Project Description

A Seattle Home in its Natural Environment


PROJECT: Chown Showcase No. 4
DESIGNER: Stuart Silk Architects

Every product from Chown Hardware tells a story, some originating from thousands of miles away. Chown travels the world to bring the most premium products of global design to your home, but the origin of that product is only the beginning of the story. Join Chown Hardware with a behind-the-scenes look at the process of working with designers, architects and Chown experts to create the perfect home experience, from inspiration to transformation.

Residents of the Pacific Northwest place huge value on nature; we often want to feel like we’re outside when we’re not. For instance, we find creative ways to pull nature into our homes with large windows or natural wood beam ceilings. Architect Stuart Silk is no stranger to Pacific Northwest aesthetic; he’s lived in Seattle for over 40 years. He founded Stuart Silk Architects in 1981 and draws inspiration from his travels. When approaching design, he believes site context is key. A home must fit well with an established neighborhood and its natural surroundings. It must look like it belongs.

For the Hidden Cove residence in Seattle, it was a Japanese bonsai garden that inspired the design. Stuart Silk Architect’s design challenge was “merging” the home with the garden–it needed to feel like it was inside. “The garden became the starting point and the house was built around the garden,” said Stuart, who emphasized this atypical order. “The garden is certainly the most amazing feature.” The homeowner has tended to his prized garden for over 20 years–his work needed to be a focal point.

In the final result, the stunning garden is impossible to miss. Floor to ceiling windows pull the Japanese garden into the home. Clean, modern lines of the interior complement the serene atmosphere. Opposite to the garden are panoramic views of Lake Washington that provide additional natural elements to the interior. Stuart wanted to ensure that the home never overpowered its beautiful surroundings. “I didn’t want the house to go up two stories because I didn’t want the house to dominate the site,” said Stuart. “I wanted the house to sit in amongst the trees and amongst the garden.”

“Using natural materials like the limestone used on the walls in the living room…you bring the outdoors into the inside space,” said Sechrist Design Senior Designer Louanne Low. “Creating harmony between those manmade materials and nature creates a very natural sanctuary for the client to live in.”

Using the Japanese garden as inspiration, Louanne’s goal was to create a minimalist, zen interior for Hidden Cove. “How do we use the hardware and make it very beautiful, and see it, but really not notice it as you’re walking through the house?” she said. “Nothing stands out on its own.” Drawing inspiration from nature again, Louanne compares this to walking through a forest. There isn’t one tree that stands out in particular, but together they create one harmonious environment.

When it comes to design, there is always a puzzle to solve. For Louanne, this is one of the most interesting parts of her job. She’s constantly trying to solve design challenges in a creative yet seamless way. Similarly, Stuart likes to think of design challenges as riddles. “In the end, we want something that’s inspiring,” he said. “We want our clients to delight in living there forever.” In the case of Hidden Cove, the client can delight in living in his Japanese garden for years to come–a modern oasis in the Pacific Northwest.