City Xeriscape Garden

by on Jul 4, 2014

Story by Melissa Labberton/PHOTOS BY CHAD BREMERMAN

Nicole Murphy remembers becoming fascinated with Eastern Washington’s shrub-steppe environment when she studied biology at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. Nature hikes through the region’s high desert made her realize the natural beauty of the sagebrush and wild flowers that can thrive on very little water. These experiences had her dreaming of what she wanted for her own garden someday, and she knew beautiful drought-resistant flowers and shrubs had to be included. “I have to be surrounded by beauty wherever I go because beauty nurtures me,” she said.

In 2007, Nicole, husband Ryan and their young daughter moved to Yakima from Ellensburg and found a one-story, Mediterranean-style house on Yakima’s west side. “When we looked at the house, we knew it was perfect,” she said. They knew the simple, clean lines of the home would lend themselves to Nicole’s plans for a garden with “Southwest simplicity,” or xeriscaping, where plantings tolerate drought and need little maintenance or water.

Admitting she’s a perfectionist with plenty of ideas, Nicole, now 40, has been jotting down her thoughts, listing plants and drawing up garden plans in the same journal since 2000. By the time the couple moved into their Yakima house, she had already sketched a landscape plan.

“I wanted big plants at the entry of our new home that were drought-resistant,” Nicole said. She planted a staghorn sumac, an elderberry bush and a Coppertina Ninebark bush with burgundy leaves that complement the colors of the other flowers and shrubs in the garden bed. Through trial and error, she learned one important thing about drought-resistant plantings: “The plants have to be watered for two or three years for their roots to get established,” she said. She added that although dryland plants may look healthy the first year without additional irrigation, odds are they won’t flourish in the long run. Once established,  however, drought-resistant plants will often live up to their description.

Although she edited out much of the home’s original landscaping, Nicole did save two pink climbing roses that now stretch up the side of the house on wooden trellises that she built herself. She also built a stylish garden gate that mimics the trellis design.

Most of Nicole’s and Ryan’s efforts have gone into their sunny backyard. “I knew I wanted to create shade and still have grass for my daughter to play on,” Nicole said. They decided to divide the backyard into one-third lawn and two-thirds landscape, “creating respite for the family.” Nicole painted the cinder block vegetable retaining wall and existing concrete walkway a terracotta color for a Southwest feel.  Then the couple trucked in a cubic yard of pink shale for earth-friendly walkways and a patio space surrounded by a wide variety of plantings.

Since backyard shade was at a minimum, Nicole and her father, Ed, built a large pergola near the house and stained it a soothing shade of blue. It provides a relaxing place to either take a nap in the rope hammock or to sit on a vintage alfresco settee and have a glass of iced tea. The backyard also features a small pond and a fire pit to add interest.

But it’s Nicole’s landscaping that takes center stage: the amazing array of climbing vines, grasses, ground covers and drought-resistant shrubs and flowers make the spot a veritable Garden of Eden during the summer and early fall. In fact, last June, Nicole even held a garden show in her backyard called “Soul Flair.”

Of course, Nicole also cultivates an extensive vegetable garden on the terrace that runs the length of their backyard property line. She learned to be a scratch cook through Seattle Art Institute’s culinary program, so fresh veggies are a must in her kitchen. This year she’s planted a dizzying array of vegetables, fruits and herbs: tomatoes, tomatillos, summer squash, strawberries, green table grapes and lemon balm (to name just a few). What her family doesn’t eat fresh, she cans or dehydrates for the fall and winter months.

So what does the future hold for Nicole’s extensive garden? She would like to simplify her landscaping, since she’s realized the upkeep on so many mature plants takes a lot of her precious time. “I’m always editing and totally changing my thoughts,” she said. “When I’m ready to do something, I’m ready. So husband, get your gloves on!”

We did spot several long, redwood posts lying on the backyard lawn, so you can bet your bottom dollar there’s a “honey do” list in her spouse’s future.

