The Odell House Ballroom Unit F

“The Ballroom” takes up the entire third floor of the Odell House.  It is the largest of the Odell House apartments, and looks out in all directions from under the eaves.    The north face, (show below)  is open, has a small sitting area and a gas grill.

The roughly 1200 square feet of the third floor has a balcony, a sun room, bathroom with separate shower room, dining room, bedroom, kitchen and huge vaulted living room.

The Ballroom is typically not rented for shorter stays because, frankly, people don’t like to climb the stairs with all their belongings for a very short stay.  And it makes such a nice secure spot for a permanent resident that we encourage that.


It is a crow’s nest, and if the fit is good people tend to stick there.  Most say it is the nicest unit in the house.  I’ll say more about the positives and negatives at the base of this post.

The sun room: The south face has a lovely small sun room that can now serve as an extra bedroom.  It currently has a twin futon/couch which is more comfortable, but less “green”than the photos shown below to catch the view.

(Look  three pictures down for current set up.)

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The two pictures above show how the well-insulated, cork-floored sun room was  designed.

The original version was open to the elements and had an aged screen window from the sixties and indoor/outdoor carpeting.  (Hard to vacuum!)

Four of the screened windows now open.  The one below is with the blind system partially shut.  You can make it very open or very secluded.


The view is like a tree house with great south light–somewhat unexpectedly, now a real four season room.

The Living Room: The Ballroom’s large main living room is on the on the other end of the apartment. It also mimics the shape of the arched roof line, but in a much more expansive way.  It is rumored that dances were held there “back in the day.”

The Ballroom space was conceived well before our times, after a fire c. 1932. The original roof line was changed and the domed space created in the attic.

The ceiling is 14 feet at the middle. with an interesting shake shingle ceiling.

This room alone is a generous 300 square feet and has a neat original varnished wood wainscot.



You can’t take a picture with a regular camera of the whole room.  The other wall has a table and flat screen TV.

(This is a large room, trust me.)

The current paint color is appropriately Ralph Loren “Ballroom Gold”.


This more recent picture above shows the entry door and a corner of the rather modern full futon that currently makes the second sofa in this room.

The bedroom on the the west side has slanted ceilings and sits under the eaves.


It looks back through the dining area to the kitchen on the opposite face of the house.

The dining room is in the center of the unit.



It features a matched pair of Art Deco brown tip slip shade chandeliers.


The original bath and toilet are in a small room under the eves.  The claw foot tub is a five foot luxury item.


But the guys complained about no proper stand up shower.

So in 2005 we pilfered the closet across the hall and made a large shower area with tiled seat.



The kitchen has had some updates as well. Many in fact.

The tile counter was put in when I bought the building in 1998–one of the first remodel projects.

One of the problems with remodel in a slanted ceiling space is everything has to be custom made.  So be it! 2014, more updates.

The refrigeration is under counter drawers–very modern!



We installed the matching tile floor in 2005, seven years later, from that vast stash I bought the first year I had the place–having no idea how much tile was “enough” for a building with carpet in all the kitchens. (Eeewww!)

The first replacement floor was vinyl.  It wore out.


Above another neat custom fit of an “apartment sized” Bosch dishwasher also in 2014

(Going on twenty years into the project, I can say for a fact, avoid laminates and vinyl–use real wood and tile.  Properly installed they will outlive you.)

The good points of The Ballroom:

On the third floor and good for your fitness.

Quiet.  The upper floor apartments are always less impacted by neighbor noise.

Warm.  Nicely heated in winter, we most often keep the radiators turned down or off.

Very well updated with new electrical panel, lots of plugs and modern appliances.

A very charming and comfortable space.  Both cave-like and tree house-like.

Because of the well-developed black out curtains this is also a very good unit for a day sleeper.  It can be kept both quiet and dark.

The bad points:

On the third floor and if you forget your keys you must go back and get them.

