Restored to Glory
A neglected coastal home in Washington state was an ugly duckling until a Portland, Oregon, couple transformed it into a cheerful all-American family getaway.
Portland homeowners transform a neglected coastal home in Washington state into a cheerful all-American family getaway.
In the years
before Portland interior designer Wanda Vinton and her husband, Larry, purchased their 1892 Seaview, Washington, cottage, the oncecharming coastal home had endured a lot of indignities, Wanda explains. “The house had been vacant for quite a while, and its original character was buried behind attempts to modernize it—including Sheetrock that hid the wooden walls and dropped ceilings that camouflaged the open-beam wood ceiling.”
Perhaps the biggest insult to the 1,600-square-foot home’s original character was the floor covering—a patchwork of carpet samples in varying sizes, heights and colors that had been stapled to the original wood flooring. Despite the home’s need for a major makeover, the couple bought it in 2000 and set about rectifying some of the design damage. “For two years,” Wanda recalls, “we spent our weekends camped out in a single room while we gutted and restored the cottage.”
In addition to decorating disasters inside the home, the former owners’ enclosure of the wraparound porch had left the interiors starved of light, so it had to go. “Once we tore off the enclosure, it brought in a lot more light back into the living room,” Wanda notes. The couple, who enjoy collaborating on projects, had a clear vision for the home’s renovations. “We wanted it to be something special and unique, not at all like our home in Portland,” Wanda explains.
When Wanda works with clients, she typically recommends they select a palette of three colors to use throughout their home to create a harmonious flow. Varying the hues and intensities keeps things interesting. She followed her own advice when decorating the cottage: “I knew the walls had to be white to contrast the Washington-coast weather that can be a little gloomy,” she explains. “That brought me to an unexpected color—red—and, of course, blue. Now we call the cottage ‘Old Glory.’”
Once the “Old Glory” theme was decided, Wanda began to introduce her collection of vintage Americana pieces. “I didn’t have a place for them in our other house, so the cottage was a fun place to utilize them,” she says.
One of the most striking features in the remodeled home is Wanda’s stars-and-
stripes design for the fireplace mantel and surround. The painted white wood stands out against the original brick and is grounded by a new slate hearth. Local master carpenter and craftsman Floyd Rank brought Wanda’s vision to life, along with constructing the custom red cabinets for the new kitchen.
The couple relocated the kitchen from its original space on the east side of the house to the west side, borrowing square footage from a tiny bedroom and bath. They also added a doorway to link the kitchen to the now-sunroom. The light-filled space was once a dark, seldom-used bedroom that the couple transformed with the addition of 10 casement windows and comfortable seating for large gatherings.
The Vintons envisioned the cottage as a place to put up one’s feet and relax in a casual setting. The home’s location naturally led to the inclusion of beachrelated elements, including shells and sea grass. Mixing the old with the new is another way Wanda creates an easygoing atmosphere. For example, a retro-style whirligig adds just the right amount of whimsy to the fireplace mantel, while wicker chairs cozy up to an antique oak table in the breakfast nook. In the living area, a sofa slipcovered in blue denim, twin leather armchairs and a sturdy red trunk are durable and easy-care as well as stylish, which is especially important in a vacation home.
Years of hard work have allowed the formerly abandoned cottage to shine once more, welcoming friends and family alike to gather in its revamped rooms. “People love to come and look at all the collectibles and step back in history a little bit,” Wanda says. “After all, how many 1892 beach cottages have people seen with red, white and blue decor?”
Wanda Vinton designed her living room fireplace mantel with a unique star motif. The frame of the Eastlake mirror on top coordinates with the original brick fireplace. Stars and shells ground the towering topiary and fanciful whirligig.