We’ve had the fortune to find a perfect refuge from the sticky New Orleans heat: Samish Island, in the northwest corner of Washington State, enjoys cool, sunny summers during which locals fish for salmon, check their shrimp and crab pots, spot orcas, and hike in the nearby Cascade Mountains. John and Betty, two inveterate crabbers and cooks who pass their weeks as a molecular biologist and a biochemist, spend all their spare time at a home on Samish Island. They’ve recruited us to help remodel this 1970s ranch-style house into a waterfront haven where they’ll enjoy preparing and eating the fish they catch during retirement. We’ve divided the remodel into a series of smaller projects to be done over several consecutive summers.
One of Betty and John’s primary goals for their home was to emphasize its views of and openness to the Puget Sound, so the first phase involved rebuilding and enlarging a deck on the bayside of the house, using composite decking and a stainless steel cable railing system. We also improved the garage, rebuilt the stairs, and carried out numerous small improvements that wouldn’t interfere with their use of the home or the next phase of the project.
That phase began in October 2009 with months of deliberate preparation. With admirable diligence, Betty developed her priorities, chose materials, appliances, and fixtures (the cooktop range is the centerpiece of the project for John; for Betty it’s the Jacuzzi tub), and recruited an architect, Ben Humphrey, to transform her wishes into a floorplan.
Their vision became our marching orders when we arrived in June 2010 and started the dirty work. Within a few busy months we enlarged the kitchen and master bathroom, installed new windows and interior doors, re-wired and re-plumbed, laid new floors, finished walls, tiled bathrooms, and even found time for some clamming.
The house now displays an interaction between conventional and ultra-contemporary, urban and rustic, relaxed and sophisticated: a peninsula made from a slab of hickory and a throwback pegged oak floor thrust against seamless steel and vertical-grain plywood appliances and cabinets; earthy clay-plaster walls and ceilings encompass glistening nickel light fixtures; from the public areas done in subtle darks and lights, a peek in the guest bath / laundry room reveals a burst of colors inspired by a whimsical painting of a hippo on rollerskates.
Now that this important and intense phase of the project has been completed to everyone’s satisfaction, Betty and John are now leisurely contemplating the final phase, the design and installation of a master wardrobe, a rebuilt mantel, and bookshelves in the living room. We look forward to the next, best summer ever on Samish Island.