THERE ARE those for whom interior design is all about the thrill of the kill. The hunt for the perfect table, chair, sofa, rug. And then the gathering of those pieces to create for themselves surroundings unique and most personal.
It’s like that for Bob and Vickie Maloney.
“This French mirrored armoire? It’s our coat closet,” Vickie says, rushing over to give it an appreciative pat for years of service. “It was the first piece we bought from Deb (Bluestein at Modele’s Home Furnishings).
“Oh, and the day bed? We got that at a garage sale on Bainbridge Island. Can you believe it?”
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Bob’s an architect, and Vickie, as she says, dabbles in interior design. Their condominium inside downtown Seattle’s Watermark Tower is a cornucopia of treasures plucked from our local secondhand troves, Modele’s in South Lake Union (high-quality consignment), Mort’s Cabin in Eastlake (Pacific Northwest/Wild West vintage and lampshades/lighting crafted by owner Darold Andersen), Pacific Galleries, Kirk Albert Vintage Furnishings in Georgetown, garage sales, antique stores.
“We never go to furniture stores,” says Bob. “We go to junk stores.” He says that with the highest regard.
The Maloneys raised their kids in a house of Bob’s design on Bainbridge Island. He commuted to the office every day in Seattle and often headed farther east for jobs in Bellevue. When the kids went off to the University of Washington (the Maloneys do that; most of Bob’s grandparents, his parents, Bob himself, Huskies all) the couple went to town, moving into this Watermark unit in 2005 (Bob’s office is three floors up).
Bob and Vickie love to make a thing their own. They gutted the 875-square-foot condo (which they bought in its original 1983 condition) and changed the flow: opening the kitchen; moving a wall; creating a master suite and adding a bathroom/laundry/storage where there had been a coat closet (thus the armoire). The result added 500 precious square feet of usable space.
Out of 95 units at the Watermark, the Maloneys’ is one of only four featuring a substantial outdoor terrace. The view to the south is the stately egg-and-dart cornice belonging to the neighbor, the Alexis Hotel. To the west, it’s blue water, West Seattle and the great beyond.
Bob prefers surfaces monochromatic. Inside are warm French limestone tile floors, Venetian plaster walls, backsplash stone in a soft onyx, reclaimed-oak cabinetry and kitchen island.
Vickie likes a little more splash. She gets that in walls of art, Sylvain Klaus, Carl Rowe, Aaron Burgess, Alden Mason, some of them friends from Vickie’s time as assistant director of the Henry Art Gallery.
The couple got themselves a pretty good case of consignmentitis about 15 years ago when Modele’s was near Bob’s office. It became a stop on daily walks.
“We got this sofa there,” Bob says, patting the Bauhaus original; Germany, 1930. “We couldn’t find anything anywhere with a clean line and as well made as this.”
“And the dining table, the fabric on the day bed, we got that there, too,” says Vickie.
As for the location of their condo, they love the nearness of everything: Benaroya Hall, the Seattle Art Museum, Pike Place Market, stadiums. “We like to do urban walks. We’ll even walk to Fremont,” Vickie says. “And as dumb as this sounds, the downtown Target really helps.”
“It reminds me of Europe,” says Bob.
Meanwhile, back at the condo, the Maloneys have recently done some painting. “We’re always dinking around,” Bob says.
“The problem is we go visit Deb” at Modele’s, says Vickie.
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.