When all attempts to redesign an existing, large four-story 1910 home on a narrow, steep lot on the shores of Lake Washington became more costly than designing a new contemporary home with terraced gardens leading to the lakeside setting, architect Paul Moon of Paul Moon Design was the perfect fit for the job. The homeowners, who had lived in the neighborhood for 18 years, chose Moon after seeing his work on a neighbor’s home. “Paul was so easy to talk to,” says the homeowner, “we liked him instantly.” Their only proviso was to create something unpretentious, quiet, and comfortable. Moon, who noted that the original home failed to create spaces that related to the water, began his design with the roofline inspired by the late architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen, adding a totally modern twist. “To create a clean, bright, uniquely modern roof,” says Moon, “I chose a Florida concrete roof tile then tied it to a clean-lined stucco body. Siding would have been too busy and taken away from the strong form.” Thin, near-commercial profiled black aluminum clad windows and doors with wood interiors continue the unique twist. “We love the nice, big heavy roof Paul created for us,” says the homeowner. “It looks so good alongside the adjoining stately houses.”

Although the 2-storied front of the house is located several feet below sidewalk level just as the previous home was to avoid any site problems, Moon creates drama using a curtain wall of windows. “A floating staircase moving like an escalator to upstairs glows at night like a lantern through the windows,” says Moon, who grounds the white walls with an oak rustic grade wood flooring reiterated in the staircase’s open wood treads. In the full 3-storied back, a series of indoor/outdoor spaces overlook Lake Washington across Moon’s own terraced landscape design. Bender’s team was given the choice of either bringing in materials on barges or building from the water up. They chose the latter, beginning with the grading of the former perilously steep lawn into the series of terraced outdoor rooms for which Moon found bluestone paving rather than use concrete. The homeowners discovered the vertical stone used on the staircase walls at K2 Stone, a Seattle company, that sourced it from Tolfino, British Columbia, which matched the bluestone perfectly. “Paul,” says Steve Bender, “is one of the few architects who has a total vision of what the landscape architecture will be.” Moon attributes this to a childhood surrounded by unique plants that his Colombian-born mother tried to keep alive. “I was a gardener first,” he says, “and as my projects got bigger, I didn’t want anyone else doing the landscape design.”

Moon’s insistence on quality control, which creates a certain type of collaborative process with contractors delights Bender Wasenmiller’s team. “Paul designs very clean homes without a lot of millwork to hide details,” says Bender. “It’s subtle, less forgiving, and tougher to execute. Nevertheless, our team admires him because he puts time into the initial design and specifications and although things change a bit during construction, we know early on what we are being asked to do.”

The homeowners discovered how much they love entertaining in their new home, walking the garden together or having coffee on the deck. “We love our house,” says the homeowner. “My husband uses the Hestan BBQ grill twice a week. From the outdoor rooms, we love watching the UW crew or Dragon Boats rolling by,” says the homeowner. “It’s so beautiful, I can’t believe it.”

During a recent site visit marking the year anniversary of completion, Bender, and his Superintendent Mike Benson who worked tirelessly on the project, encountered a neighbor strolling by. He thanked them for always graciously caring about the neighborhood during construction, when storage space for materials was at a premium and they kindly reduced their job trailer to half its normal size. “The best part,” says Bender, “was that the neighbor said this house looks like it has always been here, which is a testament to Paul’s architectural design.”

“Paul,” adds the homeowner, “was wonderful to work with. He had a lot of great ideas to make the home relaxed, quiet, comfortable, and uniquely ours.”


Bender Wasenmiller Custom Builders

Paul Moon Design

K2 Stone

Benjamin Moore