DOROTHY’S HOUSE AND GARDEN

CATEGORY: MORE PORT TOWNSEND

One wonderful thing about Dorothy’s house was that I was able to do some expensive  and striking details.  The one I liked best was that all the interior trim was clear, vertical grain fir.  The standard height door and window moldings were  1 x 4, the heads of which extended to form a band all around the main rooms: entry, living room, dining room and kitchen.  Above the main view windows were clerestory windows to eight feet.  Again the head moldings, in this case, 1 x 6’s, formed a band clear around the rooms and connected to the head of the eight ft. high glass doors in the dining area.  This 1 x 6 band was at the top of the wall where the sloped ceilings started.  Both bands formed details through the kitchen cabinets and another clerestory window in the peak of a gable.  It was very Greene and Greene.

The wall behind her wood burning stove was gray stone.  The walls and ceiling were white.  The floors were red oak.  I love the combination of white, natural wood and gray masonry.  She had her draperies made out of light-weight white canvas with wood rings on a wood pole.  The draperies were not pleated and were pulled with a wood rod: so simple.  With Dorothy’s paintings on the walls and her unique sculptures sitting on pieces of furniture, the rooms were a knock out. 

Dorothy loved the house I designed for her, or I should say “that we designed together.”  As soon as she moved in, she asked me to design the landscaping for it.  On the entry side we slightly re-shaped the mounds of excavation dirt from the foundation that the builder had dumped in a semi circular formation along the road and curving around the front corner of the house.  That dirt was actually rich top soil. These mounds were planted with hardy evergreen shrubs and kinnikinick for a ground cover.  The mounds created a secret, secluded little pocket between them and the house for a surprise entry courtyard–like a miniature hidden valley.  I thought this pocket should be an inviting green, so I chose a different kind of ground cover for it: a feathery low growing chamomile (chamomilium treneage) that always stayed green and seldom needed mowing or watering. The view side of the house, a large area down a gentle slope, was planted in wild flowers.

Dorothy lived in that house for about twelve years and then she decided, in her unique way of making decisions, that it was too much for her to take care of any longer and she wanted a smaller house.  She bought the acreage next door and asked me to design another house for her, “just like this house only smaller” she said.  It seemed a tall order to shrink something that already seemed so perfect for her.  But we worked it out and she moved into the smaller house.  The view was not as spectacular but was still a show stopper.  We put a deck on the view side in back and enclosed a small front yard in a high fence.  That was the only landscaped space; the rest grew up to fir trees, Snowberry and other native plants.

She lived there about three years.  One day she died of a heart attack in her small art studio.  Coincidentally, she had been on the phone to her doctor at the time and an ambulance was immediately on the way.  She was nearing eighty.  

Salut!