A Washington Horse Stable Becomes a Flexible Artist's Studio

This 760-square-foot stable outside Seattle was converted into an artist's studio, guest bedroom, and more.
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Since Bridle Trails State Park neighbors Kirkland, Washington, the community is dotted with stables—especially as populated areas give way to more greenery. One thirty-something couple, a UX designer and the head of a non-profit, had purchased a house on a semi-rural street where a paved road gives way to gravel. They moved from Chicago to raise their two daughters in the Pacific Northwest, and although their land had stables, their only four-legged pet was their golden retriever.

"[The clients] wished for a simple and flexible space that could be reconfigured to suit the evolving needs of the family," principal Thomas Schaer says. "Our goal was pretty simple: don’t overthink it and have fun." Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal covers the siding, while Segovia Red adds a pop of color to the exterior doors. Two Chair_ONEs by Konstantin Grcic stand on the patio.

On the outside, the structure looked like a big garage, but inside, it was clear that plenty of horses had called it home. The couple wanted to replace the well-worn dirt floors and wood planks—which were indented with teeth marks—with a multipurpose addition. They partnered with principal Thomas Schaer, project manager Max Mahaffey, and their team at SHED Architecture & Design to meet a myriad of needs: the renovation had to include a workspace, a painter’s studio, and a comfortable quarters for visiting grandparents. 

The renovated stable's living room is extra bright thanks to walls painted with Benjamin Moore’s Atrium White and reflective polished concrete floors. The latter conceal a radiant heating system.

To evoke the structure’s past as a horse stable, and provide options for the use of the space, Schaer and his team employed Sing Core sliding barn doors mounted on Krownlab’s Axel hardware. The sliding track runs the full width of the building, allowing residents to open or conceal a bedroom, kitchenette, and entrance to an adjacent 530 square-foot garage, all depending on how the spaces are being used. The kitchenette, seen left, features a Kraus sink and a chrome Grohe Concetto faucet.

"Our aesthetic imperative was fairly straightforward: avoid precious materials and rely on some strong spatial maneuvers to define the experience," Schaer says. As it turns out, one detail that pays homage to the building’s original purpose—sliding barn doors—became paramount to the renovation’s success.

The clients selected a Coral pendant light by David Trubridge Design for the center of the room. Their souvenir from Norway, a reindeer pelt, is spread out in front of Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chairs with metal bases from Herman Miller. The wood-burning stove is a Monet from HWAM.

"Concrete floors, drywall, and minimal use of trim allowed for the feel of the space to remain utilitarian, while exposed Douglas fir structural members created a connection to regional Pacific Northwest design," Schaer says. The clients wanted a place for painting and occasional freelance work, which fits opposite the room's fireplace and seating area. A Kevi Chair by Jørgen Rasmussen accompanies the desk.

"The bank of full-height windows brings in tons of southern light, but it also gives the stable a strong street presence, and it ties into the stick-built window pattern already established at the entry to the main house," Schaer says. The locally-sourced Douglas fir windows and doors were provided by Lindal Cedar Homes.

"Completing the sequence [of the structure] is the bedroom and bathroom, beyond the barn door threshold, designating them as the least frequently used spaces," Schaer says. For now, grandparents can use the bedroom when they visit, but the owners also hope to rent it out one day. The George Nelson Bubble Lamp is from Modernica.

Milestones' cement plaster covers the walls of the minimalist bathroom. The Scola sink from Duravit is accompanied by a chrome Grohe Essence faucet and Hansgrohe's Croma Green Showerpipe.

"The stable/garage was built with two intersecting gable roof forms," Schaer says, which didn't match up with the inteiror spaces within. "In order to provide a unified, singular main space, we dropped a flat ceiling at the entrance and linked it up with the main gable visible from the street."


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