In a high-tech house, the main links are to humans
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.
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