The Christmas List

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Do you remember being a child and sitting on Santa’s lap or writing him a letter telling him the wonderful things you would love for Christmas?

I still remember the year, when I was about ten years old and I wanted this beautiful doll for Christmas.  It was all I wanted.  It was similar to the American Girl Dolls we have today.  I pined about this doll.  It was one the years we drove from our farm in northern California to West Hollywood, to the home of my father’s sister and her husband.  In my eyes, with a view of the city and a swimming pool, they had everything.  My cousin even had a four poster white bed, something I dreamed about for years.  It was a long drive, and my father put all of our presents on the top of the family car in boxes. I have never forgotten those windblown beat-up gifts being put under the prettiest tree I had ever seen.  I was sad to my toes to see our pathetic gifts under their perfect tree with all their big beautiful gifts beautifully wrapped. Christmas morning came and I knew my main gift was the wrong shape to be that doll I coveted. My parents had given me a big pink fuzzy bathrobe.  I opened the present and just started crying.  No one knew what to do.  To this day, my gifts are perfectly wrapped and NO ONE ever gets a bathrobe for Christmas.

When I was younger, in my twenty and thirties I always just wanted something special for Christmas and I was very lucky that happened for many years. My sons never lacked for gifts and got everything on the list that they gave me.  I never had a list after that Christmas at my aunt’s house.  I never wanted to be disappointed again.  If you don’t have a list, you can’t be sad when don’t get anything from that list.

At my current stage of life, if I want something I buy it.  I don’t need or want more jewelry, as it will just be a question of what happens to it when….  (Granddaughter Claire gets it all) As my sons grew older and didn’t really want much for Christmas, I started giving them memories.  I took them hot-air ballooning over Del Mar, California. We had a very wonderful dinner at the Hotel Del Coronado for New Years Eve. We skied at Whistler, Mt. Hood, Mt. Bachelor, Mission Ridge and hit every ski resort locally.  We ice skated, roller bladed and ate at a lot of wonderful restaurants.  I attempted camping only once and failed miserably, but it was all about making memories. We cooked together and always had a candlelit dinner together on Sunday evenings. I think it was a good thing to do.

As I said now I don’t want “things” as gifts. If you were to ask me today what I really wanted, I might tell you that I would like the screen in the kitchen replaced where the paint drop made a hole when I tried to clean it. I would love the beautiful aqua fountain between my house and my garage to be working again, as I loved coming home to the sound of it. There is a tiny hole in the grout in the living room and I think I will just fill it in today myself, as it bothers me every time I vacuum and with Frostyman the Cat I vacuum each and every day.  I would love to see the beautiful light fixture over my desk fully-functioning again.  Four of the lights just quit working and it has to be taken apart to fix. So maybe I would just like a card that says these things will be done.  That would make me so very happy. I would love to see the garage clean and fireplace on the back deck, so I can use my TRX in the garage and I would love to see the inside of garage painted and clean, but I think that is my summer project. (too cold right now)

If you ask me about things I love, I would share that I love the snow globes I have collected for years and if you could find more from Neiman Marcus, that would make me be very appreciative of you knowing something I care about.  I may just leave them out all year and collect some from places I loved visiting.  I think we need to have things in our homes that we love to look at and that make us smile. When I had a scavenger for my granddaughter’s seventh birthday last week, I realized I have some pretty fun stuff that I have collected and loved over the years.

Mostly I would love to spend the holidays with all my sons and their families and that just does not seem to happen any more. Luckily one son lives fairly close, so I do get to see him more. So maybe I will just go have a facial or massage, take a trip, go to the movies I want to see, read more books and spend more time in my studio sewing or painting. We all just need to take the time to do the things we love.  Oh and of course I always find joy in cooking.  Now I just need to find more people that want to eat what I cook.

What makes you happiest at Christmas?  Is it the decorations, the food, the family or the camaraderie of friends getting together.  When I was younger, Christmas always made me so very happy, but as I grow older and my children have lives of their own I do not look forward to the holidays nearly as much.

 

The Christmas List

West Sound Home & Garden Magazine

Home on Cover

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.

https://wshg.net

Art in Residence

In the hands of Mike and Diana Kingsley, home is a canvas.

Art in ResidenceWhen 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.

Art in Residence - Diana and Mike Kingsley
Diana and Mike Kingsley

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.

Art in Residence“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.

Art in ResidenceFor 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.

Art in Residence“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.

Art in ResidenceAfter 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.

Art in ResidenceThen 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.

Art in ResidenceWith 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.

Art in ResidenceJust 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.

Art in ResidenceOf 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.

Art in ResidenceAs 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?”

To read Diana Bennett Wirtz Kingsley’s cooking and commentary blog, go to www.kingstoncovestudio.wordpress.com.

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.
Next summer we plan to just enjoy it all!
West Sound Home & Garden Magazine