Some memories stay with us forever, especially the ones featuring happy times with friends and loved ones. Such was the case for one Seattle-area resident looking to make some for her own family. “My dad built a house on Whidbey Island years ago, and my whole family spent many holidays up there,” she shares. “We were there all the time.” After her father sold the house several years back, she and her husband decided to find a getaway where they could create memories of their own.
The oceanside community of Seabrook, Washington, was the perfect fit. “It was so picturesque,” the wife says. “It has a candy shop, a toy store, a bakery and a little grocery store. People ride beach cruisers through town.” And on a bluff overlooking the ocean sat a fan-shaped lot that seemed like the ideal place to build. As luck would have it, architect Johan Luchsinger had already conceived a concept home for the site that appealed to the couple as much as the property itself. “The design had five outdoor seating areas, all facing the water,” says the wife. She also loved the historic charm of the structure with a gambrel-roofed volume at its heart, a stylistic departure from the couple’s more contemporary-leaning primary residence.
While the clients decided to keep the existing concept intact, they asked Luchsinger to make a few changes to suit their needs better. “We designed it to be a family compound,” notes the architect, who teamed with father-and-son general contractors Jaymee McMeekin and Jason McMeekin on the project. Luchsinger devised a pair of main bedrooms—one on the first floor and another on the third—and a bunk room that sleeps up to six in the daylight basement. With two more third-floor bedrooms already in place, there would be plenty of space for the entire family. And, to guarantee fairness, “We put king-size beds in all the rooms,” says the wife. “That way, there are no ‘better’ bedrooms.”
Views, of course, were a priority, so the open concept main floor provides sweeping vistas from every space. And while there is enough room to seat 18 people for a holiday dinner (“We didn’t want to put up any card tables for Thanksgiving,” says the wife), they also wanted to be sure that guests could also have quiet escapes. “We have the main level of the house, which is designed for that family interaction, but that’s a lot if someone wanted to watch a football game or a movie,” she laughs. A lower-level recreation space with a great sound system, an uber-comfortable sectional and a large television solved the problem.
Fresh, modern and slightly unexpected was the desired vibe for the interiors. “We wanted to be respectful of the architecture,” says designer Amy Baker. “So, the question was ‘how do you create harmony and still do something different?’ ” Her take meant using color (white, oyster gray and touches of blue to conjure a classic, beachy feel, along with a mossy charcoal hue for a twist); materials such as wide-plank flooring and plank cabinets are more unexpected.
Furnishings strike a balance as befits a family home by the sea. “We wanted a place that would feel comfortable but luxurious,” says the wife, so the designer wove in more accessible items along with custom furnishings and art. In the dining room, where she saw it as an “opportunity to use lighting, furniture and art to create a special place to gather,” Baker used a custom O&G Studio console and handmade lamp by Mount Washington Pottery to anchor a striking textured artwork by Kandis Susol. The piece is a prime example of the wife’s art leanings. “I really love texture,” she says. “I said to Amy, ‘let’s look for things that aren’t all just pictures.’” Baker ran with that concept, sourcing from area galleries and installing pieces such as a hand-spun rope sculpture by Cindy Hsu Zell on the stair landing and a cut-paper scroll above a guest room bed.
Perhaps most importantly, Baker incorporated pieces from the original family getaway too. “We took some things that we were sentimental about,” says the wife. “I said to Amy, ‘I don’t know if we can use any of this.’ But she did a nice job. She got the sentimental aspect of it. This is a new place, but it’s still the same.”