EVERETT — Nikki Oku and Tim Sonia occasionally have to pinch themselves.
They’re just working-class people, Sonia said. But now they live in what they call their “Everett mansion.” “Sometimes we just pause and shout, ‘We live here!’ We are grateful sometimes to the point of tears,” Oku said.
Their 1910 bungalow is the featured stop on the Historic Everett 2017 Home Tour, set for Sept. 23.
The couple, who bought the house last year, already have done a lot of work. They cleared away 2 tons of ivy, refurbished the gardens, renovated the main bathroom to match the 1910 period and painted the exterior dark gray, gold and antique white, including the frames of each of the house’s 233 original window panes — many of them the small squares atop the picture windows.
“With an old house you’re never done, of course,” Oku said. “But we hope our place will inspire people to preserve Everett’s historic homes.”
Before moving to Everett in 2010, the couple, now in their late 30s, lived in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, where apartment buildings and condominiums have replaced many of the district’s older homes.
“I love history,” Oku said. “It breaks my heart to see Ballard change. I love Everett. It is so cool and I want it to stay that way.”
Along with original windows, the Oku-Sonia house still has its original doorknob and doorbell, window seats, fireplace, banisters, trim and more.
Only the kitchen has been fully updated, with a breakfast nook installed by the late artist Robert “Beau” Bossarte. Oku knows this because, with the help of Jack O’Donnell of Historic Everett and historian David Dilgard, she has done extensive research on the house.
The Henry Menzel family (yes, the same Menzels recognized in the Granite Falls area with Menzel Lake Road and Robe-Menzel Road) had the house built in 1910. They lived there until the late 1940s, when the Hodgins family purchased the home.
Hal Hodgins (a retired Gig Harbor lawyer who plans to be a docent at the house Sept. 23) lived there from age 2 until 14 in 1958, when his family moved to the Maltby area.
Recently Oku invited Hodgins, his brother Art and their wives, along with the Hodgins’ former neighbor Catherine Weeks, back to visit the house.
“We were all delighted with the ways that Nikki and Tim have made the house far more beautiful than it was while we were living there,” Hal Hodgins said. “They have highlighted the many wonderful Craftsman features with the thoughtful use of trim colors. The inside has also been upgraded with great respect for the original features.”
The home is decorated with old black-and-white photos of American cities, as well as paintings by Everett artist Elizabeth Person. They’ll add another Person painting to their collection after the tour. Historic Everett commissioned Person to paint the featured home, so Oku and Sonia will be the recipients of the original.
The view from the second floor’s front bedroom includes the Snohomish River Valley and the Cascade Range beyond. The back porch is a delightful place on rainy afternoons.
Sonia, who works construction, and Oku, who is employed at Boeing, enjoy walking their mutt Penny around their neighborhood.
“And when I get home from work, I stand outside and the house just makes me smile,” Oku said.
Historic Everett’s 2017 Home Tour
The self-guided tour of seven homes is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 23. Cost is $20, and tickets are available in advance at J.Matheson Gifts, 2615 Colby Ave., or online at www.brownpapertickets. com.
Begin the tour at the Van Valey House, 2130 Colby Ave., where you can buy tickets that morning, pick up a brochure and get a map. Docents will be on hand at each of the homes to check tickets and provide an introduction. The homes have been preserved or restored to each house’s original character and architecture, which is the mission of Historic Everett.