Allen Shoup and his wife, Kathleen, turned a mansion in The Highlands just outside Seattle into a grand place for appreciating the aesthetics of everything from fine art to fine wine.
photographed by Benjamin Benschneider
ALLEN SHOUP and Hobbes, his velvet-coated Vizsla, answer the door to the grand stucco country Tudor with equal enthusiasm.
“This is why we bought the house,” says Shoup, bounding directly for the money shot: a “Sound of Music” terrace beyond a wall of French doors with front-row seating for the pool, lawn, Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains. “I come out here to do my ‘Boston Legal’ thing,” he says, referring to the television show whose two main characters used to repair to the terrace to ruminate over each episode with a fine cigar and a scotch.
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The Shoups, Allen and Kathleen, used to live two doors down in their Shoreline neighborhood, The Highlands. It was a perfectly fine house, as they all are here. But it had no view.
“We bought this house in 2000 and spent three years remodeling it,” he says of the four-bedroom home of 10,000 square feet. Schultz Miller oversaw the project that brought in new lighting, wainscoting, a new kitchen, an entire new wing with an upstairs terrace off Shoup’s office, an upstairs laundry room. There is also a guest suite over the three-car garage.
“Most men don’t walk through their bathroom to go to work. But I do,” he says, amused, of his upstairs office. It is a walk through a quiet and lovely bathroom, though. Big white tub watching the Sound, sitting not far from a charming white limestone fireplace.
Yes, it is a grand Highlands estate. Circular driveway, burbling fountain, bottom-of-the-ocean-colored slate roof. But every room here is a family room. A place where Sunday dinner at the big, rustic, round table off the kitchen is a tradition. Fireplaces. Homemade throw pillows. A dog door for Hobbes. A sewing room for Kathleen. Reading glasses in every room, for the forgetful. “Misty” on the baby grand.
The interior design is all Shoup, him and her. “We just got back from Marrakech and bought that rug,” he says, pointing at the stair runner.
Allen Shoup has long earned his living by having a refined palate. Whether it’s for wine (as founder of Long Shadows Vintners and former CEO of Stimson Lane Wineries and Estates, owners of Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest) or fragrance (he’s created 20 or so for Amway and Max Factor). Shoup is quick to tell you that most of the cost of a bottle of perfume is due to the packaging. Design matters.
“Everything’s eclectic,” Shoup says. “Even as a child I was interested in interior design. I grew up in a house with early-American furniture, the bad kind. And my wife has lived with me long enough she’s picked up the bug. We have an informal agreement not to buy something unless we both agree on it.”
The approach works. The home is grand yet cozy, elegant yet comfortable. And the Shoups have been happily married for 30 years. This is a place for the kids to come home to and bring their kids.
“I think everyone should spend some time nurturing their appreciation of aesthetics,” Shoup says. “And a lot of my male friends find that tedious.”
The aesthetics take many forms at the Shoup home. Glass, paintings and sculptures among the rugs, chairs and sofas. Built-in cabinets hold antique toys and mechanical banks. Each collected with the enthusiasm of a 10-year-old with a rookie Ken Griffey Jr. baseball card.
Oh, and there’s the wine. “When we added on, the excuse was that we needed a wine cellar,” he says. “We had to put in retaining walls, and that held down the size of the cellar. But I didn’t need it bigger. I had a winery. And we did most of the entertaining there.”
But there are a lot of keepers here. You can tell by the dust. A signed Robert Mondavi (Shoup’s mentor) from his first vintage, 1966, another signed (by both Ernest and Julio) 1978 Gallo cabernet, an ’84 Columbia Crest cab, a Thurston Wolfe Sangiovese, 2002 Villa Mt. Eden, bottles from the Mouton Rothschild artist series.
The Shoups don’t take their home lightly. Because this is their only home.
“I have so many friends who have second houses,” Shoup says. “And you hear about the pipes breaking and things needing fixing. Those are time traps.
“There are still too many places in the world we want to see.
“But the best compliment we get about our house is that, despite the size of the house and the amount of breakable stuff in it, it feels very comfortable.”
Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.