This spectacularly renovated Tudor is one of the houses you can visit on Dec. 3.
BY THE TIME you toddle through this magnificent four-story Tudor (and you can!), the halls will be decked; stockings hung by the chimneys with care; possibly even sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-ting-a-ling, too.
But until the Dec. 3 Magnolia Holiday Home Tour, you’ll just have to imagine all that merriment like the rest of us: When we visited homeowners/holiday hosts Rob Williamson and Kim Williams, it was not yet beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
The Magnolia Holiday Home Tour, sponsored by the Association for Catholic Childhood
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3
$25 presale/$30 day of tour
No children under 12 permitted. No backpacks, umbrellas, cameras or pets allowed in the homes.
206-282-5190 or www.magnoliahometour.com
Of course, it was July. And they did have a few other lists to make and check twice. Such as: how we renovated our entire elegant home.
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High on a hill, with its iconic big peaks, half-timbering and breathtaking views of Elliott Bay, “This house is pretty well-known in Magnolia,” says Kim. Renowned architect Roy D. Rogers originally designed the classic stunner for lucky Henry Hilke, superintendent of the Seattle Cedar Lumber Manufacturing Company. At the time, according to an article in the 1923 Seattle Daily Times, the 15-room home cost $16,000 to build and boasted a “large ballroom, occupying virtually the whole ground floor.”
Rob and Kim, attorneys with five grown children between them, certainly appreciated all the room for family gatherings (and holiday tours!), but not necessarily a ballroom — and not necessarily all the issues associated with all that history.
“We had always wanted to restore an old house,” Kim says. “It was wonderful, but it really needed more than we expected.”
Water issues vexed the roof and foundation, she says; outside, impostor paint had replaced the rotted and fallen half-timbering, and the cracked white stucco also had to go. (In the process, an icky discovery: “just enough asbestos.”) “The whole house was covered with plastic,” Rob says. “Some people thought it was a gigantic meth house.”
Nope. Just a gigantic restoration, with a heaping helping of stewardship — both thanks to architect Howard Miller, of The Johnson Partnership, who specializes in both.
“We didn’t want to gut it, just add modern functionality,” Miller says. “So we had a discussion in figuring out what would make the house function better”: easier access to the yard for Rob, a gardener; a consolidated kitchen that embraced the view; a master bedroom without its view blocked by a fireplace. “All needed to be addressed — these things aren’t working, so how do we fix them?”— and all while following what Rob calls “the overarching theme: maintaining the home’s original style.”
Those holiday bells you hear might just be an architect getting his wings: Miller is a fabulous fixer/maintainer. So now, on Dec. 3, you’ll see delightfully modern functionality, seamless cohesion and classic style … and no hint, under the joyful décor, of everything that went into all of this:
• A view-capturing, unified kitchen: Before, “The kitchen was a little village,” Miller says, inhabited by three smaller rooms, like a walk-through butler’s pantry, with walkways between them. “It was almost a shame to spend so much time cooking.” Instead of adding to each room, Miller merged them and cantilevered an extension out 3 feet to the north, so it’s now one wonderful bay-facing hub, anchored by a theme-setting Italian marble island; a built-in casual breakfast banquette; a covered door to the driveway for easy unloading; and all-new appliances, finishes and floors.
• Better bathrooms: Every bathroom was renovated, Miller says: The main-floor powder room radiates gold-and-black warmth; another bath has classic period finishes, like hex tile floors and subway tile wainscoting; the master bath has a full soaking tub (an original, relocated) with a built-in headrest; the rearranged top-floor bath retains fixtures from a 1950s remodel, with new coordinating tile; and the basement one has a new stained concrete floor and a zero-threshold shower.
• A new chapter for the library: In this private, feng-shui-friendly room, “rickety white painted bookcases” folded in a reconfiguration that deleted two doors and added a Craftsman-style wallpaper frieze, custom paneling, a custom fireplace mantel and built-in oak bookshelves. “They look like they’ve always been there,” Kim says.
• Elsewhere, the master bedroom took over a large chunk of the upper floor and evolved into a true suite, leaving its previous room as a lovely sitting area; top-floor rooms evolved into symmetrical his-and-her offices; a whimsical forced-perspective hallway (“My folly,” Miller says) tricks the eyes the whole length of the third floor; and the sunroom shines with new windows, an integral color concrete tile floor and a new patio.
• And all through the house, including in the downstairs potting-shed-turned-studio where it’s created, Rob’s artwork shines: Those are his leaded tulip motif doors on the hutch in the dining room, and his brilliantly bright stained-glass pieces along the stairway to the third floor, in his office, in the sunroom and in the master bedroom.
There’s a lot of work — and a lot of history — on display here.
“We had to replace 80 windows and 119 light fixtures,” Rob says. But not everything was replaced: Original doors and hardware remain, along with the floors in the living room, a coved ceiling and corner protector in the entry, select thick molding and all the Batchelder tile on all the fireplaces.
Speaking of displays: This is a grand home for the holidays, and for a holiday home tour.
“We’ll make more of an effort this year,” Kim says.