We’re taking tea and staring out at the icy blue water with sky to match. Behind us on the living-room wall are three Mattie Iverson paintings; icy blue water with sky to match.
“A great house is an expression of beauty. It’s peaceful,” says Suzanne Sheppard, in general. “You can get your work done, entertain. And I’ve done so much entertaining here,” she says, in particular.
“At first I was going to sell it after it was finished, but I started to get emotional about this house,” she says, admitting she never thought she could be budged from Broadmoor. But Sheppard is one of those people who is passionate about houses. How could she not fall in love?
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“Let’s go upstairs to the master bedroom, because that’s the prettiest place.”
Upstairs is solely reserved for Sheppard’s shades-of-white master suite. And, sure enough, the view, from the Seattle shore of Lake Washington, is even more grand. A private perch from all three floors with a dock wading in the lake.
“You know, I’m a water person. I have to be near water,” she says. “I’m a rower. My shell’s down the street at the public dock.”
By day Sheppard is co-owner of Executive Conversation, a company that conducts corporate sales training. She also owns a shop filled with finery in Madrona called Décor. “One of the things I love about the house was that the people who built it loved it,” Sheppard says. “I had Christmas parties for them. I gave them bonuses. And when I told them I was going to move in, they were jazzed.”
Cars rush along nearby Interstate 90, but we don’t hear them.
“Another thing I found I absolutely loved about this house is the bridge, the architectural element of it,” Sheppard says. “At Christmas the house was all lit up at night. It was my gift to people coming across. Fourth of July I had the back all in banners.”
Jonathan Hartung, the “H” in SHKS Architects, designed this home that just could not be sold: a contemporary with tall windows and roof lines that reach for the light east and west: 4,600 square feet with four bedrooms, five baths, a wine cellar and media room at shore’s edge. It was 30 months “from purchase to party,” as Sheppard puts it. She moved in June 2007.
“When they gave me this design there was only one change,” Sheppard says. “They know how I live and they know what I love. And that cuts the design time. So there’s a value in finding an architect for life.”
“Then the contractor, Frank Firmani (president) of Charter Construction, recommended David Ohashi for the landscaping, and now I have a landscaper for life, too.” Ohashi, of D.M. Ohashi Landscape Services, created a grand backyard stone pavilion and waterfalls in front and back as traffic-noise reducers.
For the interiors, Sheppard chose a glass, a stone and a ceramic for every bathroom. Her interior designer, Robert Emil Arnesen, did the rest. “I never even had to pick a paint color,” she says.
Inside is plenty of space for another of Sheppard’s passions: art. She is a member of the Poncho Art Auction Committee and serves on the board of trustees at Pratt Fine Arts Center. Dangerous affiliations for someone so drawn to beauty and design. Judith Kindler’s bird encaustics in the stairwell, a series of blocks by Juan Alonzo in the bathroom, a Jacqui Beck in the guest bathroom. And on it goes.
“My parents bought one couch and one living-room table. That was it. But furniture, and I believe the same with art, is like a wardrobe. I’ve loved it, but I rotate it out.”
No room in Sheppard’s home goes unloved. Not even the garage.
“For the past 10 years I have tiled my garage floors. People think I’m nuts. Then I put in stainless Ikea cabinets, a black granite countertop, and I have art in there, too.”
Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.