“It’s a ‘Renovation,’ not a ‘Restoration,’” say the new owners, describing the extraordinary undertaking to update Seattle’s once notorious “Pink Palace.” Built in 1910 and updated in 1922 by the noted Seattle architectural firm of Bebb & Gould for Elijah Grammer, a Washington State Senator from 1932-33, the home’s costly 1922 renovation added the stately staircase with bronze balustrade and enclosed the northeast terrace to become the library. The home later swapped entrances from its once laconic orientation turned busy thoroughfare to the former back entrance, which faces a quieter street and landscape.

Having lived in the neighborhood for years, the new owners had long admired the historic home but never imagined one day owning it. “On our first walk through,” they say, “we saw it had been loved and beautifully cared for, but parts of the home felt like they were in a time capsule. Especially the tiny, closed off c.1900s service-style kitchen.” During a subsequent walk-through for possible architectural and construction candidates to view the 12,000 sq. ft., four story home, Rob Hoxie of Hoxie Huggins Construction knew his company wanted to tackle this project. “Having done renovations in the past, the homeowners knew the importance of a project team that worked well together. Happily, we resonated with them.”

Chosen architect Aaron Mollick of Studio AM was intrigued as well. “The biggest challenge,” he says, “was how to give the house a whole systems upgrade, yet still retain the core of it and its authenticity.” Unlike today’s home construction, this long-honored home was built using 24" thick, unreinforced masonry. Thus, Hoxie teaming with Mollick had to consult historic masonry books on how to retrofit and expand some of its openings without compromising the structure. “We dismantled components of the house,” says Mollick, “systematically disassembling how the house was put together. Then, we had to replicate lines and profiles to build on the vocabulary that was there that was commensurate with what the house would accept.”

The homeowners’ extensive search for an interior designer led them to Kelly Hohla Interiors of San Francisco, a company known for an aesthetic that includes lots of color, layered texture, and equally important, great project management skills to interface with the trades.

Hohla, Hoxie, and Mollick came together like a well-oiled machine, each one complementing the next. Nowhere was this more evident than in the kitchen, which had remained untouched for 30 years. “The renovation changed our lives,” say the owners, “making it the heart of the home.” Mollick adds, “By combining it with the former butler pantry, it became one larger space that we connected to the south yard through a pair of French doors, larger windows, and balcony.” Hohla designed the lengthy island, tying it to white oak flooring that ground the space while facing it off with bleached walnut cabinets, geometric tile, elegant range, and metal hood.

When the team puzzled over how to open the home and improve its circulation, the wife suggested removing the steep servants’ stairs and making the stately staircase the sole way to access the living levels. “That was a very dramatic change,” admits Hoxie, whose work also included replacing the steel water piping, horsehair-wrapped drainpipes, and antique electrical systems with modern ones.

Working closely with the homeowners whom she calls “awesome and brilliant,” Hohla transformed the library into the husband’s office with plenty of personality, including the six-sided marble-topped Tom Faulkner desk with steel base, grounded by a NIBA tribal rug that echoes Hoxie’s carefully refurbished original plaster molded ceiling. She painted the wife’s arched office window trim black to echo the original iron entry doors, gates, and balcony. The adjoining Thibault Open Spaces wallcovering reiterates the garden view beyond. “It’s my favorite room in the house,” says the wife. “It integrates the garden view, bringing the greenery into the room. It’s something spiritual!”

One of the biggest structural building challenges, says Hoxie, was removing interior load-bearing walls by use of structural steel attached to unreinforced brick in such spaces as the primary suite, sitting room and bath. “With the exterior being brick construction,” he says, “we had to work slowly and think hard about how to put new windows in non-existing openings or smaller existing ones.”

Although the Orangerie was a later addition, it remains one of the jewels in the home’s formidable crown. Having seen better days, says Mollick, the Orangerie’s foundation was shored up to preserve the structure which had lifted away from the house. After reconstructing the planters, repairing the cracked glass ceiling, and restoring the tile floor, new electrical was added. Now the pendant lighting glows like a beacon at night.

“We’d like to give credit to the entire, amazing team,” say the homeowners. “The whole project came together so organically and seamlessly. We’re very blessed and grateful.”


Studio AM Architecture & Interiors

Kelly Hohla Interiors

Hoxie Huggins Construction

Northwest Custom Interiors

Eurocraft Hardwood Floors, LLC