Pacific Northwest | October 26, 2003Pacific Northwest MagazineOctober 26, home
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getting connected
In a high-tech house, the main links are to humans
The dropped ceiling in the dining room adds intimacy yet still feels spacious as it opens to the adjoining living room. The unique acrylic and metal chandelier is made by Van Teal Lighting. Indirect lighting is used in the recessed ceiling above the table. A computerized system allows all the lighting to be adjusted to set a variety of moods.
If you believe that weaving technology into a home's everyday spaces means living with cold, stainless-steel surfaces furnished with uncomfortable modern seating, think again.

Judith Shulman and Harry Hosey included state-of-the-art technology when they remodeled their Innis Arden home, but the overall goal was to create a place that would foster connections and conversations.

"Over and over again," says Hosey, managing partner at Pacific International Engineering in Edmonds, "the designs we selected were because it had something to do with enhancing interaction and communication" with each other, their family and their friends.

"Harry actually built the house to scale with foam board, and had little models of us walking around to see how we moved through the space," notes Shulman.
Designing a large kitchen and family room to mesh with their lifestyle was important to both Judith Shulman and Harry Hosey. Rather than pick a traditional island with high-stool seating, they chose a solid-surface kitchen table attached to the cooking island. They played with the height to create a place for family dining; to maximize function, it serves as a buffet during their many informal gatherings with friends.
Many of the remodeling ideas began to percolate in 1995, when the couple read "A Pattern Language," a design classic written in 1977 by architectural guru Christopher Alexander. The book defines 253 conventional patterns that give the average homeowner a practical language for planning and designing living spaces.

The book inspired Shulman and Hosey to create a wish list that included ceiling heights that changed from room to room, increased natural lighting (through more windows) and improved layouts of each room to support specific functions.

The new floor plan, articulated with the help of architect Ken Garrison of Ken Garrison Architect/Associates, included rearranging most of the existing space to accomplish their goals. They moved the kitchen from one side of the first floor to the other. The garage was relocated from the basement to street level and made larger to accommodate three cars. An atrium was designed so the couple could graciously greet and bid farewell to their many guests.
Judith Shulman and her daughter, Mara, enjoy lunch and the views on the deck adjacent to the family room. Below the deck is another viewing space that has a built-in fire pit with surround seating.
As the themes and ideas emerged, so did the division of the couple's project responsibilities.

Being an engineer, Hosey was interested in structural issues, the electronic and computer systems and the construction details. "That's who Harry is," says Shulman. "Function is the most important thing."

Shulman, president and owner of Pharos Corp., a real-estate consulting company, took on more of the big-picture thinking, as well as responsibility for the finishes. "Judith would have these big ideas, and then I would spend the next four or five weeks and wrestle with geometry and fit," Hosey explains.

As an example, the kitchen was redesigned three times. "Harry would say 'How many drawers?' and I would say 'Lots.' And, he'd say 'No, no! How many? How wide? How deep?' We had to measure every utensil and determine the space we needed," she explains. "It drove me crazy." But once completed, the beautifully efficient kitchen has a wide variety of storage options in the honey-rubbed SieMatic cabinets, including a large, hidden pantry with a granite work surface and electricity for countertop appliances. A complete computer station was also incorporated.
Shulman and interior designer Karen Ellentuck created a Mediterranean-inspired master bath, including large limestone floor tiles with tumbled onyx insets and green limestone counters. True to each of the couple's responsibilities for the project, Hosey spent hours considering the precise placement of the showerheads while Shulman spent hours on choosing the showerheads.
However, most of the technologies are discreetly located throughout the home. In the entryway, in-floor heating coils are wrapped tight and close, so as guests remove their shoes and walk into the house "they will subconsciously have the feeling of warmth," says Hosey. Even the shower in the master bath has heating coils in the wall that keep the temperature at 78 degrees, while the bedroom is kept at 60 degrees, all to help create a special place of sanctuary.

The computerized lighting can be adjusted for changing seasons, to produce a desired atmosphere or embrace a mood. The security system can be monitored and fine-tuned remotely when they're traveling. There is both fiber-optic wiring, with a hub that extends to seven locations, and wireless connectivity, all to enable high-speed Internet access.

Hosey's attention to engineering detail also included tapping a local expert to draft the designs to modify the challenging ceiling space. Working with truss specialist Jim Osborn, of BMC West in Kent, Hosey created a solution that worked around the property's height restrictions and opened up the 7-foot 6-inch ceiling by changing the trusses, a much-needed improvement from Hosey's 6-foot-6 perspective.
A stamped-concrete path guides visitors to the front door and entry to the solarium. The steel roof was designed and built by Harry Hosey's brother, Bernard, a metal sculptor. The entire roof was moved in one piece from his shop in Twisp.
"When we started talking about the remodel, Harry picked me up and walked me around to give me a view from his perspective," chuckles the 5-foot-2 Shulman. "It's a totally different world. He looks at the tops of refrigerators!"

And, just as Hosey had turned to the experts to be able to execute his ideas with great precision, Shulman turned to interior designer Karen Ellentuck, of Ellentuck Interiors, to help with the finishing touches. "Even if you think you're going to do it yourself," she says, "you need a 'Karen' to really get the most out of it."

Shulman and Ellentuck's collaboration produced a palette of 17 different colors for the house, an elegant use of tile and counter surfaces, and many unique lighting choices. "In terms of the aesthetics of this house, Karen deserves huge credit," says Shulman.

Completed in 2001, the renovation expanded the house to 5,047 square feet, nearly doubling the size of the original home and adding lots of space for all who live there, including their two children, Mara, 15, and Adam, 19, and Hosey's daughter, Shar, 20.

"We're almost three years later now, and it's wonderful to enjoy after all the intensity," says Hosey. "You're always trying for a dream; you're aiming towards this dream, this magical thing. We really do think we have achieved that dream."

Robin Fogel Avni is a free-lance writer specializing in lifestyle issues and trends affected by technology. Her e-mail is Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.

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