The Bell Henry Residence by Washington-based Skb Architects is a remodel which sought to update the previously dark interior of a home from the early 90’s with a well lit, gallery-like space of large windows and white walls which serve as a canvas for the home owner’s art.
The clients discovered this house, which was built in the early 1990s, while looking for a place in which to raise their family. They were drawn to the site’s natural landscape and its western views to Lake Washington. The original 353 sqm house was an unusually austere interpretation of minimalist modern architecture—dark and inwardly focused.
The updated design evokes a gallery-like aesthetic, with the interiors spotlighting the owner’s art collection and substituting light filled interior for what was previously dark. The focal point for the home is the primary living space which opens the house to the site, extending from the front of the house to the back and out to the pool.
Inside, white walls contrast with dark wood and steel floors. The original sunken living room was preserved as a nod to the past and to serve as a cozy sitting area. A beeswax-coated wall conceals the stair and creates a nuanced backdrop for art while helping to anchor the central gathering space. The kitchen was opened up to more directly connect it to adjacent living spaces and includes the addition of a floating island. A wall of glass opposite the island directs focus to the outdoors and towards the breakfast/family area. A new pantry, powder room, and laundry area were added off of the kitchen. From the buckshot flooring to the granite countertops, the juxtaposition of organic and inorganic materials creates an atmosphere of minimalist elegance and a celebration of natural materials. The remodel also included a renovation of the master suite.
All windows, roofing, and finishes were updated during the remodel. Indoor/outdoor connections were reinforced by inserting large, fixed windows into the main level windows to emphasize axes through the house and to orient views to key focal points in the landscape. Concealed doors were installed next to the windows creating access to key areas of the yard, while limiting visual intrusions into the otherwise abstracted space. On the exterior, existing architectural forms were abstracted by removing embellishments and refinishing the house in white stucco resulting in a simple modernist composition.