Inside the Floor-To-Ceiling Makeover of a Cozy South Lake Union Condo

Finding the light in an urban Seattle condo.
Furry rugs and soft pillows layer a variety of textures onto the white surfaces of the main living space in this bright and airy condo

This article appears in print in the March 2018 issueClick here to subscribe.

The dramatic transformation of a 2009 South Lake Union condo, from dark and cavernous to bright and open, occurred between the spring and winter of 2016. But the story really began several years earlier and hundreds of miles away in Oakland, California.

“I had seen [Ore Studios’] work in a California Bay Area real estate listing years before moving to Seattle and had bookmarked it for the day I might buy a condo and need a remodel,” says the owner (who wishes to remain anonymous), referring to the Seattle interior design firm she worked with (Ore Studios, Ballard, 1148 NW Leary Way; 206.789.1939). She had been drawn to the pleasant, detailed composition and energy of the interior in that listing and, once settled in Seattle, uncovered it again—and happily discovered that the design firm was based in her new city.

The 891-square-foot condo was originally coated in black, brown and red surfaces with caramelized bamboo floors, beige carpets and dated fixtures. “I wanted to brighten up the entire place and take advantage of the floor-to-ceiling windows,” says the owner, whose living space looks directly out to Lake Union. Her aesthetic goal for the space was akin to a cheerful minimalism, with lots of white surfaces to illuminate it.  


FINE DETAILS: From left, Books and pottery are elegantly displayed in the built-in bookshelves; white marble counters in the kitchen adhere to the color scheme and are a backdrop for colorful nibbles. Photos by Lauren Colton.

Ore Studios’ owner Andy Beers’ design required that the condo be gutted from top to bottom; only the concrete ceiling, doors and door hardware were unchanged. He brought in lots of white finishes and furnishings. Given that palette, the challenge then was how to make the space pop visually. “We relied on changes in texture to make things stand out,” says Beers, noting the nubby West Elm sofa, Room & Board woven baskets and lacquered Thonet Czech chairs from Inform Interiors. 

As is the case with most remodels, this one was not without its trials. “It all looks simple and effortless now, but it was all very planned,” says Beers. With no budget for bringing in heavy items by crane—such as the seamless marble kitchen island top—the crew was at the mercy of the building’s elevators. There were also required special permits, restricted work hours and the dust such a project creates—the last a particular downside for the owner, who opted to live in the condo while it was being redone. “But the end result was worth it,” she says. She particularly loves the built-in shelves, where she can elegantly display her beautiful collections of books and pottery. 

“Everything was detailed within an inch of its life,” jokes Beers about the deceptive simplicity of the end result, pointing out the graceful recessed lighting in an overhead soffit and customized cabinetry with stainless steel hardware. But those subtle details are what make the overall design feel so fluid. As Beers says, “When you’re in it, all you notice is that it feels great.” 

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