, he said, ‘You just need to redo that kitchen.’ But we were able to see the long view. And now that we’re done, I love it. It’s so my style. When I come home, I feel blessed and lucky.”