His Happy House
“I say Stephanie and I were partners in color crime,” says the owner of this South Hill mid-century modern home. He moved into the now-cheerful property near the end of 2018, after a period of renovation guided by Stephanie Sarro (Sarro Design). (The homeowner chose to remain anonymous for this story.)
The impetus for the home purchase was a move back to Spokane—where he grew up— following decades back east. Though he considered purchasing other properties and even toyed with the idea of a new build, he’s thankful he held out for something that felt just right. “I found this and I made an offer the first day,” he says. “As I said to Stephanie, I’m so glad I waited.”
Though it was in rough shape at the time of purchase—think dated carpeting everywhere and heavily pigmented square marble tile covering the kitchen floors and counter tops—the potential was obvious. The bones were good, with ideally placed windows showcasing stellar views, and original mid-century details like the built-in shelving near the entry (“I call it the I Dream of Jeannie shelving,” he jokes). Having grown up nearby in another mid-century modern home, “I’ve kind of come full circle,” he says.
Stephanie and the homeowner were connected through mutual friends. After the initial introduction, Stephanie took detailed measurements of the main floor and created color renderings for an interior design plan. After seeing her drawings, the path forward was obvious. “That’s it, you’re hired,” the homeowner remembers saying. It was an ideal match, with Stephanie not only designing the interior but painting custom artwork for the space and calling on her architecture background to work on the floor plans, as well as acting, essentially, as the project manager. “My nickname is the Energizer Bunny,” she says with a laugh.
The resulting home (which was finished right on schedule) is a multi-toned jewel box, with every wall offering something unique. They credit a fantastic team for a job well done, noting a long list of valuable contributors including Band Construction and Tom Ourada of Ourada Design.
Very early in the process Stephanie, realized, based on the materials he was drawn to, that the homeowner “really likes color.” Luckily, color works well with mid-century modern. “He didn’t want anything to do with purple or pink,” Stephanie says. Salmon was also off the table. But that meant almost the full spectrum was still left to play with, and this home does just that—play—with its plethora of vibrant hues: red lights hanging above the kitchen island, a blue bathroom, a grass green wall in the entry way, a cheerful yellow hallway, multi-toned area rugs, a green upholstered sectional, and the list goes on. The painters told Stephanie it was the most different colors they’d ever used in one house. It all works together, with the neutrals—like warm woods and white walls and black window trim—working to temper the vibrancy. Wood floors cover much of the main floor, while marmoleum flooring (an all-natural product that doesn’t release any fumes) punches up the color scheme, with tones like red (in the powder room) and yellow (in the laundry room).
Textiles—many of which were selected from Jacobs Upholstery—further enliven the space, like the geometric-print shade in the laundry room, the Asian-inspired duvet in the master bedroom, and the red seat cushions in the kitchen’s eat-in nook. Displayed on the walls is a combination of the homeowner’s previously collected artwork (including ceiling carvings from Indonesia, a Haile Selassie sword, and a gallery of well-loved hats in the guest room), new acrylic pieces Stephanie painted for the space, and local work like hanging glass orbs by Dog and Pup Glass and a piece by Northwest landscape artist Kim Wheaton.
In the open concept kitchen, the light wood cabinetry and textural white tile serves as a backdrop for pops of color in the appliances and lighting. The grand piano is the centerpiece of the sunken living room. Just off the living room is a gorgeous sliding wood door that leads to the refinished deck, with a cable railing that takes nothing away from the sweeping view.
The master bathroom was the biggest undertaking of the renovation, which required tearing up all the flooring and starting from square one. It’s now a luxurious space with heated floors and an infrared sauna (outfitted with a stereo system). Custom shelving was built to mimic the look of the entryway shelves, and a multi-hued square pattern tile backsplash brings a sense of fun to the vanity area, as does the shower tile, which was laid vertically, bringing to mind a colorful rain shower.
Stephanie and team were careful to reuse or retain what they could from the home in its original state, from the light fixtures in the master bathroom to the blue tile in the guest bathroom to the floor-to-ceiling drawers and cabinetry in the home’s hallway, which were cleaned up and modernized with new hardware.
They also made forward-thinking choices, widening doorways (and installing new doors) to make the home ADA compliant, creating cabinetry and shelving to house electronics, installing a new HVAC system, and installing shades that can be raised or lowered with the push of a remote (or controlled by phone). Outside, updates combined the practical with the aesthetic, with the garage doors painted friendly yellow, the front door painted bright blue, and a ramp and attractive railing added leading up to the entry.
Near the end of the project, while the home was still an undecorated construction zone, Stephanie took advantage of the homeowner’s 10-day trip out of town to transform the house from mid-renovation to fully liveable. She brought up the furniture that was being stored in the basement, hung all of the artwork, and fully styled the space with textiles, rugs, and accessories. He was thrilled with the results. “I came home and was so surprised,” he remembers. He and Stephanie have similar taste, and he was especially taken with the original artwork she produced for the home in a short time, which now hangs in the kitchen and dining room.
For Stephanie, the project was a real joy, bringing together a variety of her skills. “It was such a blessing for me,” she says. “It was an exceptional opportunity for me to explore my artistic talent.”
When the home was first purchased, the homeowner thought of it as lackluster. “It was low imagination quotient in general,” he says, full of untapped potential. But, with his preferences as a guide, the team took risks, breaking out of the beige/gray/white palette that’s so prevalent in the current interior design moment to create something inspiring while honoring the designs of the past.
“I think what surprised me most was how well everything worked together,” says the homeowner. Friends, he says, now call it his “happy house.”
• Sarro Design, Stephanie Sarro
• Band Construction
• Inspired Surface Design, Annette Tyrrell
• Carpet One (cabinets), Brady Brunner
• Wagon Trail Wood Working, Buddy Crabbe
• Ferguson, Christina & Marty
• CleanCo (airducts), Craig Elmblad
• Jacobs Upholstery, Donna Jacobs
• Dirt Busters (house cleaning & window washing), Melissa
• Carpet One (flooring & tile), Dylan Cloyd
• Premier Railing (front railing), Jason Peterson
• Ameri West Electric (electrician), Jim Zupkus
• Justin Carr (deck railing)
• River City Glass (windows & doors), Kyle
• Revival Lighting, Martin & Chris
• West Coast Tile Setting, Tim Fischer
• Ourada Designs, Tom Ourada
• Five Star Plumbing, Jason Pulliam
• HydroSci (Boiler), Greg Rehn
• Everhart Painting, Dave Klien
• Oriental Weavers, Lynne Martin
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