When entrepreneur Karen Snyder decided sell the family cranberry business in favor of making a full-time commitment to quilting, she began looking for the right property. Karen, a native of Long Beach, Washington, fondly remembers family talk of the Craftsman house her grandmother had built. As she researched Arts & Crafts building motifs, Karen subscribed to magazines, swapped coffee table books with architect David Jensen—and talked her husband, Bob Hamilton, into the idea.
“I didn’t have an awful lot of say in the design,” Bob admits. “She wanted an old house and I wanted a new one, so we built a new house that looks old.” “My whole life I wanted a house like this,” says Karen, Although Bob, who hails from Montana, was not familiar with historic Arts & Crafts work, Karen knew she wanted such bungalow-era details as battered (tapered) columns inside and out, box-beam ceilings, and a high wainscot with built-in buffet in the dining room. For the kitchen, she envisioned a cozy breakfast nook, and she began collecting green kitchenware to echo the color of the butcher block’s stubby legs—a piece she inherited from Sid’s Market, the grocery store owned by her late father, a beloved state senator.
Karen was exposed to Swedish Arts & Crafts design during several trips back to Sweden, her ancestral home. In fact, her quilt-making company, spawned by her quilt shop, is called AnnaLena.com—named after Karen’s courageous maternal great-grandmother, who came alone to the United States from Sweden in 1886. The balusters in the staircase of the new house incorporate Swedish heart and pine motifs. And Karen’s parents presented the couple with a Mora clock manufactured by a Swedish immigrant living in Minnesota. The style, first produced in the late 18th century, hails from Mora in the picturesque Dalarna province, Karen’s great-grandmother’s birthplace.
As building progressed, Karen was immersed in organizing the Lewis and Clark bicentennial celebrations that were held in 2005. She found herself researching local history and meeting with craftspeople on both accounts. Cranberries re-entered the picture when Karen Snyder and Bob Hamilton met builder Steve McPhail, who’d recently arrived from California and bought a cranberry farm. (It happened to come with a Craftsman-style house.) When the cranberry market weakened, McPhail found himself building again.
Then without a local crew, McPhail accepted when Bob offered to help on construction of the house. Bob dug ditches, hauled dirt, pounded nails, set forms and poured concrete. “Steve promised not to charge us extra for that,” Karen teases. “I’d drive out every morning before work to watch them. Whatever they were doing—pouring footings, shingling—I’d say, ‘This is the best day yet!’”
Bob did much of the painting, mortared the cultured stone, hung kitchen cabinet doors, and applied 24 gallons of shellac to interior fir trim. That was a delicate and time consuming job, especially when it came to the tapered columns Jensen had designed with an inset walnut reveal and pegs. Bob shellacked finished pieces, handing them off to McPhail for installation.
Over the fireplace, McPhail interpreted Jensen’s design, installing board and batten panels. Karen commissioned tile artist Reneé O’Connor to create a Lewis and Clark panel motif along with the green field tiles. Debbie Patana, once Karen’s high-school classmate, is the artist who created the art glass in the library, using Karen’s sketch.
The vertical-grain Douglas fir used in the project came from a local lumberyard. (Today the cost would be triple and the wood hard to find.) Twelve years ago, the only window manufacturer who carried fir (interior finish) wood windows was the Canadian company Loewen. Aluminum-clad on the outside, they were suitable for this new Craftsman house: “We manufactured our own sills” in the manner of old windows, says McPhail.
Original plans called for a hall closet next to the entry and staircase, but that would have hidden the library windows from view on entering. Meeting onsite at 11 p.m., everyone agreed that both sides of the entry should have a half wall, giving the space symmetry and sight lines. McPhail recommended using a newel-post lamp like the one in his ca. 1930 house, and at first Karen was against it, thinking it not correct for the period. But McPhail showed her a Stickley furniture book with several similar indoor lanterns. Karen also shied from the overuse of Arts & Crafts ceiling fixtures and lamps, which she feels have become clichéd. Instead, the living-room ceiling is lit by small beam lamps—a suggestion from a salesperson at Home Depot! They simply used the same bowl shades as the dining-room chandelier, inverted and wired at beam intersections. The plain porcelain fixtures were spray-painted bronze, and the lamps are small ceiling-fan bulbs.
Bob has come around to the “new old house.” “I’m so thankful we built it, using so much local talent,” he says. “It’s nice, it’s modern…and there aren’t too many like it around!”.
Architect: David E. Jensen, Long Beach, WA: (360) 642-3507, davidjensenarchitect.com
Builder: Steve McPhail Construction & Design, Long Beach, WA: (360) 783-2995
Art tiles: Reneé O’Connor, Willapa Bay Tile and Design, Ocean Park, WA: (360) 665-4763, willapabaytile.com
Glass artist: Debbie Patana, Inspirations, Chinook, WA: (360) 777-8715, inspirationsglass.net
Kitchen cabinets: KraftMaid, through dealers: (888) 562-7744, kraftmaid.com
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