The Craftsman Bungalow

Dan Heringa
A Washington couple and an inspired architect reinvent the cottage look with whimsy, modernity, and lots of color.

Gingerbread trim? Forget it. Arched windows? Not here. Spindles? No way. Craftsman bungalows pare things down to form and purpose, defying their elaborate predecessor, the Victorian. The no-nonsense design (birthed from England's Arts and Crafts movement and great West Coast architects such as Charles and Henry Greene) washed over the country like an incoming tide in the early 1900s. And it's still surfacing in neighborhoods today.

We love this classic for its direct, simple approach to comfort and style. And we really love one particularly fresh interpretation on the shores of Washington's Puget Sound. Referring to fundamental attributes of this cottage design, Ken Schuricht and Mary Hall built a brand new kind of bungalow that is all their own.

Painted oxblood red with chartreuse windows and ochre trim that curls and swoops like a breaking wave, the house cuts a striking profile among its sedate neighbors. Proprietors of a boutique paint shop and a home decor store, the couple has built a world around color and a playful irreverence that demands life―and architecture―not be taken too seriously. " We had to do something fun," says Mary. "It was important to me that when people looked at the house, it caught their attention."

Architect Bernie Baker designed this eye-catching display for the two empty nesters. "We didn't build this house for future resale or to bring the kids home," says Ken. "We built the spaces we wanted. Period."

At 2,200 square feet, the home is small by waterfront standards, but just right for the owners, their golden retrievers, Sam and Sadie, and the resident cat, Minnie. The distinctive double-pitched roof gives the house a funky unpretentiousness that's echoed in a half-dozen dormers that dance across its corrugated-metal shoulders. Some of the dormers open directly into rooms, while others service light wells that illuminate the spaces below.

Keeping the focus on the facade, Bernie creatively designed single carports on opposite corners of the structure, which proved less imposing than a double garage. This considerate placement helps direct attention toward the entry―as does the jolt of salsa-color paint applied to the recessed front door. "I've used that trick for paint customers with entrances in an alcove," confides Mary. "It always works."

Despite the exuberant exterior, the couple limited the colors inside to shades of sage, brown, and gray, to promote relaxation. The earthy palette makes the interior feel like an extension of the garden, an especially important attribute for the original style's founders. "I want the colors to fade into the background and be a nice landscape for artwork," says Mary, who even painted the kitchen's door hinges to eliminate any distracting shine.

True to the home's genre, natural materials permeate the interiors. A river-rock fireplace dominates the all-inclusive living and dining area, which showcases fir floors and exposed fir decking above. In the kitchen, concrete counters tinted the color of sand cradle a farmhouse sink. The dining table, built from a 1,000-year-old slab of South African yellow wood, intrigues guests with its organic edges and pockmarked surfaces.

The second floor echoes the peaked roofline, with a steep central vault crossed by rows of muscular trusses and low side walls that instill coziness. The central hallway doubles as a TV viewing area and links an exercise area, bath, laundry room, closet, and master bedroom. Here, a stack of oversize windows brings in views of Mount Rainier and ferries rounding the corner into Eagle Harbor. "When there's a storm and the tide levels are much higher, we see big ships coming toward us," says Mary. "It's wonderful!"

While not everything about this couple's Craftsman bungalow is authentic, Ken and Mary find that, in many ways, they stayed true to the style's roots of simple, efficient living―and made sure it had a spectacular view.

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