Names: Katy and Tighe
Location: Vashon, Washington
Size: 850 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, rented
Back when Katy and Tighe were city dwellers, they lived a semi-country life. They built a greenhouse in a tiny San Francisco backyard, grew their own food, and made plans to raise chickens. Eventually, having moved to Seattle, they decided to try out an actual country life. They found a little cottage on Vashon Island, got an (adorable) dog, and set about making a lovely home among the madronas and pines...
When Katy and Tighe moved in, the cottage, once the caretakers' residence of a nearby hunting lodge, was surrounded by a blackberry thicket, but they loved the idea of having four acres of land to plant and play on. So they got to work clearing the blackberry bushes, planting a crop of vegetables, and making their indoor space a cozy and stylish haven.
They've only lived in the house a year, and so they still consider it a work-in-progress. We love what they've done so far, furnishing with hand-me-downs and antiques that feel perfectly suited to the woodsy surroundings. Playful, modern accessories add vibrant notes throughout the small and comfortable rooms, but don't detract from the original details of the cottage. A gorgeous river rock fireplace is the focal point, complete with a cooktop for those stormy winter days when the island loses power.
In their move out to the island, Katy and Tighe have made the choice to simplify, keeping the house spare and uncluttered, decorating with beloved, meaningful objects and art. From the moment you climb the steps, evidence of the couple's creativity and talent is everywhere. An herb box made by Tighe, with honey-colored wood slats overlapping down the sides, greets you on the porch. Indoors, Katy's own art can be found in almost every room, and a portrait of baby Tighe painted by his grandmother smiles over a couch.
Our style: We try to mix efficient design with classic styles. Great Northern Hotel (Twin Peaks) meets small space living.
Inspiration: Natural elements and materials; unique antiques; incorporating hand-me-downs in new ways.
Favorite Element: The river rock fireplace. Almost anything looks good next to it or on it. It also managed to keep us fairly warm and well-fed through a brutally cold winter.
Biggest Challenge: Even though we have two bedrooms, the house is very small so we still have to be extremely strategic about where we place furniture. We also have put this house together with very little money due to a tough financial year. We've really tried to make the best of furniture we or other family members already had, as well as using here-and-there finds from our local thrift store, Granny's Attic.
What Friends Say: Friends always say that our house is very comfortable (it helps that we also tend to cook a lot for visitors). They also seem to like the fact that you can see madrona and pine trees (and sometimes woodpeckers and owls) from any window in the house.
Biggest Embarrassment: Tan, blue, and white beach-style bathroom. If we decide to stay in the house for a while, we'll at least paint the walls to make the colors less funky.
Proudest DIY: The garden. Tighe ripped up about 1000 square feet of blackberry vines to create a larger planting space for food in the garden. It's fed us well over the summer.
Biggest Indulgence: A nice mattress. We might be getting old, but we definitely felt like splurging on a comfy place to sleep.
Best advice: Don't underrate good storage! We can make our house seem clean and efficient because we keep all the odds and ends we've collected the past 30 years in the attic or shed. After living in tiny apartments our whole lives, we don't know if we could ever go back to living without adequate storage.
Rancilio espresso machine - Vashon free page
Herb rack - made from Ikea elements
Stovetop espresso makers - collected over the years from around the world
Side cutting board - smallest available size from Storables
Stepstool - estate sale
Tables - antique
Lamp - Ikea
Painting on the mantle - created by two of my Katy's former three-year-old students, who were twins (note the different painting style on both sides)
Frame above lamp - piece of fabric in a thrift store frame
Dressers and bed tray - antique
Tom Waits quote in three frames - made by Katy
Painting (of the intersection of Cole and Carl streets in San Francisco) - made by an old friend
Media cabinet - Ikea
Futon - Craigslist
Desk - street find
Shelves - handmade by Tighe
Painting of Tighe - made by his grandmother when he was one year old
Print - KozynDan
Shark print - made by Katy
Furniture - all hand-me-downs
FunFul stairs - installed by our landlord, from an amusement park in Tacoma
Front of the house herb box - made by Tighe
(Thanks, Katy and Tighe!)