This Modern Take on a 1907 Craftsman Is Pure Fixer-Upper Goals

A top-to-bottom renovation proves historical and modern are not mutually exclusive.

Standing near the front door with a twin boy on each hip, designer Heidi Caillier shows what a primary of the balancing act she is. Behind her is the original 1907 staircase that first caught her eye when she and husband Justin toured this two-story Craftsman fixer-upper in Washington. It's a microcosm of what Heidi did to preserve the best of an old house while thoughtfully modernizing it. The wood treads and carved newel still wear a dark finish, but the spindles and risers were painted crisp, contemporary white.

The entryway decor—a bench upholstered in a mud cloth pattern, an antique Oriental rug, and a whopper of a chandelier—shows another side of Heidi's balancing skills: pairing clean lines and neutral colors with global patterns and a mix of new and vintage furniture. "It's all about contrast," Heidi says. "We wanted to keep as many original elements as we could, so we went a little more modern or eclectic in some places to balance out the old-school vibe."

Heidi Caillier

We wanted to keep as many original elements as we could, so we went a little more modern or eclectic in some places to balance out the old-school vibe.

— Heidi Caillier

The rest of the house follows suit, mixing and matching old furniture with new and combining the work of local craftspeople with accents collected in faraway places. Every piece has a unique story, but Heidi created harmony in the variation.

Beyond Heidi's aesthetic issues with the dark-paneled living room, the space lacked useful storage. So Heidi had simple display shelves built on either side of a modern fireplace surround (a cost-effective solution for updating the old wood and brick model). The sleek design keeps the focus on the original leaded-glass windows.

After shoring up the porch, they integrated the sections of shingle and lap siding with an allover gray paint job in Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray HC-168. White trim accentuates architectural elements, and the door, mailbox, and house numbers match in all black.

white kitchen with blue island and dark wood floors
Lisa Romerein Photography

With family dinners and their supper club gatherings in mind, Heidi and Justin rethought the cramped kitchen. Pulling down the wall separating it from the dining room allowed space for an island, and adding extra cabinets increased storage. Shaker-style doors nod to the home's age, but Heidi updated the style with accents like brass hardware and Moorish-inspired lights.

Dining area with wooden table and large light fixture
Lisa Romerein Photography

Removing some walls made room for a long table, site of the supper club parties the Cailliers host for friends. Bold elements like the graphic Roman shade and smoked glass chandelier are conversation starters, and the new built-in window seat creates a cozy alcove in the open space.

neutral colors master bedroom
Lisa Romerein Photography

Heidi's pattern-mixing strategy starts, she says, "by picking a few safe options that feel more muted. Then I layer on colorful pattern or something vintage." In the primary bedroom, a simple jute rug balances the bold upholstery on the bed, the pom-pom coverlet, and delicate print of the curtains.

black and white master bathroom his and her sink
Lisa Romerein Photography

Heidi didn't want any room to feel too modern, so she mixed old-school elements in the bathroom, like the hexagon tile floors and a vintage-style vanity, with updated accents like the hardware, lights, and round mirrors.

To hear more about taking on a fixer-upper check out our new podcast, The Better Buy, where guests like Dave and Jenny Marrs share more information about decorating, home renovation, and finding your dream house.

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