Architect Milan Heger Creates a Luxe Loft in Belltown

This petite penthouse is space smart and art rich
By: Shannon O'Leary | Posted April 23, 2012

If existed for hooking up architects and clients, it would surely have matched Dr. Paul Zievers and Milan Heger. (They actually found each other the old-fashioned way: Zievers fell in love with a friend’s house that Heger designed.)

Both are artistically inclined. Zievers, an anesthesiologist at Swedish Hospital, is an ardent collector; Heger is a fine artist (represented by the Patricia Cameron Gallery), as well as an architect. Both enjoy a change of place. Heger, a native Czechoslavakian, has designed homes in Hawaii and Greece and recently launched a secondary firm ( with two partners, and a combined fluency in nine languages, catering to international clients. Zievers has secondary homes on the Oregon Coast and in Walla Walla and France’s Loire Valley, the latter two homes shared with his partner, Cliff Strabel. And both have open design minds. Heger is a multi-tasking creator who, if allowed, loves to design dwellings right down to the rug on the floor; Zievers has offered him a free hand on two city condos.

“He’s a delightful client who was really open to design, excited about incorporating art into design and really comfortable with unusual custom applications,” says Heger. “I create from a total design solution perspective,” he explains, and Zievers’ new 850-square-foot penthouse condo in Belltown got Heger’s full-on remodeling treatment. The architect was met with a roughly outfitted box (basic cabinetry and finishes) left by the building’s developer, as well as with a few design challenges, such as a powder-room toilet set oddly far from the wall. (His design solution is a commode-topping zebrawood cabinet, which also addresses another problem, that of limited storage.) The architect’s over-riding motive was to turn a blank slate, which was half the size of Zievers’ previous condo, into an efficient, artful space.

In addition to opening up a few walls, reframing some soffits and replacing doors and railings with artisan renditions, Heger’s interior output includes inspired lighting choices, a compelling paint palette and the design of some key furnishings. For example, to give the compact kitchen greater appeal and usability, he designed new doors for the upper cabinets and a handsome, handy, movable island/bar, which, with a push, easily can be wheeled elsewhere, such as out of the way when entertaining. A subtle instance of the architect’s flexible design occurs in the hallway just off the entry, where Heger suspended a painting on a barn-door assembly in order to allow for easy roll-away access, yet colorfully cloak an eye-sore electrical box.

Another artful flourish is the shimmering canvas that Heger created for several large artworks, including an alluring, ancient fossil, simply by stripping down the expansive concrete wall next to the loft’s staircase. “It almost acts like a mirror, and gives a new dimension to the unit,” says Heger. “The background of the whole wall being different is like a Chinese landscape.” When it came to the condo’s color scape, “I told Milan very early on that I’m not afraid of color,” says Zievers. Heger obliged with an arresting range of hues, from the brilliant coral utilized downstairs to the relaxing sky blue adorning the bedroom’s ceiling upstairs. “I juxtaposed the concrete wall with bold colors and enhanced the nucleus of the house, which is the kitchen, with a coral wall,” explains Heger. “Essentially, I started with the most intense colors and radiated out.” He adds, “I studied a little bit of the psychology of color when I was in art school, and colors can, and do, affect us subliminally. I think I can bring balance and happiness to people with color.”

It’s all part and parcel of the architect’s design philosophy. “Total design solutions include everything,” says Heger. “With every project, I am creating a new context. If we create a new context in a design, then everything comes together like beautiful pieces of a puzzle.”

Penthouse puzzle, solved.




Home of the Month: Architect: Milan Heger, AIA, Heger Architects, South Lake Union, 234 Dexter Ave. N; 206.898.6609;; General contractor: A&D Construction, Seattle; 206.949.0549. Appliances: Fisher-Paykel two-drawer dishwasher, Albert Lee, Interbay, 1476 Elliott Ave. W; 206.282.2110; Concrete wall grinding: Daniel Policiuc, A&D Construction. Painting: Adi Painting, Bothell; 206.999.1212. Master bath cabinets:  Robern, Keller Supply Company, Interbay, 3209 17th Ave. W; 206.270.4724; Red light tower: Elisabeth Hertzfeld, Remake Design, Paris. Monorail lights: Tech Lighting, Lighting Supply, Denny Regrade, 2729 Second Ave.; 206.441.5075; Kitchen chandelier: Catellani & Smith, Kitchen cabinetry/island fabrication: David Fuqua Fine Furniture, Seattle; 206.841.1109; Bar stools: Stewart Wurtz Furniture, Fremont, 3410 Woodland Park Ave. N; 206.283.2586; Custom rug/furniture (slipper chairs, stacked chest, kitchen bar, powder-room cabinet/vanity): Milan Heger. Rug fabrication: Stacy Logan, Pioneer Square, 409 First Ave. S; 206.937.3333; Metal fabrication (entry console): Doug Frutos, Seattle; 206.941.5551. Cubes: Chilewich, Design Within Reach, Belltown, 1918 First Ave. S; 206.443.9900; Sofa: Flexform Magister, Inform Interiors, South Lake Union, 2032 Eighth Ave.; 206.622.1608; Expandable table: Calligaris, Alchemy Collections, Belltown, 2029 Second Ave.; 206.448.3309; Deck furniture: Deneb tables/bench, Design Within Reach. Art resourcing: Patricia Cameron Gallery, South Lake Union, 234 Dexter Ave. N; 206.909.9096;