SEATTLE — With your indulgence, we hereby respectfully, conclusively retract any previous use of the word “magical” as a swanky synonym for “pretty darn cool.”
We really should have saved it for today.
Today, Jeremy Weiss is a licensed interventional radiologist, a published author and a practicing magician, with “a strong interest in the mystical arts,” he said, and big-name magicians as consultancy clients.
Weiss lives in a subtly shingled home on Capitol Hill with his son and daughter (both in their early teens) and fuzzy buddies Midnight and Whiskey (both cutie-pie kitties).
That outward vibe of subtlety disappears — poof! — the second you step inside. The enthusiastic entry (green settee under a framed Salvador Dali lithograph; individually stenciled, black-and-white patterned stair risers; a deep, dark chandelier dangling drama from above) conjures clues of the eclectic, electric, informed aesthetic to come — but only on the scale that a peekaboo tuft of white fluff hints at the full-grown bunny ducking in the bunker of a top hat.
Tip of the design iceberg, people. (Two titanic examples: Weiss’ master bedroom and bathroom are completely, authentically, amazingly Moroccan.)
Weiss’ home wasn’t always like this. It had been remodeled in 2003, he said, but not exactly ideally: “It was vomit-peach-pink inside, with horrible crown molding.” He and his family moved here in 2008. He was married then, and then he was not.
The divorce “threw me into a state of questioning and self-turmoil, and the peach walls were not helping,” Weiss said. “My world was upside-down. The first thing I needed to do was make my living space safe and comfortable. I literally started with organizing drawers; each piece was kind of that first step on a 1,000-mile walk. Part of the healing process was the transformation of this house. ... Each step was a step for psychological health.”
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Somewhere along that therapeutic trek — in 2010 — Weiss called in a magician in her own right: interior designer Lindsey Runyon. They have become friends. She calls this project the “House of Wonder.”
The most wonderful transformations are not always abracadabra-quick.
“We started on this project before Moroccan was a trend,” she said. “Over the years of working on it, amidst many cycles of emotions, budgetary delays, different contractor issues and questions unanswered, we persisted ...”
Typically, Runyon said, she prefers to pick the paint color last, but, “The first thing Jeremy got antsy about was the wall color. We painted all the walls and took off the foam crown molding: seven kinds of styles. A lot of the decisions were driven by Jeremy being sick of something.”
The basement carpet was replaced with tile. Weiss’ daughter’s room is newly, sweetly redone. All the lighting was updated, with dimmable LEDs. New furniture and new cabinets moved in, along with new old flooring, reclaimed from barn wood in Pennsylvania, Runyon said. “Jeremy said, ‘It’s not cool enough,’ so we installed it at an angle, with varying board widths. If there was something that was a standard, he wanted it not standard.”
Every room is distinct and delightful, while also uniformly reflecting Weiss’ primary design leanings: midcentury-modern, industrial, form fused with function, all kinds of art and all kinds of wow-worthy wonders. Museum-level Dali and Picasso lithographs share the stage with 3-D-printed sculptural pieces, a leaning canvas that looks like a painting of a chair but is actually a chair and an entire shelving section dedicated to sideshow memorabilia (you try unseeing “Tinkerbell in a jar”).
“Jeremy sponsors a lot of artists, and he has a lot of curiosities — weird objects with a story,” said Runyon.
There’s a whole different story unfolding upstairs, in Weiss’ transportive bedroom and bathroom.
“I went to Morocco in 1999,” Weiss said. “I just remember being intoxicated by the luxuriousness and sumptuousness of the living spaces — very romantic. I fell in love with that and wanted my home to be a little oasis — exactly what you would picture: You’re struggling in the desert, and it’s a freaking oasis.”
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A custom-designed bed, under a canopy covered in Moroccan-style fabric, centers the bedroom, appearing to levitate between chains at each corner.
This also was part of Weiss’ transformation.
“The headboard of our marital bed faced the north wall in the bedroom,” he says. “All of a sudden, I decided I should sleep with my head in the other direction. ... When we were formulating the new bedroom, I saw the bed in the center, a square, with a nightstand on each corner, so I could lie in whatever direction I want every day.”
Surrounding it: trim, doors and woodwork imported from Morocco, along with a Moroccan chandelier, a bone-inlay mirror and those four octagonal nightstands. The ceiling and wall border detail was hand-stenciled. Secret compartments hide in the built-in bench and in the back of the closet, which itself hides a refrigerator drawer.
In the bathroom (which won a Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties award for contractor Harjo Construction), fiber-optic wires infused in the grout of the marble tile flooring twinkle like stars over the Sahara. The custom-patterned wall tile, installed piece-by-piece, “has an ombre effect, with four different-color tiles fading to lighter at the top,” Runyon says. The arched shower entrance evokes Morocco, while decorative bowls from Weiss’ trip evoke Moroccan memories.
There’s still more work, and memories, ahead. But already, Weiss and his House of Wonder both have undergone a metamorphosis that is nothing short of ... well ... you know ... magical.