YOU REALLY have to go to Holly to get there.
It is unincorporated and way out of the way; the place where the road ends, hunkered down beachside behind brambles along Hood Canal in the southwestern corner of Kitsap County. Even Wikipedia will tell you that Holly is known for its isolation.
But that’s also what makes it so very special.
“It’s inspiring for me to be at Holly,” says Paige Stockley. “It’s important for me to be at Holly.”
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Paige looked at a weedy, soggy beachside lot whose only features were a choked-near-to-death creek and a “Breaking Bad”-type double-wide. Her sister saw the place and called it grisly.
Paige saw home.
“This is real,” she says. “This is not about making a fire by flipping a switch.”
Paige and Holly. Quite the pair. Forces of nature, the both of them. They’ve been friends all of Paige’s life. Her grandfather had a place across the cove. Her mom and dad, Peggy and Tom Stockley, brought Paige and her sister to Holly since they were babies.
The girls’ parents, though, are gone now — two of 88 people killed Jan. 31, 2000, when Alaska Flight 261 crashed off California on the way back from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. (Tom Stockley was the wine writer and assistant editor of this magazine.) But when Paige is here, they are with her.
And this, this roots-tangled-into-your-soul feel for family, is what Paige, a professional cellist who teaches at Cornish College of the Arts, and her husband, Steve Lerner, want for their own daughter, Daisy, 9.
“When she and her friends are out here they just play, play, play, play, play,” Paige says.
Over the course of the morning a lemony sun burns away a driving rain. Paige grabs a bucket, pulls on her boots and clomps down to the beach. It is carpeted in Pacific oysters. These will be lunch.
After buying the land in 2009, Paige immediately began rescue work on the creek. She is delighted to report that once again (and it is hard to hear this over the creek’s roar) these waters host a healthy run of chum.
The concept for her 2,500-square-foot Cape Cod/Northwest-style retreat, guesthouse out back, came from a set of Target’s Thomas O’Brien dinner plates (they recalled France) and an antique limestone fireplace surround.
After a few requests (the look of the nearby shingled schoolhouse, a wide-planked floor, big windows, tilework, fat porch, a good kitchen) she let the pros take over. As she puts it, “I didn’t go to architecture school. I didn’t go to design school.”
Andrew Borges of Rohleder Borges Architecture set about designing it, Dan Hiatt of Hiatt Construction and Robert Kim crafting it, Brooks Kolb designing a hospitable native landscape brought to life by Robin Richie, and Michelle Burgess dressing it in creamy relaxed luxury, a “what-if-the-south-of-France-came-to-the-West-Coast?” fantasy.
Construction began March 2010 and was finished that December. “I wanted it fast-tracked for Daisy, before she headed off for college,” Paige says.
The wraparound porch is the welcome. Inside, the trim (which Burgess stained a sandy color Paige calls “Michelle’s Special Sauce”), floors and beams are fir. Most furnishings and walls are white, accented in weathered wood and blackened metal. The downstairs holds two bedrooms. Upstairs, there’s a large sleeping room with bunks built in: Perfect for girls and pajama parties.
“We had a rule,” Paige says of it all. “Everything had to be TDF: to die for.”
In summertime, the house is thrown open, and Holly’s breezes have their way with the place.
“It’s perfect,” Paige says. “It’s TDF.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.