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Lakeside Residence - Seattle, Washington - Graham Baba Architects

Originally built as a modest beachfront cabin in the 1960s, and subsequently modified through a series of piecemeal renovations, by the time our client acquired the house its design integrity had long ceased to exist. The forested property, however, was ideally suited to the creation of a quiet refuge with direct connections to nature.

The journey from street to house is conceived as a journey, where work and public life gives way to nature and private reflection. The 60-foot drop from entry drive to water’s edge, was not without challenges. To preserve views of the lake and to mitigate the nearly half-acre property’s steep slope, the upper driveway winding through the forest. Approximately halfway down the site is the carport. The final steps to the 3,440-square-foot house pass through a series of intimate landscapes. A two-story glazed entry feature provides glimpses through the house to the water from the moment one enters the site. Planted roof surfaces help to merge the house with its setting.

Inside, the house was taken back to the studs and completely reworked. “The house previously lacked a visual connection to the lake,” says Brett Baba, design architect, “so we added a third floor and reoriented all the major interior spaces toward the views.” The main floor and formal entry, the middle of the house’s three floors––serves as the public zone of the house. Here, spaces including the galley kitchen and breakfast room, and dining and living, flow one to the other. A small guest room rounds out the main floor. A second floor was added to provide separation for private spaces, including the master suite and kids’ bedrooms. The staircase connecting the floors was conceived as a set of floating wood slabs (fumed white oak) that appear to float within a wood enclosure. The basement supports family-oriented spaces including the family room, exercise room, playroom, and a wine room. “Although the ground floor faces west to water,” notes Terry Hunziker, interior designer, “you don’t see it from the front of the house because of the steep slope. Therefore, the bottom level does not at all ‘read’ like a basement.” Previously closed off from the waterfront, the basement now opens directly to the waterfront, enabling activities to flow from inside to outside.

Materially rich finishes (polished concrete and stone, cerused rift white oak, fumed oak floors, and blackened steel) balance the otherwise crisp and spare detailing found throughout the house. Everything from door pulls to sink faucet levers were meticulously designed, detailed, and fabricated. Stand out features include the staircase with floating wood slabs, custom bead-blasted nickel hardware, an oversized Japanese soaking tub, and sliding leather paneled pocket doors to master bedroom and bathroom. Concealed doors and integrated handrails reinforce the minimal aesthetic without sacrificing rich materiality.

Outside, variously sized, dark-stained cedar siding provides subtle dimension and shadow effects. Cor-Ten siding wraps selected portions of the exterior to articulate the composition and massing. Integrated sunshades and fins on all west-facing windows marry function with aesthetics, adding visual texture while mitigating direct sun exposure.

Graham Baba Architects Team

Brett Baba, design principal

Francesco Borghesi, project team

Noreen Shinohara, project team

Project Team


Graham Baba Architects

Interiors: Terry Hunziker Inc.

Civil Engineer: CPL

Structural Engineer: Carissa Farkas

Geotechnical Engineer:

Geotech Consultants

Landscape Architecture:

Rich Haag and Associates &

Anne James Landscape Architect

Lighting Design: Brian Hood

Contractor: Lockhart Suver

Photography by Kevin Scott


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