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  • Writer's pictureCheryl McIntosh

The Indianola Residence: A Transformation

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

A transformation inspired by the owner’s love of modern architecture, art and color (and the adjacent sand, rock, water and the northwest landscape), the Indianola House sought to bring the soul of a home to a colorless muted box while creating a gallery at the same time. The original house was a drab 1990’s-era box with no personality or presence sited on a beautiful, secluded bay, facing water and island views, northwest of the City of Seattle. The existing mono-colored stucco-clad exterior and pyramidal glass-block openings had led the neighborhood to dub the structure, unflatteringly, “The Miami Vice House”.

Rhodes Architecture’s Residential Architects careful use of natural light, rich, collaged finishes and ability to open the house to gardens, beach, and outdoor gathering was critical to the design. The house soon became “The Gallery”.

The Indianola House Before Renovation (before photo)

The original home’s grey stucco exterior made the house seem both large and featureless; the introduction of no-maintenance exterior materials that collage and complement each other was a goal of the homeowner and the Seattle Architects who teamed up for this residential design. The bloated scale of the house cried out for the establishment and definition of the parts of the structure, a breaking down of the home’s form and its apparent bland size.

Living, sleeping, and bathing areas that started as staid spaces needed opening to the natural environment with additions of large doors, folding glass walls and useable balconies were crucial to each space having a dialogue with the outdoors.

The owner’s extensive art collection was highlighted and became the focus of interior places, well-lit naturally and through a new lighting system. Energy use and sustainable systems were a key component of the design which used high-efficacy lighting, better cladding on a rain-screen system, high-efficiency doors and windows, new insulation and weather barriers, and which added a photovoltaic-generated electrical system. The contemporary design sought to integrate all of these systems, materials, and finishes into a seamless whole that lent interest and drama to a residence which was previously lusterless.

How radically this house was transformed is evident in the exteriors, gardens and the natural spaces the house now opens to, as well as the gallery-like interiors. This home is a stunning testament to what is possible “before-and-after” when remade by Rhodes Architecture + Light.

The clients are an older couple with long professional and political careers, a love of art and a clear desire to connect with the Northwest environment and enliven their daily lives with spaces full of color and natural light.

Rhodes Architecture + Light was hired in 2019 to add new exteriors and interiors, natural light, larger openings to beach and bay, seismic and foundation upgrades to the home, and to infuse life into the house through the re-use of existing space and varied materials, color, textures, and lighting. The only actual change to the exterior “shell” of the house was the introduction of a low “gull-wing” roof with wood soffits above the central atrium space, to add drama and bring natural light into the entry gallery space. Interior spaces, including bedrooms and bathrooms, were re-planned and opened to each other, to greater natural light, to roof decks, and to the incredible views and sea-side environment.

The Builder, Fairbank Construction Company of Bainbridge Island, Washington, met the challenge of the design, first completely deconstructing the finishes inside and out, then precisely interlocking new claddings, windows and doors, cabinetry, finishes and a new gull-wing central roof in a beautiful transformation. The construction was total, thorough, and very detailed, resulting a house that, far from seeming a “remodeling”, is far more present and fitting to the owner’s lives and the natural environment than the house we started with.


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