• The west wall takes in broad views of Ballard Cut, the waterway for which the house is named.

    Credit: Alex Hayden

    The west wall takes in broad views of Ballard Cut, the waterway for which the house is named.
  • Cooking and serving functions occupy a platform one step up from the dining area, which places the counter at an appropriate height for barstools. A window in the floor offers a glimpse into the wine cellar.

    Credit: alex hayden

    Cooking and serving functions occupy a platform one step up from the dining area, which places the counter at an appropriate height for barstools. A window in the floor offers a glimpse into the wine cellar.
 

The Seattle house called Ballard Cut takes its name from a waterway that connects the city’s Lake Washington to Puget Sound. And while views toward the water—and to the Olympic Peninsula beyond—define the house’s primary orientation, a set of train tracks close to the inland property line firmly reinforce that focus. The program for the kitchen,  project designer Dan Wickline explains, balanced two imperatives: “opening to the view and blocking the sound.”

Sharing its troweled-in-place concrete floor with the east-facing entry foyer, the kitchen bends in an L that lines the south and east walls of the house’s central great room. “We set the kitchen up 6 inches,” Wickline says, “so you have full access to the view, and you’re very connected to the living and dining areas.” The dropped floor allows bar-height seating at the dining room side without a separate, taller counter, he notes. “It’s cleaner that way, and it also gives definition to the two spaces.” High windows above the main counter’s wall cabinets admit light from the south, while dodging views of a neighboring house. Floor-to-ceiling glass lines the west wall, where slide-fold doors create a wide opening to an elevated deck.

A concrete surface forms the counters of the main island and the separate wine bar. “It’s the same color pigment in the floor and counter, but the aggregate is rougher on the floor and finer at the counter,” says Wickline, who took care to avoid overdoing the “waterfall” effect of wrapping the countertops down to meet the floor. “We chose where we did it,” he says. “We didn’t do it everywhere.” Sapele custom cabinetry subtly contrasts with the laminated Douglas fir flooring in the dining and living areas, where a glass panel affords a view into the basement-level wine cellar. “In the evening, with the lights on,” Wickline says, “you get this glow from below.”