saarinen tulip dining table

Heidi Caillier Design – Fremont House: Assured creative interiors

Heidi Caillier has transformed a drab early 20th century house into a light filled and lively family home without altering the fundamental structure of the house.


Located in Fremont Seattle, the owners liked the layout of the house; Caillier took this on board, applying cohesive design principles while injecting aesthetic rigour without aid of reconstruction. In the over commodified, throw out society we inhabit it is nice to see that this group of people decided against change for change’s sake. It means the designer took a considered approach to her work by looking at the bigger picture.  The existing plan was accommodated while applying her craft across a range of historical styles, current issues and what is important in terms of day-to-day family living.

The capability to re-energise a space with texture alone becomes obvious at a quick glance; it is a quality visible across a number of Caillier’s projects.  For example, while Phinney House kitchen and living area are essentially white, it is a white that has been arrived at through the use of multiple textures.

navy and white kitchenThe subway tiles, the white topped kitchen bench, the rug, the white butler’s sink and the window blind work together to texturise the space enlivening it in rich yet simple ways.

The much darker floor mounted cabinetry grounds the area visually while the white cabinetry above draws your eye upward to alight on the blind after which we are drawn across to the salon hang.   The white Saarinen table continues the theme into the living area which (along with the Bentwood and Marcano wishbone chairs) enhances the cross currents of modern with traditional elements coexisting beautifully within a singular and personal style.

Thoughtfully chosen the salon hang draws many aspects of the work together; the disparate angular frames, subtle colour palettes and whimsical with more serious subject matter means it projects an easy confidence, a rich focal point with historic, social and personal references.

Through the choice of furniture, soft furnishings and nuanced detailing Caillier has achieved hints of luxury with a girl-next-door homeliness redolent of inhabitants that love beautiful things but want an everyday practical and joyful place to live; there is nothing forced about the final style.

The area below the stairs is a coup and in other hands could well have ended up a contrived unusable space.  By channelling the families’ pastimes and activities it is now a purposeful space and it looks so.  Areas that are merely filled up with stuff because no one knows how to use them productively become tired, despondent-looking and never used.  It is easy to imagine at certain times of the day lying on the day bed with a book in private, or two friends having a heart-to-heart during a party; a diminutive but lively play area for parent or child.

The niche at the bottom of the stairs has been transitioned into a chic little area which is now not only useful but subtly energised by choice and placement of artwork, bureau and day bed.

Another aspect that works in tandem with that of texture is the manner in which the makeover “appears” as if it has come about over a long period of living in the house – it has such a comfortable, assertive look.  The style is distinctive while remaining relaxed and spontaneous.  The salon hang is one area where the designer has created an eclectic look with the contiguous impression of having burrowed into the client’s cupboards in search of loved but stylistically disparate prints or original artworks (or indeed stunning frames or mirrors) in the realisation that a salon hang not only speaks volumes about the unique tastes of the client but in this form there is no need for them to be hidden away; they add so much texture and life to the living zone.

Those elements of the project that could not be changed, such as the fridge and oven in stainless steel have been incorporated easily by the  choice of both necessities and decorative pieces. Gold or brass finishes work harmoniously with the stainless steel through design choices that come with a history of their own.  While the gilt silver mirror in the living room is a stand-alone piece (it has a distinct and aged European feel) fortuitously it works cohesively to unify both the stainless steel elements in terms of palette as well as the brass pendant lights in terms of context and placement at the point of demarcation between the kitchen and living area.

A definitive ambiance also characterises the Master bedroom; it now has the look and feel of a high end boutique hotel courtesy of the pale grey custom bedhead which adds a touch of luxury while highlighting the lovely windows behind it.  It is bright, creative and assured; a far cry from the depressing scheme left behind.  Vivacious and welcoming it has become a light filled sanctuary which the parents can retire to and use in unique personal ways.   Once again there are a number of  beautiful discreet tableaus (the plants, bureau and photograph) upon which the eye can alight to continue the ideas discussed above.

Along with white as the foundation colour, Caillier has added blue and soft grey; these colours are found throughout in some form which not only unites the design scheme but creates a subtle sense of continuity for the home owners as they move from space to space. 

Importantly these are timeless colours; they won’t date and if and when the owners are tired of the soft pink touches in cushion covers and what not, they can easily change to a different shot of colour because every imaginable hue goes with blue and grey.

Heidi Caillier clearly loves what she does – a joy to see!  This is a refreshing, desirable and beautiful home with personal touches of warmth and creative interiors; there is nothing churned out here.  It is a long way from merely being a house to live in; this is a character filled home that will be a joy to wake up in and return to each day.

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