It was a bit of a journey, is not it? First a sea ferry; then a fairly important road towards this isolated and serene bay (if you arrived in Venice, you have gone too far!); then another good quarter of a mile ahead on a rustic driveway to what, for all intents and purposes, looks and feels like a long established French countryside village.
What a surprise, then, that you didn’t need this passport, after all.
This is Bainbridge Island (there really is a Venice here), and that’s where Becky and Paul live. Their journey here too was quite extensive, intentional and purposeful.
“I always wanted to live on an island,” says Becky. “My grandparents bought a property on this bay in 1941, and I come here all my life from Seattle. I came every summer. “
This special land is still in the family – divided between Becky; his brothers and sisters; and his cousins, who now own a place less than a mile away – but the inspiration for this house is intensely international.
“We have friends in France; that’s what got us started, “says Becky.
Once they decided to build, Paul embarked on a wish list of architectural details, dimensions and materials, while Becky collected photos in a notebook, says architect Marvin Anderson, who all brought home.
“They knew exactly what they wanted: a series of buildings around a courtyard – the idea of a house in a complex that had grown up all these years,” he said. “They also wanted separate buildings: a house with a small gravel yard, a garage with carpentry for Paul, an art workshop for Becky and a large fenced vegetable patch and a cutting garden. My job was to mix it all up and nestle it in the place. “
Anderson, who has a particular passion for historic architecture, also has a way of mixing. Here, a sweet smoothie of ideas and inspiration incorporates “lots of little details that come together to create a sensation,” he says. “You cannot choose them; they mix so well together. Some of the exterior walls are thicker than normal. There is light blue on the windows, with concrete sills. The house really opens onto the courtyard. You open the doors, and it’s all inside / outside. “
Paul’s multi-decade career as construction manager – he and Anderson first met on a project 25 years earlier – has added to the mix in several ways.
“Some details, like the soil, come from a relationship with the contractors,” he said. “The tile contractor had leftovers from a job – it could have been 10 years ago. Even better: the handmade, slightly irregular terracotta tile, now maintaining the floor covering on the first level, “is actually from France,” says Becky.
While the subcontractors also took care of the foundation and the framework, Paul and Becky turned their vision into a serious elbow grease, doing a lot of work on the house and its buildings themselves – even before the moment. to build.
When they cleared the land, says Paul, they must have cut down perhaps 20 fir trees, which were crushed on the island by David Kotz. “I stored them and air-dried them for a year,” says Paul. “All the exposed wood is our tree”: the beams in the living room, the ceiling in the dining room and the studio, the parquet on the second level, the staircase. (Since moving in, Becky and Paul have planted more than 40 trees, partly to replace the felled ones.)
After Paul retired from his paid construction concert, Anderson said, “He started building the house, Becky” swinging the hammer “daily and working with artisans that Paul had met throughout his career . “(Adds Paul:” We were the builder / general contractor and also did some of the carpentry work during the framing and finishing. The construction of this house functioned roughly as a superintendent, laborer, pick-up carpenter and manager. project.”)
The result: a new collaborative compound that feels international, intentional and inspired – an oasis of summer Provence on the north of Bainbridge Island.
“We have so much sun here, it feels like we are in the south of France,” says Becky. “We no longer need to go to France (except to visit our friends, of course!). “