"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Patience in paradise: Nurturing a “sometimes” haven ‘til retirement kicks in

By on July 29, 2019 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments
This big central living space allows full time views and easy access to the patio and driveway. Handsome, rustic-looking engineered wood floors, a good choice for a slab foundation, are easy to care for.

By Susan Lagsdin

Photos by sara johnson

Meraki Resort, the lakeview beauty featured here, is just one of four privately-owned view homes you can visit in September as part of the 2019 Lake Chelan Home Tour and Art Show, a major fundraiser for the Lake Chelan Hospital. 

The mission of the annual event is to enhance healthcare in the valley, and this year’s proceeds will help purchase a new and needed post-partum room. 

Northwest artists are featured at the accompanying art show, which will be headquartered at Larc Hill Vineyard Ranch on Highway 97A (next door to former exhibit host Tsillan Cellars). 

For more info, see LakeChelanHomeTour.com.

Sometimes a dream deferred isn’t a loss but part of the bigger picture. 

With the October 2018 completion of their home high above Lake Chelan, Dave and Dee Kinsman partially fulfilled a longtime fantasy.

Now they are willing to wait — and work hard — a few more years until retirement to see the dream come 100 percent true.

Though its comfort tugs at them, they can’t live there — yet. Instead, they’ve offered their soon-to-be home, Meraki Lodge, to vacation renters, a lucrative and easily managed choice that several other homeowners at Lake Chelan have made.

Generous loft space and an open staircase join the two floors for large group vacation use now; the owners know they can easily live on the main floor and use the guest suites for future family visits.

“The house has been very popular, but we can always squeeze in a weekend or so for ourselves between bookings,” said Dee. Dave added, “Most of the days we’re here, we have company, either our kids or our friends. We were even able to come over a few days in the winter close to the holidays.”

They strategically plan maintenance trips, too — fast runs from home between renters where they spruce up the landscaping, restock hotel-comfort supplies and meet workmen for light repairs. That’s not much of a vacation. 

“We always schedule downtime, a reward for our work,” Dee said, gesturing at the pool waiting on a terrace below the shaded patio.

These two Seattle natives had vacationed near here since their teens, and after their marriage they brought their own son and daughter to stay at Wapato Point and Campbells Resort and to camp at Lincoln Rock State Park. 

The big Lake Chelan views from Meraki Lodge are due to well- engineered terracing: the pool is stepped below the house and its shaded patio, and beyond the edge of lawn is a steep pitch of grass and shrub hillside.

When retirement enticed them, they naturally looked east for a future landing. Swimming and boating were the biggest draws, but they also wanted space and privacy.

 “For about four years we drove all around the area looking for a place to build,” said Dee. “Even down on the river. But within five minutes of stepping out of the car we knew this was the right spot.”

They chose well. Their high-up homesite is positioned for maximum privacy, the view is stunning, much of their seven acres is perfect for a future vineyard, and several friendly neighbors come together for bi-annual social gatherings, a bonus in the relatively isolated spot.

Blue skies and sweeping views surround Dave and Dee Kinsman at their new high-up Manson home, Meraki Lodge. Photo by Mike Irwin

The stress of daily crowding and traffic on the west side accentuates the serenity of their new house. 

Dee’s commute from their home in Woodinville to Lake Union in Seattle, where she’s a project manager for Amazon’s internal HR system, can be close to two hours. Dave’s company, Basemap, which creates outdoor sporting applications, is closer, but he too feels the pinch on time and nerves.

He’s sold on the two-home plan. “When we come over here, even for two days, we can just drop everything to do with work. It’s totally relaxing.” And, their tech careers make distance work possible, so Dave’s thinking as the couple closes in on their 60s that the Big Move might be sooner than later.

Looking ahead to their full-time years, the Kinsmans wisely insisted on a floor plan that enables independence, and they credit architect Jon Simpson of JWS Designs with “nailing it.”

“We’ve worked with architects before, and it’s been OK,” Dee said tactfully. “But we felt that Jon really listened to us. He gave us just what we wanted.” Not only was he able to deliver the interior flow the Kinsmans envisioned, he managed the tricky engineering that accompanies steep-slope construction.

Without the sinuous curve of driveway, the perfect angle of the house would be lost; without the drop-down pool terrace, the view would be obstructed. A bonus feat was two full RV hookup spots carved out of the hillside, back from main sight lines.

Rockwork on the ceiling-high fireplace matches the south facing bulkhead and patio wall. Throughout the house, Dee and Dave made expedient choices with an eye for visual continuity, a win-win scenario.

Access is easy; the entrance walkway is level with the main floor, where the master bedroom suite with office, plus one guest room and bath, take up each side of the high ceilinged central living area. Two more full guest suites are totally separate, up a dramatic stairway on the U-shaped upper story. 

For right now, that means the house (along with its above-garage apartment) can easily accommodate family/friend parties of up to 10 vacationers in whatever configuration they like. In the future the couple anticipates living on just the main floor, with their own grandchildren and extended family joining them occasionally and occupying the second floor.

The look that Dee and Dave hoped for and achieved was “rustic elegance,” with clean geometric lines, black ironwork, lots of wood, and wall treatment inside that would allow easy coordination. 

Dee admits her first choice of exterior paint was white, but everything they sampled glared too brightly on that peaceful hillside. The existing primer was a gold buff, which they eventually realized was perfect, so they simply chose paint to match it; subsequent rockwork options were nicely narrowed down by the dominant warm color.

Inside, practical engineered wood flooring throughout the main rooms and the distinctive pairing of bold floor tiles in all the bathrooms lend continuity, as does the black, white and charcoal color scheme. They kept far away from period kitsch, so though the house is well-appointed, it’s not overwhelming. 

Knowing that for a few years the house will be mostly for others’ enjoyment, they filled shelves with games and books, offered small closets, made a kitchen pantry, outfitted a cabana. Their own belongings, and a full office, are discreetly locked away. 

The couple’s all-around favorite spot on the property for serious sitting is the full-length covered patio, fitted with infra-red overhead heaters for winter and silent fans for the hottest days of summer.

The busy couple saved time and money by outfitting the home — from furniture, cupboards, lights and sinks down to bedding, door handles and shades — almost entirely from online retailers. “We totally filled our Woodinville garage; everything was delivered there, then we hauled it all over to Chelan in a big truck,” said Dave. “It took several trips… probably the hardest part of the whole project.”

Dee explained their collaboration as her  filtering down  the major choices on sites like Amazon, Wayfair and Overstock and then Dave picking his favorite. They agreed that all those drawer pulls, light fixtures, six TV’s, 10-plus complete bedding sets, and the like were not something they wanted to seek out driving around suburban parking lots. 

Two exceptions to the click-and-deliver process add a homey feel to the downstairs: Dave’s parents’ re-upholstered sectional sofa, circa 1965, and several framed landscapes given to them by his mother, Joan Kinsman, a Bainbridge pastel artist. 

And who knows? Maybe by the time its life as a resort is over and this house becomes home, all the well-chosen furnishings will be as comfy and commonplace as if they’d been in the family for years. Dee and Dave can then relax every day in their new/old place just as they always envisioned. 

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