When a couple bought an aging Tudor in the Broadmoor neighborhood of Seattle, they knew they'd never agree on how to remake the main living spaces, so for the first time, they hired an interior designer. And the designer surprised them by choosing a color palette and furnishings they never would have imagined they'd love....

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photographed by Benjamin Benschneider

THE CAPITOL HILL Dutch colonial was due for the house equivalent of the 60,000-mile overhaul. Time either to tear it up or trade it in.

Which is why we’re sitting in a glamorous little 1930 Broadmoor Tudor. A place where one would not be the least bit surprised to see Joan Crawford or Ava Gardner sweep in, martini in one hand, Tibetan terrier in the other. A place where the greeting should be, “Oh, dahling!”

“We have never used an interior designer or any kind of decorator. Ever. And when we bought this house we thought, for the first time in our marriage, that instead of bickering about everything let’s at least get some advice. Because we like nothing in common. Colors, styles, nothing.”

This is homeowner Gloria. And she’s not fooling around here: A wall in the poor Dutch colonial was freckled in 35 colors of paint while the couple tried to pick just one. For a year. And now Gloria’s sitting in a room full of colors she thought she didn’t like and on furniture she didn’t choose.

It’s her favorite room ever.

“I’m so surprised how much I love this room. The colors that I hated most in the world are green and brown,” says Gloria, sitting in her blueish-grayish-greenish and brown living room. “I’m pinks and reds and raspberry and yellows. And I was big into flower design.”

Needless to say, an interior designer was involved.

Credit Barbara Hyde Evans of Hyde Evans Design for keeping peace in the family and bringing new-world elegance to an otherwise already-restored, old-world home. This project transformed the living room, dining room and entry of their home, a blank slate ready for bigger things.

Gloria is so delighted and surprised by the new style that she has thought about all of this quite a bit:

“My husband found Barbara. He has better taste than I do. I’m like a gypsy; pitch me in a tent with a lot of shiny, twinkly stuff and I’m happy. So I just decided to give up the control here and let Chris (her husband) and Barbara go for it.

“She just convinced me that it would not look cold.”

To find the consensus point, Hyde Evans had the couple gather photographs that appealed to them from magazines. “The magic that Barbara created was that she was able to pull things out of us that we both like, and we didn’t know there was anything in common.”

The result is spaces that pack big-time, old-school Parisian glamour into not much space. Where once were yellow walls and reddish wood floors are now blue-gray walls (Distant Mountain from ICI Paints) and espresso-stained oak floors. Deep brown fur throws beckon from the brown mohair sofa. Sky-blue chairs edged in espresso-stained wood sit across from the cowhide-covered coffee table. Hardware in brass, gold and silver; old, polished and satin. Sleek, classic and comfortable.

Everything gets along beautifully. Nobody, including Gloria’s grand piano in the corner, appears to be attempting a coup.

Talk about trust issues, consider that hide-covered coffee table. “I thought, are you kidding me? A dead animal skin in my house?” says Gloria. “But, you know, it works.

“This is the most serene, comfortable place in the house. And that’s intentional. We have no computer in here, no TV in here, no music in here.”

Hyde Evans stuck to the budget by combining custom pieces, antiques and good deals, and working in an armoire from Ebanista, a brand the couple loves.

“The eye-opener for me was that I don’t know anything about this stuff,” Gloria says. “And I thought I did.”

Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.