Nicole Bavo’s Bainbridge Island home is the kind of property that ferry riders jealously ogle when they coast into shore. Fashioned from planes of steel and glass and wood, it peers out from a forested hillside, opening up to sweeping views that stretch from Mount Baker in the north all the way to Mount Rainier in the south.
It’s this peak-to-peak panorama that convinced Bavo and husband Kyle Meidell to purchase the property in March 2009. And, to be honest, that was the only selling point. The original 1946 house was adequately built but had suffered through several poorly realized ’70s and early ’90s remodels. By the time Bavo and Meidell were on the house hunt, the roof had failed and mushrooms were sprouting in the damp interiors.
With an obvious gut job on their hands, the couple turned to Johnson Squared Architecture to design a dream home for their dream location. They requested bright, airy, open spaces that maximized the waterfront views, a seamless blurring between indoors and out, and enough space for their three young boys to play—and distinctly separate areas for the adults.
To deliver on the first request, project architect Mike Rausch drew up an open-concept great room for the main floor. Windows stacked above pivoting glass doors douse the bamboo floors with sunlight, while gray-kissed walls cede all attention to the seemingly endless expanse of water just outside.
The kitchen, though, veers away from the typical neutral palette that’s so often found in the Pacific Northwest. Glossy blue cabinets deliver wall-to-wall impact, while contrasting orange bar stools act as colorful accents. The pantry and mudroom, featuring casework in saturated blue and orange hues, supply additional hits of color.
“We just like color,” Bavo says. “A lot of homes are a little more neutral, and that’s just not as interesting to us.”
Rausch made sure the homeowners weren’t bored in the rest of their home either. In the kids’ bathroom, he went with a combo of lime green, yellow, and blue tiles to create a Tetrisesque pattern that will still feel age appropriate when the boys are teenagers. For the master bath, the architect played with soothing shades of sea green and sage. And even the stairwell, which leads from a lower-level play area to a third-floor office and rooftop deck, is a cheerful departure from the norm. The stair’s steel beams are painted international orange, the color of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Another common thread throughout Bavo and Meidell’s home is the connection to the outdoors. In almost every living space, the walls are outfitted with wide glass doors that lead out to ipe-clad decks: one looking out over the water, one perched on the roof, and one facing inland, where a pond attracts local wildlife. Rausch installed outdoor heaters so the family can enjoy the exterior spaces year-round.
When it came to finding enough room for the three boys, as well as for the couple, Rausch got creative. He scrapped the original plans for a partial basement and went with a multipurpose lower level that could adjust to the homeowners’ changing needs. Right now, the space is a combination play area and family room, with enough built-in storage to keep the clutter contained. Bavo and Meidell, meanwhile, can enjoy a mostly toy-free existence upstairs.
“It could be Lord of the Flies down there,” Rausch quips, but “unless they intentionally stick their heads down there, everyone can exist in their own universe.”
When the kids grow up, Bavo and Meidell plan to convert the lower level into a billiards room (Rausch made sure there was enough clearance for a table and cue sticks). And once their boys are away at college and they settle down for retirement, they can simply close off the downstairs and live on the main floor.
In August 2013, some four years after Bavo and Meidell first stood admiring the perfect view from their dream location, they were finally able to move in. They’ll tell you it was well worth the wait.
Architecture Johnson Squared Architecture, 206-842-9993
Contractor Smallwood Design and Construction, 206-842-5443
Landscape Architecture Russell Design Source, 360-990-1720
Landscape Contractor McClain Landscape Services, 360-638-0888