Life brings you joy, happiness, challenges, changes and a long list of other things. This last year I sold my beach house, got a divorce and could only afford a small older cottage. It is amazing how well we all can adopt.
So begins a new story in my life in a small waterfront town in Washington half a year, and in California the other half. The little house has literally nothing in the yard, but brush that people left for years under the trees. My gardener from my last house took out two full dump trucks full of yard waste and etc. I have spent a lot of time putting down beauty bark, and will slowly plant the garden. (not today) Friends have been generous with gleanings from their gardens, so I know in the long run it will be lovely and carefree! (In appearance, not maintenance)
The entire little house has been painted the brightest white available, and I would love to replace doors, trim and cabinets, but that is not in the budget at the moment. I cheated on the drawing, as the house is actually yellow, not my favorite color! So hopefully next summer we can paint it a nice dark gray.
Every day is a new and mostly fun challenge. Today I discovered who ever lived here waxed the ceramic tile floor. It was already kind of an ugly light pink, but it never looked clean. Today Clorox and a brush on my knees, and a metal scraper, helped it look a tiny bit better.
I serendipitously came to see my first love from college again about a year ago. His late wife was a sorority sister, a beautiful and smart woman whose Celebration of Life I attended. It was wonderful to see they had a wonderful life together. I guess I had always wondered how his life had gone. It was a beautiful celebration and I was so happy to know he had a good life and two wonderful children. It was amazing to reconnect with so many of my AX sorority sisters from fifty years ago.
Over time Reed & I talked and discovered, both being widowed there was still some magic in life. We are having a amazing time getting to know each other in our seventies. You never know what will happen in life.
With the wildfires and COVET 19 life is not simple for anyone. The air quality was so bad in Washington when I wrote this, I was not sure if it is even a good idea to go to my garage to paint. We are having strange times. I feel lucky to be sharing it with someone so positive, loving and laughing.
I was in Vacaville, California when the pandemic began and it was a time, when the big excitement of the day was going for a drive or sitting on the front porch having a glass of wine. I don’t sit still well, so got some pens and started sketching the neighborhood. My oil paints were still in Washington, so could not paint. (Won’t do that again). Here are some of the in house and neighborhood sketches done at that time.
I started with simple sketches around the house.
Beautiful roses in a vase. Probably should have added color. (Oh well)
Drew the house on the corner.
And the house across the street.
Then added color to the house on the corner across the street.
Another house right across the street
And added color
Drew a tree rose in the front garden
Drove back to Bainbridge where I drew my girlfriend’s flower pot. I moved to my little Port Ludlow Cottage and spent the next couple of months trying to organize and move in to the house.
My friend and I were out and about and stopped in Port Gamble in a newly opened wine bar for a glass and a charcuterie plate and I like the house so I took a photo on the way out and drew the house below. I had an extra frame, so I framed the house and dropped by as a gift to the owners.
Once in a while it is just fun to do a nice and unexpected gift!
Every art studio could use a cozy corner for reading art books. This last week my husband built these two-inch shelves with a lip for setting finished small pieces and works in progress. Now I need to get busy and paint some more small works.
Next weekend he is going to add more shelves for bigger pieces. It is wonderful, as they are all straight on the bottom for once.
Every challenge yourself to something and feel either great about accomplishing it or bad that you failed (the first time). This year I challenged myself to read 75 books on the Goodreads challenge and can very proudly say I accomplished that goal. The year before I attempted to bake every bread in Paul Hollywood’s Bread Book. I made it about 2/3’s of the way and gained a couple of pounds, but did not finish the book. I still love to bake and may just try to finish it. I take my baked goods to my local fire department, so they are enjoyed and not wasted. My wonderful local fire department surprised me with a gift certificate the last two years. That made me cry the first year, as I was amazed they recognized the gift. This year I felt a little guilty as I felt I did not take as much, but will up the ante as the year goes on.
Now with 2019 coming up, I decided I would follow the example of Kevin McPhearson, the author and artist of “Reflections on a Pond”, and paint the view of the water in front of my house every day of the year. If I don’t have time to paint on a particular day, I will take a photo and paint it later. I find it an interesting thought and am hoping it will improve my painting skills.
