From the moment you set foot in this modern Union Bay home created by architects Stuart Silk and Amanda Cavassa, partners of Silk Cavassa Marchetti Architecture & Interiors, you are struck by the design and engineering feat of its central staircase. “Stunning are the sleek, dramatic dark wood railings and stone steps that rise like a solid ribbon ascending through the floors,” says Silk. What began as something with asymmetrical curves, adds Cavassa, quickly became an engineering challenge. Originally conceived as freestanding, contractor Klaus Toth found a less costly way without diminishing the design to attach it to the wall.

“We envisioned the house as an orthogonal arrangement of volumes and columns,” explains Cavassa. The overriding request from the homeowners, however, was their desire for a 2-story glass great room that would open to views of both Mt. Rainer and the Olympic Mountains. All this while simultaneously accommodating up to 50 guests and answering the needs of a family of five with three very rambunctious children. Clearly, the architects succeeded, since the views are spectacular, parties abound, and Nerf gun pellets are occasionally found lodged along the 2nd story windowsill of the 30-foot-wide glass wall whose two electric doors open at the push of a button.

“That success, of course,” adds Silk, “has a great deal to do with really good clients who were very engaged throughout the process, as well as an excellent contractor, who has the capability to build such tight details that are exacting and difficult to do well.”

Interior designer Danielle Krieg of Studio AM, worked closely with Cavassa to add her own special sauce. “We collaborated well together,” says Krieg, who also did the architectural finishes, decorative lighting, and plumbing fixtures, “choosing warm materials, not too contrasting, so as not to distract from the spectacular view.” Fabrics and furnishings are kid friendly, while the great room’s area rug echo colors found in the exterior. Likewise, Toth childproofed the bottoms of the great room’s delicate wood columns with blackened steel to preserve their integrity.

The steel-framed home boasts sleekly designed kitchen cabinets that repeat the same wood found in the spectacular staircase.

“Alongside the informal kitchen dining area,” says Krieg, “is a workspace that is tucked behind a set of white oak kitchen pocket doors, that can be closed when not in use. A TV sectional next to the eating nook space captures the amazing view.”

Always mindful of the tightknit neighborhood, Cavassa and Silk placed the primary suite on the upper floor, wrapping it in wood paneling, warmed by a Montigo fireplace topped with marble, echoing the central fireplace’s stunning but simple compositional design.

With the great room windows monopolizing the water view, the architects created a unique primary bath lit by a towering ocular window above a curved radius wall trimmed in rows of half-inch Carrara marble tiles placed individually one-by-one. “We’re a builder who likes challenges,” admits Toth, who began the project with superintendent Rick Werden by excavating the hillside and drilling for a geothermal system that heats the house and pool year-round.

Indoor and outdoor entertaining on the lower level includes a movie theatre, large game room for the children, and a second kitchen opening onto the pool that leads to the water’s edge and a freshly refurbished boathouse. “The home has an unusual design, with a lot of refinement and nuance,” says Silk, who worked alongside Cavassa who had the lead. “Happily, it all went together terrifically.”


Silk Cavassa Marchetti Architecture & Interiors

Studio AM Architecture & Interiors

Toth Construction

Land Morphology

Northwest Custom Interiors

Eurocraft Hardwood Floors, LLC

Terris Draheim Outdoor

Mutual Materials 

Shoptalk - Stuart Silk, Amanda Cavassa and David Marchetti

Stuart Silk, founding partner; Amanda Cavassa, partner & David Marchetti, partner Silk Cavassa Marchetti Architecture & Interiors,

How would you describe your relationship with architecture? How has it changed over your career?

Marchetti: My relationship with architecture has matured over time, in the sense that we’re always learning to better respond to both the client vision as well as the microclimate of a property - whether that is a city block, waterfront, or mountains. We don’t dictate a set design style to clients, but rather we strive to make the best home for that individual client on that individual property.

Tell us about the evolution from Stuart Silk to Silk Cavassa Marchetti, how does this improve offerings for your clients?

Cavassa: We work together to create beautiful, functional, and timeless spaces. By collaborating on design and dividing management tasks based on our strengths, we can focus on delivering the exceptional work that our clients have come to expect from us. Our team is strengthened by the collective experiences and wisdom of three equal partners, which has made our firm stronger than ever before.

You’ve worked on contemporary and traditional builds, as well as historic restoration. What speaks to you about these different projects?

Silk: I have always had a passion for both modern and traditional architecture. At graduate school, I was trained as a modernist, but I grew up on the East Coast surrounded by iconic architecture from the past. From an early age, through my mother, I was exposed to her passion for art history and architecture. It greatly influenced me. I see myself in one hat looking to the future to solve problems in new and innovative ways and the other hat looking at the past and asking myself how a deceased architect would have approached a new home rooted in history.

What does building design and interior design collaboration look like for your team?

Cavassa: There’s something wonderful about beginning with a client standing on a property, imagining all the possibilities, and then proceeding with the design, construction, and furnishings until we create a finished home that’s ready to move in. Being involved in all aspects of the project, from concrete to fabrics, is incredibly satisfying. This approach lends itself to a highly personal, comprehensive, and efficient process and design.

How did shifting to an employee-owned firm shape the firm’s approach?

Marchetti: We try to foster an environment where everyone feels a sense of ownership toward the work and the office. Together, we work toward achieving our shared goals and values. As designers, we believe in continuous growth and learning, recognizing that each person in our team contributes to the success and growth of our firm.

What is a design rule you use again and again?

Silk: Have an open mind, never assume anything, and approach each project like it’s the last one you’ll ever work on.

Tell us a bit about your approach to design and what has shaped your vision.

Marchetti: Partnering with the client and using their input as the rudder, we try to reach inward to distill a vision that is both unique to that project and universal in its sense of timelessness and harmony within itself and its surrounding environment.

Favorite way to spend a weekend in the Northwest?

Cavassa: I love to get outside rain or shine and explore, get out on a boat, walk a trail or hike.