All it took to transform this island home was attention to detail-and about 20 years of labor.

By Abigail B. Millwood
March 28, 2008
Philip Clayton-Thompson; styling by Donna Pizzi

The first time that Jerry West Sanders saw the tiny house onSteamboat Island, Washington, she couldn't believe her eyes. "Ihated it," she says. "I thought, 'I don't know if I can do this.'But I was single, with a budget, and I wanted to live on thewater." To avoid bothering the property agent, she climbed througha window into the empty house to scope out the interiors. "After Icrawled in, it was instantaneous," she says. The wide-open livingspace and views of Totten Inlet changed her mind.

To bring the home up to par with its surroundings, Jerry―adesigner by trade―replaced the flat roof, remodeled thekitchen and baths, and whitewashed the wood floors. "I wanted asimple, coastal look for easy living," she says. "I like color, butI don't use it in this setting." To keep things simple, she dressedher living room furnishings in easy-to-wash white slipcovers andhung white linen or cotton draperies and shades on doorways andwindows.

In the neighboring room, which serves as both Jerry's office anda dining room, she went for a more rustic look, installing Mexicantile floors instead of her standard whitewashed pine. "The room hadwood walls and wood beams, so I felt like that was enough wood,"Jerry says. "The tiles are earthy and warm." To connect the roomwith the rest of the interiors, she introduced touches of white ina painted table, corner cupboard, and chandelier.

An enclosed porch off the woodsy room continues Jerry's timelessall-white look, maximizing the views. "I used to have a littleFrench iron bed out there, where I would sleep in the summer,"Jerry says. "It's a narrow room, so I had to crawl into the bedfrom the foot." Now she uses the space as a retreat. "It's a quietplace away from the rest of the house," she says.

Her favorite part of the overhauled home remains the greatoutdoors. "If I could live outside I would," says Jerry, who takesfull advantage of three decks: one off the master bedroom, one offthe master bath, and another (with beach access) off the livingroom. Previous owners built an outdoor room at the end of themain-level deck as a windbreak. Jerry outfitted the space with ahutch, buffet, chandelier, and draperies. "It's a full-serviceroom," she says.

Now, more than 20 years later, Jerry happily shares the littlewaterside home with Richard, her husband of 10 years. "At first itwas very much my house, but he's grown to like it," she says with alaugh. Though Jerry continues to work on the house, its finestfeatures haven't lost any appeal. "I like that you can walk aroundfreely and see the water from every angle," she says. "It's notsome million-dollar home, but I love it."