DES MOINES, Wash. — Poor Puget Sound. There it sat, off the sloping Des Moines shoreline, all shimmery and scenic and beckoning — but for decades, no one really gave a rip.
Back in 1952, Jill says, her grandfather paid “$10 plus other considerations” for just over an acre of that sloping waterfront. By 1955, he and Jill’s grandmother had themselves a two-bedroom, one-bath house. Nothing to see here, folks.
Even after Jill’s mother inherited the house, and Jill’s parents added a family room, hobby area, master bedroom, garage and hallway in 1966, the Sound still was out of sight and out of mind.
“The old house had two picture windows and a brick door with green concrete stairs — no patio,” Jill says. “There was one sliding glass door to go out.”
In 2014, Jill took full ownership of the family home — she considers herself a third-generation “caretaker” — and called architect Dave Buck, of Chesmore|Buck Architecture, to see about seeing that sea.
“A lot of the early houses built in this area are waterfront, but people didn’t treasure the setting and views,” says Buck. “The original house didn’t take advantage of them. Property by the water used to be second-class. It was like it was built from a set of plans — it didn’t really know where it was.”
After a significant remodel and expansion (with LZL Construction) that joyfully celebrates the site, the climate and the views, this fantastic 3,000-square-foot waterfront home not only knows it’s on the Sound — it brings it inside.
“All I really wanted was open and light, and that’s what we did,” Jill says. “Since no one else took advantage of where this is, I guess the theme is sky, with movement to look like water.”
The new point of view, even before you can really see the whole view, starts in the driveway.
“Part of the challenge was developing an entry procession,” Buck says. “It originally was hard to find; when you came up, you were just facing garage doors. We turned the garage sideways and developed a cover in the front to help people find the entry.”
Just inside the newly easy entry, “The concept was to create volume and bring light in to the middle of the house,” Buck says. Where there once had been a low drop ceiling with fluorescent lights, there’s now an operable skylight that runs “the length of the gallery” at the tippy top of a 19-foot-tall peak.
As part of the wide-open great-room concept, Buck says, the kitchen was created for entertaining (Jill hosts all the family holidays and celebrations), with a custom breakfast bar by Glassworks where guests can keep an eye on all the festivities — and that stunning view.
A new pantry and laundry room landed conveniently right off the kitchen. There’s new porcelain tile flooring, and warm, woodsy, dark-stained Douglas fir trim, doors and cabinetry. The former garage area evolved into a third bedroom. You now can peek right through the new dining-area fireplace into the remodeled master bedroom. All along the water-facing wall are sparkling French doors to the sprawling deck, itself protected (but not darkened one bit) by an artful overhang. And everywhere, as treasured as the sight and influence of that once-neglected Puget Sound, are reminders of the legacy Jill protects.
“The Asian touches are in respect to my mother,” she says. “We spent 3½ years in Japan. She loved clean design and simplicity, and was a talented floral designer and chef. A number of her pieces I kept.”
Jill’s mother originally selected the chandelier in the master bedroom (it previously hung in the dining area). The liquor bar is a family heirloom, as is a Philippine mahogany chest.
“Scattered throughout the house are things from all the generations,” Jill says. “I’m just the caretaker. I paid for the remodeling — it’s my taste, but this is the family house.”
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