A Historic 1908 Seattle House Doesn’t Shy Away from Color and Pattern
It got a modern update while keeping its original character.
Just because a house is old and historic doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with fresh and modern color and patterns. It’s just a matter of balancing everything out, like in this 1908 Seattle home that was originally designed by a prominent British architect. “It is a 6,500-square-foot home with six bedrooms and five bathrooms,” says Kenna Stout of Brio Interior Design, who worked on the project along with her team which includes designer Nat Rauschenbach. “The architectural style has been described as an eclectic American Colonial-Revival with classic Greek and Renaissance elements. Much of the original character was intact throughout with the exception of the kitchens and bathrooms. We designed the remodel for a busy family of five and their two dogs.”
Kenna’s clients wanted the home to feel “bright, warm, playful, unique, eclectic, and colorful.” Since the couple originally had roots in Florida and California, they craved some of those design sensibilities in their new house, like an indoor-outdoor flow and bringing in more natural light and sunshine. “The family wanted their home to reflect their unique family and background while also honoring the original architectural style and details,” Kenna adds.
And those original architectural details were a big influence on the design choices made for the renovation. When choosing newer accents and details, they prioritized character and a high level of craftsmanship. “We also strived to incorporate our client’s vibrant personalities and some unexpected details,” Kenna says. “We layered in bold color and pattern that related to the period while feeling fresh. We incorporated traditional tile trim profiles and patterns and worked with manufacturers that crafted handmade and artisan products.”
The main spaces that needed improvement were the kitchen and bathrooms, which had been through remodels over the years that didn’t quite match the architectural style of the house. The kitchen was in a pseudo-Craftsman style and the bathrooms were very much stuck in the ‘80s. “Increasing functionality, maximizing storage, and adding beauty to create a thoughtfully curated home were at the forefront of our design goals,” Kenna explains. “There were also many rooms that needed to be more fully furnished and decorated. We worked with the client’s existing pieces and completed the home by adding new, antique, custom, and vintage pieces throughout.”
Capturing natural light and connection to the outdoors was the first priority in the kitchen. Kenna achieved that by enclosing the original porch adjoining the kitchen to create a cozy nook that was also functional for everyday living. “The original goal was to include a NanaWall opening to an outdoor deck, but when that was not possible due structural limitations, we opted for windows that would stack fully open over the garden and a breakfast bar under the window on the interior instead,” Kenna explains. “The newly enclosed area needed to serve as a mudroom as well, so we commissioned a copper shoe rack and added hooks for backpacks and jackets. We reupholstered an existing antique settee and added a reading perch above an alcove that was enclosed over an entrance to the lower level to further maximize the functionality of the space. In doing so, we created a warm, sunny place to relax any time of year that functions for a myriad of uses.”
Plenty of storage was added to kitchen, like a concealed walk-in pantry under a staircase, floor-to-ceiling cabinets, and a designated baking area with a roll-out appliance garage. Two sinks and two dishwashers were integrated into the design so the space was ready for entertaining. And hand-blown German glass was used in the cabinet fronts. Live finishes like unlacquered brass, copper, marble, and natural stone were selected since they will develop a patina over time and therefore look like they’ve been there for ages.
The most eye-catching details in the kitchen, though, are the copper range and its dreamy backsplash. The range was the husband’s major ask as he grew up with a copper range and has fond memories of polishing it every year. “The Tiffany blue quartzite countertops and backsplash in the kitchen were a special find while shopping the slab yards with our clients,” Kenna explains. “We all loved the bold statement and unique characteristics of the stone. After performing durability tests, the material held up well and the clients felt good moving forward.”
As for the bathrooms, all of them needed to be updated. In the primary bathroom, the layout was changed to include a comfortable, conversational soaking tub for two; a shower with multiple shower heads and body sprays; heated marble floors; a towel warmer; and a double variety with a custom medicine cabinet. “We added new stained glass windows to add warmth, interest, and privacy in the bathing areas while illuminating the room with warm sunny light. Additionally, we repurposed an adjoining closet to increase square footage and add space for a stacked washer/dryer in the primary suite,” adds Kenna. The other bathrooms were updated with new finishes, lighting fixtures, window treatments, and wallcoverings.
The finished design is a brilliant mix of old and new, and even what’s new looks like it’s been in the house forever. “The owners are very happy with the completed project. They were quite collaborative in the process and the project took on many iterations throughout the design process,” Kenna says. “Overall, we achieved their goals and they are now able to enjoy the fruits of our collective labor.”