Bringing a Fairytale Home to Life
Laurelhurst Storybook Residence
A remodeled Tudor estate brimming with storybook magic and whimsical custom details.
Raising three kids from the cradle to their college send-offs can cause a lot of wear and tear on an old home. And when you factor in the grandchildren that eventually come to tromp down the same halls as their parents, that loving use starts to add up.
After such an existence, this Tudor home on an architecturally significant street in Seattle was overdue for some TLC, inside and out. But rather than start from scratch, as a beloved home with a long family history, the homeowners were dedicated to its revitalization in order to bring back the beauty and details lost to the wear and tear of time.
As doting grandparents, this whole-house and property remodel represented an opportunity to both honor their family home and create a dream getaway for their grandchildren. In its glory days, the original home featured a hidden garden, secret passages, and small details that made it feel like magic. The grand vision was to bring this fairytale home back to life in an even bigger way.
Staying true to the home’s original style was important to both the homeowners and their neighbors along the street, which features many beautiful homes designed by the same Seattle architect. Along with the character and charm of an older estate, however, the homeowners sought a modern and updated home with all the bells and whistles. The home’s ultimate design seeks to marry these goals, with modern conveniences seamlessly integrated into a storybook design.
The process was no wave of a magic wand. It took the dedication of our integrated, multidisciplinary team to bring this fairytale off the page and into reality. The original home was almost entirely rebuilt, while the overgrown yard was completely reimagined with a new layout, new plantings, and new amenities. Close collaboration with the homeowners meant small details and highly personal touches were integral to the design, resulting in a home that feels new with the spirit of a well-loved and lived-in cottage.
While little of the original structure remains, several key features meaningful to the owners were preserved and repurposed. In an intimate sitting room, the exterior wall, large window, and ornately painted beams still stand as one of the largest surviving pieces of the original home. And in the laundry room, the hand-painted cabinet doors were salvaged from an original built-in wardrobe. These thoughtful features make the house feel alive with history, lovingly curated down to the last detail.
Recapturing the home’s original character in surprising and kid-friendly ways was also important to the design. Wall nooks, under-stair hideouts, and elaborate play areas make the home feel as much made for the children who will enjoy it, as the adults who’ll love watching them grow up under its roof. In the entry hall, a small, arched doorway just below the stairs is entrance to a child-sized nook with its own light, perfect for little ones to make their own. Upstairs, a multi-use playroom supports their wild imaginations now, and the roomy space can adapt to their needs as they grow.
The children’s bedroom is every kid’s dream. Task lighting for late-night reading, built-in shelves for toys, books, and other treasures, and galaxy-themed ceilings give priority to growing minds and let little ones fall asleep beneath the night sky. Just beyond, an adventure-inspiring climbing wall leads up to a child-sized loft, with more space to read and play and an aerial net for lounging. Forest-themed wallpaper and playful monkey lamps illustrate yet another example of the fine and thoughtful details so important to these homeowners.
Throughout the home, gable ceilings, artfully-plastered walls, arched doorways, and dark wood create a classic and sophisticated backdrop to the home’s whimsical character. The initial formality of each space gives way to delightful décor, details, and fixtures which come alive and tell a story of their own. Even in rooms where lower ceilings were purposefully maintained in honor of the original home, the spaces feel gracious and hold something unique to be discovered.
The furnishings and fixtures of the living spaces are an ode to the homeowners’ “more is more” aesthetic. A pleasing mixture of Venetian light fixtures, antiqued wood, and fairytale wallpapers create a refined countryside cottage charm.
The grand dining room embodies elegance and practicality, featuring classic French doors, branching light fixtures, and space for a long table to accommodate family dinners and special events alike. The kitchen appears straight out of the English countryside, with casement windows, brass accents, delicate tiling, and ornate lantern light fixtures.
Off the kitchen, a sitting room is a special treat, with box beams, shelves, and cabinets painted in the home’s signature soft green. The fireplace proudly serves as the anchor of the room, with its detailed carvings and a hearth that radiates with thoughtful craftsmanship.
Upstairs, the primary bedroom suite, private sitting room, and attic office offer a refuge away from the active areas of the home. Here, as in all areas of the home, details abound in spaces both functional and fanciful. Two private balconies complete these “grown up” spaces, overlooking the treetops to capture stunning views of the lake with Mt, Rainier beyond, in relaxing spaces truly fit for a queen.
One modern amenity is a small pneumatic elevator tucked into a corner of the hall. Installed preemptively in anticipation of a long future in the home, this aging-in-place feature will add to the home’s long-term enjoyment.
Outside, the playful moments of design continue to unfold. The original home’s Tudor details had deteriorated over time, and it was important to pay tribute to these elements in bigger and better ways. A large turret grounds the front of the home and offers two different indoor-outdoor connection points — one from the main level and another leading to a rooftop deck. Contrasting gable and arched forms, dark wood, white stucco, wood shingling, and elegant stonework are all hallmarks of this remarkable home, classic and showstopping while still giving a nod to the original home.
The backyard underwent an entire redesign that aims to enliven the property and enhance enjoyment of the outdoor spaces. With both upper and lower sections, the goal was to create varied spaces for intimate moments within the context of the larger space designed to accommodate sizeable parties. Balconies and two ample roof decks make connecting to the storybook backyard a breeze and highlight the home’s beautiful views of Mt. Rainier.
The lower yard was flattened to create the largest lawn possible for gathering and play. The retaining wall this necessitated helps to establish a formal terrace that curves into a central gathering space. A babbling stream trickles down from above, collecting into a small wishing pond and terminating at a gazebo.
Flush with the main level of the home, the terrace is home to an elaborate outdoor living area. An expression of the home’s Tudor architecture in a more rustic articulation, the space feels like a true extension of the home, with sightlines to the yard below while remaining protected from the neighboring homes. A partially covered grilling area was included for summer BBQs, and an expensive, outdoor dining area complete with a covered firepit allows for all-season enjoyment.
The crowning feature of the home is, perhaps, its most bucolic – the garden-level hobbit-hole. It functions not only as a unique, eye-catching custom element, but as the entry to a walk-out basement featuring a cozy bar lounge. This feature was cleverly crafted with concrete modeled to look like an arched wooden timber to outline the curved shape, with tufts of grasses tucked behind providing depth and dimension. The gorgeous stone masonry and small, round windows are playful touches to this singular addition.
Beginning with a well-loved but tired home, this estate truly underwent a Cinderella story of its own. Now the property lives again, teeming with countless moments that awaken childlike wonder inside all who visit. A menagerie of thoughtful details that work together to create whimsical and interactive spaces, this storybook estate is ready for many more years of magic and adventure.
Notes & Credits
This project was built by Thomas Fragnoli Construction.
Structural Engineering by Bykonen Carter Quinn.
Staging by Sage Interiors + Design.
Landscape construction and planting by Withey Price.
Home automation by Beemer Smart Home.
Photography by Andrew Giammarco and Meghan Montgomery.
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