When the reconstruction of this 1906 Seattle Craftsman-style home began, one thing was clear: It was going to be a challenge. How it would be realized was not as apparent. “The house felt like it was trying to swallow you,” architect Steve Hoedemaker recalls of early visits to the residence overlooking Lake Washington. “You couldn’t circulate through rooms because everything was a dead end—and the kitchen felt like an underground club.” That said, the rewards of a transformation were plain, as the abode itself was striking. “There would be heavy lifting, but we knew we could open it from front to back and make a dark house light and bright,” the architect adds.
Little is known about the history of the dwelling short of when it was built, but Hoedemaker, and project manager Ben Loeffler, suspect it might have an interesting origin story. “Seattle wasn’t keeping fantastic records back then, so the original architect and owner are unknown. But our general contractor, Mike Suver, found solid timber stock in the house,” Loeffler notes. “Whoever they were, it seems likely the original occupants were interested in building an enduring home.” Earlier renovations had nibbled away at its charm, so the goal became making changes that would embrace its initial style. “Renovations needed to be credible and seamless,” Hoedemaker says.
To achieve this, the team mined the home to create a “reference library,” looking for traces of period features to resuscitate and stitch into the current design. For instance, the kitchen’s new windows are based on examples they found in a sun room. “The original architect left us clues about priorities,” Hoedemaker explains. “It was great to be in dialogue with a design professional communicating ideas only through their work.”
An open flow between the public rooms now makes the house feel current and, by jettisoning the old back stairway, extra space was gained for the kitchen and pantry as well as a laundry room upstairs. When overgrown hedges were trimmed in a garden reimagined by landscape architect Randy Allworth, views of Mount Rainier were revealed and a joyful energy was restored to the home.
“Before the remodel, the house felt dim and heavy. We employed light wall colors and dark neutrals and added pops of color to create a sense of levity and youthfulness,” interior designer Kylee Shintaffer says. Rather than choosing an expected Northwest palette of earth tones, the designer used a crisp one of blues, grays and greens punctuated with warmer hues in surprising places, such as the blown-glass globes of the dining room’s chandelier or the living room’s orchid-hued ottomans and purple table lamp.
It’s a palette that Shintaffer also introduced in the private spaces upstairs, from plum-colored pillows in the primary suite to the soft lavenders of a daughter’s bedroom. “A bolder contrast—the juxtaposition of light and dark, as well as the casual restraint of more modern furnishings—also helps keep the interiors feeling youthful,” she adds.
Varying textures, colors and materials allow the furniture and architecture to take the lead. “Less pattern is calming, which suited these clients,” Shintaffer explains. To instill plenty of visual interest, she focused on layering different textures (leather, mohair velvet, linen) and mixing luminous and matte-metal finishes. She also collaborated with Hoedemaker’s design partner, Tim Pfeiffer, who curated artworks for the couple, including pieces by Jennifer Zwick and Julie Blackmon which, per the designer, “bring a great additional layer to the house.”
Shintaffer also looked for ways to update the abode by rethinking how its spaces were used. After “loosening up” the formerly cramped and isolated kitchen with open shelving and a family-friendly breakfast nook, it immediately became a destination. And by dividing the living room into two seating areas, she notes that it “feels bigger because the entire space is well utilized.”
A wood-paneled library became the husband’s office and sun rooms were converted into the wife’s work space and a playroom. The second floor largely retained its existing layout of bedrooms and bathrooms. Shintaffer, however, turned an underused area adjoining the primary bedroom into an intimate family retreat where the couple and their children can cozy up in front of the fireplace and watch television. “It goes to show that a great old house can evolve with each new owner,” she says.
Rather than feeling reconstructed, the residence now simply feels revived. “This remodel was never about making something new,” Hoedemaker adds. “It was about creating a contemporary story.”