“IT TAKES years to design and build your home. And then you get in and say, ‘Oh, I wish we had done that.’ ”
Yeah, not this time. Not this house.
Liz Smith and Rob Hershberg had heard stories about how it can go for new homeowners. The mild disappointments, quiet regrets. So when it came time for a home for their newly blended family, they were ready.
“Function,” Smith says. “I just wanted it to be functional.” We are not standing in the elegant and cozy living room, white, sparkling cast-concrete panels over the fireplace rising 14 feet to the ceiling. Nor are we seated at the stunning Calacutta gold marble kitchen island with walnut inlay. No, Smith is pointing out the locker room off the garage downstairs. A place to dump coats and boots, backpacks, dog toys, whatever (heavy on the whatever). “The Costco room” is down the hall.
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“We wanted open space and intimate space,” says Smith.
“We wanted a flex house that could accommodate everyone,” Hershberg says. (Everyone includes his kids, 18 and 21; hers, 9 and 11.)
“We wanted a place where Rob could go and work at home undisturbed,” Smith says.
Architect Lane Williams of Coop 15 Architecture designed a family home that, rising from the original foundation, is all of the above. But one that is also contemporary cool and invitingly warm.
“People say, ‘I don’t like modern, but I really like your home,’ ” says Hershberg. He considers this high praise for their home in the Sand Point Country Club neighborhood. A family place with houses low-slung and well-groomed. On broad streets with slow-down-or-risk-injury speed bumps.
Contemporary and comfortable meet, become friends, like so: Marble, quartz and slate are warmed with the use of American black walnut, white oak, cedar and Plexwood (a European ply). Ceiling heights vary to change the mood. The home lives horizontally over three levels, but stands up at the fireplace, white brick on the exterior, and takes off with the master suite running behind it.
Both Smith and Hershberg point out highlights, describing them as “That’s Lane.” For instance: “Have you ever heard Lane refer to ‘ceiling acne’?” Hershberg says. “That’s what Lane calls stuff on the ceiling.” His way of pointing out the track lights embedded into the cedar planks of the family room.
Williams, meanwhile, calls his clients “adventuresome.” But, actually, they were the kind of clients that architects, contractors and interior designers dream of. Clients who hire the pros to do what they do, and then, surprisingly, let them do it. (Even when Hershberg had serious doubts about the metal posts separating the living room from the stairs: “Keeping the husband totally out of it is key,” he says.)
“The thing about Lane is that he’s very interactive,” Hershberg says. Vital for this project. The couple chose a good friend, Stu Feldt (W.S. Feldt General Contractor), as the contractor, and another, Kathleen Glossa, for interior-design help. Outside, Martha Shapiro of Shapiro Ryan Design tied this corner-lot home to the land with low grasses and staggered concrete pavers guiding visitors to the front door.
So how’d that go? Photographs don’t lie. “We were as transparent as we could be. It took a little longer only because of scope creep and Stu’s attention to detail,” Smith says proudly.
“This really was a group effort,” Hershberg says. “Lane, Liz (he calls her the CEO of their house), Stu and Kathleen.”
“We decided to go big or go home,” Smith says of their efforts.
Hershberg corrects. “We decided to go big and go home.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.