Spring Home Design: Historic West Seattle Kitchen Goes From Clumsy To Sunny


The “BEFORE” OF this story stretches back almost a century to an architectural milestone that now grounds a newly elegant and supremely functional kitchen as the “after” center of the home – and as a tribute.

Brandon and Jill (plus their “two-legged kid,” who is 9, and their “four-legged kid,” who is a giant German Shepherd) live in a historic 1927 French colony in West Seattle designed by Elizabeth Ayer, the first woman to graduate from the University of Washington‘s professional architecture program and the first woman registered as an architect in the state.

Brandon and Jill had been drawn to Ayer’s creation from time to time and had always been drawn to his charm. As charming as he was (and is), however, by the time he was theirs, he had been neglected for years, Brandon says. “It was properly maintained and cleaned, but nothing had really been updated.”

Pieces A in Ouch: “The kitchen was fitted out with a dining area,” he says. “There was this horrible blue formica on the counters and a weird pantry. It had two doors and was very segmented. The kitchen had a little peninsula sticking out with a tall cabinet that, if you weren’t careful, you’d hit your head on.

It was do not The creation of Ayer. “It was an updated mid-’90s or late-’80s kitchen,” says interior designer Krissy Peterson, of K. Peterson Design. “You could tell they tried to keep it a bit kitschy to go with the times, but it totally missed the mark: dark cabinets that didn’t seem to work well and were very heavy. When you have that fantastic view beyond the wall, you just feel closed off. »

Brandon and Jill started their anything but kitschy modernization updates at the top of the house and worked their way down, bringing in Peterson (who went to Seattle Pacific University with Jill) for the complete renovation of the puzzling kitchen (Remodeling Experts LLC was the contractor).

“I heard Jill’s voice loud and clear that she wanted a light, bright, more functional space so she could have more people around while you cook, a more central kitchen feel,” she says. “And then I heard from Brandon, ‘I want good appliances that work well and do fun things, and more room to move around.’ Both love to cook and enjoy entertaining.That was the driving force behind it all.I also wanted to highlight the breathtaking view of Puget Sound that was previously blocked.

Well, right away: that block of cabinetry is gone. Like anything outdated, clunky, or dark. Brandon and Jill’s new kitchen has opened up to sunny light, space, that special view, and a happy new century of functionality and enjoyment.

A center island (it’s a stunning custom piece, not a built-in) anchors gleaming white cabinets of bronze hardware, an unlacquered brass faucet — and a dramatic tactile reminder of Ayer’s work. “The original brick that we left unfinished was sort of a happy accident,” says Peterson. “It’s a fireplace that we couldn’t knock down, and when we removed the wall and pushed the wall back and captured space in a mudroom behind that area, it was…amazing texture to leave and to show the history of the house too.

Although the expansion only added 23 square feet to the kitchen (from 197 to 220), “that’s enough of an increase that it really changed the vibe,” says Peterson. “The previous square footage was there, but it was wasted space.”

Nothing is lost now, and all is appreciated. “The kitchen got a lot of use and had plenty of time to huddle and get everyone together, just like we wanted,” Brandon says.

This is exactly what Peterson wanted too – and quite possibly even the original pioneering architect of the house. “It was important to me to renovate the kitchen in such a way that it felt like it was there all the time,” says Peterson. “I really wanted to honor the house and its history, and thought about how Elizabeth Ayer would have updated the house if she were alive today.”


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