Stefan and Jennifer Frei aren’t home a lot. She’s the personal flight attendant for a Saudi family and spent much of the past year traveling. He’s the goalkeeper for the Seattle Sounders and spent much of the past year en route to Seattle’s first MLS Championship—a campaign capped off with Frei’s spectacular rejection of a late-game Toronto header that will surely go down in Sounders lore.
But jet-setters still need a home base. So in the summer of 2015, the Freis ditched the Belltown rental to buy a South Lake Union loft for the family of four, which includes two sharpei pups. Stefan loved the concrete floors and high ceilings, and the location was both commuter friendly and walkable. “We moved from Toronto,” says Jennifer. “We wanted the same setup, where you just have everything at your fingertips.”
When it came to decorating, designer Joy Rondello created an uncluttered look that would “suit the Freis’ busy lifestyles and the existing architecture of the loft.” This first meant finding storage solutions—a custom-built California closet in the entryway and a credenza under the stairs—both of which blend seamlessly into their respective spaces.
While the Freis’ first home in Toronto leaned more colorful and midcentury, Stefan says they “eventually got into soothing colors, clean whites, minimal.” With this in mind, Rondello focused on balancing the warm wood of the kitchen with cool colors in the living room, adding some texture to the floor with a black Icelandic sheepskin and asymmetry to the walls with a modular felt sculpture. The wall-mounted disk under the stairs—the central dark plate can be pulled away from the wall to affect the area of the light emanating from it—is one of the home’s standout conversation pieces.
This cool and warm contrast is no more evident than in the custom-built fireplace, an onyx-colored oval that could be mistaken for some sort of retro-futuristic space pod. But once you light the portable bioethanol container hidden inside, the alien thing becomes a cozy hearth. “Or you could fill it with ice and champagne bottles,” says Stefan, “if that’s what you’re into.”
It’s been a big year for the Freis, what with a new home and new local hero status. And though the Swiss-born goal-keeper hopes to finish out his career in Seattle, “Ultimately it’s not up to me. But I’m going to do everything I can.”
Bringing home a championship to the city where he’s recently put down roots is a pretty good start.
Designed by Joy Rondello Interior Design