Lindy and James’ house on Mercer Island is always in the middle of some project or other. Ever since they bought the Northwest contemporary/classic/Italian Renaissance/European villa (depending on whom you ask) in 2006.
They find that absolutely delightful. In fact, plans for a new kitchen are spread across the table there this very day. “We’ve never been in a position where we’ve been ready to settle in . . . and buy some adult furniture,” James says, his humor as dry as a cocktail.
And, naturally, so does Kevin Kurbs, their interior designer. “With a longterm client like James and Lindy, I don’t have to shop for 10 hours for them. I know what they like.” His work here has run the gamut from reframing art to removing walls. (All construction work under the supervision of Stu Feldt of W.S. Feldt General Contrator).
Take the new master bathroom for example, the latest work. There’s an elegant glass shower, Ann Sacks tiles, and a soft and beautiful rug designed by Stacy Logan. But Lindy runs straight for a skinny drawer at the end of the vanity. “Kevin turned a spice drawer into a hair-dryer drawer! There’s even a power strip in the back for the cords. That’s so thoughtful.”
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Ralph, the couple’s chocolate Lab, extra large, has nothing on this trio when it comes to nesting. Sure, he tosses his bed around a bit, rearranges the stuffings, throws his toys about. But then what?
“One day Kevin called and I said, ‘Kevin, where are you? What’s that noise?’ ” James says. “And he said, ‘I’m at the Home Show. Every time I go to the Home Show there’s one thing. And I’ve found the one thing. I found the muralist.’ ”
The result, by Edmonds artist Andy Eccleshall, is found in the train room. At either end of James’ large and detailed train layout, which he began work on with his father when James was a small boy, the walls are painted as brisk mountain scenes, placing the town and its train in its own terrain.
Work on the 3,600-square-foot home began innocently enough. In the living room; sinking the large-screen television into the wall and encasing it in a frame. “We decided to live in the living room, rather than make it a mausoleum,” James says. (This same philosophy holds true throughout the home. Grandkids are most welcome here and even have their own colorful playroom.)
Then somebody had the idea for a red leather couch, from Pearson Furniture, “and it went from there.” James says this seated in “his” chair. Lindy’s there in “hers.” All around are deepened cherry reds, golden browns, a bit of rust, surrounded by creamy and warm white walls. Over the fireplace hangs a “very, very, old” student copy of a Bottacelli that belonged to Lindy’s grandmother. Chihuly vases flank left and right.
Upon finding the home, designed by Seattle architect Rex Hohlbein, now an advocate for people who are homeless, the couple was smitten by the home’s symmetry. They cruised it a few times when it wasn’t for sale and pounced when a postcard came in the mail advertising its availability. But it had been well used since it was built in 1996.
The kitchen, overlooking a private and lovely courtyard remade by Martha Shapiro of Shapiro Ryan Design, already got the Kurbs treatment once — on the dining side of the room. The plans on the table today are for the other half, the cooking side. And they beckon.
James ponders, “Now that we’re getting toward the end, I’m wondering what we’re going to do. But if we are getting toward the end, we could turn the living room into a mausoleum.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.