Name: Stephen and Katie Sloan (plus Peter, Anna, and Evi)
Location: Bainbridge Island, WA
Property Type: Converted Dairy Barn
Size: 2400 square feet (3 bedrooms, 2 bath)
Years lived in: 5
Resting on half an acre of pastoral countryside on beautiful Bainbridge Island is a distinctively charming home that was once a dairy barn. Originally constructed in 1905 and converted in 1980, this home beautifully integrates original rustic elements with comfortable modern touches.
Don Frothingham, a Seattle architect, oversaw the conversion. The structure was strengthened and insulated and modern amenities, like passive solar heat windows, make this cavernous barn modern and comfortable. The high ceilings create great acoustics and the current owners have hosted several community concerts, accommodating up to 100 people.
Antique farm details were, thankfully, left intact during the renovation. Elements like the penciled shopping list written on one of the bedroom walls, wide-planked Douglas fir floors with millwork marks, the rustic metal hay trolley, and original rolling barn doors all represent the structure's history. As much as the homeowners love the original details they also appreciate the new: the PaperStone kitchen counters, the eco-friendly dual flush toilets, the stainless steel appliances and the converted outbuilding that serves as an office.
The property is filled with fruit-bearing trees and flowering plants, offering a large area for cultivating the land and a spectacular view of the Olympic Mountain range. Bainbridge Island is a 35-minute ferry ride just west of downtown Seattle. Many people craving a rural lifestyle choose to live on the Island and commute to the "mainland" across Puget Sound.
My/Our style: Whatever is warm, kid-friendly, interesting, and meaningful to us. Books are always a cornerstone of our decor. They are beautiful things in and of themselves, but also contain beautiful ideas.
Inspiration: Don and Ann, the creative couple who rescued the barn from the wrecking ball and converted it into a lovely home; Christopher Alexander and his "Pattern Language"; curio cabinets of the Victorian era (we have birds' nests, sea shells, interesting stones, a beaver paw, a snake skin, wood carving from Namibia, a mask made of wasp nest paper, dried flowers); relatives' homes including an estate in Hungary, an island-home in Canada, and a log cabin in the Yukon filled with the splendors of nature and the past.
Favorite Element: The gambrel framing of the ceilings in the hay loft. It's something like living inside a wooden Gothic cathedral. We love having the large open living space upstairs and the bedrooms downstairs.
Biggest Challenge: Keeping the house and yards tidy with three small children.
What Friends Say: "This is beautiful! What an amazing and warm space."
Biggest Embarrassment: Just outside the front door. We just haven't had the time to redesign and landscape that area to its best advantage.
Proudest DIY: The separate office/studio building Stephen built.
Biggest Indulgence: The Amish-made cherry dining table, a huge, cozy red couch, and professional window washers.
Best advice: Decorate with what you love. Form follows function: figure out what will work well, and then make it look good. Take advantage of yard sales and craigslist, and pay retail for furniture only as a last resort.
Dream source: Bainbridge Island Craigslist. With so many interesting local people you're bound to find something great.
(Thanks, Sloan Family!)