Arts and Entertainment

House is a rambler, but they're staying put

Peter and Julie Yoakum opted for stainless steel appliances in the kitchen of their Bill Point home. The remodel was based on a utilitarian ethos; the real artistic flourishes can be found on the walls, where the couple’s contemporary collection is displayed. - ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo
Peter and Julie Yoakum opted for stainless steel appliances in the kitchen of their Bill Point home. The remodel was based on a utilitarian ethos; the real artistic flourishes can be found on the walls, where the couple’s contemporary collection is displayed.
— image credit: ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo

Peter and Julie Yoakum didn’t intend to stay at BiIl Point.

The rambler into which they moved in 2000 was only intended to be a temporary roost, while the family built their dream home on waterfront property.

Two years later, they’re still there – and the rambler has been transformed into an ideal home for the Yoakums and their five children. The home is one of seven featured this weekend on the 13th annual Bainbridge Performing Arts Home Tour.

For Julie Yoakum, a former executive vice president of Eddie Bauer who traded corporate life for raising kids and volunteerism, the home’s view of Seattle was the first real “perk.”

“I said to my husband, ‘I need that connection to the city,’” she recalled.

But the rambler had outdated windows and woodwork, and dark bedrooms in a dank basement.

“It was ‘total 1970s,’” Yoakum said. “The thing was, we could see that the house had great bones.”

The Yoakums decided to give the house a general cleanup that would include new surfaces, new kitchen and bathroom appliances and fresh paint.

At the same time, they determined to preserve the low-key character of the house.

““We called it ‘house of many woods,’” Yoakum said, “because it had about six different wood tones. The goal was to update it but to be realistic about the house.”

The couple chose materials for durability rather than for show. They installed stainless steel appliances and countertops that Julie Yoakum calls “virtually indestructible.”

“When we thought about granite on those counters, it just felt wrong,” she said. “Immediately, the kitchen seemed not to ‘fit in its clothes.’ So we opted for stainless and basic tile counters.”

‘Hint of design’

Design touches move the house beyond austerity and utilitarianism, however. For example, the kitchen backsplash is embellished with a thin row of colored glass.

“Enough to be a hint of design,” Yoakum said, “but not enough to make it more than it is.”

The couple made other decisions in the spirit of “form follows function.”

They dispensed with the formal dining area in favor of comfortable seating. The house originally had white carpeting, which Yoakum said they “used to house-train our retriever, Ozzie.”

“It was very liberating,” she said.

The white carpet was traded in for buff, and white walls were painted eggshell.

In the master bathroom, the Yoakums did install some luxurious touches – including heated flooring – but bypassed a bathtub for a shower.

“We made it comfortable instead of grandiose,” the mother of five said, adding, “Anyway, what would make me think I’ll ever soak in a tub again?”

The layout of the finished basement – which receives direct light, as the hill falls away behind the home – made a perfect, private space for the children’s bedrooms. The contours of the grounds also mask the home’s generous proportions – 4,750 square feet.

On first view, the kids had been “totally grossed out” by an overhanging deck that cut the light to their rooms, but the Yoakums removed the offending overhang.

The family did their own landscaping, replanting the lawn, cutting away overgrowth and rebuilding the pond.

The large, unbroken walls are well-suited to the Yoakum’s superb contemporary art collection. Having space to hang the large pieces was important to Julie Yoakum, who has a long-term interest in art – an interest she shares as a docent in Bainbridge schools.

The couple’s belief in the “good bones” they saw beneath the 1970s decor has paid off in a liveable, comfortable, affordable house.

“When we first moved in, my mother called me and said, ‘Watch out – don’t do too much because you won’t be there long,’” Yoakum said. “I told her, ‘This is the one time I think you’re wrong.’

“Is everything perfect? No. But it’s the kind of house people come into and enjoy.”

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Bainbridge Performing Arts’ 13th Annual Home Tour runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 11.

The tour provides an opportunity to visit seven homes, each with a unique layout and decor. This year’s lineup includes:

* A seaside cabin rich with history and charm;

* A craftsman bungalow;

* Two brand new townhouses in Winslow;

* A custom-built home showcasing international design and artwork;

* A 1970s rambler transformed into an open, spacious home for family living;

*A Hillandale community home with custom detail.

The tour starts at the BPA Playhouse. A detailed map will be provided with each ticket.

Tickets may be purchased for $25 at the Playhouse. For information, call 842-8569.

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