Warm.  In the summer it is well supplied with air conditioners and sun blocking curtains, but certain areas of the roof make some of the eaves hot–not all, but enough to make you pay attention to closing the blinds when you head out for the day.  It is very possible to keep things comfortably cool in any weather, but you must pay attention.

On the third floor–you really must not mind climbing the stairs!

A note from a loved tenant in 2017/8

“I spent the last 7 months living in Odell House, Unit F. It is a really special space. Filled with interesting architectural details, a great view and lots of space, it is the perfect place to land. The large living room, with a balcony and view of trees and some great Browne’s Addition architecture was the perfect place for me to work, study and relax. Being on the 3rd floor means lots of quiet and lots of extra exercise! I booked the space from pictures, never having a chance to see the space before I arrived and the space lived up to my expectations. From our first communication Dale was the perfect landlord. She is responsive, thoughtful and respects tenets privacy. I highly recommend the Ballroom!”

Awww. . .D

The Gazebo and Kitchen Garden on the Poplar Street side.


This rather stunning photo is of a winterscape at Hidcote Castle.  It is in England–where they take gardening pretty seriously.

In case you were wondering, the strong geometric influence behind the twin gazebos–one of which you can walk through to reach the other if you were to approach from the side–is a group of pleached Hornbeams.


Pleaching.  A task outside my vision, and one I am sure would not excite Rick, who often gets the “heavy labor” side of inspiration.  Still, it is an interesting effect.

We got our square and circular effects in a slightly less labor-intensive manner.  (This was of course by cheating: copying the already nifty architecture on our corner.)



I ran across the formal Hidecote garden while looking for design ideas for the Odell House gazebo and kitchen garden. We’ve had plans to build something for years, but just got ’round to of late.  We also wanted to enclose the space and on the side of the house that, well, originally had the central kitchen.  The Poplar Street and south face.  But we didn’t want to create an eyesore–which can be a problem when the uneducated (us)  plop something down in the middle of the work of people who did know what they were doing.  Our answer?  Careful research and hiring someone who could build on site in the manner of the original carpenters.

And that would be Dave:



One of Dave’s gates.

On to the Gazebo!

A small structure in a garden is not a new idea by any means.  Below, the little kitchen garden pavilion at Monticello–the home of Thomas Jefferson, who experimented expensively with horticulture in the Colonial days of America–a lot of the focus was in growing vegetables.


Of course, by “cultivators of the earth” Jefferson is referring in 1790 to his 118 slaves who actually did the work in the garden.

Their plot is of course a lot more elaborate than ours. . .


Back in Spokane, we decided to have fun with the Gazebo roof structure, mimicking the Odell House roof lines, attempting to give it a feeling of “always there.”  This is also a common hope that the smaller “outer house” will mimic some features of the larger one


(Practical note: A more recent photo of the same area: below to the right of the gazebo we installed a gas grill. This is common space–please go cook whatever you cook. That area over the lawn is also a good place in nice weather to smoke–which  is not allowed within 50 feet of an opening window or door of the main house.  The advantage of course–assuming it is not raining is that one need not sweep up ash.  Small flower pots make ash trays–please to not transport any of these items into the house or house trash cans.  The general refuse area is just behind the parked cars. )


Here is the gazebo creator, our carpenter Dave, on the job, if notoriously camera shy.


You will note no construction debris.

This is because every single day when Dave left, the place was neat as a pin.  (Part of his day is cleanup.)  And so he would go off in the evening, taking with him yet another chair for regluing, appearing again in due time to tackle another phase.   And in the garage I would find the repaired chair, and on returning it to its mates, pick another for a trip to “Dr. Dave’s”.

(There are few things more wonderful for beefing up maintenance than having a dedicated cabinet maker regularly on the place.)


We painted the interior one of our lesser used trim colors–Templeton Grey.  It makes the interior recede a bit.  The door with circular window was a chance find at an architectural salvage place.  We like how it mirrors the main house details.  The second little landing deck makes the step up less severe, and is offering another place to grow food instead of lawn.


