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

By Fred Albert
January 24, 2006
Dan Heringa

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-nonsensedesign (birthed from England's Arts and Crafts movement and greatWest Coast architects such as Charles and Henry Greene) washed overthe country like an incoming tide in the early 1900s. And it'sstill surfacing in neighborhoods today.

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

Painted oxblood red with chartreuse windows and ochre trim thatcurls and swoops like a breaking wave, the house cuts a strikingprofile among its sedate neighbors. Proprietors of a boutique paintshop and a home decor store, the couple has built a world aroundcolor and a playful irreverence that demands life―andarchitecture―not be taken too seriously. "We had to do something fun," says Mary. "It was important tome that when people looked at the house, it caught theirattention."

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

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

Keeping the focus on the facade, Bernie creatively designedsingle carports on opposite corners of the structure, which provedless imposing than a double garage. This considerate placementhelps direct attention toward the entry―as does the jolt ofsalsa-color paint applied to the recessed front door. "I've usedthat trick for paint customers with entrances in an alcove,"confides Mary. "It always works."

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

True to the home's genre, natural materials permeate theinteriors. A river-rock fireplace dominates the all-inclusiveliving and dining area, which showcases fir floors and exposed firdecking above. In the kitchen, concrete counters tinted the colorof sand cradle a farmhouse sink. The dining table, built from a1,000-year-old slab of South African yellow wood, intrigues guestswith its organic edges and pockmarked surfaces.

The second floor echoes the peaked roofline, with a steepcentral vault crossed by rows of muscular trusses and low sidewalls that instill coziness. The central hallway doubles as a TVviewing area and links an exercise area, bath, laundry room,closet, and master bedroom. Here, a stack of oversize windowsbrings in views of Mount Rainier and ferries rounding the cornerinto Eagle Harbor. "When there's a storm and the tide levels aremuch higher, we see big ships coming toward us," says Mary. "It'swonderful!"

While not everything about this couple's Craftsman bungalow isauthentic, Ken and Mary find that, in many ways, they stayed trueto the style's roots of simple, efficient living―and madesure it had a spectacular view.