THE HOUSE sat empty for three months: except for a lone red Lego brick left behind on the attic floor.
It was a sign.
“Obviously I have a huge Lego addiction,” says architect Jeff Pelletier, leading the way through his north Capitol Hill home. A 1902 classic Seattle box he has just remade for his young family.
Really? How would one know?
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Perhaps from the startlingly accurate replica of the nearby Canterbury building on the new built-in book case in the living room. Or the one of the house (pre-remodel) he shares with his husband, Chris Pasco, son, Kellen, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Athena and Helo. Or their old house in Ravenna, the neighbor’s house, the pirate ship downstairs, the yellow crane in the bathroom, the space shuttle Challenger in the attic.
Or, maybe, the giveaway is the entire room devoted to Pelletier’s lifelong hobby: the Lego room, where more built-in shelves hold what he figures to be at least a quarter of a million Legos.
“I’ve known since I was 3 years old that I was going to be an architect,” he says. Returning to the present and the colorful modern home that was once a broken-down boardinghouse, he adds, “We thought of this location as a condo alternative, because we walk everywhere.” Kellen, tethered to his bouncy thing hanging between the dining and living rooms, springs into the air.
What visitors notice first is that these people have no fear of color. Their house is a committed chartreuse. Trim is raspberry.
“We had a brown house that everyone hated and a lot of really bright colors around us,” Pelletier says. “The house next to us is electric purple. How do we respond to that? Well, we need to make this block like the Painted Ladies of San Francisco.”
The couple hired a professional to tiebreak on color choices, then they went for it. Chinese red in the uptown living room. Smoldering gray for romance in the dining room. Sophisticated deep navy in the newly made master suite. Back to chartreuse in the family room and for Kellen.
“This is not a house for everyone,” Pelletier says simply. “This is a house for us.”
From the welcoming Dutch door streetside to the below-grade Lego man cave (also the media room and restaurant-worthy bar), Pelletier has made this house their home. Over four floors, 3,200 square feet.
“If I have a calling card it’s this: There should be a story and something exciting about every room,” he says. There are shimmering white Ann Sacks glass mosaic tiles around the family-room fireplace. (“If you’re going to spend money, do it in small places that show.”) Prominent moldings appear where there had been none, designed by the architect. Built-ins everywhere surprise and delight: The kitchen island holds a dog-food bin and a cutout for the water dish.
Pelletier walled off some rooms — “I like squaring things off; it makes a home bigger in some ways” — but worked hard to carve out a true master suite and a centrally located family room. “A lot of houses have been remodeled on Capitol Hill, but the two things they never seem to get right are that they never get a master suite and they never get a living space off the kitchen,” he explains.
Work was finished in January 2013, a month after Kellen was born.
“It was the most insane year of our lives,” Pelletier says.
“This, if you trace the line, is one of the closest single-family homes to downtown. We wanted to give it another 100 years.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.