Back to Dave and the details of the project.  People actually stop to take photos of the fence all the time.  Not that it is fancy. It is very simple, made out of cedar and simple 2×4 inch rectangular woven wire.



But like everything Dave does it is well crafted and every detail thought out and executed with care.

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The self closing “cannon ball” gates were his idea.


The clenched fist hitching posts (there are a pair) were popular c. late 1800 when there were actually equines to be tied up.

The gazebo soffits (under the roof line) are antique bead board–just like the main house.


Dave created trim to match the house as well.


The siding is cedar, identical to the original.


The decks are redwood to resist rot.




We think it fits nicely.

Looking across the kitchen garden to the Wakefield.


So why a gazebo?

Sitting outside, with just a little protection is wonderful.  Part of our nature.

But the the apartments on the south side of the house have no porch.

Attempting to share the main porch, if you have not rented apartment A or B means you are sitting right next to the current residents bedroom.  That just doesn’t work.

Seeing the need across multiple tenants, I wanted a common space that was easy to access for everybody, but not connected to any one unit.  I wanted something that took advantage of the beautiful view north to the Wakefield and bluff.  A place to take shelter from either the sun, or the prevailing wind, depending on the day and season.

Thanks Dave!



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Above, our version, lacking several hundred “employees,” of a raised bed–the straw bale garden.  If you want to read more about that please see:


Oh, and PS, (don’t tell Rick,) thought daunted by tree pleaching, I am somewhat interested in topiary. . .





Unit D, Anna’s Apartment

Unit D was named for a long-time resident whose politics we greatly admired.  It is a medium-sized, second floor, one bedroom apartment on the south and west faces of the house.  The main entry is off the Poplar Street side of the house:


Those are the living room windows on the second floor, just to the right of the entry.

Background: When I bought the Odell House in 1997, roughly 99 years after its construction, to say I was overwhelmed with the updating required was a bit of an understatement.

The house was in many ways well taken care of, always owner occupied, and updated as needed–just not very recently.  The kitchens and baths were all were carpeted, the appliances about twenty years old at the time, much of the interior paint a very light green.  The kitchen floors were on my hit list as first priority.  Every unit got a new refrigerator.  I replaced some, but not all of the stoves.  Everything got painted.

That was 17 years ago.


I’m not saying time stood still.  We replaced the roof ($80,000 and three roofers later, one still in jail–but that is a different story.) We’re painting the exterior face by face.  Kept working on the apartments as time, money and need arose.

In December of 2013 we discovered a leak in Anna’s Apartment.  And the leak led us to replacing the bedroom ceiling, and refinishing the floors.  And while we were at it, remodeling the kitchen.  And the bath.  Construction is like that.  And such a mess really that you might as well get it done all at once.  (That is the thought anyway.)

So here is what it looks like now:


Entry off second floor landing.



Living room above.  On the other side is a full futon, and on the wall near the door a dining table.



This combination of a drop leaf table and glass cabinet make a breakfast nook at the end of the galley kitchen.


Here’s the galley kitchen, which needs a bit of explanation.

In the old version there was an apartment sized electric stove, then a rather large refrigerator from the nineties stacked in a row just beyond the metal sink base–a vintage piece that I actually like.  (Gutting an apartment is a word developers use.  In remodel of an old house there are always charming elements that you want to keep–as well as some that just need to go.  Usually things from the last remodel that have plain worn out–or were not well thought out.)  Anyway, the refrigerator was an example of not well thought out.  It completely blocked the use and opening of the glass cabinets to the end.


We repositioned the new refrigerator under the L in the counter top.  Where is it, you are asking?

Right there below the microwave.

It is an under counter, Electrolux, double-drawer refrigerator.  I have lived with and loved an identical one for six years now.  They are wonderfully energy-efficient, have really a lot of space (6 cubic feet).  No freezer.  But, it is very easy to put a similarly energy-efficient chest freezer elsewhere in the house.  In this case in the laundry/utility room just outside the hall door of this apartment.

