We really wanted to respect the history of the house,” says architect Anne Adams of the Seattle home she renovated for a young family. Originally built in 1921—and designed by architect Harlan Thomas, who also conceived Hotel Sorrento— the classically proportioned home had “a wonderfully symmetrical façade and stately quality,” says Adams. “The couple wanted to maintain the house’s traditional character while incorporating unexpected contemporary elements.”
Although the site offers spectacular views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains, the Colonial Revival home needed updating. “The owners sought a fun whimsical space with personality that was also family-friendly and cohesive,” says designer Graciela Rutkowski. “The house was great but it was a bit disjointed”—the result of numerous remodels over the years. To rectify this, Adams devised a two-story addition on the southwest corner of the abode that would strategically improve the function of the house. “We needed to enlarge the structure but didn’t want to distract from that symmetrical façade,” she says. “The extension had to be sensitive to the original residence and not compete with it.”
Part of the plan for the addition included opening up the wall between the kitchen and family room to the living room, which gave the feel of a more contemporary floor plan. Blending new oak floors with existing ones also allowed the spaces to flow into each other. “The extension feels like part of the original home,” says builder Klaus Toth. “It was satisfying to make the house seem like one harmonious space.” Upstairs, the addition includes a completely renovated master bathroom whose walk-in shower is covered in floor-to-ceiling stone slabs and offers scenic outdoors views. “The home was like an old rusty, beat-up car,” adds Toth. “We completely restored it, and now it’s this killer cherry car.”
For detailing in the sun room, as well as the new portico, Adams looked at historical references such as Colonial Revival precedents from the early-20th century. “Those revival homes draw from neoclassical and Georgian architecture of the 18th century,” says the architect, noting that she replaced the upper railing of the entry portico to be more in line with the classical style of the existing columns. Also, moldings on the addition copy traditional profiles of Colonial Revival houses. “It was a way to tie the structures together,” she says. Meanwhile, on the existing portion of the house, the team reproduced traditional double-hung windows in their openings, took out every piece of trim (due to lead paint), and replaced them with exact replicas of the original moldings.
Rutkowski took her cues for the furnishings from the couple’s fondness for New York’s Crosby Street Hotel. “The hotel is eclectic, interesting and whimsical, so that was our guide,” says Rutkowski, who worked on the project with senior designer Stacy Aymond. Therefore, unexpected hues and patterns in the home abound. Multicolored chairs in the living room, for example, share space with a custom ottoman covered in an indoor- outdoor rug, while the dining room’s lacquered blue walls pop against a wood tabletop and vibrant linen chair fabric. “A dining room can have unexpected elements because it’s not used every day,” Rutkowski says. “So, we wanted to make it fun and special for the people they’re entertaining.” Furthermore, the designer chose blue grout for the kitchen’s white tile backsplash and brass fixtures that coordinate with cabinetry hardware selected by Adams. And, a powder room displays fanciful bicycle wallpaper. “We staggered the wallpaper so the bicycle wheels were in different positions,” says Rutkowski, noting that the spaces needed to be family-friendly and comfortable yet exciting and usable for entertaining.
Outside, rather than repainting the home’s exterior a stark white, Adams chose a soft gray color. “Soft gray is easier on the eyes and sits better in the landscape,” says the architect, adding that dark gray shutters, as opposed to black, link the exterior to the entry’s bluestone pavers. For the plantings, landscape architect Kenneth Philp considered the building’s color and its architecture. “Simple and elegant were key phrases,” he says. “We went with materials that had strong greens and structure, as well as seasonal texture, that brought the garden to life.” Moreover, constructing a new entry procession from the street was important. “We wanted to create a nice pathway that included some private points as you go from the entry to the garden and from the garden to the front door,” Philp says. To accomplish this task, Philp created a formal sequence from the street and a clear pedestrian connection by adding layers with plantings such as Annabelle hydrangeas, perennials, hosta and a Royal Star magnolia tree.
Although the home’s end result was about creating a functional family abode, the project also fostered a collaborative team effort. “It was sheer pleasure to work with this group of individuals,” Rutkowski says. “We each had our roles and worked really well together. It turned out to be a really fantastic project.” Sounds like the true definition of camaraderie.