JOEL STINSON remembers it well, the early days of the remodel.
“You hate to walk in and the electrician’s looking up. And you say, ‘What’s wrong?’ And he says, ‘I’m just trying to figure out why the house didn’t catch fire.’ ”
But, still, the 1928 brick Tudor on Queen Anne had a certain something.
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“I don’t like big, open spaces,” Joel says of contemporary design in general. “I grew up in houses where each room served a purpose.
“We looked at probably 100 houses. We wanted a view. But every view house we looked at was so big. We walked in here (2,500 square feet) and went, ‘God, this is a great place.’ ”
And therein lies the rub. The Stinsons had big, 6,000 square feet of it in South King County. Great when you have four kids, two dogs: “As the last kid graduated from high school I looked at Beth and said, ‘We gotta get outta here. We’re sittin’ here with two lights on. ’ ”
And with that they began a journey that ends right here, the Stinsons’ courageously non-Northwest city house. Bold and elegant, bright and regal. Even better, done with a sense of humor and adventure.
“We did everything so it would match Nick’s fur,” Beth Stinson says, looking down at the Stinsons’ massive golden retriever. He is splayed across the floor at Beth’s feet, not unlike the white cowhide beneath him. “We sanded down the old Swedish finish and waxed it,” she says of the floors. “Because, well, Nick brings a lot of stuff in with him.”
And then she says this: “Even though I’ve lived in Seattle for almost all of my life I don’t really like the Seattle look. We spend so much time indoors. It has to be something warm and cozy. And I like pops of color.”
Leaping from creamy, dreamy base colors and marble accents, pop it does. From the Thomas Hope chairs covered in lemon-yellow velvet in the living room to the azure-dyed cowhide accent pillows in the library. In between is a dining room fit for a queen — French chandelier with black patent shades, lacquered ceiling, de Gournay wallpaper panels from the Early Views of India series and four white vintage chairs wearing azure leather pulled up to a curvy black dining table from Oly Studio. It goes on like this from the basement (media, guest and bathroom) to the upstairs master suite.
As the project scope creeped along, the Stinsons decided to do it once and do it right. They hired Method Construction for the heavy lifting and interior designer Kelie Grosso of Maison Luxe for the pizazz, the surprise, the welcome of furniture, fabrics and wall treatments found in every room.
Joel credits his wife for launching the vision of their desire for a house for the two of them.
“We didn’t want it to look like an old house on the outside and modern on the inside,” Beth says. “I wanted old-world charm. And I wanted someone to work with who had similar tastes and someone who’s fun to work with. That’s Kelie.”
Fun like this, in the mudroom of all places: a vintage lacquered peach buffet trimmed out in gold.
“My taste is eclectic and more classic,” Beth says. “We wanted a house where we used every room. Nothing is precious.”
It just looks that way.
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.