Pacific Northwest Oasis

Pacific Northwest Oasis

Renovation Project  |  Mercer Island, Washington
Renovated with a layered, open floorplan, this home serves as a peaceful oasis offering tranquil views of an active lake. Kolbe’s VistaLuxe WD LINE floor-to-ceiling windows and doors utilize high-performance glass to enhance energy efficiency and invite more light into the home.

A lakeside retreat outside of Seattle, this contemporary multi-tiered home was among the first built in its neighborhood on Mercer Island in the 1970s. Steps from the shore, the home offers some of the best views of Lake Washington. The new owners sought to modernize the windows and interiors for a more open, expansive experience flowing within and beyond the layered exterior structure into the natural surroundings.
Studio AM Architecture & Interiors’ design professionals and ESMB Inc.’s building team already were familiar with the property from its previous owners, and well prepared to provide their expertise. “The owners really liked the contemporary design, its proximity to the water and the views onto the lake,” says Michael Troyer, principal and founder of Studio AM. “When you look out from the windows, it feels like you could be floating right on the water.”
Danielle Krieg, Studio AM’s director of interior design, agrees, “It’s an active lake, but inside, it’s a peaceful oasis with incredible views. It’s an amazing piece of property and one-of-a-kind home to be sitting so close to the water. It’s a place of calm and relaxation for the homeowners in a peaceful setting.”


Approaching from the lake, the house would appear to be two stories. From the street, it appears that the house has seven levels. Walking down a set of stairs, you enter the enclosed courtyard to find the internal garden and artwork including the totems sculpted by Steven Jensen. “The home office enjoys the best views of the tranquil garden,” declares Krieg. “Every room has an amazing view of the water or of the interior courtyard.” 
Immersive Views, Improved Connection

“The homeowners wanted expansive views from every room,” says Troyer. “The home’s 1970’s window technology was all single-pane glass and had many divisions. The home’s interior was similarly compartmentalized. We opened up the floorplan to allow sightlines into different spaces and out from the house. The openings offer an improved connection within the home and with its surrounding natural setting.”
He describes: “The kitchen previously was self-contained and separated from the family room and dining room. We connected three spaces to work as one, creating a kitchen nook, family room and kitchen that flow into one another. A former unused space adjacent to the living room was converted into an entertaining area with a custom bar. All have views onto the lake.”


“The minimal frames of Kolbe’s VistaLuxe WD LINE strongly appeal to the homeowners. These views are exactly why the owners bought the house,” compliments Troyer. “The butt-glazed corner windows were a specific requirement. Rather than the previous corner unit and three or five individual units between them, we essentially have a single span from corner window to corner window.”

It’s an active lake, but inside, it’s a peaceful oasis with incredible views.

Windows were added to the main kitchen, elevating its indoor-outdoor connection and bringing light into the open floorplan. Extending the boundary of the home’s living and entertaining space, a 9-foot-tall multi-slide door opens onto a deck for panoramic views of Lake Washington. Across the lake, Seward Park has been protected as undeveloped land, retaining its picturesque forest.”


Expansive, Effective and Efficient

“ESMB has a great relationship with Studio AM,” praises Ali Serra, ESMB’s project manager. “Working with their team is a breath of fresh air as we both appreciate a communicative and collaborative environment. Their vision and input on this project provided for clear direction on the final aesthetic, which we worked together to successfully achieve.”
“There was quite a bit of difference from the new VistaLuxe product,” observes Serra. “The old units were single-pane, wood-framed, built-in-place units. The real challenge stemmed from the fact the rough openings as originally built were not plumb or necessarily square, which forced a rebuild of almost every opening to allow for the seamless install of the VistaLuxe units, which were perfectly square.”


Serra elaborates, “There were also units in which we combined the panes to create one large window; specifically, the bar and kitchen windows allow for an uninterrupted view of the lake and park. The hallway window, which overlooks the atrium, was so large it required scaffolding and the use of a crane.”
Working closely with Kolbe Gallery® Seattle, the massive windows and doors were lifted into position and set in place by an experienced field installation team. Serra also emphasizes, “There were no additional openings added, and 95% of all openings were modified – both structurally and from a waterproofing perspective.”
Along with being plumb, square, level and weathertight, the new Kolbe® windows and doors also needed to meet thermal performance requirements to comply with energy codes. “Washington state has some of the more restrictive energy codes in the country. We worked with Kolbe to get to an average U-value of 0.28, meeting the thermal performance and energy requirements,” says Troyer. “With a combination of dual- and triple-pane units, we were able to achieve the performance even with the very large window sizes.”


“He explains, “On the west side facing the lake, the sun really beats into the house, so we kept the glass a darker tint to manage solar heat gain. We used a Low-E clear glass throughout the rest of the house. Kolbe’s windows’ energy-efficiency is well above what the single-glazed window technology of the 1970s could deliver. This improves the efficiency of the whole home and also saves the homeowner a lot on their utility bills.”
Krieg interjects, “The high-performance glass and windows also help with the length of life of the hardwood floors, furnishings and artwork inside.”
Challenging Construction, Remarkable Results

The homeowners opted for a phased construction schedule that allowed them to move in as soon as possible to enjoy their summer at the lake. Renovation started with the interior and moved outward. The majority of renovation work took place during the coldest, wettest months.
“At every phase, we would discuss progress, expectations and a clear understanding of schedule,” noted Serra. “We demolished the old windows, during the rainiest November on record for the Seattle area. This was a challenge as we had to protect every opening and ensure there was no damage to the completely finished interior.” Adding to this challenge, he noted the siding and roof also were retrofitted at the same time.

The high-performance glass and windows also help with the length of life of the hardwood floors, furnishings and artwork inside.

Old, cupped wood trim was replaced with fresh horizontal cedar boards that accentuate the home’s linear structure. Thinner profiles were selected for the soffits. Stucco and metal panels enliven the façade. The panels were finished to match the Dark Bronze anodized exterior window frames.
Providing continuity inside and out, most of the windows’ interior wood frames and trim were also painted to a matching color. The warmth and texture of wood offers a soothing, tactile quality and can be repainted to accommodate new decorating ideas.”

“Originally, the cedar siding had been installed on both the exterior and selected interior walls,” remembers Krieg. “We preserved some of the existing cedar siding as a decorative accent on the living room wall. In spite of its windows, the previous home was quite dark on the inside. Kolbe’s windows did an amazing job at bringing in the light. We also edited the darker materials and replaced them with surfaces that reflect the light.”


“There’s so much going on when you look out the windows, we wanted that to be the focus,” she adds. “The interior is based on muted tones. The homeowner enjoys pops of color. Bold choices, like tangerine and bright blue, were used for the furniture. We also added textures throughout the interior.” As examples, she highlights that the main bedroom features new, textural grass cloth wall coverings and pebbled stone tile on the shower floor.
Serra happily adds, “The feedback we’ve received is all positive. The window replacement transformed their legacy home, providing for an even cleaner aesthetic than was expected and increasing the efficiency of the home.”

“There’s not a bad view in the house,” concludes Troyer. “We pride ourselves on the working relationships we have with our clients. We enjoyed the interactions we had with the homeowners and knowing they are happy with their home.”

The ultimate sign of the homeowners’ satisfaction is the fact they have become repeat customers. They currently are working with Studio AM on renovating their summer home in Scottsdale and office in Seattle.