What began as a simple refresh of an Issaquah family’s new home quickly evolved into a complete remodel and substantial relayout to create a clean and modern retreat. The clients, a couple who had moved to the Seattle area in 2005 from Edmonton, Alberta, initially engaged locally based NB Design Group for their first residence in the area, prior to their having any children. Then Meagan and Jamie Brunner went back to NB Design Group in 2013 when they moved to the Issaquah highlands with their kids. And for this third project, a home located at the base of Squak Mountain, “at first we simply wanted to update it,” Meagan explains. “It started with paint and snowballed from there. As soon as we started thinking about changing one thing, it eventually led to a gut job.”

NB Design Group—established in 1988 by Nancy Burfiend and now with eight employees and a focus on high-end residential design—welcomed the expanded scope, especially considering the firm’s well-established relationship with the clients. “They are very great and soulful people,” Burfiend explains. “They are one of those clients that comes along, and there is something about their personalities that is beautiful.”

The couple, both entrepreneurs, purchased their home to get away from the city and open their three children up to nature. “We wanted to have an option to build and expand on our land depending on our kids interests and passions,” says Meagan of the tree-filled 5.6 acre property. It backs right onto Issaquah Creek, and active salmon run, and affords the family views of the famous paragliders from nearby Poo Poo Point who sail over their yard. Formerly an equestrian property, it even still has a garage across from the house with stables attached, and an old barn the family now uses as recreational space.

The scope began to become apparent when NB Design did its initial walkthrough noticing approximately 10 different types of flooring, and then progressed to a desire to redo the kitchen, add a bathroom, and so on, explains project designer Colleen Hart. “There were a fair amount of moving walls: We took from the existing gym and gave their daughter a bathroom and closet, and reworked the master bath and closet to make it more functional.” Ultimately, the changes were vital to improving the overall flow, something that was “so important for an active family,” Burfiend points out.

The transformation begins at the entry, a double-height space where clerestory windows bring in light and provide an airier feel compared to the coziness of the rest of the home. A large piece from Seattle artist and photographer Robin Layton graces one wall. “We introduced the clients to Robin and they got to take a private tour of her home and her space,” says Hart. “They saw that piece and really fell in love—it spoke to them.” Even with the artwork, there is a soothing quality that pervades, creating a sense of zen, which is a word the clients themselves often use to signify the importance of maintaining their relaxed vibe.

And while a calm feeling was paramount, designers also had to contend with the fact that the Brunners are a busy family, with three children and two dogs. A corner banquette in the kitchen, where the kids often do their homework and craft projects, for example, is done in indoor-outdoor fabric for durability. “From the beginning, the client said that nothing should be too precious. They didn’t want to tell the kids not to touch things or enjoy living in the space,” Hart says. Quartz countertops were also selected for their hardiness, and complement the sleek, vertical lines of the drawers for a clean look. But the “showstopper,” Hart points out, is the calacatta marble backsplash from Stone Source. “You see the kitchen from all the way back in the living room, and it’s a gorgeous visual.”

Designers also used indoor-outdoor fabric on the large sectional that fills one corner of the formal, yet accessible, living room. The A. Rudin sofa itself was a holdover from the Brunner’s previous home (as were several other pieces, including dining table and benches and some lighting fixtures), with an additional section added to perfectly fit the space. Here, doors were replaced with picture windows to create more intimacy while maintaining a connection to the outdoors. Built-in casework (a consistent language throughout, as lots of storage helps the family keep a clutter-free home) divides the living and dining areas. And an accent wall adjacent to the casework is made from the same Calacatta found in the kitchen. “We had some left from the slab,” Burfiend says. “It’s really very striking and helps pull two rooms together.”

In the master bedroom, a large bed from Restoration Hardware is a focal point, purchased before NB Design Group was involved in the project but which works seamlessly in the space. A casework wall hides the TV and also functions as a divider, housing a secret door that leads to the master bath. A seating nook with an Eames lounge chair and built-in daybed offers a private spot for the entrepreneurs to do a bit of work or take a call. But the room’s highlight may well be the private garden (created by landscape architecture firm Land Morphology) that is separated from the rest of the garden by an Ipe fence, and features a small firepit and two-person hot tub—an escape for busy parents.

The new bathroom floorplan made way for a relocated steam shower and freestanding tub, and a suspended vanity reintroduces the Calacatta marble from the kitchen and living room. The majority of the room is done in easily cleanable porcelain tile, and, with the flip of a switch, the window can be fogged for privacy or cleared for a view to the outdoors.

Naturally, such a spectacular setting called for an equally impressive outdoor patio. “The design is modern with a hint of an Asian influence and, most importantly, very rectilinear,” says Land Morphology principal and owner Richard Hartlage. Precast concrete pavers in light and medium gray create a platform for the freestanding furniture brought over from the previous residence, with replaced cushions in a slightly darker hue to better handle the weather. “With such a fun family, everything needs to have a little whimsy to it,” Hart adds. Thus the open lawn for play and a putting green were created by Hartlege and his team, and hanging chairs swing from the yard’s massive and striking Honey Locust tree.

“Our home and the nature surrounding us feels seamless,” Meagan says. “We love our outdoor space and with the months of rain we get here, we were able to maintain the feeling of still being a part of the outdoors. The simplicity of our interior brings the nature that surrounds us inside—our home feels alive.”

“They’re such a wonderful family and wonderful clients to work with,” Hart adds. “They have incredible taste and such a good eye. It was a terrific experience working with them in a cooperative process.”


NB Design Group

Land Morphology

Nussbaum Group

Kitchen Appliances: Miele; Plumbing Fixtures: Kohler, Hansgrohe