KING COUNTY, Wash. — There is harmony here: in alignment and scale, in colors and materials, in the happy banter of an architect and a homeowner singing each other’s praises — especially after a complex project involving serious site challenges; highly informed participants; and, ultimately, creatively agreeable trade-offs.
Actually, there were two architects behind Eric and Kim’s gleaming new home on Lake Sammamish. One is Andrew Finch of Finch Design & Production. The other is Kim herself.
“I have done only health care and always wanted to do a house,” she said. “We had a larger home in the Entiat area on Lake Washington. Our last house was a builder house, built in 2000. So many things weren’t what I wanted.”
The 1940s cabin that previously lived on this idyllic slice of waterfront didn’t exactly cut it, either. For one thing, says Finch, “The cabin’s water came out of the lake.”
The fact that any new house arose here at all should be considered the first critical, mutual victory.
“Before construction could begin, the home underwent an extensive regulatory review because of its location along the shores of Lake Sammamish, and the site having two areas designated as steep slope,” said Finch. “The soil was so bad that workers stood on sheets of plywood while forming the foundations.”
You notice the slope as you stutter-step down the driveway shared by Eric and Kim and their fellow empty-nesters next door. Then, rebalanced at the bottom, you notice nothing but this home: It’s textured and smooth, metallic and glassily reflective, nestled and bold, with a shed roof over the one-story garage; a majestic butterfly roof alit on the two-story living area; and an entry hall connecting, and separating, them.
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The fact that Eric and Kim’s home is this harmoniously stunning should be considered the ultimate win: It’s a thoughtful composition of input, insight and experience. Plus a whole lot of give-and-take.
“We had a very clear idea of how we live — how we want to live,” said Eric.
“There were days that were collaborative, and some we wanted to kill each other,” Kim said of Finch, happily bantering. “Part of the dialogue was that Andrew got used to getting hand-drawn sketches from me — no CAD. Hour by hour, there definitely were some things we disagreed on, but I did value so much Andrew’s design expertise. And in some cases, I knew I was right. We each had certain battles we won and ones we lost. The end result is very satisfactory.”
Today’s tour of gentle give-and-take begins, as tours should, in that welcoming entry hall, reached via an impressive 900-pound, one-piece, 5-by-9-foot pivot door.
“This was a disagreement,” said Kim. “Back in the beginning, I didn’t know I wanted a pivot door, or whether the structure could support it. ... It’s an extremely heavy door; it needs a steel frame for size and movement.” It is amazing. “You were right about the pivot door,” she said to Finch — adding that she found this particular, more-affordable custom version through a vendor in Tucson.
• Of the siding, Finch said, “Kim wanted a no-maintenance exterior. It gives the house more depth.” Added Kim: “That was a win for me.”
• Downstairs, past a custom stairway that integrates a virtual wall of cabinetry through both levels, “You compromised a little on the bedroom size,” Finch says. Adds Kim: “On this level, to get two bedrooms and two bathrooms, everything is a little undersized. The upstairs is big. It’s a trade-off.”
• In the master bathroom, glass doors open to the toilet and to the shower. “Andrew won this one,” Kim says. “I wanted translucent all the way to the top, but the light comes in so much better through the clear. It makes the room feel so much bigger. Great call.”
• In the kitchen, part of the light-filled, lofty-ceilinged, glass-walled great room, Kim said, “I wanted a secondary table, to stand up.” A precisely centered island fits the bill perfectly. “With this island, it’s much more pleasant to face each other,” Finch said. “She was right.”
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• Off the great room, Eric’s office looks through glass pocket doors to more than 20 windows framing the lake. “One of my goals was to get Eric’s office on the water,” said Kim. “We couldn’t do it, but this isn’t too bad.”
• And, also on the periphery of the great room, Kim’s desk claims a sweet alcove, highly visible and highly functional. “There’s no sense hiding the fact you spend a lot of time on the computer,” she said. “Eric gets a whole room. I wanted a niche. I got the biggest closet; it was part of the trade-off. That’s the joy of a custom house.”