AT HOME: Calm is crafted with walls of glass and beams of steel
Sipping tea and listening to silence. Lovely. "My baby-sitter gets nervous at night here. People get used to the buzz of the city, but I like the quiet very much," says Julie Burnett, holding her cup midair, listening. Everywhere she looks are wo...
Sipping tea and listening to silence. Lovely.
"My baby-sitter gets nervous at night here. People get used to the buzz of the city, but I like the quiet very much," says Julie Burnett, holding her cup midair, listening.
Everywhere she looks are woods and lawn and rocks and sky. Windows, windows everywhere, even overhead.
"There isn't a whole lot of drywall in this place. Nature's my artwork," Burnett says. "That's what I love about this house, all the light. During the day I don't have to turn on the lights, even in winter.
"And when it snows and you do turn on the lights, it really looks like a lodge, but yet it's not lodge-y."
What Burnett is trying to put into words is the energy of serenity that courses through all 4,225 square feet of the four-bedroom, 3 ½-bath home she shares with her husband and young daughter on acreage in rural Redmond.
Her architect, Nils Finne, describes the house as "a delicate structure of wood, steel and glass." The combination seems improbable, yet it is accurate. Burnett says, "When he uses steel, you see light."
There is no attempt to outshine the natural landscape all around. The home pays homage, slips into the hillside seated on a Montana ledgestone plinth, 2 feet high uphill and 15 feet deep on the downhill side. Inside the glass entry space you have two choices: Go left to the "living pavilion," which beckons with a 30-foot-tall Montana ledgestone fireplace on the far end of what seems like an acre of quarter-sawn red oak flooring. Go right to the long bedroom wing, featuring an apartment-like master suite.
The grand finale of the massive, complicated living pavilion ceiling, which Finne calls a "wood quilt," is the treetops and royal blue sky. The very tips of firs and cedars appear through large, north-facing clerestory windows 20 feet up. The conclusion of most sight lines throughout the home is the landscape. The great-room walls are glass at every opportunity, including above and below the overhead kitchen cabinets. Living wallpaper of deer and bird and fern.
"We didn't want to have pillars in the center of the room. The steel actually is holding everything up," Burnett says, explaining the steel-braced fir skeleton in the 1,100-square-foot room that is kitchen, living and dining rooms, and office.
The Burnetts are those rare clients who hire the architect to do what he does best and then trust him to do it. "That's one of his beautiful gifts, he listens," Burnett says. "I think the very first plan he showed us we picked."
With Finne, that can include furniture design. For this home, completed in 2006, he designed the bentwood mahogany dining table with ebony accents; cherry-shingled master bed; blued-steel laser-cut stair railings; steel-and-glass light fixtures; cherry book cases, cabinetry and consoles; and the mahogany front door. He even helped Burnett choose the furniture.
"I like clean space, and I like peace of mind," Burnett says. The built-in pieces serve both needs.
It took 2 ½ years to build this house, SBI Construction turning plan into reality, fitting steel to wood, all the joints just so. But Burnett says it was worth it.
"It took longer to build, but there's so much love in this house."
Getting to know you
The client-architect pairing is all important for turning vision into reality. It's a relationship that begins as business, but quickly becomes very personal.
"When you spend two or three days with someone every week you get to know them pretty well," says architect Nils Finne. "It's a very intense relationship, especially when you get into detail and furniture and things.
"When I meet with new clients, we put it all on the table. When a group has strong opinions, and most people do, you can't expect everyone to agree. But we try to do it in an atmosphere where everyone respects each other.
"I firmly believe that every house becomes a mirror of the person who's asked me to design the house. I am the one putting form to that. But what makes it so interesting? In the end, I say, 'That house is all about Charles and Julie.'"
See more of Finne's work at www.finne.com .