Mark’s Urban Architect's Loft in Seattle

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Name: Mark
Location: South Lake Union, Seattle, Washington
Size: 680 square feet (plus 150 square foot terrace)
Years lived in: 3 years; Rented

Whether he’s entertaining a group of friends for a home-cooked meal (one specialty is chilaquiles), working on architectural plans at the kitchen table, or relaxing after work with the patio doors open, Mark brings a sense of ease and playfulness to his condo — and there’s always good music playing. Despite having once been in love with crisp lines and modern profiles, he’s now “so over stark modern” and is enjoying having fun with the decor in his centrally located Seattle loft.

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Right in the center of the city, in the rapidly transforming neighborhood of South Lake Union — home to Amazon’s newest campus, various fantastic Tom Douglas restaurants, and the Seattle Trolley — is the Rollin Street Lofts, a modern apartment building with views of the surrounding area and the Space Needle beyond. Mark’s top-floor rental loft is small but beautifully laid out, with a living room nook, an ample and bright kitchen, a huge bathroom, a combined bedroom/office, plus entry and hallway spaces that add quite a bit of storage and a sense of roominess to the whole living arrangement. The 9- to 12-foot-high ceilings don’t hurt either.

Concrete, hardwood, sleek kitchen fixtures, and huge windows looking out at the transforming landscape give the space a modern edge to which Mark, an architect and owner of local bar Pony, has added some color and warmth with the help of his mother, an interior designer. A slate-blue accent wall paired with another olive one form the backdrops for the comfy living room nook, where Mark relaxes on a cozy slate-gray leather couch with homemade pillows (cheekily accesorized with Crown Royal whiskey covers). The kitchen is definitely the heart of the home, with a large, welcoming table and heavy wooden chairs. 

These days, Mark doesn’t stick too firmly to one style, so he calls the overall theme of his decor “urban picker” — he chooses furniture, art, and pieces that he likes and gravitates towards from the many antiques and home-decor stores in Seattle and beyond. Details like grad school building models and a chandelier made from reclaimed metal fencing add some textural interest, and more delicate paintings by a local artist and beautiful, bright vintage maps add some warmth and color. The way Mark has layered personal projects and local finds, all while keeping things streamlined and cleanly decorated, makes for a perfect, livable space for this Seattle architect.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I would characterize my style as "urban picker." I like modern spaces, but they can so easily feel sterile when filled with only modern furniture and art. I gravitate towards found objects and old pieces as a way to make a space my own.

Inspiration: Donald Judd, who was one of the greatest artists of the last century, but who also had a wiser perspective on architecture than most architects. He recognized the paramount importance of function in architecture, reminding architects that "art and architecture are not the same thing." And Vik Muniz, for his ability to create such amazing and beautiful art from garbage and food.

Favorite Element: The hanging light fixture above the dining table is a great piece — rusty hog fence rolled into a 2-foot cylinder. Besides the fact that it's made out of garbage, the best part is that I won it from an art gallery for buying a $25 raffle ticket! It came with light bulbs that did not fit aesthetically with the fixture, so I got some exposed filament Edison-style bulbs.

Biggest Challenge: This unit is a unique floor plan in the building, with a square overall plan rather than the normal long skinny plan, and it's also the smallest unit in the building. The living room area is extremely compact at only 7'9" x 9'5", and it required a long search to find a couch that fit the space exactly right. The space would not work without a perfectly sized couch.

What Friends Say: They can't believe I put so much effort into customizing an apartment that I don't own, but they all love that the big table is the focus of the space and is such a nice place to sit and hang out.

Biggest Embarrassment: My enormous old-school CRT monitor and PC tower that dominates my desk. I am an Apple guy, but I still need that old PC for a few things, so I can't get rid of it!

Proudest DIY: The shelving system in my bedroom area is from an old Smith & Hawken store. When they went out of business, I bought part of the actual store display shelving, which is a rather ingenious steel and wood kit-of-parts, and I reconfigured it and reinstalled it in my space.

Biggest Indulgence: A really nice sound system. I am doing my best to fight back against the proliferation of poor quality sound that the ubiquitous junky iPod docks have subjected us to for the last decade.

Best Advice:  Modern spaces are not that hard to create, but making one that you actually love living in requires that you let go a little and let things get a bit cluttered. Anyone can design a white box — humanizing it is the hard part. So, don't get carried away with making everything modern.

Dream Sources: Any industrial salvage yard!

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Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

  • Benjamin Moore Aura (Matte Finish)

  • Green walls: Fresh Olive

  • Blue walls: Charlotte Slate

HARDWARE

  • Cabinet hardware: Blum
  • 
Door hardware: Schlage
  • 
Plumbing hardware: Elkay, Kohler

FURNITURE & ACCESSORIES

  • David Smith & Co.
  • IKEA
  • 
Solid wood side table is a job site scrap from a timber frame house our firm designed
  • 
Throw pillows I made out of Crown Royal bags

  • White cube shelves are modular furniture prototypes I made for a furniture studio

ARTWORK

  • Paintings by Robin Siegl

  • Vintage 1960s school pull-down maps

  • My own architecture school models

APPLIANCES

  • Bosch

LIGHTING

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Thanks, Mark!

(Images: outhause image workspace)

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