A welcome change
With French and Eastern inspiration, a renovation is realized
"When I was younger I was not very good at building," she confesses. "My sisters and I made this doll house, and I was in charge of one room. My room was a total disaster, and all the furniture was crooked. So I never envisioned that I would ever do anything with design."
But when Maria and her husband, Nicolas, went in search of a house they could make a home, they had one very specific requirement in mind from the beginning.
Nicolas acknowledges that Maria needed to prove to herself she could do it. The result is a 2,000-square-foot renovation that is a creative expression far from the lopsided room of her childhood inventions. The gauzy white drapes throughout the house frame warm, comfortable rooms touched with Maria's international style and accented with modern sensibilities. The extensive remodel, which included adding a second floor to capture the views of downtown Seattle, has been transformed into a welcoming home for the couple and their newest addition, son Julian.
To add shape and substance to the dream, Maria worked with architectural designer Frank Dill, whom she had met several years ago while exploring another project. "She was much more involved than most clients tend to be," says Dill, who recently relocated to Boston. "She demonstrated an unusual level of interest in the whole process, and it worked out very well."
"It was a real multimedia effort," Dill notes. "She shot some videos of houses and projects she liked, she took tons of digital photos, and she had a portfolio of clippings from magazines. She had a huge scrapbook of ideas."
To solidify the approach, Maria and Dill went around to retail stores and took a few more photographs. They also asked architect Henry Lo, of HhLodesign, during the initial design phase to create three-dimensional renderings of the proposed structure. Dovetail Inc. acted as general contractor for the project and was responsible for creating the unique detailed woodworking that Dill had envisioned for the house.
But Nicolas did weigh in on one feature that was very important to him: the bath in the upstairs master suite. "I love taking baths, and I wanted a big bathtub. And that was the starting point for the bathroom." It has since become one of his favorite rooms, along with his study upstairs.
The style of the interiors is a multicultural mix of international influences no surprise since it is part of their personal histories as well as their work lives. Nicolas is from France, Maria moved to the Seattle area from the Philippines when she was 2. They met five years ago while working for Bowne Global Solutions, a company that provides translation, localization, technical writing and interpretation services worldwide.
Their nature-inspired rooms are accented with furniture pieces that have a Zen-like quality. One designer who influenced Maria's "eye" is Jacqueline Morabito, from the south of France. "I love the simplicity of her furniture line, and she tends to use natural objects in her decor to add texture and form to soften the simple lines of her furnishings." The side tables in the living room are from Africa, and the lamps scattered throughout the house are from French designer Christian Liaigre, who combines French tradition with an Eastern inspiration.
"Sitting here, I don't think any of the furniture came from me," Nicolas observes as he scans the living room. "She got rid of all my furniture. I had to capitulate. There was no way I was going to keep my old couch."
"But," he adds with a smile, "I guess I do have good taste. I chose her."
Robin Fogel Avni is a free-lance writer specializing in lifestyle issues and trends affected by technology. Her e-mail is email@example.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.
Home delivery | Contact us | Search archive | Site map | Low-graphic
NWclassifieds | NWsource | Advertising info | The Seattle Times Company
Back to top