Seattle Culture

Houzz Tour: Turning the Tide for a Pacific Northwest Island Home

A renovation of a 1980s home on Whidbey Island celebrates water views, color and eclectic style

By Karen Egly-Thompson, Houzz Contributor April 7, 2017


This article originally appeared on

At the time this vacation home on Whidbey Island in Washington’s Puget Sound was built, parachute pants and leg warmers were all the rage. While clothing styles have evolved since the early 1980s (thankfully), the home hasn’t. A major two-year renovation brought this waterfront retreat up to snuff on its exterior and gave it a completely new layout on the first floor to maximize ocean views and natural light.

Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: A Seattle couple—he works in corporate travel, and she’s a stay-at-home mom—and their 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter
Location: Menlo Beach, Mutiny Bay area of Whidbey Island, Washington
Size: 3,127 square feet (290.5 square meters); four bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms
Designers: Brian Paquette (interior designer) and Martin Henry Kaplan (architect)

The home sits in an idyllic waterfront location, but its choppy layout didn’t maximize the gorgeous views outside. It was in need of functional updates like new windows and doors, and the time was also right to make interior improvements to create a better visual connection with the water. Interior designer Brian Paquette helped turn the tide, altering the main floor layout and changing the finishes.

Photo by BRIAN PAQUETTE INTERIORSLook for midcentury living room design inspiration

Wall paint: Decorator’s White, Benjamin Moore
Ottoman: custom design upholstered in leather by Moore & Giles; gold lounge chair: Dillon, Lawson-Fenning, upholstered in Romo fabric

In fact, Paquette says the angles of the walls proved a challenging aspect of the redesign. But creating a more open floor plan allowed the intersecting planes and diagonals to become secondary features rather than dictate the layout.

Paquette had the living room ceiling raised a few inches. He had the beams and angled steel, seen at the right, painted the same white as the walls for continuity. The fireplace has a slim steel mantel, which Paquette says was chosen for its simplicity and relationship to the window design. The floating stair treads are reclaimed oak, the same as the floor.

Elegantly casual, the furnishings focus on comfort and texture—with leather, wovens and a chunky area rug. The blues, browns and golds reference the coastal landscape outside.

Related: Fabric to Freshen Up Furniture 

Cabinetry: custom, Gemkow Construction; white cabinet paint: Decorator’s White, Benjamin Moore; countertop: Calacatta Gold, Pental; island counter chairs: Lee Industries; pendant lights: Hubbardton Forge

The living room opens to the dining and kitchen areas, the layouts of which were completely changed. A large island provides ample workspace at one end and casual seating at the other. A sliding barn door on the far right leads to a pantry.

A custom blue paint on the lower cabinets matches the blue of the oven. The uppers, however, are white. “It’s a big kitchen, so having an all-white kitchen next to the rest of the color would have been off-balance,” Paquette says. Wrought iron light fixtures offer contrast as well as a subtle coastal look.

A new custom dining table mixes things up with two chair types: a modern take on a wingback at the table ends and six casual leather chairs.

Fernando chair: Jayson Home; pendant lights over dining table: Rejuvenation

Related: How to use Reclaimed Wood in Home Design 

Upstairs, the master bedroom is bathed in a palette of deep blues and grays. Paquette custom-designed the velvet headboard and nightstand.

Sconce: Visual Comfort; artwork: Jeremy Miranda

In a corner of the bedroom, a built-in seat overlooks the water. Abstract patterns on the throw pillows hint at water ripples, and the fabric on the chair suggests a stylized wood grain pattern.

Bruno wing chair: Cisco Home, upholstered in Groundworks fabric; wood table: Tirto Furniture

A skylight brings natural sunlight into the master bathroom, making it cheery and bright, like the rest of the home. Marble hexagonal tiles complement the marble countertops. Mirror: Restoration Hardware; floor tile: Pental

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