Respect, Gather and Peace
A 1936 home on Upper Terrace received a major remodel just shy of its 80th birthday.
Dee Riegel first purchased the property in 1922, commissioning C.F. Rider to design the original home in 1936.
The Spanish Colonial Revival home boasts features common to those in the architectural class. The white stucco exterior, terra cotta roof and ornamental iron around the windows encase a home rich in archways and painted tiles. Courtyards and patios maximize outdoor living space. Rows of tiny tin flowers pressed against the baseboards of the main and upstairs levels reflect the impeccable artistic detail and character so common in most older homes.
Remodelers included architect Christopher Morlan, interior designer Leslie Ann Schifferns and contractor Shawn Gable. The present owners wish not to be credited, so we’ll let the home be the protagonist in this story.
Imagine the garments the home has worn and the stories she has listened to over the years, as interior design styles shifted and six owners cycled through the decades.
The home most recently bore a melange of colors and textiles of ornate Victorian decor. The last transfer of ownership brought a family intending to reintroduce the simplicity of the original style.
A few objectives anchored design decisions for the remodel, including respect for the original integrity of the home, effortless entertainment, and a place of peace on a daily basis for the family as a whole.
“There’s a huge trend in Spokane to respect the architecture and integrity of old houses, but make them modern,” says the current lady of the house, who spearheaded most of the remodeling plans.
The original floor plan remains primarily untouched, with the addition of a sunroom. Most rooms also bare the original tile or pegged hardwood flooring throughout.
Custom shutters replaced formal drapes, a decision highlighting arched windows and allowing the architecture, rather than added decor, to star. Plenty of architectural details provide good reason for this, like the series of wooden support beams overhead in the living room. The dark wood of the beams, imported from a Spanish church torn down in the 1930s, provides stark contrast to the surrounding white.
Even modern updates gracefully nod to the home’s original era, like updated internal wiring powering the original push button light switches. Original radiator heaters provide additional heat in cooler seasons, alongside radiant floor heating installed in the bathroom, kitchen and sunroom during the remodel. Masonry walls allow the home to hold a fairly steady internal temperature, especially since converting the original windows to double-panes.
Though the floor plan remains the same, original room uses have shifted to accommodate modern day family life, like converting the garage to an oversized laundry room.
“This is the one room in the house we let get messy,” says the owner, “and you just have to walk out of here and ignore it.”
Yet mess is certainly kept at bay, with a line of floor-to-ceiling cupboards—one for each family member (including the dogs) directly upon entry. An island counter anchors the room as a space for folding laundry or finishing homework, and an inviting nearby window with a desk below provides dreamy light and invites one to actually linger in the laundry room.
The greatest homage to history may be reflected in updates created nearly from scratch. The use of one tile pattern in the kitchen, sunroom (a complete addition) and laundry room mimic original tiles in other rooms.
Upstairs, the bathroom was fully gutted of its plaster of paris roses, mirrors, colors and drapes and replaced with a simple color palette—mostly white with carefully planned color accents. Pops of yellows and teals in the tile (chosen after the owner spied the tile at the Biltmore in Santa Barbara) bring life to the room.
Just across the hall, master bedroom updates include raising the ceiling at an arch, harmonizing with curved and arched patterns throughout the home.
The basement, created nearly entirely from scratch, is now a far cry from its former nickname, “The Silence of the Lambs room,” a name given by the family describing the room’s oil tank, musty smells and “storerooms of junk.”
Tiled flooring, made to look like old barn wood, pays homage to the pre-existing hardwoods and tiled floors throughout the rest of the home. The basement also houses the cellar, a splendid mix of old materials spiced with modern amenities providing the perfect backdrop for a room whose contents center around the aging process. Custom wine racks constructed of recycled barn wood, inspired by the couple’s favorite winery Corliss in Walla Walla, house bottles of reds and whites along the walls of the temperature controlled room.
Good wine is meant to be shared with friends, which the home often hosts as the current family loves to entertain. The kitchen flows into the hallway leading to the butler’s pantry and formal dining room. Updates to each create a trio of simplicity for entertaining.
The kitchen is not often lonely, as the lady of the house says her “favorite way to spend an afternoon is to cook for the freezer.” Simple track lighting and stainless steel appliances construct a clean airy kitchen, where cuisine is the focus.
Extending beyond the kitchen, a sunroom beckons with a cozy couch beneath a trio of arched windows for lounging in warm rays.
The formal dining room is packed with detail. Built-ins house glassware, and a trio of arched windows, like a miniature arcade, face into the hallway and living room. Space and conversational topics both increased in the formal dining room updates after raising the wall overhead and installing a mahogany ceiling.
The butler’s pantry, just across the hall, now houses entertaining dishes and barware, plus an additional dishwasher for quick cleaning up.
Continue to a grand living room inviting guests with one of two wood-burning fireplaces in the home, now updated with gas starters.
Furniture choices also inspire gathering. A custom wood table, ordered by the family as “a coffee table we could dance and spill wine on” makes a solid statement in the living room.
Guests can also gather for a game in the poker room, where the only major change is the light fixture and the game—the current family prefers cribbage. Wooden beams accent the domed ceiling of the small sunken nook. Additional warmth is provided by a small peasant fireplace, or the ingredients housed in the hidden wet bar.
A floor below, basement updates centered on entertaining include a large screen TV, foosball table, and a bathroom designed for guests as the space flows to the outdoor patio. Outside, an oversized table provides plenty of room for shared meals in the open air.
“Raising a family is stressful. It’s chaotic. I wanted a place where things are organized, where you don’t feel overwhelmed. Coming home to a simple clean nice house is healthy for everyone. You just want it to be home,” says the owner.
Strategy was required to achieve simple and clean. It meant sitting down with Affordable Custom Cabinets to talk through each room of the home and visually plan what would be stored where, so cabinets could be built to suit. In the end, everything within the home has a home
It also meant pre-planning TV placements, eliminating the chaos of exposed wires by keeping them internal to circle back to the mechanical room in the basement.
The organic feel of white stucco and natural wood throughout and introducing a simple teal and burnt orange color palette in varying hues also provide a sense of calm.
A desire for peace propelled the decision to convert the fruit cellar in the basement to the “spa bathroom,” as the family calls it. An oversized basin tub promotes instant relaxation while the original art deco shower door triggers dreams of days long past.
Or perhaps it’s a place to contemplate mysteries of the home, like the meaning behind the flow of mysterious emblems on the main floor. A tiny ship is etched into the great arched window in the living room, echoing a ship carved into the the tile of a fireplace mantel, and again on a piece of embedded stone in the adjacent poker room.
Overall, the remodel reintroduced the original simplicity to the home, intending to create a peaceful atmosphere welcoming the family at the end of each long day. The home also opens its doors to welcome many guests, a task made simpler with added modern amenities and activities while still harmonizing with, and even highlighting, the historical details of the home.
An avid traveler, Joni Elizabeth constantly snaps photos to document inspiring architecture and design. Writing about such spaces melds Joni’s love for design and decor with that of sharing an individual’s story, as she believes spaces are often a small reflection of the owner.
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