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Home maintenance in the Methow The beauty of reused materials Remodeling as an option

A supplement to the Methow Valley News



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E seem to have been in something of a reflective frame of mind when we began developing stories for the 2017 edition of Methow Home, our annual publication celebrating the valley’s unique lifestyle. How else to explain articles about recycled materials being reused in home construction, about remodeling as a practical option, about rebuilding after a total loss, about rethinking the affordable housing challenge in the Methow Valley, about revisiting the need for Firewise planning, about reemphasizing the importance of regular home maintenance and repair, about remembering the value of our agriculture heritage, about the renaissance of “tiny” homes, Methow Valley style? We’ve also included a sneak preview of what to expect in the annual Methow Valley Home Tour. Clearly, some topics bear repeating. That said, the content in this year’s Methow Home supplement is, as always, freshly created.

We reconstruct the magazine from the ground up. The six featured homes in the 2017 edition include profiles of four that were built relatively recently, one that has been dramatically remodeled over the past several years, and one that was rebuilt on the footprint of a vacation cabin that was incinerated in the 2014 Rising Eagle Road Fire. Each reflects the dreams of its owners, the creativity of their architects and the craftsmanship of local builders. And in each case, the owners’ reasons for being in the Methow drive their desire to buy or build in the Valley. Our valued advertisers represent the incredible range of services available right here in the valley, for those contemplating any aspect of buying, building or furnishing. We encourage you to check them out. And we hope that Methow Home 2017 will reenergize your thinking about the possibilities of turning being here into building or buying here. — Don Nelson

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12 15 17 A publication of the Methow Valley News P.O. Box 97, 502 S. Glover St., Twisp, WA 98856 509.997.7011 • fax 509.997.3277

Don Nelson | PUBLISHER/EDITOR Darla Hussey | DESIGN Rebecca Walker | OFFICE MANAGER 4

Chechaquo Ranch house was a natural transition


There are many factors to consider in using reclaimed building materials

‘COMFORT HOMES’ OF THE METHOW VALLEY ON ANNUAL CONFLUENCE TOUR THE NEIGHBORLY THING TO DO Mel Cooke and Marcia Ives found a property they loved, and an architect right across the road, for their Methow home


Guidance for home owners in fire country


DON NELSON is publisher and editor of the Methow Valley News.

22 24 28

THE SEASONAL DIVIDE Building activity and part-time residents are vital to the valley’s economy, but year-round affordable housing remains a concern


not stripped of its identity — by thoughtful remodeling


Mark Dexter and Deb Cowley relied on designer/builder Don Miller to visualize their dream home


Mike Kutz’s compact homes are practical, comfortable and affordable

30 LOW PROFILE Following the lay of the land

Supporting local agriculture helps the economy and preserves our rural character


THE ZEN OF HOME MAINTENANCE Regular year-round vigilance holds off bigger problems



A Montana ledgestone fireplace warms up a Mazamaarea home. See story, page 24. PHOTO BY DON NELSON

Renovation and remodeling are effective ways to create a fresh space


opened up design options for Mazama meadow home


36 EXTENDED STAY A small cabin is transformed — but


The devastating Rising Eagle Road Fire destroyed the Calderheads’ cabin, but not their Methow Valley spirit



is a Methow Valley News reporter.


is a Methow Valley News reporter.


is a Methow Valley News columnist.


is a Methow Valley News columnist.


is a Methow Valley News columnist.




FROM CAMPSITE TO HOME SITE Chechaquo Ranch house was a natural transition BY DON NELSON


N a sense, Glenn and Diana are still “camping out” on the Chechaquo Ranch property they bought quite a while ago near Mazama. The expansive views, the sloping terrain, the native plants and the huge glacial erratic boulder that define the lot haven’t changed. For years, Glenn and Dianna happily pitched a tent on the site as often as they could get to the Methow Valley from their Seattle-area home, a 100-yearold Colonial. These days, however, the couple (who asked that their last names not be used) enjoy the location from the comfort of a nearly new cabin that is suitably small but also big enough to accommodate their activities and Methow lifestyle. Though the home is a part-time refuge, Glenn and Diana are all-season, multiple-activity users of the valley, from mountain biking and climbing to Nordic skiing and fat biking. Architects Ray and Mary Johnston call the home the “Big Rock House,” after the impressive chunk of stone that, even covered with snow in the winter, can’t be overlooked. Glenn and Diana call the two-bedroom, 1,300-squarefoot home “perfect.” “Everything works, from the first time we were here,” Diana said. “We marvel at how well it works.” Glenn’s introduction to the Methow Valley came in 1972 when he visited during a climbing trip with the Mountaineers from Seattle, before the North Cascades

Scenic Highway opened. He was hooked. “First impressions are lasting — the whole valley, its proximity to the mountains, its special ambience,” he said. While in college at the University of Washington, Glenn and some classmates — including Rick LeDuc, now co-owner of the Mazama Store — went skiing on the Nordic trails at Sun Mountain. Glenn took skiing lessons from Methow Valley trailblazer Don Portman. Other skiing adventures followed over the years. Glenn and Diana lived on the East Coast for 17 years before eventually returning to the Seattle area in 1998, but still periodically visited the Methow Valley during their absence. Both work in the aerospace industry, Glenn as an engineer, Diana as a manager.

