From Sequim to the East Coast, across the Atlantic Ocean and back again, Seth Murray is bringing his architecture skills home.
The Olympic Peninsula native recently set up shop back in Sequim with his eponymous Seth Murray Architecture business, offering custom home architecture and interior design.
“I knew I wanted to be an architect since I was a kid, since middle school,” Murray said last week. “I guess I was lucky.”
Born and raised on the peninsula, Murray said he first caught the architecture bug watching his folks build an off-the-grid log cabin on Miller Peninsula near Blyn. He took drafting classes at Sequim High School, and recalled that by his junior year he’d completed what drafting curriculum he could, so he started working with longtime local architect Ken Hays.
“I wanted to see what it was like to work in an architecture firm; (Ken) really taught me a lot; he was kind of my mentor,” Murray said.
The Sequim teen worked for Hays thorough his remaining high school years and, following his graduating in 1993, during his summers home from college.
“That was very informative; that really gave me a leg up going into architecture school,” Murray said.
With the help of a substantial scholarship (more than half of school costs paid), Murray attended the highly-regarded Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, a private art school associated with Brown University.
“That was my dream school,” Murray said.
He was selected a member of the European Honors Program in Rome, Italy, studying classical European art and architecture.
“Seeing those buildings that are 2,000 years old (was) just really amazing,” Murray said. “I love the timelessness of that ancient architecture, the modest materials, the simplicity.
“I want to be involved in top quality projects that will last a long time. I try to to help my clients see in the value spending a bit more money … they (projects) last longer.”
He said he’s also influenced by a semester he spent studying art and architecture in Japan.
Murray went on to work for firms in Seattle and Washington, D.C. In Seattle, he said he was primarily involved in commercial projects and was part of a team that helped with the major redevelopment of the South Lake Union, transforming an industrial-feel part of town into a “vibrant” neighborhood.
“Commercial work was never really my passion,” Murray noted.
In the nation’s capitol, Murray worked at Forrest Perkins, an interior architecture firm specializing in multi-family residential buildings (high-end apartments and condos) and hotels. It was there, Murray said, that he got much of his interior design experience.
“Over the years I’ve really solidified my specialty in high-end custom homes,” Murray said. “I really enjoy designing homes for people living in them. I see the design as portrait of the family who will be living there.”
While some clients had an exact idea of what they want in a custom home, Murray said, it’smuch easier to work with customers who are a bit flexible and will allow their designer to explore some design ideas for their new home.
“I love it when the clients are coming to me for my design expertise,” he said. “It can be a little frustrating when they think they have it all figured out.”
Murray said he’s also worked for several different custom home design architects, most recently for residences in Caribbean and the Virgin Islands.
Now, however, he’s back in Sequim, looking to help residents in Sequim, the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington state and beyond build, remodel or add on to their homes.
Murray also works for local contractors and design-build firms who want to offer a more custom level of design to some of their clients.
One of his first projects back was a remodel of part of his parents’ home — one he helped design back in high school.
“I love Sequim; I’ve lived all over the world … but I love the beauty of the Pacific Northwest,” Murray said.
“You just can’t beat the hiking around here. We’ve got the oceans and mountains and the rivers. I plan to stay here the rest of my life.”
For more information, call Murray at 360-477-4687, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.sethmurrayarchitecture.com.