Normally I post about food or art, but today I am sharing an article about my own home featured in a local magazine. I bought the land about thirteen years ago and designed and built a home for me to live in as a single woman, as all my children had gotten on with their lives. I was not sure at the time, if I wanted to live here or move back to California, where I am a sixth generation family member. I moved there for a year, but could not get close to the beach, hated the traffic, realized most of my past friends had moved on and totally hated living in a townhouse, with a gate and for the most part not so friendly neighbors. The problem started, when I trusted a builder to follow my construction plans, and he did not. He cheated out on absolutely everything, changed my floor plan without my permission and totally changed the feel of the house. When I moved back to Washington, I lost money on my townhouse in Carlsbad and did not have a job. I did not have a job for over a year, so making changes was not in the budget.
When I married about six years ago, after being single for over twenty years, it was an adjustment using a home designed for one person for the two people now living in it. After about five years, we decided to make the changes you see featured in this article. This is the second home I’ve had featured in a magazine. My 1998 home on Wing Point, Bainbridge Island was featured as home of the year in Seattle Home & Lifestyle Magazine. They are very different homes, as that was designed for myself and my three teenage sons.
When it comes to interior design, Diana Bennett Wirtz Kingsley wrote the book. Really. An artist and holder of a master’s degree in interior design, Kingsley authored “Hand Drafting for Interior Design” during her years of teaching at the Art Institute of Seattle. The book is a popular text in a hundred colleges across the country and abroad.
When not authoring textbooks, she is a whirlwind of creative energy. The artist-author fills her semi-retirement with painting, sewing, cooking and photography, as well as her beautifully visual cooking and commentary blog.
Considering this surplus of interests, Kingsley was just the woman for job when the time came to plan a new residence. As the last of her three sons graduated from Bainbridge High School, the designer started the search for a home site on the Kitsap Peninsula. In 2005, she found just what she was looking for in Kingston.
“I had no idea where I wanted to live until I saw this property,” she says. “There was the beach and this fabulous view. I just wanted to walk on the sand.”
Set on the shore of Apple Tree Cove, the lot looks across broad tide flats to the Kingston Cove Marina and the comings and goings of the Kingston-Edmonds ferry. Flocks of sea birds ride the waves and ospreys float in the sky. Changing weather alternately mists distant docks and glints sunbeams off passing boats. Kingsley was enchanted. She knew she’d found the one.
Kingsley also knew who would design her home. She would. First of all, the house would take advantage of the view over two stories. Deep porches on both levels would be roomy enough for dining and reclining. Finally, the master suite would occupy the entire upper floor.
For Kingsley, the design was the easy part. The tough part was acting as her own contractor. The foundation was barely dry before she made a temporary move to California. By the time she returned for a visit, the work was nearly wrapped up. Except some of it wasn’t per agreement, including the kitchen appliances.
Disappointed but undeterred, Kingsley moved in and moved on with life. The next few years brought good things, chief among them her future husband, Mike. As the newlyweds settled into the Kingston house, Diana and Mike Kingsley found creative compatibility.
“I design things and my husband makes them happen,” she says. “He’s very handy.”
“So far I have a 2-to-1 ratio of projects desired to projects completed,” Mike Kingsley replies, smiling at his indefatigable wife.
Considering the couple’s combined talents, what happened next was inevitable. They gutted the house and began a complete remodel.
“We ripped everything out and loaded it in dumpsters,” Diana Kingsley recalls.
After 12 years in residence, she knew what she wanted to rise from the metaphoric ashes of the original house. She wanted a look that was beachy, low-key and comfortable. Kingsley wanted muted colors to reflect what the eye sees outside Puget Sound windows for more than 300 cloudy days a year. She wanted an understated carbon-gray exterior with orange accents. Mostly, she wanted people to stay out of her kitchen.
Kingsley makes no apologies for being the queen of her kitchen. She loves to cook. She also loves to entertain. An invitation to dinner with the Kingsleys is a recipe for a most appetizing evening. Kingsley needed a kitchen worthy of her talents.
Then the designer had an inspiration. What if her real-life project became a lesson for her students at the art institute? Kingsley invited 30 students to her home to plan 30 individual redesigns. One of the plans was an eye-opener.
“A student suggested getting rid of the kitchen island and making the kitchen u-shaped,” she says.
Kingsley realized this new configuration was just what she wanted. It would keep guests from wandering underfoot while she cooked but allow them to keep her company on stools on the far side of the counter.
With this as the basis of her new kitchen, Kingsley added view windows and new cabinets, upgraded the appliances and chose new flooring. Her husband saw to it that her dream pot rack became reality. A new color scheme paired soft-gray walls with crisp-white cabinetry. Granite installed by Grandy Marble and Tile of Kingston added visual movement to the otherwise peaceful presentation. The result is a casually elegant cooking center that reads like a sigh of relief at the end of a hectic day.
