Habitat

Move Over, Neutral Midcentury Remodels

For an Edmonds couple renovating their forever home, bolder is better.

By Zoe Sayler January 20, 2023

Once an awkward add-on, the home’s midcentury gem of an atrium is now a dining area.

Image: Miranda Estes

Before the gray supremacy of today’s one-shade-fits-all home design, one neutral ruled them all—and it covered nearly every surface of the house Chelsea Rudd toured with her husband, Jordan, in 2021. The exterior was beige. The walls were beige. So was the unwieldy atrium, a veritable greenhouse jutting out from the kitchen. 

At a midpandemic moment when space to grow got snapped up in days, and for well over asking price, this ’60s-built khaki castle received just one offer. The Rudds—after two visits revealed a direct path to the park and played host to a diaper change for their son, Julian—saw its potential. 

Northwest Custom Woodwork's fireplace wall and abstract patterned chairs from Jacob Willard home add texture to a design that's otherwise focused on color.

Image: Miranda Estes

The couple sent the Residency Bureau interior designer they’d scoped out on Instagram a link to the listing. Amy Vroom confirmed their suspicions. “We’ve got to change a lot of things,” Vroom told them, “but it could be really cool.”

Midcentury home remodels frequently focus on shape and materials—especially in Washington, where the sleek, woodsy Northwest modernism favored by architects like Seattle’s Paul Thiry still reigns. And Vroom’s design takes plenty of inspiration from the classics: A Northwest Custom Woodwork fireplace wall built from wood slats serves as the living room centerpiece. Circular accents in the guest bathroom and an Ann Sacks backsplash nod to the era’s obsession with geometry. A pair of Jacob Willard Home midcentury chairs reupholstered in an abstract fabric bring vintage intrigue to the relatively neutral living room.


 

Image: Miranda Estes

Tile File

  1. A geometric Ann Sacks backsplash lets the cabinets shine without disappearing into the background. 
  2. Blush pink Zia tiles ensconce the entire tub and shower area—ideal for a post-bath rinse.
  3. Handmade mint green Cemento Collection tiles balance whimsy and sophistication in a shared kids’ and guest bathroom.

Still, bringing color into the house felt most central for the Rudds. “There’s a lot of designers out there that can do that Joanna Gaines look,” Jordan says. The couple gravitated toward Vroom for the opposite reasons: her ability to incorporate “color you can really live with,” Chelsea says, from the Benjamin Moore Misty Blush that shades a romantic-feeling bedroom to the Galapagos Turquoise that emboldens kitchen cabinets. 

“Not everybody is as courageous, I’d say, or wouldn’t be willing to go as bold,” Vroom muses. But there isn’t a single formula for hitting the balance between striking and livable color. What speaks to the Rudds might not work for everybody. (After all, settling down in a forever home precludes most concerns about other people’s opinions.) 

As for that atrium, its beige supports are now a universally complementary black—and instead of an awkward addendum to a closed-off kitchen, it’s become a glassed-in dining room where a fiddle-leaf fig thrives, two long-haired cats eye squirrels, and a young family dreams of their bright forever.  

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