Finding the Inspiration Behind the Design – The Captain House

With every new interior design project that we take on, there’s usually one source of inspiration that drives the design. It could be the homeowner’s story, a family heirloom, or one really interesting photo from Pinterest. But for the project that we now lovingly call the “Captain House”, it all started with an intriguing piece of art. 

Homeowner Julie discovered KP Spaces on Instagram and asked me to come take a look at her newly-purchased home in the charming Sunset Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Built in 1904, the house was a mish-mash of different eras and styles. Between a cramped, ’90s-style kitchen, worn original hardwood floors, and dated linoleum, nothing felt cohesive or spoke to the true soul of the home. As a Seattle interior designer, I was used to this type of challenge (and excited by it!), but I knew it would take a strong and unique design to make this house come back to life. 

Julie was open to all ideas, but had a few goals for the remodel: Open up the kitchen into the dining/living area, turn the adjoining back porch mud room into a breakfast nook, make the first floor bath more functional, and transform the 3rd bedroom upstairs into a generously-sized primary bath. The space planning process was fairly straightforward, because it just involved taking down a couple of walls to open up the space. However, we wanted to be super methodical with finishes to breathe soul back into the home. We wondered how we could tell a story with the house in a way that felt unique and authentic. 

We sat around her dining table and I noticed a vintage oil painting of a sea captain on the wall. She had found it on eBay and knew it was meant for her.

Inspiration hit and I said, “What if we designed a home for this sea captain?” 

I wasn’t exactly sure what I meant when I said that, but as we worked through the design, it started to show up as moody tones and textures, classical lines and a hint of nautical. Once we found a permanent home for the sea captain on the wall next to the range, it seemed like everything else just fell into place.

We created a palette of deep nautical blue, dark green, and moody black. We found luxe black leather granite for the countertops, with lots of veining and movement indicative of a stormy sea. From there, we layered in unlacquered brass fixtures and crisp white vertical shiplap walls for a subtle nod at the interior of a ship. We restored the original fir hardwoods, bringing character back into the space. And the cherry on top: the marble shower tile, marble bathroom floors and a restored vintage clawfoot tub to add a contrasting layer of spa-like luxury.

As the design came full circle, we realized that it was a design story of contrast; contrast of old and new, dark and light, moody and calm. Breathing new life into a space while restoring its original charm. This house is really a story of the sea, that cycles between stormy and serene. All navigated by our trusty sea captain who guided us through the whole process and carried us to home port. The lesson we learned is that inspiration for great design can come from anywhere, and it might be hanging on the wall, staring you right in the face.