HARD TO PICTURE now, but this gracious Madrona home started out as a low-profile rambler way back in the 1950s. Previous owners added a floor — and flipped the floor plan — in 2000, and by the time Sarah and Colin and their kids moved in, from not too far away, they had a perfectly livable, traditional family home. Except, says Sarah, “It was a little small.”
Things opened up considerably after the family returned home from a couple years abroad and launched its own remodel, with interior designer Kirstin DiMartile of Habitat Design Studio; curator/designer Paige Smith of Memento Style; contractor Urban Restoration; and art curator Sarah Hurt, owner of Seattle Art Source.
Sarah and Colin might not be the first residents to re-envision this gracious Madrona home, but they almost certainly are the most artful.
This time, the results are sublime: an elegantly contemporary new entry; an open, interconnected living/dining space; a sparkling, up-from-the-studs master bathroom; a refreshed master bedroom — and bright-white wall after bright-white wall of total opportunity.
“This was a blank canvas,” says Sarah. “Kirstin was the first one to say I really needed some art. She said, ‘You should meet Sarah [Hurt].’ ”
Hurt started her International District business two or so years ago, “with two goals in mind,” she says: “to advocate for local artists, and to provide a curated collection of art that was ready for any interior design project.”
There’s also one grounding, founding principle: “Everyone should be able to own original art. We specifically carry work starting at $250,” she says. “Most art dealers won’t work with the smaller pieces. For me, it’s offering well-rounded art that works in the entire context. There’s a very wide range of sizes and projects.”
Before meeting Hurt, Sarah says, she “didn’t really know what art costs. We were looking for a collection of affordable pieces in the range of $200-$2,500.”
“And we did a good job,” says Hurt. “We ended up with a custom photo and paintings: six pieces of art from six local artists. It’s a really beautiful curated collection.”
The key to that curation is customization, and extensive collaboration.
“Sarah came to my small shop and saw some things she liked, and then I came to the house to see what areas were a priority,” Hurt says. “I got to know Sarah and her family, their vibe, how many pieces they were looking for. I have a pretty extensive amount of inventory, and I always bring the art to the home. Lighting is critical, and siting is critical. I probably had four site visits where I would bring over options and see if they worked. If they worked, we left them here; if not, we recalibrated.”
While the family’s art vibe is consistent (“They’re all landscapes; that’s the tie,” says Sarah. “Landscape and color kind of tie it together.”), the art itself is varied, evocative and meaningful:
- Hurt calls the substantial, touchable “Night Library,” by Greg Boudreau, “a phenomenal piece that’s just the perfect fit for an awkward space” along the entry stairway. Even more perfect, it’s personal for Sarah. “My dad was an architect,” she says. “I love architectural photos. I loved this piece. There’s a part that reminds me of my dad. I love the mix of texture. I love the fact that this is tactile.”
- At the top of those stairs hangs the first piece Sarah and Hurt selected: an untitled photo of light reflecting on water, by Paul Edmondson. “It’s another example where Sarah [Hurt] really listened,” Sarah says. “I liked the softness. It’s a really great piece that had a connection to the house, a bit more contemporary.”
- In the living room, Mya Kerner’s “Unfolding” mountain scene, which “explores ancestry, storytelling and ecological concern through depictions of the landscape,” Hurt says, hangs above the redesigned fireplace.
- Near the dining area, “Rainier Botany 3” by David Bellard fills a smaller space “very, very affordably,” Hurt says. And, Sarah says, “It ties into the mountains and the piece with the fireplace. My daughter loves to hike. There’s a lot of that connection.”
- There’s even more connection near the bold orange chair, in the also-bold oil painting “Where Boundless Gathers” by Bellingham artist Sharon Kingston. “If this piece had been in a gallery, I wouldn’t have had the visceral reaction,” Sarah says. “I love the moodiness; there’s something very emotional. This one gave me the most emotional reaction.”
- Above the tub in the master bathroom on the lower level, the moisture-friendly “2 Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Lesley Frenz “kind of makes it feel like a spa,” Sarah says.
- And in the master bedroom, there’s … well, for now … another bright-white wall or two of artistic opportunity. “We both have an idea for what we want above the bed,” says Hurt. “Maybe wool felt, a sculpture: long and skinny, undulating curves, like a kimono belt. I’m on the hunt. And, maybe: one over the dresser.”