Low-profile Luxury

A Street of Dreams home tour event offers designers and builders the chance to showcase their work. It also presents them with a short amount of time in which to create stunning projects. Parmenter Homes teamed with Architects Northwest, both based in Woodinville, Wash., and worked closely to create a Street of Dreams project that would set them apart from their peers.

For the past two Seattle Street of Dreams events, in 2003 and 2005, the title of best of show was given to Parmenter Homes. When the 2006 event was announced, design/builders in the Seattle area were gunning for the title that Parmenter Homes has held since 2003. Architects Northwest and Parmenter Homes challenged themselves to design and build a house that stood out from what they’ve created in the past. “The big challenge was topping ourselves,” says Jeffrey DeRoulet, president, Architects Northwest. “We looked at features and styles that haven’t been done because we wanted to build a house that was new, original and spectacular.”

“The Street of Dreams includes six homes, each with 5-acre lots, and this house is located on a private lake,” says Mike Davis, general manager, Parmenter Homes. “We did a lot of brainstorming with Architects Northwest to come up with what we wanted the house to look like.”

This $5.5 million house in Sammamish, Wash., features Northwest Tuscan style with a touch of Italian, Renaissance and Shingle styles. Together, Parmenter Homes and Architects Northwest worked on unique features that complemented the lot on which it sits. The development is called Dodd Ranch at Allen Lake. “We wanted to orient the house with the lake. The lake is too small to put a dock on it but it’s big enough to offer a nice view,” DeRoulet adds. “We created a visual relationship with the lake with internal axis aligned through the house with a view of the water. There are only two rooms that don’t have views of the lake — one bedroom and the formal dining room.”

The house was built as a spec home, but there were specific clients in mind when creating the design. “We were building it for a professional athlete with a family, and someone who enjoys entertaining,” Davis says. “We wanted the house to be warm and not like a hotel.”

The house boasts 11,000 sq. ft. of space, which challenged Parmenter Homes and Architects Northwest to prevent it from having an imposing presence. “We wanted to make a statement with the house but not necessarily have it be ego-driven; rather, it has restrained elegance. We wanted a low-profile roof and to keep the exterior mass down,” DeRoulet says. “The house was going to be big enough without a third story and we wanted to maintain a retreat-type house which is why it sprawls so much.”

To maintain the sprawling retreat-like appeal of this house, it is spread across four separate buildings. “There is a two-car attached garage, two-car detached garage, cabana [and the main house],” Davis says. “The cabana is at the end of the pool and includes a Murphy bed, complete kitchen and shower. The detached garage includes an additional shop. The detached garage is designed for a boat, with doors on both sides so you can drive right though it.”

The pool area was expanded to include a swim channel. “If you’re at a resort, you don’t want to have to get out of the pool to get a drink and watch TV. So, the swim channel is 7 ft. wide by 30 ft. long and takes you to the cabana with benches in the water. The outdoor living area includes a plasma screen that can rotate, a fireplace and sitting area. There is also a sheer-descent water fall at the end of the pool,” Davis says.
The outside of the house features 104 columns with many terraces and pillars. It also features cobblestone in many spaces, including the driveway, which consists of 2,100 sq. ft. of cobblestone, while the pool area and terraces also feature cobblestone, Davis adds.

Choose Your Highlight

Once inside the house, it’s hard not to notice the ceiling treatments. “One of the highlights of this house is the ceiling detail. You get a sore neck walking through it,” Davis says. “There is a groin vault ceiling in the family room, and an 80-ft.-long barrel-vaulted ceiling that carries through the house. There is stained glass in the barrel-vaulted ceiling that is backlit, and also includes natural light.”

The stained glass adds to the experience upon entering the house. “The stained glass is in the entry rotunda. It is designed to show interest and originality in the entry sequence,” DeRoulet adds. “There is an axial element that leads you through the formal foyer but makes you stop and center yourself and look at the space above you.”

Another of this house’s highlights is the office, which in this house is an oval office. “The oval office is the seat of power; the occupant commands, and is important. In the Street of Dreams, we wanted to send that message,” DeRoulet says. “It’s not an original idea but it is effective.”

DeRoulet adds that circular rooms are another way to showcase a builder’s talents. “Circular or oval rooms are unique and are a challenge in craftsmanship. Unless you build the house right, curved rooms won’t turn out correctly. [Curved rooms] are a luxury,” he says.

Inside the oval office is a bookcase that is also a hidden passage to a spiral staircase leading to a third highlight called the man cave. The man cave includes two plasma screens, a 1,500-bottle wine cellar, leather chairs, poker table and a wet bar. “It was designed as a getaway from the executive oval office,” DeRoulet says. “This is an over-the-top masculine retreat. It includes a lot of stone, dark wood and leather.”

The man cave is the alternative to the feminine part of the house. “The life management center is a 1,000-sq.-ft. space between the garage and kitchen. It incorporates the laundry, woman’s office area, powder room, cubbies and benches. There’s also a walk-in closet, two washers and dryers, and an 8-ft. by 12-ft. island with a 5 ft. aisle around the island,” DeRoulet says. “We took all the functions of a house that never had a grandiose space and put them in one place. It took a lot of research but it came together beautifully.”

All bedrooms are suites and include both tubs and showers. There are three child bedrooms, one guest room and a master suite. Connecting two bedrooms is a loft area, with access only through these bedrooms. “To make the house unique, we included hidden rooms throughout it,” Davis adds. “There is another hidden room off of the master closet which contains the exercise area.”

Let There Be Light

When working on a house this size, ensuring enough natural light penetration can become a problem. To combat this dilemma, high windows and ceilings were used. “The ceilings on the bottom floor are 12 ft. high, and 10 ft. high on the top floor,” Davis says.

A clerestory was added to enhance the amount of natural light entering the house. “The house is large so what we did was bring light into its center. It’s over 40 ft. tall so we created a clerestory monitor — an element that pops out of the roof. We could’ve just used skylights but we prevent a potential for leaking by using a clerestory,” DeRoulet says.

Another important feature used throughout the house is the NanaWall systems. A total of five are used in this house — four in the main house and one in the cabana. “The NanaWall doors open up and out of the way,” DeRoulet says. “It integrates the indoor with the outdoor living space into one major area.”

The NanaWall folding-door systems open up to terraces and porches. “These areas are located on the west side of the house and because it rains a lot in Seattle, we covered the terraces and porches. Open trellises provide shade and covered porches offer all-year living,” DeRoulet adds.

Building a house for a Street of Dreams event can be stressful and extremely fast-paced. This project took nine months for construction and ended up showing to 100,000 people within five weeks. It not only won best of show but also most livable.

Architects Northwest and Parmenter Homes have worked together for more than 10 years and have great rapport and respect for each other. Their relationship is one reason why this project was such a success. “We have a large amount of trust with Parmenter. They like to differentiate themselves by design and they don’t have any limitations,” DeRoulet says. “If they like it and think it will separate themselves, they’ll do it.”