Seattle Culture

Turning the Other Peak at Suncadia

SUNCADIA VACATION HOME REFLECTS FAMILY’S OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

By Sean Meyers March 23, 2023

outdoor gas fire pits

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of Seattle magazine.

Interrupting their travels to build a vacation home from scratch was the last thing on the minds of Sherri and Ali Anissipour in 2019 when they went on an anniversary holiday to Suncadia resort, located about 90 minutes east of their Seattle home. “We wanted to travel the world,” Sherri says, “not go to the same place over and over again.”

Suncadia was founded in 1995 on the dry side of the Cascades near Roslyn, the filming location for popular TV show Northern Exposure. Topography surrounding the 6,400-acre estate ranges from high alpine forests to desert sagebrush. The multiuse property is the brainchild of Bill Peare, a former Seattle cop turned dice-slinging mega developer. Suncadia was one of his better bets, and a resort was constructed in 2003.

Recreational clickbait is as abundant as the sunshine, including skiing, ice skating, golf, and 40 miles of hiking trails. Suncadia’s stunning views of the Cascade mountain range, four-season climate, kid-friendly vibe, and outdoor opportunities set the hook.

“It was also just a short drive from home, which any parent can appreciate,” Ali says, adding that the family spends most weekends there hosting their large, extended family and hiking nearby.

Mountains hold special significance for the Anissipour family, and they wanted the new build to reflect that passion. Why not design a theme home where each bedroom reflects one of their iconic global hiking and climbing adventures focusing on natural elements, vintage pieces, and the outdoors? Call it Seven Summits.

An intriguing concept, but one that in the wrong hands could devolve into Poconos summer lodge tacky. For the delicate task, they turned to Jessica Nelson Design, a firm specializing in blending old with new, a skill it had previously demonstrated at the Anissipour’s 1920 Tudor in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood.

Image of the living room with a fireplace.

Four indoor fireplaces create a warm and welcoming feel.

Photography by Carina Skrobecki

Nelson’s team got involved at the architectural level, providing input on the floor plan and developing an overall continuity that emphasized a light, family-friendly touch. “At the end of a long day, it should feel like a hug when you walk inside your home,” says Nelson, adding that she’s living the dream since she’s had since the age of 3. “My mother would pick me up from elementary school and we would pick up a bucket of paint and rush to complete a room before my dad got home, to surprise him.”

Rearranging furniture was another beloved family pastime, an exercise that cured Nelson of any fear of interior base jumping. “That’s a big part of my job, getting people to trust me. They’re often very scared of change.”

Seven Summits was unique. It was the first home Nelson had designed with a consistent theme throughout. She quickly recognized she had an opportunity to tell a “really cool story about a family that is very active and adventurous.”

Sherri is a retired operating-room nurse and now a full-time mom. Ali is a spinal and orthopedic surgeon in Everett. Their two rambunctious and highly ambulatory boys are ages 5 and 6.

The couple has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, got caught in a blizzard on Mount Rainier, scaled Denali (also known as Mount McKinley, its former name), hiked four days around Machu Picchu, explored the Scottish Highlands, surveyed Patagonia, and toured New Zealand.

 

All are represented in Seven Summits. Each themed bedroom is introduced with an unobtrusive brass plate (Etsy) and includes framed photography shot on location by the homeowners. The custom front door (Old-World Door) announces that contemporary blended with timeless elegance is the guiding design principle.

A seven-point mounted elk head, harvested by Ali’s father in Idaho, serves as regal sentry in the entryway. Each powder room has a custom vanity. Soapstone, blue stone (Simply Rocks), marble, and unlaquered brass plumbing fixtures abound. The staircase was manually distressed, and the lumberyard created “j20,” a custom stain for tongue-in-groove, knotty alder ceilings.

An authentic African stool, mudcloth, and wall hanging accent the Kilimanjaro room. The Rainier is the master bedroom and features glossy picture books and a Rainier-scented candle.

Wee visitors are tucked into bunk beds in the Patagonia, sumptuously lined with alpaca and other warm fuzzies.

From left: The kitchen, exterior and bedroom are all meant to convey the family’s heightened sense of outdoor adventure.

From left: The kitchen, exterior and bedroom are all meant to convey the family’s heightened sense of outdoor adventure.

Photography by Carina Skrobecki

 

Seven Summits is hard-wired for fun, including four fireplaces, outdoor stone pizza oven, hot tub, f lip-switch gas fire pits, dog wash, mud room, and a basement whisky and wine bar/poker room. A massive accordion door connects the indoor living room with the outdoor living room.

Nelson favors accenting rooms with moody blues and greens, a distinctive style reflected in the Suncadia project. Green tiles are a hot commodity and a personal favorite. Complicating the task was the challenge of finding building materials and furniture from around the globe in the teeth of the pandemic-induced supply chain crisis.

Dining room furniture was flown in from the United Kingdom at no small cost, and leather chairs were sourced in the Netherlands. Obtaining just the right linen sofa was a 10-month ordeal.

The rush to meet deadlines created a few madcap Planes, Trains and Automobiles scenarios, with Nelson at one point commandeering a U-Haul to keep materials moving.

The Anissipours haven’t reneged on their commitment to adventure, completing a tour of Europe’s Mont Blanc last summer. They more recently enjoyed a long sail around the British Virgin Islands, taking advantage of Ali’s sea captain’s license.

Seven Summits is intended as a legacy for their sons, not an investment.

“We’re now a couple years into enjoying it,” Ali says. “Our kids ask every week, ‘Do we get to go to Suncadia?’ We host a lot, but we really enjoy the precious times when it’s just the four of us. We’re building memories.”

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