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Greek Adventure Inspires Sagebluff Heights

by on Mar 7, 2014

A bocce ball court sits just a few steps from the front door of Rick Main and Kim Brewer's home. ALL PHOTOS BY CHAD BREMERMAN

A bocce ball court sits just a few steps from the front door of Rick Main and Kim Brewer’s home. ALL PHOTOS BY CHAD BREMERMAN

 

Eight years ago, Kim Brewer and Rick Main indulged in a month-long vacation to Greece, visiting six islands, including Mykonos, Rhodes and Crete. They found the rugged, sun-drenched terrain and laid-back lifestyle transforming. Unfortunately, you can’t pop these intangibles in your suitcase to unpack when you get home. But the memories of their phenomenal journey remained strong.

Fast-forward to 2007, when Brewer, 66, and Main, 56, started thinking seriously about building a home to last them through their senior years. Brewer, who owns a hair salon and home decor shop in Selah, and Main, a schoolteacher, scoured greater Selah for a lot with a view. The process led them to take a closer look at the rugged, sagebrush-covered hillsides, and the majesty of the mountains that surround the Valley. And then it hit them. “We can have our Greek house on the hill here,” Brewer said.

Rick Main, holding one of the couple's three dogs, and Kim Brewer relax in their kitchen.

Rick Main, holding one of the couple’s three dogs, and Kim Brewer relax in their kitchen.

On a hillside in Pomona Heights, the couple found the perfect piece of land that offered both privacy and an amazing view of Mount Adams and Mount Rainier. Eventually they settled on a plan for a Mediterranean/Spanish-style structure with 2,000 square feet of living space on one level. Since the couple plans to live in this house for many years, the blueprint included wide hallways and a doorless entry to the master bedroom suite,  which will allow for handicap access if necessary.

Brewer and Main hired general contractor Mark Helms to build the stucco-exterior home. Helms recalled that the hillside was studded with limestone that took more than a month to excavate. In fact, one of the limestone chunks that excavator Pat Temple coaxed out of the mountain was as big as a car. Since the couple wanted natural sitting areas in the garden, Brewer said Temple came back “and placed four large chunks for the fireplace.”

Although the couple stuck close to their budget, they refused to compromise on three areas: a tile roof, tile floors and a courtyard on the north side of the house. They were able to save a great deal of money by scouting out bargains prior to installation, however, like their light fixtures and the exquisite Mexican hammered copper sinks for the kitchen and bathrooms. Their ability to research sales and make decisions quickly helped prevent last-minute purchases that could have turned into huge budget-busters.

The living room includes modern and rustic furnishings along with local and regional art.

The living room includes modern and rustic furnishings along with local and regional art.

Upon entering the front door, visitors are welcomed by an open-concept room with high ceilings that flow from family room to kitchen. “Rick loves to cook,” Brewer said. His state-of-the-art kitchen with stainless steel appliances and knotty alder wood cabinetry would inspire any chef.

When it’s just the two of them, they prefer eating dinner sitting at the long dining counter that also serves as a perfect buffet table for casual gatherings. Helms also built a separate breakfast bar just off their bedroom that offers enough space to spread out the newspaper, and that window includes a drop-dead view of Mount Adams.

Both artists in their own right, Brewer and Main have liberally mixed local artwork (including their own),  photographs, antique furniture and repurposed objects to create their home’s style. “We didn’t want anything shiny or polished,” Brewer explained. “We wanted rustic and aged.”

They love taking the mundane and making it unique. Exterior screen doors received an aesthetic twist when they hired local woodworker Guy Brookes. He took Main’s design and created wooden trees that overlay the screens. The couple repurposed a classic plantation desk by filling the shelves with wine glasses and water tumblers for their dining room. On the opposite wall, a vintage cabinet shows off their china. They found a well-used, old wooden table that can be made to seat up to 27 — a true testament to how much they enjoy hosting friends and family for frequent dinner parties.

