WRITTEN BY LAWRENCE KREISMAN
PHOTOGRAPHED BY BARRY WONG
New England West
COLONIAL CHARM MEETS MODERN SENSIBILITY
"IT WAS A WONDERFUL experience. I had so much fun with the design of it, and with the meetings and modifications. I'd do it again without question," says Ken Winslow of the house he and his wife, Kaye, now enjoy. Given the less-than-cordial parting of the ways home owners sometimes have with their architects and contractors, this couple's experience gives hope to those considering the daunting task of commissioning a new home.
For the Winslows, theirs is truly a dream come true. The shingle-style waterfront house on Liberty Bay in the charming Kitsap community of Poulsbo was inspired by the seaside cottages of Maine. It features steep, shingled roofs, a turreted bay and a covered veranda that faces the bay along the entire length of the house.
For Winslow, this type of house has deeper meaning than simply its picturesque character. He is named Edward Kennell Winslow for two ancestors: Edward journeyed on the first voyage of the Mayflower and was governor of Plymouth Colony; his brother, Kennell, came over six months later. Ken grew up in a true Colonial home in Rhode Island and spent summers in Maine. He wanted a house that had contemporary conveniences but also reflected that Colonial image.
The few they found had some of the New England characteristics they wanted, but weren't where the family had agreed to limit the search. So they decided to find some property and build.
Kaye, who grew up in Yakima, had also come to admire the New England cottages, but a new house was not their first choice.
"We lived up the hill in a 25- to 30-year-old house," she explains. "We loved the area. And we promised our kids we wouldn't move because of the school district." Also, the couple work in Silverdale, and occasionally need to go to Seattle. Poulsbo is convenient to everything.
The property they eventually chose has obvious advantages. It is a short walk to downtown and steps from the yacht club, a plus for Ken, who loves to work on his sailboat docked at the marina. Across the street is a public park with tennis courts and other recreational facilities. That appealed to them and their three children. And the views across Liberty Bay and to Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains are splendid.
But the site held challenges. It adjoined industrial land that had housed marine fuel tanks, a pumping station, a dock and an office owned by Chevron. It was cleaned up in 1991, but had stood vacant ever since. Ken remembers thinking this was a lot that would take some vision. "Before we bought it, I would come over during the daytime and nighttime and bring a chair and just sit and listen. I'd watch how the sun rose and set, watch the traffic and think about what it might be like to live here."
They bought the site in 2000 but planned to wait three or four years before building. The couple narrowed the field of architects to those who might understand the coastal New England look they wanted, and ended up interviewing five.
"Peter Manning was the last we interviewed. They were all great. But Peter was the first one to say, 'I'd like to come to your house now and see how you live.' We thought that was a pretty novel thing to ask. And we went to his home, which was stunning. Manning grew up in the East and spent summers in Maine. He knew exactly the feel I was trying to capture. Instantly we hit it off. We got preliminary drawings and just decided to speed up the process and just do it." They broke ground in September 2001 with Jim Ingalls of Kitsap Trident Home as the general contractor.
Manning was challenged by the narrow, triangular lot, by city-required setbacks, and by the mandate to essentially design two front entrances, one facing the street, the other, the rear. The site was first raised about 8 feet and bordered by a rock retaining wall and gardens, giving it a commanding outlook over the bay.
The façade is sheathed with Eastern white cedar shingles and painted lattice trim in classic New England style. Of the shingles, Ken explains, "We hand dipped all of them, Kaye and I and the kids. It took us five months. And over time, as the sun hits them, it accelerates the graying process." Another small nod to his New England roots is the front-door hardware, which came from Old House Parts Co. in Kennebunk, Maine.
The couple gave Manning a long list of requirements for their dream house, and he managed to accommodate everything but a three-car garage. The floor plan groups major social spaces along an axis that takes full advantage of the water view. The master-bedroom suite is tucked into the land side of the house for privacy. The children have the second floor. Another stair leads to the den/media room, which is insulated from other living spaces.
The interior features cherry casework, ash floors and extensive use of Italian ceramic tile. The dining-room and entry-hall walls are faced in custom wainscots. Manning designed all the window trim, floor moulding, beam work, built-ins and columns.
The Winslows' former home had 3,400 square feet of space; the new one has just 200 square feet more (not counting the basement). But Ken and Kaye are quick to point out that it is more usable space, with interconnected rooms that have individuality but are part of the whole.
Kaye also recalls that visitors to their former contemporary house would notice the furniture — family heirlooms reflecting Colonial New England — and comment on the "interesting mix." Now, at last, their traditional furnishings fit the house.
Lawrence Kreisman is program director for Historic Seattle. He is author of "Made to Last: Historic Preservation in Seattle and King County." Barry Wong is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.
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