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Many of the cabins have been retrofitted with concrete piers and I-beam supports. The cabins are grandfathered into the current building codes, so expansions or major modifications are not an option.
Before major highways and vehicular traffic, the area was a main thoroughfare, and a ferry terminal once stood here. The cabins were built adjacent to a general store/post office, which no longer remains.
When the tide is low, a walk along the beach will sometimes yield salvage that finds its way into Joel and Kitty's home.
Louise Lakier: What do you love about your neighborhood?
Kitty: The neighborhood is a nice mix of retirees, longtime families and part-time vacation homes. Our home is our family weekend getaway. We enjoy kayaking with seals and otters, and going for walks along the shores or through the forest.
The stilt house stretches over the water. The community name Fragraria is Latin for "strawberry." Historically, Olalla Valley strawberry farms yielded abundant bounty for Seattle's markets. The produce was shipped to Seattle via a fleet of small ships.
LL: What is your proudest homeowner moment?
Joel: Our first night sleeping with a high tide and rough seas. The waves crashed against the house, but everything was fine. I slept like a baby.
K: I’m always terrified when it’s high tide. I hardly sleep at all. My proudest moment was hosting Thanksgiving dinner for family. Turkey and crab for dinner on the sea.
The couple outfitted the front of the stilt house with secondhand items. The bench is a Craigslist find, and the rope around the posts was salvaged from abandoned crabbing pots. The window planter was built from recycled fencing.
Remains of the old ferry pier can be seen out in the passage.
When the couple bought the home, they reconfigured the layout and replaced some of the built-in features. Kitty removed ceiling tiles layered over styrofoam as well as carpet and vinyl tiles on the floors throughout the house. She then repainted the remaining plywood floor that now almost resembles a colored concrete finish.
LL: Do you have any interesting neighbors?
J: Our neighbor Bob has lived in the area for most of his life. He has a lot of family in the area, and we’ve all gotten to know each other a bit. Besides being a great guy and all-around good neighbor, he helps to give historical roots to the area, and he’s shared good fishing tips.
Joel added a TV cabinet underneath the island countertop that he plans to paint soon to match. A major remodel of the 1920s home took place in the 1950s. It is difficult to discern if the extension was intended as a porch or something else. Beyond the beam and columns, the ceiling curves and slopes.
LL: Who or what inspires your personal style?
K: Although we both appreciate the midcentury modern parts of the house, we also believe that every home renovation needs to be approached from its historical context. We wanted to create a place that had a sense of history but was comfortable for our growing family.
The vinyl tile was left in place at the entry and the kitchen area. The lighting over the kitchen counter is new.
LL: If you could invite anyone over for dinner, who would it be?
J: I have nothing clever here. How about a famous carpenter that could get some work done?
K: I’d want to invite someone who could tell us about the amazing sea creatures and bird life in the area. And someone like Langdon Cook. He’s a food forager and could teach us how to fend for ourselves, so we wouldn’t have to take trips into Port Orchard. Oh, yes, and I agree with Joel — a carpenter that could help us get some projects done. I guess that’s a pretty selfish dinner party guest list!
The fireplace surround is tile board. It will eventually become smaller and tiled, but for right now it defines the danger zone for their children.
LL: What is your decorating philosophy?
K: Eclectic, simple and cheap. Having two young children helps put things into perspective. Everything needs to be safe, comfortable, stain resistant, and it would probably be a good idea if it floats also in case it ever gets thrown overboard.
Joel built the bedroom closet to match the original tongue and groove from boards found at Second Use. Some of the decor items were found washed up on the shore. The headboard is a repurposed truck tailgate.
When the couple first bought the house, a bathroom renovation had been started but not completed. Joel built in a nook for a claw-foot tub. The corner sink and claw-foot tub are Craigslist finds, and the trim was found onsite in a junk pile. Joel refinished and installed it along with the wainscot. The metal shower rod is from Second Use.
From the deck are views looking back toward Seattle and the Space Needle.
LL: Where is your favorite spot or room in your home?
J: The deck. It’s easy to waste away a day watching the sailboats drift by and the cormorants sunning themselves on the piers.
The main road in the Fragaria community is essentially a long driveway.
A vintage travel trailer parked in front served as the family's home during renovations. It now functions as a guesthouse.