The living room décor represents a mix of comfortable furnishings, collectables and regional artwork. The top to a massive monk’s desk dominates the far wall, displaying a fascinating array of pottery, books, curios and memorabilia. A heavy grindstone turns into an object d’art as it serves as the top to a coffee table. Even a doorway was turned into a visual piece of art, thanks to the installation of a sliding barn door with windows that can close off the media room from the great room. “The door was sold to us as a ‘Reclaimed Pocket Carriage Door,’” Brewer said. “It was from Earthwise in Seattle and came from a teardown.”

Main and Brewer had a carriage door installed to separate the family room from the living room.

Main and Brewer had a carriage door installed to separate the family room from the living room.

All through the construction phase, Brewer and Main never forgot their original dream of capturing the casual ambiance of the Greek Isles in their Eastern Washington dwelling. Throughout the process, they made the blending of indoors and out a priority. They created a naturalized garden surrounding the house with inviting areas for outdoor entertaining, and installed exterior doors from the bedrooms and other living spaces that lead to sun-catching patios.

A Mediterranean-walled courtyard off the dining room was the final touch. This outdoor room is a delightful al fresco entertaining spot that features a fountain, Boston ivy creeping over the privacy wall, unexpected artwork (like the rustic gate created by Selah artist Rob Blackaby), and, of course, a nightly light show starting with a blazing sunset and ending with a starlit, deep blue sky.

Brewer and Main have generously shared their garden three different times for the Yakima Area Arboretum garden tour, and the house has been featured on the Larson Gallery Tour of Artists Homes. They like to call their property “SageBluff Heights,” but perhaps a more accurate description should be “Paradise Found.”

A creation of Brewer's: he often works with belts as his medium.

A creation of Brewer’s: he often works with belts as his medium.

Kim Brewer and Rick Main outside their front door.

Kim Brewer and Rick Main outside their front door.

The couple use wine bottles left over from entertaining to fill old metal crates, which then serve as objets d'art outside.

The couple use wine bottles left over from entertaining to fill old metal crates, which then serve as objets d’art outside.

A piece of art in the couple's backyard.

A piece of art in the couple’s backyard.

A second family room near the entrance to the home is airy with neutrals.

A second family room near the entrance to the home is airy with neutrals.

Another of Brewer's creations, which can be found throughout the home.

Another of Brewer’s creations, which can be found throughout the home.

Brewer's worktable.

Brewer’s worktable.

Copper sinks are located in the bathrooms and the kitchen.

Copper sinks are located in the bathrooms and the kitchen.

The master bathroom includes a deep soaking tub.

The master bathroom includes a deep soaking tub.

French doors lead from the dining room to a gorgeous patio.

French doors lead from the dining room to a gorgeous patio.

The guest bathroom carries the home's neutral color scheme.

The guest bathroom carries the home’s neutral color scheme.

Kim Brewer's art.

Kim Brewer’s art.

A breakfast bar is situated between the kitchen and the master bedroom, with a large window and an amazing view.

A breakfast bar is situated between the kitchen and the master bedroom, with a large window and an amazing view.

Looking West from the couple's property.

An artistic rendering of a screen door on the back of the home. Main created the design.

An artistic rendering of a screen door on the back of the home. Main created the design.

The home's front entrance is flanked by grasses and art pieces made by Brewer.

The home’s front entrance is flanked by grasses and art pieces made by Brewer.

The couple's master bedroom opens onto the master bath and has an expansive view. The wall hanging was made by Brewer.

The couple’s master bedroom opens onto the master bath and has an expansive view. The wall hanging was made by Brewer.

Brewer's work area sits in a guest bedroom.

Brewer’s work area sits in a guest bedroom.

KimBrewerHome-YM-10

The dining room opens onto the kitchen and an outdoor living space.

An art deco lamp sits inside a grate shade that Brewer found.

An art deco lamp sits inside a grate shade that Brewer found.

