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double vision

A crackling design chemistry brought two designers, and friends, into partnership. Here, they share their latest Pacific Northwest project. Written by RACHEL EGGERS : Photographed by ALEX HAYDEN


he freaked out,” he says. “No, he freaked out,” she responds. Together, laughing: “We both freaked out!” Over aperitifs at a trendy Seattle bar, Bradley Barnett and Rachael Lewis are reminiscing about their recently completed residential project at the firm the pair launched in May 2017, the aptly named Barnett Lewis. They’re friends as well as colleagues, and their conversation reveals the essential comedic moments present in all great partnerships. As part of former Seattle firm Guild 13, they had worked together for four years on dozens of major hospitality and residential projects, most located abroad or on the East Coast. Fueled by their crackling design chemistry, the duo (Barnett trained as an architect, Lewis in interior design) ventured out, expanding their focus to include more work in the fertile environment of the Pacific Northwest. Their mutual freak-out—over their online discovery of a mint-condition Cesare Lacca vintage bar cart—happened during their initial planning stages for a house for their close friends Rachael and Dodi Nov. Rachael and Lewis were once roommates, and a decade back, Lewis designed La Ree, Rachael’s designer boutique in Bellevue, Washington. While Guild 13 started the Nov project, the newly minted Barnett Lewis completed the design of the couple’s home, located on a plot overlooking the water on Washington’s Mercer Island. The Novs needed a versatile space—it had to work as a cozy retreat for the couple, a playful setting for their two young sons, and a lively spot for entertaining. Barnett Lewis rose to the challenge, envisioning a disciplined design punctuated with touches of color, texture, and mood. A network of custom wall paneling, cabinetry, columns, and staircase railings throughout the home provides structure and gravitas. “We set up

the home’s ‘melody,’” explains Barnett, “and then added in unexpected moments.” The melody opens with a grand entryway wrapped by a staircase and paneled walls, glamorously furnished with a vintage Thonet bench reupholstered in Pavoni ostrich-textured cowhide (“So badass,” notes Barnett) and a Kyle Bunting geometric rug in luscious cream and black cowhide. The space flows onward to a formal but vivaciously colored living room where three sets of French doors are surrounded by mathematically crisp windows and panels. Warm, luxuriant furnishings and 1950s- and ’60s-era pieces pop against the serene backdrop. In the nearby kitchen, grounded in rich grays, black, and bronze, Carrera marble cloaks the counter and backsplash, and custom dove-gray cabinets sport handsome bronze pulls. On the ceiling, a Cole & Son wall covering in a trompe l’oeil lattice pattern cleverly aligns with the room’s natural shadows. Two dramatic Roll & Hill Modo globe pendant lamps cap the epic soapstone island. An expansive hallway gallery running the length of the home is its main refrain, revealing the family’s life through a selection of books, photos, and mementos. “The memories that stick are those that connect with more than one sense,” says Barnett of the home’s décor. “We try to create spaces that suggest curiosity and exploration.” That they’ve succeeded in crafting the multifunctional home the family desired—as well as forging an effective partnership— was proved by a text that Dodi Nov recently sent to them. “He was sitting in the living room, taking it all in,” says Barnett. “He said, ‘I didn’t really get how good you guys were until now.’” The partners laugh. “That’s why we bring such passion to every detail,” says Lewis, and Barnett adds, “It’s the last 10 percent of the project that makes up 50 percent of the experience.” »

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Profile for GRAY

GRAY No. 35  

The DESIGN Magazine of the Pacific Northwest

GRAY No. 35  

The DESIGN Magazine of the Pacific Northwest

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