It’s not a trendy style, it’s not a new modern style,” general contractor Ryan McKinney says of a Seattle residence he recently remodeled. Eager to replicate the rich details in their previous abode, his clients approached him to create a warm, meaningful backdrop for the collections of antiques and art they acquired over the years.
The initial scope of the project, which included just a short list of tasks–renovating the kitchen, paneling the master bedroom and redoing the master bathroom– eventually morphed into a much larger endeavor. “The project evolved from their initial intentions,” says McKinney. “It slowly trickled to, ‘Let’s replace all the doors,’ ‘Let’s do a couple more bathrooms,’ ‘Let’s vault some ceilings in a couple rooms,’ ‘Let’s panel those rooms and do box beams.’” McKinney’s extensive design-build experience proved invaluable as the project developed from a simple renovation to a full-scale remodel, amplified by the clients’ ideas and the sketches and tear sheets they presented. “In the end, we touched almost every single room in the house and replaced almost everything,” McKinney says.
Included in the initial brief was a kitchen makeover, since it was closed off from the rest of the house. McKinney opened it up to the adjacent living area, ensuring an easy flow between the two. The space also gained a compact breakfast nook, where an artfully turned leg, one of many small, yet thoughtful details in a house filled with them, supports the tabletop. He also raised ceiling heights throughout the home and swapped in Dutch doors for more traditional openings. “I had them before and I loved them,” the wife shares. Perhaps the most apparent change, though, is the sheer volume of millwork that now defines the home. Tongue-and-groove paneling, crown moldings and beadboard now cover nearly every surface. “I can never live with drywall again,” says the wife. The exterior, too, did not escape McKinney’s Crew; it got a face-lift with narrow siding and new shutters. Masterson Studio provided new elevations for the siding and window trim.
While McKinney overhauled the house and the finishes, landscape designer Bradley Huson transformed the home’s awkward, angular lot. “It’s hard to make something like that feel elegant,” he says. But, relying on minimal color and a controlled plant palette, Huson succeeded. Chippendale- style fencing, bluestone pathways and boxwood hedges, trimmed into cloud shapes, create a cohesive feel that belies the complexities the lot presented. A tall bench, built into the railing outside the home’s side-facing front entryway, confers extra privacy. To accommodate the client’s dog, Georgia, synthetic turf was installed in the backyard.
For the interior decoration, the couple incorporated much of their existing furniture and antiques into the residence and called on designer and family friend Dallene Bracken of Bracken Design Inc. for assistance with some selections. Their former living room furniture, comfortable and barely used, was integrated into the new home’s inviting family room, and some pieces were reupholstered. Fresh finds came in ways both unusual and more ordinary. In a moment of inspiration, Bracken agreed to swap the antique walnut table in her own dining room with the couple’s more formal model. It proved a perfect match for a new set of leather Chippendale side chairs the wife had discovered. Accenting the space is a collection of pottery and linen draperies. Emblazoned with hand-embroidered sunflowers, the state flower of Kansas, the drapery fabric’s design nods to the setting of the early days of the couple’s courtship. “I love a meaning behind things in a house. It makes it home to me,” the wife says.
And here everything tells a story, from the downstairs den dotted with the husband’s baseball memorabilia, to the collection of dog silhouettes in the mudroom to the duck illustrations that cover one wall of the entryway. Even the print at the top of the stairs, of a great blue heron, tells a tale: of a bird that’s common to Seattle, of a children’s kindergarten project, of a long-time admiration for the beloved ornithologist. “I love Audubon, I love birds and I love Audubon prints,” says the wife.
The deeply personal nature of so many pieces in the home, coupled with its timeless architecture, add up to a thoroughly comfortable home. “I feel like my house tells a story of who I am and who my husband is,” says the wife. For his part, McKinney notes, “I think what we’ve done is created a very warm, inviting and cozy home. It allows you to remain calm.”