The living room includes modern and rustic furnishings along with local and regional art.

The living room includes modern and rustic furnishings along with local and regional art.

An old vent cover is converted to bulletin board and holds ribbons collected from gifts from guests.

An old vent cover is converted to bulletin board and holds ribbons collected from gifts from guests.

The kitchen includes stainless steel appliances, including a Dacor gas range, and rustic wood cabinetry.

The kitchen includes stainless steel appliances, including a Dacor gas range, and rustic wood cabinetry.

The kitchen's copper sink is echoed in the home's two bathrooms as well.

The kitchen’s copper sink is echoed in the home’s two bathrooms as well.

The kitchen is the center of Main and Brewer's home.

The kitchen is the center of Main and Brewer’s home.

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Designing Women: Christmas Three Ways

by on Nov 29, 2013

The Valicoff's family room's windows frame holiday decorations and a view of the family's orchard. Photos by Chad Bremerman.

The Valicoff’s family room’s windows frame holiday decorations and a view of the family’s orchard. Photos by Chad Bremerman.

Kathleen Carner, 68, loves getting together with her grown daughters — Leslee Mobley, 45, and Cristeen Valicoff, 43 — especially when the conversation turns to antiquing and interior design. And when it comes to the holidays, these creative women all decorate their homes in the spirit of the season, but with very different styles.

A Victorian Christmas
Kathleen admits that when she and her husband, Gene, bought their home in the ’60s, she furnished it just like her mother by purchasing matching furniture from a local store. “That all changed when a girlfriend took me to Seattle and we went shopping at an antique store,” she remembers. “I fell in love with everything.” She had an instant attraction to Victorian oak furniture, ornate silver pieces and Mercury glass. When she got home, she eventually sold her new furniture, replacing it over time with antiques.

Today her living room is the picture of Victoriana, exuding an old-world charm. An elegant tufted sofa and black mirrored cabinet that displays favorite glass and crystal objects d’art set the tone of the gracious room. Kathleen pulls her Victorian theme together with her fascinating collection of vintage photos above an unusual oak dresser that displays an ornate gilt bronze clock along with a decorative parlor oil lamp.

“My mother’s family came to the West Coast from Virginia in about 1915 and worked as farm laborers, mainly in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. My father’s family were displaced Germans from Russia and came to the U.S. in 1908,” Kathleen explains. This interest in her family’s history has played a role in her passion for antiques. Kathleen admits wistfully, “I’d love to live in the Victorian era.”

So it’s no wonder that Kathleen bases her holiday theme on Victorian style as well and incorporates silver and pearls throughout her home. Her tall, narrow artificial Christmas tree, sparkling with long strands of pearls and glistening silver ornaments, stands prominently in the living room during the holidays. Sticking to a “less is more” philosophy for holiday decor, Kathleen sparingly places delightful touches, such as silver candy dishes filled with shiny ornaments and old mercury glass vases and candlesticks, in surprising spots around her lovely home.

American Primitive Christmas
Leslee Mobley inherited her mother’s love of antiquing. Today she lives on Clayson Farm in Gleed with her husband, Mark, and two sons, Clayson, 14 (and whom the property is named after), and Garrett, 6. “Our home was built in 1901 and is still a work in progress,” Leslee says. “My husband is in construction and a very talented craftsman, so every project takes time.”

Although their property is surrounded by orchards, they don’t farm. But they love to rescue farm animals who are then spoiled: The family has three goats named Stanley, This and That, a sheep called Nelly and one pot-bellied pig who goes by Charlie.

Mark’s master carpentry skills and Leslee’s own talent for designing rooms that showcase antiques and Americana have developed a farmhouse with warm homespun appeal, without skimping on modern conveniences.

As a child, Leslee often went with her mother to yard sales and antique shows, and she loved snooping around antique stores. “I just got hooked,” she says. “I have always loved that ‘come in and stay awhile’ feel that old furniture and country-style decorating give a home. I also love flags, and red has always been my favorite color. If only old furniture could talk … what a story it would tell.”

