Camano Island Home Tour

  • Wednesday, July 14, 2004 9:00pm
  • Life

Camano Island Home Tour

Camano Island Home Tour

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday

Where: The self-guided tour begins at the Tea House, at Camano Lutheran Church, 873 N. Heichel Road off Highway 532 on Camano Island.

Cost: Tickets are $10 and can be purchased the day of the tour at the Tea House or in advance at the following businesses: Christianson’s Stanwood Nursery, 9816 271st St. NW, Stanwood; Snow Goose Bookstore, 8616 271st St. NW, Stanwood; and Copy This, Mail That, 370 NE Camano Drive, Suite 5, Camano Island.

For information about the tour, call Maureen Richardson at 360-629-5128.

Depots provided inspiration for home

Story by Debra Smith

Special to The Herald

Photos by Dan Bates

Herald Photographer

When Pat and Bob Coe set out to see North America in their RV, an essential stop in every small town was the train depot.

In some towns, the depots sat dirty and dilapidated, boarded up and bruised after years of neglect. Others had become museums, restaurants or the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

“But regardless, there was something about train architecture; you could always tell where the train station was,” Pat Coe said. “We often commented, ‘Boy, wouldn’t that make a cute house.’ There’s something about the size and the shape and the configuration. It touched a nerve with us.”

When the couple decided to settle down, they turned to the small town train depot common in the northern tier of the United States during the early 20th century as their inspiration. Since most old railroad depots aren’t for sale, they designed and built their own on Camano Island. The public can view the Coe home and four others on the Camano Island Home Tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Shaped like a T, the one-story home has a Craftsman look with a low, hipped, overhanging roof supported by brackets. In a depot, this is the spot the train would stop and passengers would spill out onto the platform. At the Coes’ house, a patio inhabits that spot on the south and north sides.

Inside, tall narrow windows line the three sides of a living area reminiscent of an open waiting area. The Coes used the great room concept, and the living room melds into a dining space. The walls are buttery yellow, and the television and stereo equipment are hidden behind painted cupboards above a gas fireplace.

Every station had a “bump out,” a boxy protrusion jutting from the building that would house the stationmaster’s desk. From the bump out, the stationmaster could view trains coming and going and control the semaphore, the armed signs that directed trains. In the Coe house, the bump out is a padded window seat with storage underneath.

At the back of the room is a kitchen designed like a 1930s luncheonette found in some depots. A long countertop with a sink separates the kitchen space from the rest of the room. Shelves line the back wall above a stove cook top and are filled with 1930s refrigerator jugs the Coes collected during their travels. Dark-colored linoleum counters are edged with a band of metal trim.

A utility room, guest room, den, master bedroom and two bathrooms are down the hall and at the back of the house where train depots often had their offices.

Although she never formally studied architecture, Pat Coe designed and decorated the house. Architecture is a passion and a calling for her. She remembers walking streets as a young woman, puzzling over why she liked certain homes and not others.

She’s spent a lifetime educating herself on the principles of good design. Nearly 500 books on the subject neatly line one of the painted yellow bookcases in the living room.

She and her husband have owned 10 homes during 35 years of marriage and they’ve improved each. A Spokane bungalow they restored was featured in a home design book and they were recognized by that city for their preservation work.

Pat Coe holds passionate opinions when it comes to design, and she’s incorporated many of her preferences into the home. They have a separate garage because an attached garage would make the rest of the home look diminutive and ruin the pure lines of the house.

The house is 1850 square feet, and while the couple could have afforded a much larger house, they preferred quality, not quantity. They spent about $330,000 building the house but that also included buying and developing the land.

Larry Lewis and Mike Pearce of LL Construction built the house.

“It isn’t about money,” Pat Coe said. “This isn’t a high-end house. What we did is take the budget we have and asked ourselves, ‘Do we want square footage or architectural details?’”

She dislikes the bland “mega houses” popping up in suburbs and believes people can live comfortably in much less space. In their home there are no repeated rooms – she designed every space to be lived in.

“We didn’t need both a dinette and a dining room, a family room and a living room. That just adds square feet,” she said.

Every design detail was carefully considered. The light flowing through the southern windows is offset by a light well, a tall ceiling above the entryway with windows at the top that lets the soft Northern light spill into the house.

She thought carefully about sightlines when she designed the house. The view through every door in the house is a window. This design technique makes the house feel light and spacious, even in the hallway.

“You’ve been in houses with those long hallways. You get to the end and there’s a blank wall and you feel sort of ‘oof’,” she said, making a sound of someone smacking face-first into a wall.

The interior contains early 20th-century Arts and Crafts and art deco touches. Some of the most striking elements include a walk-in shower in the master bath made from glass blocks, and art deco designs she’s hand-stenciled in the bedrooms and bathrooms. A wide band of flat trim near the ceiling carries through to each room of the house providing continuity.

Each room is a different color: rosy red for the office, tan for the guestroom, black and white for the guest bathroom, and a soothing shades of green for the master bedroom and bath. The floors throughout the house are made of ebony-colored concrete squares, and the home is heated by radiant heat under the floor.

Bob and Pat Coe said this is the final house they’ll live in. Their friends give them two years before the itch to move on takes over. They’re working on landscaping the yard, and Bob Coe would like to build his own semaphore.

“We don’t want to go far out funky with this railroad thing,” Pat Coe said. “When you start to build a house you have to decide where you want to go: Do you want a farm house? A colonial? You have to give some thought to style. We love these little depots, and we thought we could use that as an inspiration.”

Debra Smith is an Everett freelance writer and frequent contributor to Home &Garden. E-mail her at dasmithwork@

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