In 1919, the Jazz Age was dawning, and the design world was teetering on the edge of something new. It was also the year this charming Jacobean Tudor revival was constructed in Seattle, and while the world was rapidly changing outside its walls, this abode turned to the past, its interiors embellished in ornate millwork and an Italian marble fireplace.
Over 100 years later, a young couple found that the house perfectly suited their vision. With interior designer Shannon Adamson and general contractor Aaron Martine in tow, they considered a number of properties, looking for a place grounded in a traditional vernacular, before settling on this classic residence. Yet they had no interest in a strict re-creation of period accuracy. Instead, they wanted a “historical architectural foundation layered with more modern sensibilities,” Adamson explains. This meant rooms that would eagerly embrace the past century in design, melding Art Deco with contemporary pieces, along with touches of midcentury glamour and 1970s funk.
Balancing different decades of style, Adamson took inspiration from earlier designers like Jean-Michel Frank, whose heyday was sparked during the Roaring ’20s. “During his career, he was layering in newer elements and exploring how to make them work together with historic features,” the designer notes. Adamson first focused on rejuvenating the home’s signature detailing, retaining much of the original hardwood flooring. Where replacements were required, “we took cues from the existing wood, incorporating the same dark tonality where possible,” she explains. To flesh out any gaps in the molding, Martine’s team specially milled new bases and crowns to match the existing trim.
Harmonizing the old and new proved vital for structural changes that catered to the couple’s love of entertaining—like transforming a modest pantry and unused hallway library into a fully illuminated bar for their extensive liquor collection. The process was surgical, adding a concealed LED system to the bookcases while carefully saving much of the surrounding trim “as we wanted to stay true to the integrity of the house,” Martine says. A seamless merger of the original woodwork with modern lighting, this spot would be the envy of any speakeasy proprietor. “Aaron’s crew is great at bringing technical designs to life in these historic spaces,” Adamson adds.
The home’s architectural dimensions also guided renovations of the attic guest suite. The narrow footprint and steeply pitched ceiling limited potential layout options. Adamson chose to lean into its quaint qualities, creating cozy niches for the tub and bed customized to fit neatly underneath the peak, complete with romantic satin drapery.
With the abode’s original character intact, Adamson then had the more heavily ornamented rooms painted in uniform hues, favoring deep, atmospheric grays—the lone exception being the turquoise breakfast area with views of the garden. The blankets of color helped the opulent molding blend into the walls, “so it becomes a background texture rather than being purely decorative,” Adamson explains. She also added Art Deco-inspired wallpaper in shades of metallic gray on unadorned portions of the walls and ceilings, adding dimension to the moody palette.
The backdrop sets the stage for an eclectic cast of furnishings. In the living room, twin original 1933 Gilbert Rohde chrome armchairs stand alongside a custom ’70s-inspired curved sofa. Lighting dramatically ranges in style, from a modern globular lamp to ’50s Italian crystal chandeliers. Such combinations never feel incongruous, regardless of the decade, as each piece possesses a clarity in silhouette, their defined lines and curves providing a foil for the home’s filigrees.
Materials overall exude tactile sophistication, with warm polished brass, velvet upholstery and “caramel leather that echoes the warmth of the floors,” Adamson notes. Her clients also “enjoyed the richness and coziness of darker spaces,” the designer adds, so she fully indulged in decadent hues of smoke, whiskey and wine.
The most dramatic material transformation belongs perhaps to the new basement guest bathroom—a contemporary take on glamorous Art Deco baths of yore, swathed in graphic Nero Marquina marble and white porcelain as well as antiqued mirrors and aged-brass sconces. A new LED system around the dropped ceiling casts a “soft perimeter of light that creates a theatrical look,” the designer says.
Although the home has a refreshed nature, it still possesses a composed and collected elegance that transcends time. And as the owners savor the space, hosting many cocktail festivities at home, perhaps a new Jazz Age has begun.