West Roy Penthouse Apt

Seattle, Washington
Interior Design
Builder
  • Shinn Construction
Photographer
  • Benjamin Benschneider
Location
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Square Feet
  • 1500
  • Originally built in 1955, this modest, 1,500-square-foot penthouse apartment typified the small, separated living spaces of its era. The design challenge was how to create a home that reflected contemporary taste and the client’s desire for an environment rich in materials and textures. The keys to updating the space were threefold: break down the existing divisions between rooms; emphasize the connection to the adjoining 850-square-foot terrace; and establish an overarching visual harmony for the home through the use of simple, elegant materials.

    To start, the designers at SkB Architects combined the previously separated kitchen, living, and dining areas to create a central, flowing space for the family. The resulting contiguous, shared living area serves as a counterpoint to the otherwise modest living quarters. Access to the south-facing terrace was enhanced through the addition of large, glass sliders that visually and physically merge indoor space with the outdoors—effectively doubling the living space on nice days and affording views to Elliott Bay and Mt. Rainier. An ipe “area rug” defines a cozy, terrace sitting area not far from the double-sided sandstone fireplace. The sliders feature UV-coated glazing to control heat gain.

    The kitchen employs a minimal, albeit materially rich, aesthetic and features dark cabinets and a bold, contrasting travertine island. A sliding wood dining table partially nests underneath the island and can pulled out to seat additional guests for dinner. A portion of the kitchen was pushed back to accommodate a small, butler’s pantry. In the living area, the custom-designed, built-in TV cabinet and book shelves are made from rift cut, dark-stained, white oak. When not in use, the TV can be concealed with sliding, pitted-steel panels. The interiors blend vintage, custom-designed (the coffee table, end tables and dining table were designed by the architects), and contemporary furnishings. Strong textures and forms provide a counterpoint to the simple, neutral bones of the space.

    To lend coherence throughout the apartment, flooring, ceilings, and lighting were made consistent throughout; flooring is twelve-inch-wide Douglas fir planks, while the ceiling is made with six-inch-wide, clear, tongue-and-groove cedar. Existing, structural wood beams were sanded to expose the wood’s natural color. Lighting is integrated into the ceiling plane, helping to create a tidy ceiling while adding a dramatic visual element that was previously lacking. The sandstone fireplace and built-in terrace grill, were converted from wood to gas for ease of use, and for environmental considerations. Energy-efficient Runtal radiant heaters replace the previously inefficient heating system.

    The renovation preserves and enhances the home’s mid-century roots while bringing the design into the 21st century—appropriate given the apartment’s location just a few blocks from the fairgrounds of the 1962 World’s Fair.

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    West Roy Penthouse Apt

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