WHEN JOAN and Justin Cottet were in the throes of buying their old farmhouse on a large lot down a kelly-green country lane in Snohomish, their inspector turned to them and said:
“You guys work yourselves to death, you’ll have a nice little house.”
They have. And they most certainly do.
“My brother and sister-in-law helped us move in, and my sister-in-law wouldn’t stay over. She said it was too scary,” reports Joan Cottet, seated at the extra-long farm table in the extra-big, white and new kitchen.
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She shrugs. Perhaps it was. Before they could even get inside they had to fix the front steps.
But we digress. That was then, 1998.
Ever since, Joan and Justin, who are budget behaved with no fear of doing it themselves, have primped, pampered, papered, painted, saved, sanded, scraped and stained their way to the welcoming family home you see today.
The latest work — new kitchen, fabulous mudroom (have those two words ever been put together before?), bathrooms and additional closet space for daughters Evy and Elle — sealed the deal in taking the place from frightful farmhouse to, as their architect calls it, “Moditional.”
“I have been to many clients’ homes who desperately need help with design and a remodel,” says Sara Imhoff of Imprint Architecture. “But I knew from the minute I walked into Joan and Justin’s that their house was special and different. It was already immaculate, decorated perfectly to suit the old farmhouse.”
The Cottets sought out Imhoff to design the addition. They took her design and did what they always do. Ran with it.
“I think a lot of people, when they want more, they move,” says Joan, by day a fifth-grade teacher at Dutch Hill Elementary in Snohomish (Justin is an engineer at Boeing). “But you get more bang for your buck with a remodel.
“Plus, there’s too much of our work in this house to move.”
The fearless couple had no desire for the new addition to match the old house, now 2,800 square feet. And it does not. Whether it’s the new silver metal roof running into the old house, or the mostly original and charming living room hugged up against the gleaming white kitchen.
The large mudroom also serves as a farmhouse-grand entryway. Fat whitewashed structural timbers overhead were once part of the Collins Building (for many years housing the Collins Casket Company) on the Everett waterfront. Cubbies, one for each Cottet, are made from old doors that the couple stripped down and painted up. The cubbies are soft gray over concrete floors cut into large tiles and trimmed with reclaimed wood used as a kind of grout. Four impressive glass doors, 8 feet tall, open to the garden beds and firepit. Floor-length curtains surrounding each billow gently.
Elsewhere for this project it’s subway tile, beadboard, Carrara marble, wood recycled and reclaimed. Everything white or chalky gray. The kitchen is grounded with a rugged and useful 11-foot-long fir table by Darryn Frost of Snohomish. (The Cottets report that it is large enough to fit 18 little girls carving pumpkins.) For fixtures and built-ins it’s antiques mixed with Restoration Hardware (at Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip.)
The decorating couple had an unusual request for this project, telling Imhoff, “We were not so concerned with function,” says Joan. “We wanted the look.”
But there’s plenty of function, too.
Next up? The landscaping, a partnership with McAuliffe’s Valley Nursery of Snohomish.
“We’ve always loved this house,” says Justin. “We can’t even see ourselves in most other homes.”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.