For five years during the ’90s, Leslee owned Granny’s Pantry, a store located in the Scarborough Fair Shopping Center in Yakima. During that time she began to develop her signature country style by using a mix of whimsical handmade decorations, Shaker boxes, antique tools, pillows from vintage fabrics, old pottery crocks and patriotic flags in her interior design.

After she closed her shop, she directed her talents to a yearly antique sale, called American Primitives at Clayson Farm. The family even went to the trouble of moving a gargantuan 17×27-foot barn — in two pieces — to their property, so Leslee could have a “shop” from which to sell her collection of primitive furniture, housewares and decorations during the huge yearly event. She also hosts a smaller fall event, called Garrett’s Gathering.

“As a kid we always did Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family and then spent Christmas morning at home opening gifts,” she says. “My family still does basically the same, going to my husband’s parents for Christmas Eve, spending Christmas morning at home and then getting together with my side of the family for brunch.”

Holding on to old-fashioned holiday traditions, the family relies on lots of live Christmas trees, wreaths and garlands because Mark refuses to buy artificial greenery. Leslee has an affinity for snowmen and displays them alongside small banners with holiday greetings, American flags, homespun ornaments, red berries and twinkle lights for accent. She loves placing fun holiday displays in unexpected spots around the house: a snowman and tiny tree atop an old country store scale, a pickle crock holding a miniature lighted tree and a precious miniature chicken coop decked out with green boughs on the front porch.

During any season, Leslee’s cozy farmhouse reflects a simpler era when the holidays were slower, with the sweet smell of baking in the kitchen, family gatherings, church and friends. She and her family have captured these bygone days.

A Luxe Christmas
Cristeen and Ric Valicoff moved into their hilltop home southeast of Yakima four years ago. Built by Jim Sevigny, the home combines Northwest style with hints of French country. The interior features an open living space with high ceilings and tall windows affording an amazing view of the family’s extensive orchards below.

“We wanted an open concept, so that we could all be together cooking, relaxing, entertaining in a cozy large space,” Cristeen says. The great room’s large picture window, which provides an expansive view of the orchards, is Ric’s “pride and joy.”

“Ric is truly 100 percent farmer,” Cristeen says. “He’s worked really hard to make it possible to have our home built on his ranch.”

When it came to décor, Cristeen enlisted the help of local interior designer Kitty Berg to help her achieve a relaxed yet traditional decorating scheme. Choosing a neutral palate, the calming beige walls and white cabinetry and molding contrast nicely with gleaming wood floors.

“Kitty helped me with the wall color and some of the furniture, especially helping me with the scale and size of chairs, couches and more,” she explains. As a result, the home exudes a comfortable luxury that welcomes family and friends to relax and enjoy themselves.

The understated furnishings provide a perfect backdrop for dramatic focal pieces placed in many of the rooms. Crystal chandeliers in the entry and dining room, oversized white marble fireplaces, the foyer’s iron and glass topped table and a large Leo Adams landscape in the master bedroom all add to an elegant feel throughout the home.

Cristeen also credits her mother and sister for helping her achieve her vision. “My mother and sister really helped me with trusting myself and not to keep second guessing every decorating decision,” she says. “My mom kept saying, ‘A house evolves over time and that’s what makes it unique to you. Just give it time and it will just get better and better as you live in it and add pieces to it.’ ” Cristeen said Ric added helpful input as well.

When the family’s first Christmas in their new home rolled around, Cristeen enlisted her sister’s help in decorating it for the holidays, although the two have different styles. “We went to pick out decorations and ended up buying a very tall, 12-foot artificial tree for the living room and all of the ornaments from Target,” she says, smiling. Using a white and crystal theme with contrasting green garlands, the house sparkles with holiday cheer.

