A Modern Renovation Retains this Tudor’s Original Charm

A Queen Anne family’s home proves not everything is as it seems

By Seattle Mag March 8, 2016


This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Strolling past the 1930 Tudor Revival home on North Queen Anne, the property looks much like its neighboring houses built in the same era.

According to the home’s owner, Michael Finch, that’s entirely the point. “I wanted to make sure it was a sleeper from the front,” Finch says. “I didn’t want people to see it and think, ‘There’s another Seattle modern box.’” Beyond the charming brick façade, the house is made modern with not only a contemporary interior, but also an updated rear exterior, making the front and back of the home almost unrecognizable as two halves of the same whole.

The front of the home

The contrast is so dramatic that the architects responsible for the new design, led by Steve Bull of Workshop AD, nicknamed the renovation project “Janus” after the Roman god of beginnings. The deity is always depicted with two faces—one looking to the past, the other to the future.

Foresight prompted Finch to purchase the home in 2008. A bachelor at the time, Finch was already thinking ahead to how the house might one day accommodate a family. He liked the character and traditional architecture of houses in the neighborhood, but he was also drawn to modern design. “It’s easy to design anything if you don’t have any constraints,” Finch says. “The challenge was: How do you make something that works, that’s modest and fits in the neighborhood?”

In the living room, vintage DUX armchairs and tables from Seattle-based Harry Lunstead mix with a contemporary Ikea sectional, just right for Briana to enjoy with her daughters, Edison, 5 and Lucile, 2.

Thanks to a complete renovation finished last year, the almost 2,000-square-foot home now offers the best of both aesthetics for Finch, his wife, Briana, and their two daughters, 5-year-old Edison and 2-year-old Lucile.

Starting at the bottom, general contractor Guy Lofstrom excavated the basement under the house to add more ceiling height, level the ground and create a true walkout floor. The new space includes a guest bedroom (currently set up as a playroom for the girls) with an en suite bathroom, a small wine cellar with a bar, and an open den for entertaining or family movie nights. The cozy den furnishings conceal another example of Finch’s forward thinking: plumbing connections to allow for installation of a small kitchen. “We designed this area thinking that at some point one of our parents might need to move in,” he explains.

One story up, the first floor undeniably offers the greatest sense of the house’s transformation, with only one wall remaining of the original structure. The previously small, closed-off rooms, typical of the era when the house was built, were replaced with an open living space and kitchen. Floor-to-ceiling windows run across the back of the house, creating the illusion of an even larger space—not to mention sweeping views to the northwest. The master bedroom is set along this same wall of windows, but is separated from communal areas by a stairway leading to the top floor, which houses the girls’ bedrooms.

The vintage DUX armchairs in the living room still boast the original 1960s cushions.

Ligne Roset sofas, a vintage mid-century cabinet and a fireplace make a cozy family room in the previously unfinished basement

The home’s design once again allows for present and future perspectives, as the Finches will be able to hear their daughters’ comings and goings as they get older. But, “For now, we have different bedtimes than they do,” Finch says, “so the new layout just seems very natural.”

This transformation of an early-20th-century Tudor residence was selected by a panel of architects for the AIA Seattle (aiaseattle.org) Home of Distinction program to celebrate the thoughtful creation of expansive, modern spaces within the original structure, which allowed key elements of the historic home to be preserved.

Workshop AD
Steve Bull, director, and Amber Murray, project architect, 206.903.5414, workshopad.com
Guy Lofstrom
General Contractor, 206.963.0785
Swenson Say Fagét
Structural Engineers, 206.443.6212, ssfengineers.com
Lair Design
Interior Design, 206.467.4078, lairdesign.net

Origami-style bar stools from Blu Dot make perfect perches for the Finches’ young daughters

The master bedroom offers stunning views across Lake Union to Wallingford. The print above the bed is by Washington artist Harold Balazs.

The master bathroom features a luxe soaking tub and custom cabinets by Seattle-based J Wanamaker Cabinetry & Woodwork

The upstairs was reorganized to allow for two separate bedrooms and a bathroom for the children


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