In the lineup where the old fridge and stove used to live are an 18 inch Boshe dishwasher, a bit of cabinet space, a wall oven mounted low in custom cabinet, topped by a two burner induction cook top.  (These are great, safe also energy-efficient inventions.  They simply refuse to work if you do not have a magnetic pan.  Out with the aluminum!)


What you are looking at is more than $4,000 worth of top of the line appliances in a $2,000 custom counter top.


The floor is from the nineties–tile I had put in.  The sink is from the fifties–works great, re-plumbed of course to accommodate the new dishwasher to its side.


The rather charming original wood cabinets from the twenties remain.


and back out into the hallway, breakfast nook to the left.


Above, bedroom door to the left and left again to the bath.

Below, and to keep in mind when thinking of this unit for extra guests, the entry to the bath is in the corner of the bedroom.



What you are seeing is a new tile floor, with a pebble exterior, a vessel sink over a custom soapstone vanity that creates a shelf over the radiator.



The huge claw foot tub remains,


but got a new, larger, chrome shower ring, new faucet and shower hardware built for this purpose.


I’m sure you will miss the hose I had clamped onto the old faucet for years to create a shower


So there you have it.  Three months, $30,000. 100% Energy Star rated.

Just a note about this and all the claw foot tubs in the house.  Please, please, PLEASE position the shower curtain INSIDE the tub if you take a shower.  You see below the wrong way to do it, though we frequently leave them like this after cleaning for those who want to take baths.


This is not Anna”s Apartment, but C with the bath room sadly flooded by a careless guest who showered with the curtain out–you can see it in the photo, along with the huge fan we positioned to quickly dry the floor.  Not good!!!!

Back to the kitchen.  A lot of people who believe they can’t live without a large refrigerator are surprised once they experience the convenience of a small one.  And that’s not too odd really, considering that in Europe, most apartment refrigerators are under-cabinet, and even smaller–three cubic feet.  Why?  Because people live near grocery stores and tend to shop every day.  That would be about like Browne’s Addition.  Never mind that right after the water heater and electric clothes dryer, the refrigerator takes the third highest toll in energy use in most households.)


Not this one.  Under half of the energy requirement of the old one.  (One advantage of drawers in a refrigerator rather than doors is the cold air does not “tumble out” as you open it.  Same for chest freezers.)


The open cabinets to the left are very useful for storing the extra bottles of whatever you might like to put in the refrigerator next.    And zero energy used maintaining the backups.

Consider the alternatives.

Anyway, to say we’re pleased with Apartment D’s update is a great understatement.  We are hoping you like it too!

Unit C, The Family Apartment

Unit C of the Odell House enters from the Poplar side of the house and has a large picture window in the living room looking West.  You can see the window to the right of the entry door.


This one bedroom apartment is ground floor and relates very nicely to the new deck and Gazebo we installed in the spring of 2014.

This would be the view from the bath window,


–though obviously taken from outside as there is a curtain in the bath.


This is the sitting area right outside the picture window.  The apartments on the other side all have porches and covered sitting areas, and we felt this was missing on the west side of the house.  Gas grill for tenant use on far side of structure.  Anyway, this area relates nicely to apartment C.

A page of pictures of the interior of C have remained unchanged for years in our main website.

It’s easy to access, entry of the locked first floor landing.



Recently we have embarked upon a soft update, starting with repairing some cracks in the kitchen ceiling and repainting.


You can’t see it in these pictures but we also added one of my favorite kitchen improvements–a very quiet exhaust fan.  Air quality inside in any house is improved by these, and it is something I want in all the units.

The living room is large, with two sofas.