Cristeen’s childhood holidays haven’t been forgotten, however. Her grandmother made several kinds of cookies every Christmas, so Cristeen makes one or two of her recipes each year. She also cherishes some decorations that her sons, Coalby, ???, and Brock, 12, made when they were small. “No one else would think much of the homemade little picture frame and angel they made but me,” she says. “Every year I get them out and it kind ofbrings back a little of their childhood.”

Even the entrance to her home is cleverly decorated, with silver pine cones in potted porch plants, twinkle lights and a large candelabra welcoming holiday guests at her front door.

As the old saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” These three delightful and very talented ladies prove that style can be inherited and nurtured to fit each individual.

A kitchen's pot-bellied stove fits right in with Kathy's vintage decor.

A kitchen’s pot-bellied stove fits right in with Kathy’s vintage decor.

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Mobley’s inviting kitchen is made of warm woods, with antique pots and pans for decorations.

Kathy's sideboard dominates one wall in her living room and is the perch for finds in silver and gilt pieces.

Kathy’s sideboard dominates one wall in her living room and is the perch for finds in silver and gilt pieces.

A side table in the kitchen shows off sparkly trees and snowmen.

A side table in the kitchen shows off sparkly trees and snowmen.

Leslee Mobley, Kathleen Carner & Cristeen Valicoff. Photo by Jill St. George.

Leslee Mobley, Kathleen Carner & Cristeen Valicoff. Photo by Jill St. George.

A snowman greets visitors in front of a glowing fireplace in the Valicoff home.

A snowman greets visitors in front of a glowing fireplace in the Valicoff home.

The barn at Clayson Farm.

The barn at Clayson Farm.

Mobley's tree shines with American-inspired ornaments and embellishments.

Mobley’s tree shines with American-inspired ornaments and embellishments.

Mobley's living room features antiques and holiday decor, including children's toys, old tools and a real tree.

Mobley’s living room features antiques and holiday decor, including children’s toys, old tools and a real tree.

The Valicoff's master bedroom is awash in creams and browns.

The Valicoff’s master bedroom is awash in creams and browns.

Charlie, the Mobley's pot-bellied pig eats an apple.

Charlie, the Mobley’s pot-bellied pig eats an apple.

A sign welcomes people to the various antique shows at Leslee's farmhouse.

A sign welcomes people to the various antique shows at Leslee’s farmhouse.

Kathy's Victorian oliday living room features a tall, slender tree, dripping in crystals.

Kathy’s Victorian holiday living room features a tall, slender tree, dripping in crystals.

Lesley Mobley's front porch is decorated for the holidays.

Lesley Mobley’s front porch is decorated for the holidays.

A quaint two-part bathroom in the Valicoff home.

A quaint two-part bathroom in the Valicoff home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Yellow House on the Hill

by on Aug 30, 2013

The exterior of the family home is part Victorian and part farmhouse. Photos by Chad Bremerman.

Like a bright sunflower blooming amid a hillside of sagebrush, Laurie and Mariano Morales’ Victorian home can’t help but make you smile.

“I wanted a farmhouse with a porch, and Mariano wanted a Victorian-style house with a turret,” said Laurie, who’s a stay-at-home mom. The couple hired local builder Dennis Kelly to construct their dream house in West Valley in 1997. In spite of differing design ideas, they finally compromised with what today is a 3,400-square-foot Victorian-inspired farmhouse that has both a porch and a turret, with gingerbread detailing.

The creamy yellow exterior with bright white trim is reminiscent of the Gilbert Place historical house on Yakima Avenue, but with all the modern amenities a 21st century family wo

ago the couple visited Murano, Italy, where they spotted the elaborate light fixture. “ … Mariano, who usually doesn’t like modern, liked it,” Laurie said.

It’s no wonder that Laurie has a variety of heirloom objects and furniture popping up all over her house. “My parents had an antique store in Spokane,” she explained.

