Vintage Vignettes -- This Queen Anne Apartment Offers Age And Interest Laced With Quirky Touches.
Its appearance from the street is deceiving - a charming 1 1/2-story English cottage, with stucco walls trimmed out in brick and a gently curved roof line that shelters the upstairs dormers. The 1918 home gives no clue to the splendid vistas that open up to Lake Union and Capitol Hill from the rear.
Tucked into the steep east side of Queen Anne Hill, the property also includes a separate 1,700-square-foot apartment and a basement nestled into the slope. Pathways lead down the hill to a wooden terrace among the trees. Marie Harris has lived in this aerie for more than three years, and she is unlikely to take it for granted.
Harris owns Veritables, a home-design and accessories store in Seattle. While she has always had an interest in interior design, it has only been in the past few years - with the help of the late designer Richard Phillips - that she took a gamble and began working with clients.
Her apartment generally reflects an eye for the design output of the 1920s through the 1940s, but it is a potpourri of various furniture periods, fabrics, lamps and art. Set off by the great expanse of windows and an enclosed sun porch, the setting she has created has more the casual flavor of a French summer house than of a Seattle apartment. At every turn, there are lovely vignettes that color the space.
An unusual fireplace of cast concrete made to look like logs and fir flooring in a study are clues to the original function of the apartment. It is likely that the first owners used the rooms as casual entertaining areas or as an early-day prototype of the "mother-in-law" apartment. A stairwell, now hidden behind a wall, connected with the kitchen upstairs. A closet that once held a Murphy bed provides hints of the original function of Harris' dining room.
Harris' vintage decor - a bit of old, a bit of new - reflects her travel experiences. "In Europe, I liked going into homes where there were family pieces - obviously of great value - along with contemporary pieces. Everyone who came through the family added their own personal touch. It provides history, age and interest."
In her interior-design work, she sees herself as liking things "streamlined, slightly masculine, with quirky touches."
Her own home-furnishing goals find the balance between "kismet" and planned design. She says: "I fall in love with pieces and incorporate them. I have a vision of what I want and go out and find it or have it made. Because I am on a budget, vintage furnishings are appealing."
All these characteristics come together in a remarkable rattan seating arrangement of two chairs, a sofa and sofa table by renowned architect and cubist furniture designer Paul Frankl, whose skyscraper-style bookcases set the tone for Art Deco America in the 1920s and 1930s. The furniture, bought in New York, was reputedly on Franklin D. Roosevelt's yacht, Potomac. It has its original orange- and rust-colored cubist upholstery, best preserved under glass on the sofa table, now in Harris' dining room.
While many people think of apartment rentals as a temporary transition to an eventual mortgage, Harris is happy just where she is. "I knew, the first time I saw it that this was where I was going to be living for a long, long time."
Lawrence Kreisman, director of "Viewpoints" Seattle Architecture Tours, is author of six publications on regional architecture and historic preservation. Benjamin Benschneider is a Seattle Times photographer.
--------------------- SHOPPING A HOME DECOR ---------------------
Here's a list of charming, small businesses scattered around the city that specialize in home decor. This sampling reflects the owners' travels, their decorating interests and the arts and crafts of local or regional designers.
Andrews & Arnold 86 Pine St. Seattle 98101. 443-4230 A varied assortment of antique and new furniture and decorative accessories, such as lamps, glass, candleholders and frames, primarily from England and America.
Apogee 4224 E. Madison St. Seattle 98112. 325-2848 Antiques from furniture to candlesticks, plates, vases, lamps, and curtains gathered from Europe, Asia and America.
The Best of All Worlds 523 Union St. Seattle 98101. 623-2525
Decorative accessories and gifts with a European flair from England, France, Portugal, Italy and America. China, paper goods, holiday ornaments.
Bijoux 1209 Pine St. Seattle 98101. 467-1755 Antique and not-so-antique furniture and decorative art, "the best of what we see," includes everything from lighting fixtures and settees to candleholders, sconces and mirrors, bought locally, across the country and in Paris.
Bitters Co. 513 N. 36th St. Seattle 98103. 632-0886 Everything from furniture to dishes, imported from Indonesia, China, Chile and Mexico. Also antique toys from Vermont and artist-made items for the home.
Caldwell's 2646 N.E. University Village Mall Seattle 98105. 522-7531 Home furnishings, such as tansu and food chests, with an ethnic flair. Imports from Africa, China, Japan and Indonesia make a shop visit "almost like traveling."
The Cozy Corner 801 First Ave. Seattle 98104. 622-8805 Dutch Provincial and Colonial Javanese decorative accessories and teakwood furniture, and hand-woven oriental rugs. Indonesian terra cotta pots, baskets and metalwork.
Design Concern City Centre 1420 Fifth Ave. Seattle 98101. 623-4444 High-quality functional art, well-designed and the work of well-known designers. Desk accessories, small leather goods, frames, jewelry, watches, American crafts, lighting and personal-care products.
Found Objects 1416 First Ave. Seattle 98101. 682-4324 A spectrum of eclectic decorative accents and home furnishings, antique, vintage and new. Things from around the world with a touch of whimsy. Also shows Northwest jewelry artists.
Highly Strung 4222 E. Madison St. Seattle 98112. 328-1045 Turkish and Afghani kilims and pillows recycled from old carpets, odd and eclectic furniture, rice barrels, ethnic jewelry.
Nido 1920 1/2 First Ave. Seattle 98101. 443-1272 Mix of old and new, bought "back East" but originating from all over the world. Includes mirrors, lamps, old religious items, furniture, jewelry and personal accessories, soaps and lotions, aromatics.
Opus 204 225 Broadway E. Seattle 98102. 325-1781 Unusual imports from Germany, Indonesia, China, Latvia and Poland, including antiques, textiles, dinnerware, jewelry from Africa and Afghanistan. Best known for their own clothing design line, made locally.
Turner Helton Antiques and Interiors 2600 Western Avenue Seattle,WA 98121 443-9769 Newly located in the Banner Building, Turner Helton carries furniture, lighting fixtures, screens, silver, glassware, oriental accessories, pillows and fabrics.
T. Pantages 2619 N.E. University Village Mall Seattle 98105. 528-1922 Unique items from markets in Europe and America, including boudoir accessories from laps to lingerie, picture frames, silk pillows, jewelry, stuffed animals, scented candles and mirrors.
Veritables 2816 E. Madison St. Seattle 98112. 726-8047 Embellishments - everything from lamps and furniture to pillows made with vintage fabrics to locally created jewelry and art work. Imports from Indonesia, England, China.
Wrinkled Bohemia 1125 Pike St. Seattle 98101. 464-0850 Fine mid-century modern furnishings and other vintage necessities for urban living. 1940s and '50s.
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