On one of the few overcast days in the unusually hot summer we’ve been having this year, I had the pleasure of visiting the exceptional Mid-Century Modern home of Seattle based artist, Tyson Grumm which he shares with his wife, Tara, and son, Hawkeye.
Originally from Wyoming, Tyson went to college at the University of Southern Oregon on a basketball scholarship. He majored in Fine Arts, for which he received his Bachelor’s of fine arts B.F.A. degree in 1996. Since then his focus has always been on his art. Tyson works from home and spends his evenings in his basement studio working into the wee hours of the morning on his acrylic based surrealist paintings.
His work has been described as ‘richly textured and obsessively detailed’ (Seattle Times). The images presented are often of historical significance and therefore have the ability to evoke a certain familiarity that captures ‘a world where the only clues to the past and the future can be derived from the figures located within fantastical surroundings.’ The strangely beautiful imagery he generates through the dreamlike motifs depicted on canvas are a finely crafted odyssey into the inner workings of Tyson’s imagination. ‘Grumm has exhibited widely throughout the USA and internationally. His works can be found in many private and public collections in Europe and the USA.’ (tysongrumm.com)
Tyson first met his wife at his gallery in Kirkland, WA. She was a collector who was looking for pieces for her mother when they were first introduced, and shortly after they started dating. Tyson explains that he and his wife are opposites. ‘She’s in tech marketing, and I’m an artist. But she understands my appreciation for art.’
After spending the first years of their relationship in Bremerton, the couple lived in houses in Normandy Park and Burien. The first house that they bought together was a 1943 kit house. Through the process of doing a ‘gentle remodel’ of that home, Tyson realized he enjoyed working on houses. Also, they did a complete overhaul of a home near Burien, which he found to be fun and challenging.
After the birth of their son, the couple started considering other places to live. They ended up choosing Issaquah, not only for its excellent school district but also for the quicker commute time it would offer Tara who works on the Eastside.
Tyson described to me how they ended up finding this remarkable Issaquah home. ‘I was up late in the studio one evening scrolling through listings when I stumbled across the house.’ I sent the listing to my wife, who I assumed was asleep in the main house. To my surprise, she messaged back immediately, and I took it as a sign that this house was worth us checking out. Around 5:00 am we got in the car and headed over to the then vacant home to look around. After taking a peek through the windows, we knew right away we had found our home. At 7:00 am we called our realtor. Shortly after the house was ours.’
The Grumms were fortunate to discover that the home was for sale by its original owner for whom the home had been custom built. Finding a home built in the mid-century era that is not only in pristine, original condition but also in the hands of its original owners is an increasingly rare phenomenon. And Tyson recognizes how truly fortunate they are to have found this gem.
The home is a true example of Northwest regional architecture. It was built in 1966 by local architectural firm Ridenour & Cochran, ‘under the guidance of project architect, Myron Lewis’ (Seattle Times), and received major accolades, including the distinction of ‘Home of the Month’ by the Seattle Chapter of Architects of America. The home was also featured in, Better Homes and Gardens, and The Seattle Times.
The Grumm’s home is nestled away on a large private lot with sweeping views on the entire northeastern side of the home which extends out over the wooded ravine. In such a peaceful and serene setting, the home feels as though has always been there, it blends in seamlessly with its natural surroundings.
Perhaps one of the most striking features of the home is the main entry. You reach the entrance of the home by passing over a raised walkway through a beautifully landscaped courtyard that is framed on either side by separate wings of the house. The front door is a distinctive sculptural piece composed of heavy timber and stained glass panels.
Your eye is caught right away by the geometric planes that draw your attention out towards the stunning views at the back of the home that are captivating all on their own but aided more by the great architectural detail of the interior space.
Once inside the home, you see the stairway to the basement that is clad in gorgeous cedar paneling, like much of the home. This is a space where the Grumms have made a dramatic statement by adding an original Capiz Chandelier that looks as though it’s always graced the space above the landing of the stairwell to the below. They relocated the original acrylic globe pendant light, which made far less of an impression in the stairway, to the living room, where it can still be enjoyed. Fortunately, the Grumms could salvage many of the original fixtures by moving them to different areas of the house.
You can feel the connection to nature all around you within the home. The large panes of glass that connect you to the forest beyond create harmony with the interior space, and the abundant use of natural materials throughout the home from stone, wood, and brick give the space a warm, earthy feel.
Beautiful cedar panels on the walls and ceilings are on display in virtually every room, and in excellent original condition. Dramatic structural beams intersect with clerestory windows throughout the space to create a continuation from the outside in. Natural light streams through the wall to ceiling windows which adorn the entire northeastern side of the home. More light is brought in through strategically positioned skylights, which can be so beneficial in the Pacific Northwest.
The lighting is one feature of the home that needed some significant updating to meet the needs of the family. Tyson suggests this was one of the biggest challenges they faced, and over 170 new lights needed to be added. Though all the natural wood and other building materials make a great statement in the space, it can be problematic. Tyson explains, ‘because we are on a wooded lot and so much of the homes surfaces are covered in wood, it can get a little dark and dreary during the winter months.’ Several strategically placed skylights helped solve this dilemma. In addition, bringing in more natural light to accentuate some of the homes most beautiful architectural features.
In the seven years of calling this their home, the couple has made quite a few improvements to the space. Their gentle personal touches keep with the overall integrity and aesthetic of the home while updating some of the features to make the space more functional for their lifestyle. Tyson has a great appreciation for the roots of his home. He says the hardest things to do is ‘editing,’ and you can tell that they have used extreme caution to preserve the feel of the space.
Find out more about some of the improvements the Grumms have made to this beautiful mid-century modern home in Part 2!