Tea Time

Property Watch: A Garden Oasis on Bainbridge Island

Noted Northwest architect A.O. Bumgardner and a team of Japanese artisans designed this unique home.

By Sarah Anne Lloyd August 4, 2021

The front door of a house. A walkway to the door has a pointed, wood cover, and there's a rock garden on either side.

Image: Caleb Melvin

This peaceful Bainbridge Island home looks like a breath of fresh, woodland air—and it comes with its own freestanding chashitsu, or tea room. Bumgardner Partnership, led by prestigious Seattle architect A.O. Bumgardner, prioritized its natural settings and water views, with bright exposed-grain walls that blend with the outdoors. The architect came to prominence during the midcentury era, and this home, like many Northwest Contemporary works, still holds many of those hallmarks. It just has a little 1974 spice sprinkled on top.

While many Bumgardner homes have been remodeled from his initial design, this one hasn't been touched—just well-maintained throughout the years.

Image: Caleb Melvin

The serene, seven-acre property boasts plenty of privacy; if you try to scope it out on Google Street View you’ll find a dense, seemingly impenetrable block of trees and ivy peppered with the occasional mailbox. Down a long driveway, the landscaping surrounding the home preserves the natural flora, carefully pared down into a Japanese-style garden, complete with a garden gate. Cross a simple wooden bridge and a covered walkway to the front door, surrounded by a rock garden with statues.

A room with a sloping exposed-beam ceiling and vertical-slat exposed-grain walls. There's a sunken area with a tile floor lined by wood benches to the left. The rest of the floor is hardwood.

While the interiors are open, each common area gets its own cozy, delineated space with unique design elements. The ceilings drop between rooms and rise again on the other side, with lantern-style wood sconces nestled at the top of the high walls for a sustained motif. There's no direct lighting anywhere in the home, leaving only soft, diffused light.

Image: Caleb Melvin

A large foyer has a sunken, tiled entryway with benches for removing your shoes before stepping on the hardwood floors—and a little peek at the windows farther inside. A high, sloped ceiling defines the living room, with a recessed fireplace on a far wall.

Inconspicuous sliding doors can separate that living room and an adjacent dining room with a wet bar, but go mostly unnoticed when open. A large kitchen includes its own, more casual dining space. All three rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows on the east-facing wall, giving unobstructed views of the Puget Sound, and glass doors to a deck that wraps around the home to the east and north.

A dining room with wood walls and ceiling. It's furnished with an oval dining table and wooden chairs. A wooden counter on the far wall has a sink in it.

Image: Caleb Melvin

A stairwell in the center of the home gets its own careful design, with skylights above, vertical-slat accent walls, and an exposed lumber ceiling. Head up for a large suite, complete with a bedroom, bathroom, bonus room, and private balcony, on its own small floor.

A large stairwell with a skylight, wood-grain stairs, and tall wood slat walls.

Image: Caleb Melvin

Downstairs, wind down a couple of half-floors for more bedrooms, including one with its own fireplace, two den areas that each have yet another fireplace, and a Japanese-inspired bath with shower, soaking tub, and sauna leading out to the backyard and a hot tub.

A shower room with white walls and a river-rock floor with recessed bathtub. A glass door on the back leads to a deck with a hot tub, then trees and blue sky.

Image: Caleb Melvin

If it weren’t already obvious, Bumgardner was heavily inspired by Japanese design. His portfolio is full of sliding shōji screens, quiet open spaces, and tranquil courtyards. But it was Japanese artisans, brought in by the original owners to honor their own Japanese heritage, that built the chashitsu with its own fenced-in garden. Crafted in traditional style, it includes shōji screens that connect to the open air, a tokonoma alcove, and tatami mats.

The interior of a tea house. There's a low table in the middle of the room, two large alcoves to the left, and sliding wood-and-paper screens ahead and on the right wall.

Image: Caleb Melvin

Listing Fast Facts

10799 NE Old Creosote Hill Road, Bainbridge Island
Size: 4,166 square feet/7 acres, 3 bedroom/4 bath
List Date: 7/28/2021
List Price: $2,750,000
Listing Agents:
Dennis and Matthew Paige, Realogics Sotheby's International Realty

Show Comments