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.”
Ballard Cut’s second-floor master suite offers even more dramatic views than those from the living areas below it, and a green roof over the lower volume adds further interest. Project designer Dan Wickline’s primary challenge lay in defining function areas without blocking channels to that view, all while striking the appropriate balance between openness and privacy.
Bathing in the bedroom is a binary decision; there are those who like it and those who emphatically do not. Ballard Cut’s owners are in the former camp, and Wickline obliged by locating a tub at the window wall, where the view angles are widest. Set in a concrete plaster base, and positioned as a hinge point between the bedroom and bathroom, it promotes soaking as a social pursuit. “From the bathroom, it feels like the tub is part of the bathroom, but it’s also open to the bedroom,” Wickline says. “You can access the tub from both spaces.”
The bathroom proper begins simply enough, with a twin-sink lavatory, a walk-in shower, and a toilet compartment, all in a boxlike container. But Wickline’s removal of strategic elements of that box yields a strikingly deconstructed space. The sink wall ends at mid-span, leaving the zebrawood-framed mirror and lavatory cabinet (both supported by hidden cantilevered steel structures) to continue without it, and opening a watery vista toward the west. The shower opens vertically, with a skylight larger than the shower itself. “So when you’re in the shower and you look up,” Wickline says, “you see nothing. It’s just sky."