The homeowners, who had lived in the neighborhood for 18 years, bought a 4-story home dating back to 1910 on a narrow, steep lot on the shores of Lake Washington. The home had a poor foundation, lacked a connection to the lake, and was subdivided into confining volumes. Paul Moon Design in Seattle was contracted to create a home with a form traditional enough to fit into the neighborhood, while remaining elegantly modern inside. The clients’ wish was to create a space that felt unpretentious, quiet, and comfortable. Tackling architecture, interiors and landscape architecture, Paul Moon’s solution was able to offer sitewide cohesion, creating a connection to the lake and the neighborhood that is both legible and refined.
Moon began his design with a form inspired by the late architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen, whose houses were contemporary but used traditional proportions to create appropriate scale. These streetside proportions, underscored by the gable end and window openings, are a gesture to the existing neighborhood vernacular. The home’s exterior palette is understated, but textural; blending gray cement roofing with white stucco and natural gray stone. A floating stair visible from the sidewalk is a nod to the neighborhood; allowing limited legibility of the interior as a point of interest.
Moving further into the site, terraced gardens elegantly transition from the street to the water. Here, the home’s three stories appear, connecting to a series of indoor/outdoor spaces overlooking Lake Washington. The procession down to the lake invites pauses at each level as a spa, a firepit, and plated gardens make the journey pleasant.
“Not only did the house need to have an attractive street presence, it needed to be in scale with the neighboring houses. We needed to site the house properly to not disturb the adjacent house foundations as well as bridge the 150’ walk and 25’ of vertical elevation from the back of the house down to Lake Washington, so thinking about the landscaping and spa placement was critical. “ - Paul Moon
The gardens offer a nice mix of formal plantings with classic white hydrangeas. Paul Moon was able to hand-select every single plant, stone and light; a unique level of investment from an architect. He attributes his affection for landscape architecture to a childhood surrounded by unique plants that his Colombian-born mother tried to keep alive. Paul: “I have always been a gardener, and as my projects got bigger, I didn’t want anyone else doing the landscape design.”
The interior brief was to create a relaxed, contemporary home worthy of its surroundings. The design team emphasized glazing and light, reflected by white walls and unobstructed by the minimally trimmed, black-gridded windows. The interiors also incorporated the homeowner’s existing art collections built up over time from traveling the world. Although the homeowners didn’t entertain much prior to building this home, they since attest to how much they love opening their home up to friends, to walk the garden together or have a coffee on the deck.
“We love our house. From the outdoor rooms, we love watching the UW crew or Dragon Boats rolling by. It’s so beautiful, I can’t believe it.” - Homeowner
The project’s general contractor, Bender Wasenmiller Custom Builders, commented on the design team’s insistence on quality control throughout construction, creating a more collaborative process with the building team.
“Paul designs very clean homes without a lot of millwork to hide details. It’s subtle, less forgiving, and tougher to execute. Nevertheless, our team admires him because he puts time into the initial design and specifications and although things change a bit during construction, we know early on what we are being asked to do.” - Bender Wasenmiller, Contractor