Landscaping magic gives a pristine Fidalgo Island, Washington, home verdant Northwestern fair. By Stephanie Hunt
1 of 10Photo: Laurie Black; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
The setting was exactly what this Seattle family of six was looking for in a vacation property: a spot with the rugged ambience of the San Juan Islands (which they love) but easier to get to; a panorama of Puget Sound; and enough land to feel immersed in a wonderland of water, evergreen forests, and wildlife. But the formal, suburban-style home and its manicured lawn weren't exactly what they had in mind.
Architect Bernie Baker was tasked with amping up a Northwestern lodge look, so he reconfigured the exterior with strong, simple materials—Idaho sandstone, wood, and copper—and worked with landscape architect Hendrikus Shraven and interior designer Tami Cline of Interiorworks to add inviting outdoor living and entertaining spaces to the property's ample two and a half acres. Here's how they created a more casual family retreat with plenty of plein air panache.
2 of 10Photo: Laurie Black; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
Expand the View
Baker and his team remodeled the kitchen to capture more of the water vistas and to add natural light. Baker doubled the width of the windows above the sink counter, and added height to the existing bay windows. Cline kept the palette neutral, using taupes and light blues and greens to complement the landscape and water.
Get the Look: The walls are painted Bleeker Beige, and the trim is painted White, both by Benjamin Moore. The table and chairs are antiques.
3 of 10Photo: Laurie Black; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
Tone Down the Formality
The interior had been recently remodeled, but was more formal than the family wanted for their beach house. They relaxed the rooms with strategic touches—adding wrought iron details to the wainscoting.
4 of 10Photo: Laurie Black; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
Let the Light In
The team also replaced rounded 80s-era picture windows with squared-off panes to give it more lodge-like sturdiness.
5 of 10Photo: Laurie Black; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
Create Enticing Paths and Nooks
Shraven used big rocks and "snags" (the ubiquitous driftwood) around which paths meander and plantings of primrose and lavender coalesce. The property includes herb, vegetable, and rose gardens, as well as a fire pit and various seating areas. "Guests almost always take a cup of coffee and wander around, taking in the different areas of interest," the owner says.
Get the Look: The Adirondack chairs are by Uwharrie Chair Company. The pavers are Pennsylvania blue-stone, and the ground-cover is wooly thyme.
6 of 10Photo: Laurie Black; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
Accentuate the Water
With 155 feet of shoreline and a sunny southern exposure, the family wanted the view to be center stage. Adding a swimming pool magnified the play on water: "Light reflecting off the pool becomes an invitation to outdoor living," says Baker. His trade secret: A tinted plaster for the pool bottom makes the color of the water blend with that of the bay.
Get the Look: Wild geraniums, blue fescue, shasta daisies, and English lavender border the pool deck.
7 of 10Photo: Laurie Black; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
Extend Your Comfort Zone
A glass-framed fireplace anchors a warm and cozy patio entertaining space, with the added bonus of blocking wind but not the view. This outdoor room is adjacent to the pool and an outdoor kitchen, where just-caught Dungeness crabs are standard fare. Industrial-style overhead heaters hide under trellises, making the spaces usable year-round. “We enjoy wine out here most every night,” says the owner.
8 of 10Photo: Laurie Black; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
Echo the Landscape
Crushed rock pathways echo the beach gravel, further blending the shoreline with the garden.
9 of 10Photo: Laurie Black; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
Use Quality Soil
“Soil microbiology is the key to a vibrant garden,” says Shraven, who starts by bringing in 12 to 15 inches of good organic soil, allowing for a deep root system, better water retention and less plant stress. Collages of native perennials add year-round color and a natural look.
10 of 10Photo: Laurie Black; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
Layer the Lawn
Though an inviting lawn still serves to lead the eye out to the water, Shraven uses grass minimally and strategically, not as the defacto landscape anchor. Buffered by cypress hedges (offering privacy as well as structural interest) and meadow-like groupings of wildflowers, the turf gets tucked into other elements, making a softer, more natural transition from shoreline into the garden.