Rescued & Restored
Find motivation for your own projects in the story of a Washington-state Craftsman that was relocated and rehabbed by resourceful owners.
To fashion a room divider using furnishings, situate a harvest table crowned with such tall items as this rocking horse, table lamp and miniature house against the back of a large sofa.this arrangement defines the entryway and keeps Rosie and Mike Saunders’ family room out of the flow of traffic. Pile on plenty of linen pillows that resemble feed sacks to create a cozy country theme.
Find inspiration in the story of how a Washington-state couple saved a 1911 Craftsman from the wrecking ball, relocated it, and returned it to its former glory, adorning it with primitive pieces, textiles and countless eye-catching collections.
Back in 1979, Rosie and Mike Saunders had been drafting plans to build a Victorian-style house in Yakima, Washington, when Mike learned of a 1911 Craftsman that was set to be razed to make way for a downtown parking lot. For just $1,700, the home was theirs—they just had to relocate and rehab it. Not ones to turn down a once-in-a-lifetime deal, the couple was up to the challenge, and thus began their adventure. “It was madness,” Mike recalls, “but it was well worth it. All the drawings we had for a house to build came to a halt. Now the plans sit in a tube in our basement.”
Today, the house sits high above 55 acres of apple trees, its porch now a wraparound with a newly added turret. Restoration has come in stages, with Mike completing the basement and upper floor himself. Rosie, a consummate collector since marriage, spearheads the interior design.
The home’s original price tag may have been small, but the cost to move it was $10,000 per half. Overhead telephone wires prevented the three-story home from being moved in one piece, so it was sliced in two horizontally. Before the move, the couple removed the leaded-glass windows, oak floors, beamed ceilings, pocket doors and steam radiators so they could be reused later.
Nothing went to waste; even the brick foundation was recycled to create the family room fireplace and exterior chimneys. The kitchen was extended, making room for a nook and arched windows to bring in the light, with shutters to regulate it. Eventually, wall-to-wall carpeting was torn out, and the original oak and red fir floors were refinished.
Rosie uses textiles to soften the original red fir woodwork and columns that distinguish the living and dining rooms, whether it’s a pair of slipcovered wing chairs (“I love anything with a stripe,” she says) accompanied by a stack of ticking pillows or comfy off-white linen dining chairs paired with press-back oak dining chairs and an adjustable harvest table.
Over the years, Rosie’s tastes have shifted toward primitive style. “When we were first married, our furniture was primarily oak,” she explains. “But this house was so much bigger than our first that we had to add a lot more furnishings. Now, it’s a combination of oak and painted primitives, which I love.”
Victorian furnishings have also been excised from Rosie’s new look. “We changed our Victorian bed to a new Colonial four-poster with cleaner lines,” she notes. Childrens’ bedrooms also were treated to a transformation. Rosie preserved the youthful ambience in one room by retaining accessories such as toys and a school desk, but she added a touch of elegance via bedding and wall decor.
Rosie draws inspiration from her collection of interior design books and magazines as well as the changing seasons, her antiques-store finds, and family treasures. Like the circumstances that led to the couple finding their dream home, the way the interior has come together is also a bit serendipitous. “My decorating is all trial and error, but I have [achieved] the look I like,” Rosie confides. It’s a happy ending for a house once destined for destruction.