The adjacent family room has several vintage pieces of furniture including a 1940s chair Laurie bought for $15 and a couch she has owned since college. With the help of local interior designer Tanna Barnecut, these pieces have been refurbished with color coordinating fabric that pulls the room together. Additionally, the white built-in bookshelves, fireplace and hidden television cupboard, along with many windows, make this a cheery place for the family to gather after a long day.

In contrast to the casual style of the open concept kitchen and family area, the dining room with its brilliant crystal chandelier, antique table and glistening wood floor, harkens back to a more formal time when families dressed up for Sunday supper. “I bought the Sheridan dining room set from a huge antique mall in Snohomish,” Laurie said. “The table has three leaves and can be really big.” Old Asian floral prints found on a trip to Boston complement her collection of flowery vintage plates displayed above French doors. The room’s table runner and chair cushions give it an elegant feel without making it fussy or old-fashioned.

Just off the entry way, a door leads to Mariano’s study, which is an urban cowboy’s hideaway. An impressive pair of longhorn steer horns are mounted above an antique spiral-legged oak desk, and his collection of antique silver spurs, cowboy hats, saddle bags and western art is displayed around the masculine room.

“Mariano has ridden horses from the time he was little,” Laurie explained. The family has several horses that are pastured on the lower portion of the property that encompasses 8 1/2 acres. In fact, the Yakima lawyer has been filmed riding his favorite horse in his law firm’s television ads. Their 12-year-old daughter, Vienne, also loves riding and shows her horse through a 4H club.

The home’s four bedrooms are found up a grand staircase to the second floor, as well as in the basement. But when the weather gets hot the couple’s 18-year-old son, Desi, prefers to camp out on a cozy wicker sofa located just underneath the turret on the home’s wonderful wraparound porch.

Laurie and Mariano have worked hard to make the outside of their home as lovely as the inside. Over the years Laurie has become an avid green thumb and will officially earn the title of Master Gardener in the fall. One of her most impressive projects is the large knot garden by the southwest corner of the house. “I bought a book on knot gardens because I got the idea from visiting Disney World,” she said. Eventually her dad helped her create a large butterfly design with brick and 450 boxwoods that has matured into an amazing formal evergreen garden that they enjoy year-round.

Mariano’s main contribution to the backyard is the rippling rock and flagstone waterfall he built several years ago that provides an impressive focal point for their patio, which is surrounded by lawn. Next year, Laurie plans to take on raising chickens as an outdoor project.

With a busy law practice, volunteer responsibilities, school events and more to fill their hectic lives, it’s no wonder that the Morales family has sought to create a country paradise that serves as a restful escape.

The colorful and comfortable living room is lit with windows.

A wildflower garden is adorned with a willow branch arch.

Mariano's masculine office is adorned with horns and cowboy hats.

A colorful chandelier from Murano, Italy, graces the rustic dining room.

The grand staircase in the entryway of the Morales home.

Neutral colors accented with pops of green and pink make the dining room formal without being stuffy.

Bright colors grace furniture in the family room.

Laurie stands in front of her antique cupboard.

The entrance to the Morales house.

A fountain in the garden area.

A darling floral wall-papered bathroom.

 

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Hood Canal’s Best-Kept Secret: Alderbrook Resort & Spa

by on Aug 30, 2013

A view of Alderbrook from across the water. Photos courtesy of Alderbrook Resort & Spa.

Last fall my husband attended a business retreat at Alderbrook Resort, and fortunately spouses were invited. All I knew about Alderbrook came from a Google and Mapquest search; however, the amazing photos had me eagerly anticipating the drive to western Washington for a weekend getaway. After a three-plus hour ride over the Cascades to our destination, I can honestly say we weren’t disappointed.

Tucked away at the south end of Hood Canal near the tiny town of Union, the Alderbrook Resort and Spa covers 88 acres and offers a panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains.

