THIS STRAPPING BRICK landmark is absolutely, unquestionably not an unfortunate haircut.
But … should you happen to consider the cranial dichotomy that is the mullet — “business up front, party in the back” — the element of extreme contrast is somewhat similar.
This strapping brick landmark pulls it off so much better.
From the outside, the notable two-story building anchoring a corner of charming downtown La Conner looks, we’re guessing, a lot like it did when it was built in 1890, as the Nevada Bar. Then, later, a pool hall. And post office. And, more recently, a book store, and a shoe store.
That is the honorable business of historic preservation.
Inside, however, Bruce Bradburn and Meg Holgate live and work amid a continual, contemporary celebration of light, artwork and inspired design: in their 1,200-square-foot residence on the second floor, and in the gallery/studio space below.
That is the triumphant business of architect David Hall, of STUDIOEDISON, who brilliantly has balanced both spaces, and feelings, through an extensive interior rejuvenation.
“We really couldn’t change anything on the outside; they’re very restrictive about punching holes and changing anything,” he says. “The upstairs could be changed, and the downstairs had to have a balance between commercial and private.”
Meg is an artist who creates and exhibits (her work and others’) downstairs; Bruce writes children’s books from the cozy loft above the gallery-like, high-ceilinged great room upstairs.
“We came from a home built in 1920 on First Hill, with classical elements,” says Meg. “We love that this building is old. It was in good condition, but because Bruce and I love art so much and have a collection, we needed white walls and simplicity to let the art shine. We were limited to the footprint — how do we best use it?”
Step one, says Bruce, involved eliminating some tricky footwork within that footprint.
“At least as far back as the book store, someone lived here,” he says. “There were some things we needed to get rid of. The access to the loft and roof were ships ladders, and Meg took a tumble.”
There’s now a brand-new, much safer stairway up to the loft (cleverly creating room underneath for a new dressing room and walk-in closet). The kitchen stayed put, but was totally redone, with all-new cabinetry and new partial walls separating it from the dining and living areas. The master bathroom was expanded, and now Bruce has his own bathroom up another, smaller stairway, where the laundry used to live. Exposed glulam beams were painted, and dented fir flooring (from a prior renovation) was replaced with warm oak.
The lower level required some demolition to pull old window-blocking stairs and an interior balcony away from one wall. The kitchenette was redone, and movable walls installed to “increase or decrease the gallery space,” Hall says. There’s also all-new lighting, everywhere.
“Light is so important,” Meg says. “We kept coming back to that.”
Also hugely important: all of their incredible, meaningful art — not just in Meg’s studio space, but even on the initial ascent to the living level. Those four striking black-and-white photos lining the entry stairway are by Hall.
Just inside the new doors to the dining area, a piece by Guy Anderson “helped define the space,” says Meg. “We had to work with that. We chose pieces of art that we felt worked with the space.”
Standing alone between the dining and living areas is a substantial bronze sculpture by Robert Holmes. “It’s a piece Bruce and I selected on our honeymoon in Napa — our first piece together,” says Meg.
And, over the sofa: two pieces by Meg.
All are highlighted with luminous purpose.
“The lighting was quite a project, so it didn’t shine in your eyes but lit the art,” Bruce says.
On both levels, cohesively, design embraces artwork as artwork enhances design. From the outside, you might peg this preserved brick building at 130 or so years old. But the vibrant life of an artful party radiates from within.