Originally published October 17, 2014 at 12:13 PM | Page modified October 17, 2014 at 4:57 PM


“See all those chairs outside?” she says. “Rockers. I grew up in Montana, and I love to rock. On sunny days I sit out and rock. More than I should.”

When you are surrounded and comforted by your version of the perfect home, it all comes down to delights as simple as that.

“I think I love it more now,” Gail says as a couple of ducks skitter across the water in takeoff.

It has been two years since Gail, her husband, Ron, and the kids moved to the northern shore of Lake Washington. And while the Klemencics might not have had it all figured out from the beginning, they knew right where to start.

“We wanted low bank on the water,” says Gail. “It was always a dream to live on the water.”

For five years they looked, and waited, before finding a narrow lot wedged between a small private lane and the lake.

When they began interviewing architects to design their new home (built by Prestige Residental Construction), they said this: “I want to wake up and look over my toes and see Mount Rainier.”

John DeForest of DeForest Architects was listening.

“Look, he photoshopped toes and Mount Rainier on the cover of his proposal,” Gail says, opening their project scrapbook.

DeForest, of course, got the job.

“John gave us blocks to play with, to move spaces around. Then he made us list every place we’ve ever lived and a wish list from each of those. Mine were comfortable, warm and peaceful spaces.”

Although the family was living in a contemporary home during the design of this one, Gail was concerned about her wish list.

“When I heard about the tall ceilings, 11 feet, concrete and steel beams, and glass I thought, museum. I never imagined something so soft and warm, things that people can really sit on.” Around her are furnishings deep and soft in the colors of a slate-blue sky, golden earthy tones, created and curated by interior designer Nancy Burfiend of NB Design Group.

“I told Nancy to pick three things and show me,” Gail says. “I didn’t want to be drug all over town.” And so she did.

Sure, the entire package is gorgeous. But every square foot is put to work. Besides the grand living/kitchen/dining/family room there’s Ron’s office, the home theater, four bedrooms (all waterside), and places for exercise, laundry and coat-and-shoe dumping. Beyond that is, well, the great watery beyond.

As much living as possible is done outdoors along the shore. On fat, weathered-limestone floors that go outside and become terraces.

The architects’ (project architect Ted Cameron) best work here is in what you don’t see: a home that within moments is transformed into a waterside pavilion. Much of the main-floor structure has been removed or hidden. Lift-slide glass doors peel away on three sides to remove even transparent separation between man and nature.

Streetside, it’s a substantial private garden courtyard (behind a horizontal and cleverly lit ipe privacy wall) of low plantings by Randy Allworth of Allworth Design. Pivot open the front door and visitors are practically already at water’s edge. From here it’s a short walk to the dock.

Gail stands near the bed in the master, and it’s easy to see: The view ends straight ahead at our state’s premier peak.

“I couldn’t have dreamed that this is my home,” she says. “Sometimes I walk in and I think, ‘Really?’ ”

Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.