Home & Garden

Classic home gets a renovation that stresses intimacy, relaxation

The new reading-room addition to Jim’s Laurelhurst home “was finished with simple wood panels on the walls with a custom stain to blend with the Jura limestone flooring,” says interior designer Paula Devon Raso. “It’s a nice kind of copy of something older. This room to me is terrific because of the light. It seems like the perfect room to hang out in.” Thomas Jacobson Construction was the general contractor for the whole-home renovation. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times/TNS)
The new reading-room addition to Jim’s Laurelhurst home “was finished with simple wood panels on the walls with a custom stain to blend with the Jura limestone flooring,” says interior designer Paula Devon Raso. “It’s a nice kind of copy of something older. This room to me is terrific because of the light. It seems like the perfect room to hang out in.” Thomas Jacobson Construction was the general contractor for the whole-home renovation. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times/TNS)
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SEATTLE — For all the work it withstood, Jim’s stately Laurelhurst home sure did come through with flying colors — some soothing and subtle, some deep and rich, all thoughtful and harmonious.

Jim has lived here for 30 years. His home has stood here for almost 100. It is classic. It is sturdy. But still.

“His 1920s home was in need of a cosmetic face-lift throughout,” said interior designer Paula Devon Raso, who brought an improved palette, along with light, cohesion, flow, furnishings and art, to every single room — and even added a room in the process.

“It was a whole-house renovation,” said Jim — almost everything is new, and almost everything was custom-designed by Raso, whose experience with architecture and psychiatry struck Jim as an especially beneficial big-project bonus.

“I saw Paula’s work in some publications,” he said. “There was more of a European feel in her work — more of a less-is-more concept. More intimacy. She’s very interested in all things Italian and quasi-French, and an older home lends itself to that.”

Even better: The brand-new reading room, a gentle transition through French doors off the living area, feels both integrated and fresh, as if it’s always been there and it really needed to be there.

“(He) wanted a place situated in the garden to relax and reflect,” said Raso. “Jim sketched out the reading room. He knew the size and window location.”

All those windows fill three of the custom-stained, wood-paneled walls, in turn filling the room with natural light, and the peaceful nature on the other side.

“The little patio area outside is a nice bonus of popping this out,” said Jim. “It’s close to other houses but has privacy; it’s a great place to have a cup of coffee or a martini.”

Other great places that involved some considerable restructuring:

• The old kitchen “was more broken up,” said Jim. “We moved one wall north and opened up the connection.” Now, said Raso, “New appliances, Calacatta Luccicoso countertops and scaled-down custom cabinetry provide an open, functional space.”

• Off the newly open kitchen, “The TV room felt confined and separated, so a 4-foot opening was created between these two spaces, bringing more light to each,” said Raso. Both rooms’ ceilings were raised, too. “It’s very distinctive,” she said. “It feels a lot airier.”

• And upstairs, the just-right, renovated master bathroom is “totally different,” said Jim. “When I first bought this house 30 years ago, the bathtub was under the windows, then where the shower is now. It’s the size for me. I had a condo downtown, and the bathrooms were gargantuan. In Europe, the bathrooms are really small. It’s not necessary to have a ballroom.”

Elsewhere: fewer structural shifts, equally powerful impact. The grand, turning entry staircase was stripped of its carpet runner, refinished and repainted. The powder room, which held on to its original blue tile and cabinet, got new wallpaper and paint. In the dining room, Jim’s delightful collection of fish prints anchors two grasscloth-wallpapered areas (one nestled into a nook above the upgraded buffet), and his existing table and chairs are illuminated by new contemporary lighting. And in the living room, furnished with comfortable pieces clothed in natural fabrics, another new pair of French doors to the left of the fireplace balances the ones to the right, and to the reading room.

Everywhere, everything was newly painted. In the entry, Jim said, “It’s Sherwin-Williams Urbane Bronze paint, almost like black. You can put a piece of art on it and think it’d get consumed, but it works.” In the master bathroom: smooth Swiss Chocolate. And throughout the main floor, Raso said, “variations of khaki, with subtle changes in shades.”

Which suits Jim, and his stately, harmonious home, quite beautifully.

“There’s a lot of little detail,” he said. “It was the detail that ultimately made it resonate. It’s not a huge house, but it’s got this nice feeling of not looking like it was ‘decorated.’”

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