Until the early 1900’s, the entire site for this home was lake bottom. A railroad skirted the lake’s edge. In 1918, Lake Washington was lowered seven feet, exposing an eighty foot wide strip of mud. Soon Riviera Place, a one lane road with an upscale name, was added below the rail line and vacation cottages were built within inches of the road and the new shoreline, 30 to 60 feet away.
The design dilemma for a new home on this site was to create a home that was wide open to the daily panorama of sailboats, mountains, and city lights, yet at the same time was enclosed and private from boaters on the waterfront, neighbors on the sides and the daily parade of joggers, strollers, skaters and bikers less than 30 feet from the back door.
Designed as an “L” with an outdoor eating area at the intersection, the building grid was tipped 45° to the water, stretching main floor views 180° from shoreline to shoreline. The home itself blocks sight of neighboring homes, creating the illusion from virtually every room that the home has no neighbors. Yet the house has enormous windows, and lots of them.
The owner’s background is in recycled metal. The interior plays back and forth with cold steel and rough stone, warmed by walls of smooth yellow ash. The relatively inexpensive rough cut bluestone floor was selected for the tactile enjoyment of shoeless feet and is contrasted by the smooth tight grain of the ash walls and cabinetry.
The core of the house is the kitchen, composed such that the owners can converse with each other from any of the three key daily positions, the kitchen sink, the built in sofa, or the eating nook, and still enjoy the view, the fire in the stone tonsu and the nightly news on a TV, discreetly hidden behind disappearing doors above the fireplace.