Inside Mercer Island’s Symphony House

This breathtaking home on Mercer Island got a new lease on life when it was recently restored to sparkle as it once did when James K. Carr built it in 1910. The original homeowners were owners of a successful hat-making company. Throughout the decades the home has been many things: a vicarage, preschool, beauty salon, and the host of the 18th Seattle Symphony Designer Show House — that’s how it got its current nickname, the Symphony House.

The home has also been dubbed “The Castle House” and is one of the oldest homes on Mercer Island, as mentioned in Jane Meyer Brahm’s book, Mercer Island History: From Haunted Wilderness to Coveted Community.

It was purchased in 2014 by JayMarc Homes in Mercer Island. JayMarc bought it to restore and help showcase the firm’s work. It worked hard to make the home current while honoring its traditional integrity. It was the first project of its kind for the JayMarc Homes team, which usually builds new, luxury homes.

The first order of business for designers Aimee Upper and Bill Jones was to keep as many original features as possible — yet the entire team had to make updates for today’s way of living, too. The team added a powder room, two-car garage, and an additional bathroom on the main floor and expanded the kitchen. The designers took care to preserve historical features like the leaded windows, original door handles, oak paneling, a claw-foot tub, hand-whittled newels, and more. The house whispers a tale of here and now through silent creaks and echoes beginning with the stone stairs leading up to the entryway.

Renovating the Symphony House turned into an incredible labor of love for the JayMarc crew. “The challenge with this home was we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into,” said Brenda Gage, the director of marketing at JayMarc. “But our designer did a great job. We love how the home turned out.”

Challenges included moving the home’s hefty radiator heaters and removing one of the staircases to make room for two new bathrooms, as well as updating the plumbing and electrical.

Since its completion, JayMarc has had several open houses to show off the historic gem. The firm is also building homes inspired by Symphony House and calling it the “Symphony Collection,” which includes two more stately homes, the Chopin House and the Mozart House. Learn more online.

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