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Pacific Northwest | December 12, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineDecember 12, 2004seattletimes.com home Home delivery

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CONTENTS
COVER STORY
PLANT LIFE
ON FITNESS
TASTE
NORTHWEST
LIVING
NOW & THEN
PORTRAITS
PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY ROBIN FOGEL AVNI
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MIKE SIEGEL


France in a Barn
In a unique space, antiques and traditions are treasured

Looking as if it were always there, the near 3,200-square-foot barn is nestled in a corner of Anthony and Lillian Bay's 10-acre property in Woodinville. Looking as if it were always there, the near 3,200-square-foot barn is nestled in a corner of Anthony and Lillian Bay's 10-acre property in Woodinville.

THE ABILITY TO CREATE unique and welcoming spaces in unforeseen spots is a talent that Lillian Bay deftly honed years ago while producing corporate events in the San Francisco Bay area.

The cozy nook off the kitchen is appointed with a 16th-century French mantle. The nickel-plated mercantile chest, to the right, while once used to display dry goods, now serves as a buffet for serving food and wine. The grape-cluster-carved columns, left, flank the entrance to the kitchen and were discovered at an antique store in Woodinville.
The cozy nook off the kitchen is appointed with a 16th-century French mantle. The nickel-plated mercantile chest, to the right, while once used to display dry goods, now serves as a buffet for serving food and wine. The grape-cluster-carved columns, left, flank the entrance to the kitchen and were discovered at an antique store in Woodinville.
 

That well-developed skill is what enabled her to picture an antique barn touched with the spirit of Provence on an empty corner of the Woodinville property she shares with her husband, Anthony, and their three children. "You had the vision and the idea. You had it in your head the whole time," Anthony says admiringly.

The barn was inspired by their love of antiques, which began during the three years they spent living in France in the 1980s, while Anthony worked for Apple computer. The couple were their own general contractors, but worked with Barn Pros, Inc., in Monroe, to bring the project to life. The basic structure was built in three months, the entire project was completed in a year.

While waiting for Santa to arrive, one of the reindeer from Lillian and Anthony Bay's farm of exotic animals walks the property near the barn.
While waiting for Santa to arrive, one of the reindeer from Lillian and Anthony Bay's farm of exotic animals walks the property near the barn.

The space serves as a cozy home office for Lillian and her husband. And even though the barn looks like it's been there for many years, it's entirely new and equipped with all the latest conveniences, including a full kitchen with a 700-bottle wine refrigerator, wireless computer connectivity, radiant heating in the floor, and a fiber optic and video network.

The Bays also use the barn as a special spot to entertain friends and family, as well as a place for community fund raising.

A welcoming holiday table awaits beyond the set of double doors purchased in France.
A welcoming holiday table awaits beyond the set of double doors purchased in France.

The barn loft, with its peaked ceilings, can accommodate a large Christmas tree filled to the brim.
The barn loft, with its peaked ceilings, can accommodate a large Christmas tree filled to the brim.

A trio of snowmen creates a holiday vignette atop a piece of antique French furniture.
A trio of snowmen creates a holiday vignette atop a piece of antique French furniture.
 

"Holiday tradition is about bringing people together and sharing the important things," says Lillian. "Life is too short to miss out on those special times together."

Last year, to honor that spirit, the Bays decorated the barn for a good cause — the Assistance League of the Eastside (www.alecares.org) annual Celebrations Holiday Home Tour. (This year's tour featured a different set of homes.)

To complete the holiday scene for last year's event, a few reindeer were even dressed for the occasion. The unique collection of 37 exotic animals at their private adjoining Bay Meadow Farm includes alpacas, kangaroos, miniature horses and donkeys, wallaroos, zebu (miniature Brahma bull) and, of course, the reindeer.

"Every year we volunteer our reindeer and take them to downtown Kirkland to sit with Santa," says Lillian. "All of the little children down there would ask if they were Santa's reindeer. We told them not yet; they were still learning how to fly."

Originally, the barn project started as a place to display and house a business interest in importing French antiques. After returning from France, the Bays had relocated to the Redmond area in 1994 when Microsoft recruited Anthony to start the fledgling Microsoft Network. Over the years, they had collected a number of pieces. "I'm fluent in French furniture," jokes Lillian. After Anthony left Microsoft, the family returned to France for a long summer trip and a little antique shopping. "We'd go for day trips around Provence; most of the antiques we bought are from Provence, and that's when we decided we'd like to do this for a business," he says.

"It was an interesting evolution," Anthony notes. The collecting started evolving from a hobby to a business. Then they realized they needed a place to show the pieces, so they built the barn. "Then we realized we had a lot more passion for living and being with them than trying to commercialize them."

"The antiques have become part of the barn," Lillian says. "When someone was interested in buying a piece, I'd think, 'Oh, no, not that one!' They became more personal to us . . . They became part of the family."

As the Bays prepare for the holidays this year, they look forward to spending time in the barn, a special place destined for new family holiday traditions.

While reflecting vintage French charm, the kitchen hosts all the modern conveniences, including a large wine refrigerator. The two tile backsplashes are from France. At first, there were no plans for a kitchen in the barn, but as the project evolved it became apparent that a kitchen would be useful to include.
While reflecting vintage French charm, the kitchen hosts all the modern conveniences, including a large wine refrigerator. The two tile backsplashes are from France. At first, there were no plans for a kitchen in the barn, but as the project evolved it became apparent that a kitchen would be useful to include.

"I'm very much of a romantic," says Lillian, who especially loves the holidays. "I'll be ready the day after Thanksgiving. Lights on all the buildings, fresh garland, and our reindeer will be in all their glory!"

Christmas Day will include a traditional brunch of Eggs Benedict and fresh-squeezed orange juice. By early evening friends will join the family for some holiday cheer and a light supper. "The kids' friends always find their way over to be with us as well," Lillian says. "This is very special to us, and the barn has made it even better.

"It's like a magical place all its own."

Robin Fogel Avni is a free-lance writer specializing in lifestyle issues and trends affected by technology. Her e-mail is robinavni@msn.com. Mike Siegel is a Seattle Times staff photographer.
 

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