A Bold Remodel Breathes New Life into a 100-Year-Old Leschi Home

How the owners of this classic foursquare house brought the space up to their modern tastes without tossing away the old bones.

By Darren Davis Photography by Haris Kenjar November 20, 2017 Published in the December 2017 issue of Seattle Met

The first Seattle home Ted Corbett and Erin McMonigal bought in 2003 had what we’ll call unique charms. The exterior of the Leschi foursquare, built in 1916, blared Pepto-Bismol pink. As did the one bathroom: toilet, tub, sink, everything (not the shower, though—there was no shower). Still, they loved the old bones, the neighborhood of similarly classic houses, and the short commute to Corbett’s tech consulting firm in Madrona and McMonigal’s Pioneer Square marketing gig. So the couple repainted the outside blue and made some modest renovations on their own.

“We thought we’d live here for five years, put some work into it, then sell and do something else,” says Corbett. But when this five-year mark passed, a new big change arrived: twins. And as the two towheaded children grew, splitting one bathroom became more and more of a challenge. By then, McMonigal had long tired of hosting in the tiny kitchen, where Corbett—an amateur chef—would prep Thanksgiving dinners in a space roughly the size of a walk-in closet. It was either move or remodel. In 2015 they decided on the latter.

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The owners, an avid cook and a frequent hostess, went big when it came to the kitchen. 01 A window from the stairway reinstalled in the new kitchen opens up into the backyard; 02 Moroccan tiles, chosen for the distinct pattern, will take on a patina over time; 03 Hammered brass and silver pendant lights add to the mixed-metal motif; 04 The marble-topped island extends beyond where the original, smaller kitchen ended. 05 A modern black faucet harmonizes with the distinct torched-wood shelving above.

That’s when Kenna Stout of Brio Interior Design, along with Blue Cabin Builders, arrived to help perform the residential face-lift. Downstairs, this meant a major addition to the kitchen—making room for more cooking and prep surfaces—an adjacent mudroom, and, of course, a guest bathroom. It got strange, says McMonigal, “telling friends, ‘You have to go upstairs to use the restroom and, oh hey, please ignore my toothbrush.’ ” Blue Cabin split the upstairs bathroom in two: one for the kids, one for the adults.

When it came time to design these new spaces, Stout chose wood tones to mirror the millwork in the rest of the house, installing the warm brown kitchen-adjacent countertop, black torched wood above the sink, and the black-cushioned wood barstools. From there, they had some fun with mixed metals. Hammered brass-and-silver pendants hang over the marble kitchen island; a brass pot rack and stainless-steel hood hover above the oven.

The deep blue of the shelving and cabinets, arguably the most visually distinct feature in the kitchen, was the residents’ idea. As was the bold pattern of the Moroccan concrete floor tiles, which will add a patina over time, granting a more lived-in look.

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The new guest bathroom features striking floral wall covering, which informs the color of the adjoining mudroom.

With two brand new downstairs rooms to decorate, McMonigal picked the vibrant floral wall covering for the guest bathroom, from which Stout then pulled the green color for the much-needed mudroom. “Oh, I love the mudroom,” says McMonigal. “All the mess that used to be all over my house now has a place.”

Upstairs, in the “adult” bathroom, warm wood repeats with the custom cabinet faces from James Wanamaker—who also designed the cabinetry in the kitchen and guest bathroom. Black-and-white tiles make a second appearance as well, here in cement, with more classic geometric patterns.

In the end, the remodel took about a year of constant dust, noise, and a refrigerator in the living room. And while the kids thought it was a blast to sleep over at friends’ houses during particularly invasive construction periods, the adults don’t plan on taking up a new project anytime soon. They’re still acclimating to the changes. Even with easily quadruple the counter space he had before, Corbett still finds himself prepping meals on the corner of the new island. You don’t, after all, buy a 100-year-old house without appreciating the old ways. 

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A bright new mudroom and guest bathroom provide much-needed storage for a family of four.

Brio Interior Design briointeriordesign.com
Blue Cabin Builders bluecabinbuilders.com


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