Just off the kitchen, the couple added two small rooms tucked behind roller-mounted barn doors: the bead-boarded utility room and a pantry. The red-and-white pantry highlights Kingsley’s evolved sense of order with rows of spices and teas neatly labeled with her husband’s label maker, a device that she adores.
Of course, for a designer, the furnishings are as important as the layout. Kingsley loves the clean, classic lines of the 1970s. Examples of these in the Kingsleys’ home are the retro upholstered metal stools that Mike Kingsley had cut down to fit the kitchen counter. The home also boasts a Platner table and see-through Lucite “ghost” chairs. In contrast to these streamlined pieces is Mike’s handsome, 1907 Estey grand piano that holds sway in the living room with the good-natured solidity of Winston Churchill at an artist’s colony.
Finding the perfect wall art was no problem for Kingsley, a skilled artist whose paintings and drawings are shown and sold at Interiors of Edmonds. Whatever the theme or size needed for her own rooms, she retired to her backyard studio and created it herself. Recently, her works lean toward big, bold abstracts.
As handy with a sewing machine as a paintbrush, Diana changed out all of the living room fabrics. In the bedrooms, Mike cut the wooden headboard forms and she upholstered them in heavy silk tapestry and made pillows to match.
Both of the Kingsleys are happy in their home at the beach. He enjoys the short walk to the Kingston ferry. She is learning to live retired by the shore of what she describes as a 12-hour-a-day waterfront, meaning there’s always something to see, from raccoons and herons to paddle-boarders and that kid who had to leave his boots behind in the calf-deep mud of the tide flat.
As Mike Kingsley points out, their home is a work in progress. Yet, in the hands of a woman who admits she’s “too hyper to be a good retiree,” there’s no doubt it will all come together.
“People ask me, ‘How do you get it all done?’” Diana Kingsley says with a shrug. “How do I not?”
There are still a few more things we hope to add to the home. Last week we finished a deck by the beach and are awaiting Orange Polywood Adirondack chairs to complete the look. We will be adding privacy panels on one end of the deck and an outdoor fireplace on the other.
One of friends that sells real estate asked me to do this for home she is selling. I had such fun doing this today. It was challenging, as the photo from the MLS was very small, but I think it turned out well. I used water color pencils to give the orange a little punch. Let me know if I can do one for you or one of your clients.
Today while listening to classes on real estate I decided it was a good time to sketch while listening. Multi-tasking and now I need to add color and come up with a By Line. Anyone have any ideas? Here are some I was thinking about:
Thinking about making a move?
Ready for a change of scenery?
Where do you want to be at this point in your life?
Don’t think I need to to exert this much energy to move? What is your idea?
Think of me when you think of Real Estate. Join me on one of my Facebook pages:
Whenever I sell a home, the client receives a hand drawn pen and ink with a watercolor wash that I draw just for them. It is framed and cards are made to match the drawing. They are also welcome to use the drawing in any way to share with family and friends.
If you or any of your family or friends are looking to buy or sell in the Poulsbo, Kingston or Bainbridge Island, I have lived in the area for 25 years and know the areas well. I love making the transaction a smooth and positive experience.
My friends recently moved to Australia and asked me to do a drawing of the lovely home they designed, sold and left behind. It was fun to do this for someone I personally respected. We taught together at The Art Institute of Seattle. He taught architecture and I taught interior design. Miss the students, but don’t miss the school.
Poulsbo, Washington is such a lovely little city with lots of wonderful restaurants and shops. I often take guests there to shop a little, eat a little and wine a little. One of the fun places is our local “Hare & Hounds Public House, where you can get great food and in the summer sit out on lawn and enjoy Poulsbo like a tourist. In the next few weeks, I will be adding more Poulsbo attractions to my blog. I live it Kingston and love it there too, and will be SO glad when Kingston has as much to offer as Poulsbo or Bainbridge Island. Stay tuned for more drawings.
Sometimes it is fun to show the photograph that prompted the drawing. In this case there needed to be a bit of editing to make it a little more interesting or hopefully so at least. Maybe a person actually using the booth (if it is operational) would have been more fun. When I was teaching at The Art Institute of Seattle, I often asked my students how many of them had ever used a “Telephone Booth” and unless the student was over 50, they really did not have the concept of what they were or how to use them.
When I was working my way through college in sales, I had to use telephone booths (often in not so wonderful neighborhoods) and a map, not a map book, but a map to try to find the homes of my clients. This part, the gps/cell phone part of life I believe is much improved. The not talk to the person standing next to you and texting them, not so much.