In front of a toasty fireplace, Lynn Devoe crocheted a Christmas gift. Chloe Wilcox sat next to her on the couch, embroidering a cover for a handcrafted journal. Tina Roberts was there with her friends while they all enjoyed morning coffee.
The women’s cozy gathering place wasn’t one of their homes. It was the Living Room Coffee House.
A project of Hillside Church, the Living Room moved a few months ago from the Safeway shopping plaza on Marysville’s State Avenue. Its new, larger home is the former Marysville Christian Church building at 1636 Fourth St.
“We took over that whole building,” said Brandon Wilson, the Living Room’s general manager and music pastor at Hillside Church. Today, the church occupies what Hillside members call the “Great Room,” adjacent to the new Living Room.
Hillside Church, launched in Marysville in 2010, is affiliated with the Indiana-based Church of God. In its early days, the worship space was the Marysville Boys &Girls Club. The Living Room opened in its previous location in October 2014, just two weeks before five teens died in a shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School.
With the school temporarily closed after the tragedy, the Living Room Coffee House became a haven for teens and others. It provided a place to find support, company and a shared meal. “Little did we know that we would be used and needed in October of 2014,” Wilson said.
During those sad days, area restaurants including Cristiano’s Pizza Etc., the Olive Garden and Taco Bell donated food for teens spending time at the Living Room. “We had so much, we served breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some people donated couches, so kids could just hang out,” Wilson said.
The Living Room is a dream realized for Kim Reynolds, who, with her husband, Mike, is a Hillside pastor and one of the church founders, along with Wilson. It had long been her goal to run a coffee shop. With their involvement in the church, that vision evolved.
A nonprofit coffee shop, the Living Room is run by volunteers — about 20 people in all, with the managers. Reynolds, its creator and decorator, filled the folksy space with found objects, including old doors, a ladder on the ceiling and a “You Matter” sign painted on rough wood.
“It’s a dream of mine, a place for people to be that’s cozy and comforting,” Reynolds said at the shop Wednesday. “Our church is ‘come as you are,’ but the Living Room is not meant to be a church. It’s a comfortable, safe space for anyone, a simple hangout space.”
Reynolds’ daughter, Jordan Reynolds, was a Marysville Pilchuck sophomore in 2014. She was in the school cafeteria when the shootings occurred. For Jordan and other students, the Living Room became a refuge.
“A lot of people found the Living Room through that time. It’s better to be with people after a tragedy,” said Roberts, 46, who lives in Lake Stevens.
In its new home, the Living Room draws customers from beyond Marysville. Wilcox, 41, said she comes from Lake Stevens once or twice a month to meet friends. “You can stay a long time and chat. I love what they’re doing in the community,” said Wilcox, whose kids helped paint the shop.
Devoe, of Snohomish, isn’t a member of Hillside Church, but said her Bible study group has met at the coffee shop. A local WISE Women entrepreneurial group meets at the Living Room, which has also opened its doors for a barista-training event. On Wednesday, Hillside Church was the site of a small-business gathering.
“I like that it’s local, and it feels comfy,” said Kirsten McKee, 40, of Marysville. “They don’t rush you to get out, you can stay as long as you like.”
Colleen Goad, 35, has been a volunteer barista at the Living Room for two years. Goad’s 8-year-old son, Calvin, was with her Wednesday at the shop. Her daughter, Cailey, 16, also volunteers there. “I’m a single mom of three. Sometimes the whole family is here,” Goad said. “Connection is the name of the game.”
Wilson said the building’s former occupant, Marysville Christian Church, became part of Impact Christian Church, which meets at Cavelero Mid High School in Lake Stevens. Hillside leases with plans to own the building, he said.
He sees the Living Room as an example of the third-place concept, which envisions social settings in addition to home and work. “It’s a third space for people. It’s not a casino or a biker bar,” Wilson said. The coffee shop hosts monthly jazz jam sessions, and puts on brewery events and game nights.
“The whole dream was to have a new kind of church, a different kind of church. We have universities and hospitals because churches started them,” Wilson said. Hillside’s founders, he said, wanted to answer the question “How can we be part of the life of the community?”
“The Living Room is the perfect name for it,” McKee said. “It feels like a home.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; email@example.com.
The Living Room