And then a little dining table that currently sits under the big picture window.  We had a custom “top or bottom” raise cellular blind installed this year.  That means you can  have as much privacy or as much view as you wish


The bedroom is not large and some have described it as awkwardly shaped–which it sort of is, the linen closet behind the only place to put the bed.  But it still fits a queen bed, a dresser and vanity.

The door to the right of the bed leads to a locked exit hallway–the old maid’s stairs–which are actually pretty convenient for moving things in and out of the unit.


The bedroom also contains the entrance to  the bath which was updated during the winter of 2014.   I will show you a couple  “as was” photos because it makes some previous comments about the space more clear.


The bath, now painted white,


has had a pedestal sink, and nice tile back splash dating from the nineties–the era of my Russian carpenter, Yuri.

There is also  a large, five foot claw foot tub that used to have a shower addition from the seventies.   A shower ring which sadly has caused us no end of review trouble!

What’s not to love about a full-length claw foot?

Nothing.  It’s a great tub.

But people want a shower as well.  And they uniformly hated the too-small ring enclosure from the seventies.  To keep the shower ring level I did some 2004 “granny” engineering!  (See the purple dog leash?)


Which I was so proud of at the time as the curtain stayed level.

My guests, however,  were not enthusiastic.

They now actually MAKE a suitably sized chrome shower ring–which was not the case in the “dog leash” years.

Here it is:


A lot roomier, cleaner looking and, well, just the right size.  Sturdily installed, stable and level. Go Dave!!! (Our carpenter.)

A note here if you stay, Please Please PLEASE put the shower curtain inside the claw foot tub if you take a shower!

The other project on the hit list was the carpeted bathroom–the last of same in the house.

The important areas are now tiled.

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This may not be 100% historic, but in my book a neat way to treat the often intricate and immovable pieces in an old house, like radiators and heating pipes: use smaller tile (or flat pebble tile) as an edge, larger tile to the center.

And the new tile supporting new toilet and plumbing–very sanitary–and not pink–now white with pink accents.  (I kind of miss the pink. . . .


Someday we will strip all the carpet that now runs from tub into bedroom, but in the meantime, new toilet, new floor and new plumbing.

It is an easy, fun little apartment. Great views, lots of light.

Unit E; The Maid’s Apartment

Unit E on the second floor of the Odell House is shaped like a long keyhole.

It is the second to largest unit in the Odell House, and has the most light and sun of any  There is an eastern exposure down one long side–about 60 feet–for the bath, hall, bedroom and kitchen, then there are two large bay windows to the north and west in the living and dining rooms.

For many years unit E contained what is now the upper laundry, but was for a long time the little Maid’s room.

We need better pictures of the living and dining rooms, which because they have a lot of light are really hard to photograph.

Here are some anyway:  The first is a view from the bay window facing the corner of First and Poplar.  A summer sunset the second week of July.


The larger five bay windows would be right behind the photographer here.


The two “flower” windows of the house belong to E.


There is a desk below one of them.



In this summer shot above you can see one of the sofas in the living room and large draped bay window.

There are five windows making up that Bay, and a recent update is a set of custom light reflective double cellular shades.

They open from top down and bottom up, were fantastically expensive and are doing a GREAT job insulating that very bright window from the hot afternoon sun–though still too much light to get a good photo.  (My kingdom for a photographer!!!)


Here they are without the drapes:

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This is a winter view, but you can see how the bay windows of the second floor are laid out above the porches. (The photo above is of course the ones on the right as you face the house.)


Galley kitchen below with a big window off to the left–east side.


The bedroom–queen bed.  Flat screen TV on the wall– a little one.

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Above, the bath with original  octagonal tile floor.  (This is a good and bad thing!)

Good parts: Very pretty views and light.  A lot of space to spread out, dedicated desk as well as dining table.  Some availability for extra guest. Two TV spaces. Convenient laundry.

