The stately home on north Capitol Hill has new life sheltering a young family. It was remade (yet also preserved) and updated by Brownwork LLC., Ainslie-Davis Construction and interior designer Aysin Yenigun.

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“IT’S A REAL CIRCUS,” says homeowner Shawn Reed.

It is? This staid, stately and gated brick Federal/Georgian-style home on the north end of Capitol Hill where the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary used to put their habits on one leg at a time?

Couldn’t be.

And then the kids hit the door.

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Turns out, it is.

Jackson, 3, hair the color of a ripe tomato, is plugged into a sippy cup. He’s in a kid-dog scrum with German Shephard pups Lucky and Lucy in the living room. Bryant, 6, and Jet, 8, are just home from school. Jet in a kid-classic butch haircut and Bryant in pink. (The two oldest are off at college.) Reed and his husband, Kerry Norlin, survey the scene from the navy leather sofas set before the fireplace. This is serious full-time parenting. They are a two-dryer family.

“I wonder what the nuns would think to see all of us here,” says Reed.

Indeed.

Kerry Norlin and Shawn Reed love both the north Capitol Hill location and their neighbors. “They threw us a welcome pizza party,” says Norlin. The couple preserved what they could of their 1928 home. “We didn’t want it too contemporary,” says Reed. “We like old and new mixed.”  (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
Kerry Norlin and Shawn Reed love both the north Capitol Hill location and their neighbors. “They threw us a welcome pizza party,” says Norlin. The couple preserved what they could of their 1928 home. “We didn’t want it too contemporary,” says Reed. “We like old and new mixed.” (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

In 2013, the family had just moved into its new contemporary home in Los Angeles. But after two months, barely enough time to unpack, Norlin got a promotion that brought them north.

“We moved in the weekend after July 4, and moved here Labor Day,” Reed says. “We saw this at an open house, the first one we saw. We sold the L.A. house on a Thursday in November (2013), and closed on this one that night.

“Demo here started in January (2014), and on June 18 we moved in.”

That, in a nutshell, is almost the whole whiz-bang story. The guy they bought it from also was selling due to a work move. And he had just about finished remodeling this house.

“Initially we were just looking for a fence. But we needed more functionality for our family,” says Reed.

“If the kids were having dinner and we’re cooking, we wanted to see them,” says Norlin.

While adding functionality and modernizing, though, the couple desired to preserve what they could of their 1928 home. “We didn’t want it too contemporary,” Reed says. “We like old and new mixed.” It was a mission assigned to designers Steve and Laurie Brown of Brownwork LLC., Ainslie-Davis Construction and interior designer Aysin Yenigun.

The result is a home still staid and stately (it’s OK, nuns!), but now more open (it had been cut up for eight bedrooms).

The extra-large living room includes a large and welcoming dining table centered beneath a new crystal chandelier set before the home’s front windows. Mahogany trimwork is untouched, oak floors refinished, the large tile fireplace and windows preserved. But there are also fearless pops (explosions, really) of color: kids’ bedrooms, kitchen chairs.

There are corners for adults: a new bar off the living room, a master suite made serious and elegant. And corners for kids: a new kitchen study area, mud room/laundry.

The kitchen, just beyond the staircase, includes a study area with a double computer desk and drawers with charging stations inside. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
The kitchen, just beyond the staircase, includes a study area with a double computer desk and drawers with charging stations inside. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

The focal point of the remodel was the once “dark, dark, dark” kitchen, now open, much larger and white, white, white. Ann Sacks backsplash tiles, a massive porcelain-tile island (looking exactly like Carrara marble thanks to laser imaging by Architectural Stone Werkes) and white globe lights from Rejuvenation. Appliances are Viking: “We picked it for L.A. so we picked it here,” Norlin says. “We just walked into Albert Lee and said, ‘We want these.’ ”

Now it is the big, new heart for this big, old home, 5,400 square feet. The whole of it, really, for the whole family, kids, dogs and dads.

“Fantastic is not a good enough word” for the result, says Reed. “We’ve done a lot of remodels. And none were as easy (or as swift) as this one.”