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Color and Light Enliven An Old Seattle Home

Color and Light Enliven An Old Seattle Home

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALEX HAYDEN

When a young Seattle couple found a handsome circa 1900s craftsman situated in Capitol Hill—near Volunteer Park, with all its cultural and recreational assets that they desired—they were thrilled. The fact that the home’s architectural integrity was still solid clinched the deal. “We wanted to update it respectfully, without sacrificing any of its character,” says the homeowner. “And because it was in such good condition, there was a template for us to follow. Most of the rooms had not been altered and all the original trim work was intact, though not necessarily in perfect condition.”

With practical floor plans and artful details, craftsman homes are known for embodying understated sophistication. But “they also tend to be dark,” notes designer Graciela Rutkowski. Yet when she came onto this project, she was pleased to see that all the architectural improvements that the homeowners had executed were done so with impeccable style and grace. “The bones of the house were beautiful, and the rooms were filled with light,” Rutkowski recalls. “They’d done an exceptionally thoughtful renovation and modernized the house without changing the nature of the aesthetic.”

That renovation team included architect John Decker and builder Thomas Jacobson. Decker, whose firm was then known as Spencer Decker Architects, credits the couple’s modus operandi for the success of the renovation. “They only corrected the issues that made modern- day living difficult and updated the house but stayed true to the nature of the architecture,” he explains. Custom trims were cut to copy the originals, windows were added to look as if they had always been there, and the mechanicals were given a state-of-the-art overhaul. Ironically, “it became a down-to-the-studs project to bring everything up to code,” says Jacobson. “You never know what you’ll uncover in an older home, and this was built when electricity had just come into residential use, so it was plumbed for gas lighting, too.” 

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