Bad parts: second floor, laundry is near bedroom so the odd inconsiderate other guest might be a problem.  Has not happened yet. (Hint, hint–let’s keep it that way)  Microwave and other appliances used at same time will blow fuses.  Fuse panel is in laundry.  AC and hair dryer have new circuit dedicated. . .it’s the darned micro.  In the summer it is air conditioned from the back hall near the bath and bedroom.  Careful use of the drapes and new insulated cellular blinds in the larger bay window that faces west is the key to being comfortable in the front areas of the house.  It makes a huge difference if you use them thoughtfully–open at night to enjoy the view and air, closed during the day.


Some client thoughts:  This unit has a lot of light and very, very pretty views in all directions.  It is large, the second largest of the house.  A woman who stayed in both D and E  this spring reported that she preferred E because she was a”view person,” and while D has some nice outlooks as well, the windows of E pleased her.  She also liked the additional storage both in the bath dining room area.

The Gallery Studio Space, Unit A

The Gallery/Studio, unit A is located at the front of the house, on the ground floor, facing First Avenue. 

(Left side in the photo below, taken standing on the corner of First and Poplar Streets.)


Right in the middle there under the “eye” windows.


The Gallery is the closest we come to a hotel room–two queen beds, a very normal small bath, and little tiny kitchen. It is often rented in combination with one of the main floor units.  It has a locking door that can be opened into unit C if one wants a two bedroom two bath suite.






As seen in previous photos there are now a set of arm chairs settee where Dobbins, my grandmother’s rocking horse, is in this photo.  (He moved over to the corner for a better view of the TV.)



There is a large display case from when the Gallery really was a gallery.  It has lots of interesting antique glass–also making this unit not the best choice for toddlers.

The gallery sits at the front of the house, with a nice porch sitting area, but because of that “front row seat” it is somewhat public. Very easy to find and check in.

Though it has many fans and repeat visitors, tucked away is NOT the description of the Gallery.  It has lots of huge windows, light and views–also with a very good set of drapes and cellular blinds which help with both privacy and the heat exchange of those very large and handsome windows.


What’s it like to stay there solo?

The Gallery is a lovely space with lots of interesting art, nick knacks and comfortable outside sitting area with dining table.

As the original reception room of the house, it was designed to be used somewhat publicly, and it looks like that.  It is very staged, with a “for sale” tea display and many interesting oddments.  It is its own space, fun to explore, very interesting, but notoriously hard to make “your own”.  We seldom use it for long term stays because of this, though often people stay a period waiting for their “real” unit to become available.  The large and well-developed outside seating area is a nice addition because the apartment itself is small.


We added a set of roll up sun shades to the west face of the porch in the spring of 2016.

(It only took eighteen years to realize the summer sun made sitting in that area in the afternoon uncomfortable–we are sorry to be so slow!)

The other side of the sun shade is the west gazebo yard, which can certainly be used by all.


But the west covered porch is private to unit A

Re storage: There is a large clothes closet in the second room.  It also holds a vacuum which you probably won’t want, and an iron and ironing board which you might. There is a second place to hang clothes in the bath.

The Gallery has a little half kitchen.  And them some cooking equipment tucked into various places.  Not a full, proper kitchen, but all the elements available: small fridge, two electric burners, toaster, coffee maker, microwave and sink in the little kitchen.  Then below the tea display an apartment sized oven–tiny–and in the second hall closet a small freezer.  The last two are new this year because I was getting tired of telling folks they could not make cookies, and all the ice cream would have to be eaten in one sitting. . .

The gallery is a fun space, particularly for a quick overnight.  It is the only one of the smaller units with two formal queen beds.  We try to make it affordable, but others are as well–so don’t let price alone guide your choice.  If you are traveling with a child, or need to cook extensively, a better choice might be a larger unit at 800 square feet with a full kitchen–and nothing that you have to worry about small, interested hands breaking.
In another post I explain that we recently moved the house thermostat–which for years was in unit A–to make it easier to customize the heat in that small space without affecting the whole house.
More on heating/cooling in the post below.