The original resort and yacht club opened in 1913, and could only be reached by boat. The earliest accommodations consisted of orange-and black-striped tents and wood stoves, while the chilly water in the creek served as an early 20th century refrigerator for perishable food. Eventually a lodge and cottages followed, and for decades the resort attracted well-heeled Seattleites seeking a summer escape. Today, fun vintage photos of those halcyon days line the walls of the main lodge, reminding guests that they’re experiencing a little piece of Northwest history.

In 2002, Alderbrook closed for an extensive two-year renovation. When it reopened in 2004, the resort featured 77 guest rooms housed in the grand lodge, 15 cottages and three guest houses. Since then, the resort business has boomed and the property has become a favorite year-round destination for family vacations, conferences, reunions, romantic getaways and weddings.

My husband and I stayed in a guestroom decorated in a luxurious Northwest style. The room included silky linens, a flat-screen TV and a window daybed. It also featured a small balcony with an eye-popping view of Hood Canal.

The resort offers a variety of places to stay, however. A collection of family-friendly one- and two-bedroom cottages cluster around a village common area that offers picnic tables, a fire pit and places where children can play. Three modern rental houses can accommodate large families.

We arrived at the resort at dinner time and discovered the dining room overlooks the water. The restaurant features fresh Puget Sound seafood, local produce and Washington wines. But our first dinner took place aboard the resort’s yacht, The Lady Alderbrook, which had been chartered by the conference. As we sipped ice-cold cocktails on the sun deck, the yacht cruised around the sound. Later, a delicious dinner was served below deck in a dining room with wrap-around windows, as guests watched a fading sunset. It was perfect.

The next morning, after my husband left for his meeting, I made a beeline downstairs to the Alderbrook Spa for a facial. Recently listed as “A Top Ten People’s Choice” for mainland spas by Condé Nast Traveler, Alderbrook spa treatments range from facials, body wraps and massages to manicures and pedicures. After my facial, I practically floated back to my room. The day spa also has a fitness center, an herbal-infused steam room, a couples soaking tub, a relaxation room and a dry sauna.

Every week the resort’s front desk publishes an extensive list of daily activities to keep guests busy. The 1,500-foot dock offers rental services for those who want to boat, kayak or fish. A private swimming area and slips for guest moorage are also available. Across the highway and up the hill is an 18-hole PGA-class golf course, and miles of groomed nature trails. Nearby, the Harmony Hill Retreat Center offers weekday yoga classes. Guests who feel like a swim can visit the resort’s large glass-enclosed indoor pool and hot tub.

When families have exhausted all of the activities to keep the kids happy, they can trot them upstairs to the “Gamers’ Hideaway” Xbox Game Room. Family-friendly movies can also be viewed — with popcorn to make the experience complete.

 

Rates: Hotel rates are seasonal. Summer rates range from $189 per night for a king bed with a garden view to $509 for a deluxe waterfront cottage. House rentals are available. Special rates are also available at alderbrookresort.com. Some guest rooms are pet-friendly.

Spa: Rates for spa treatments run the gamut and include the Alderbrook “Signature Massage,” with heated basalt stones and aromatherapy, which is $145 for one hour.

Other services: Alderbrook offers a variety of family, spa, dining, golf, sweetheart and adventure packages. Kayak rentals and hydroplane rides are available off the pier on a seasonal basis.

Directions from Yakima: Take I-82 West to I-90, then to Highway 18. Take the I-5 South exit, then exit I32B to Bremerton. Continue on Highway 16 West. Turn onto Highway 3, and then turn right on Highway 106 West. Alderbrook will be on your right at 7101 Washington 106.

Alderbrook's Executive Chef, Lucas Sautter, prepares duck breast carbonara.

Alderbrook's rustic lobby welcomes visitors.

Kayaking is one of many outdoor activities offered at the resort.

The rooms are bright and modern with small balconies.

Massage beds await visitors at Alderbrook's spa.

The restaurant overlooks the water.

A cottage at the resort.

A view of the resort from above.

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