Matching the landscape

When they decided to buy property in the Methow, the couple scouted every part of the valley looking for just the right parcel. Ultimately, it was the Chechaquo Ranch meadow at Mazama that most attracted them — the grasses, flowers and views. “We instantly loved it,” Diana said. The couple camped on the site for half-a-dozen years before deciding to build, carefully choosing their tent site to maximize the experience. But that eventually had its limits. “We decided there would come a day when we weren’t going to be able to sleep in a tent,” Diana said. The couple decided they wanted a simple, low-maintenance

house that would blend naturally into its surroundings. “We wanted it to look like it was part of the landscape,” she said. Glenn and Diana didn’t know any architects, but noticed a home that came to be called the Miner’s Refuge, designed by Johnston Architects, being built nearby. “We liked what they did,” Diana said. They met firm principals Ray and Mary Johnston and also liked what they heard, but then didn’t have any contact with the architects for a long time afterwards. “We disappeared for about six years,” Diana said. When they were ready to build, Glenn and Diana sought out the Johnstons again. The architects and owners then embarked on a collaborative process that allowed Glenn and Diana to push for what they wanted, while the Johnstons gently pushed back with their ideas and observations. “We listened, and we observed,” Diana said. Where the home’s footprint would land was an early consideration. “Ray gave us good advice,” Glenn said. “You don’t want to build on the special spot where you pitched your tent, and then wonder what happened to it.” Instead, the house’s foundation was moved a few feet farther back into the hillside. Another consideration was where the house would be situated relative to the grade on the property. Diana, Ray Johnston and Mary Johnston said the center of the main view should be at grade; Glenn disagreed. “I was overruled,” Glenn said — happily, it turned out. “Pushing you back into the hill gives you a protected feeling,” Mary Johnston said. “I like the way the house is balanced.”

Because of the obvious landmark, the architects dubbed the Chechaquo Ranch home “Big Rock House.” PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHNSTON ARCHITECTS


Just what was needed

Antique-style lighting greets visitors in the entryway. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHNSTON ARCHITECTS

“Mary took good notes on our requirements,” Diana said. “We discussed how we were going to use it [the home]. She told us we didn’t need a laundry room.” Instead, a stacked washer and dryer are tucked into a closet that still has ample storage space. The outdoor shower, however, was a surprise in the design, but Glenn and Diana love the addition. “We didn’t know we needed it,” Glenn said. The front of the home — comprising a “great room” that includes a living area, dining area and kitchen — is enclosed on three sides by window walls rising to a slightly pitched shed roof. All of the windows have retractable blinds. The front deck has a deep overhang that helps contend with the glare of summer afternoons. “With the western view, you need protection, and enough room to really live out there,” Johnston said. To that end, the deck is precisely one foot wider — 9 feet — than the




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8 feet that Glenn and Diana were contemplating. A flagstone patio extends beyond the deck At the back of the home are a master bedroom with a small outdoor deck, and a guest bedroom. Each has a bath. An entryway with a “gear room” off to one side connects by way of a high-ceilinged hallway to the front of the house. Outside the rear entrance, a bench invites repose in what will be a nicely shaded area in the summer. There is no garage or carport, but a storage shed is under construction. Dark skies are important to Glenn and Diana. All of their light switches are on dimmers, and the light fixtures are pointed downward or shrouded so that little light leaks out of the building. Closing the blinds also cuts down on the home’s lighting impacts. The gear room (which, aptly, is currently full of recreational gear) was a necessity. But they didn’t need three bedrooms, the Johnstons told them. Otherwise, Diana


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said, “We had no preconceived notion of how it would look.” Inside, harder, durable materials such as concrete flooring were used in the entry hallway, giving way to a warm hardwood floor in the great room. Johnston said compact homes are more common these days. “People realize that they spend so much time outside … they generally have a sense of economy” about their new home, she said. In smaller spaces, Johnston said, “you need to have nooks and crannies” to store things and put people. For instance, window seats in the great room beckon visitors to settle near the welcoming propane stove. The seats lift up to reveal storage space beneath. The Johnston’s like using sliding barn-style doors because they consume so little space and can also be used to “hide” part of a room — such as in the living area, where a door covers what will be the home entertainment center.

Tim Odell crafted the metal top for the breakfast bar. PHOTO BY DON NELSON

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Finishing touches

Mary Johnston said: “How do we deal with it? How do As for painting the inyou get around it?” The soternal walls, Glenn said, lution is an up-slope drive“we asked her [Johnston] way that skirts the boulder. what to do. She said, ‘look Local craftsmen contriboutside.’” And so the subtle uted to the home’s amenihues of the great room ties. Cabinetry was done help bring the outdoor colby Phil Woras; Tim Odell ors inside. crafted the metal counterOther touches, such as a top for the breakfast bar slightly colored foundation attached to the stove isconcrete and weathered land. The home was comsteel siding, help create a pleted in December 2015. sense of blending into the Diana’s advice to others surroundings. planning to buy property Speaking of which, and build in the Methow: builder Phil Dietz worked Get to know your site closely with Glenn and Diwell — “where the sun is, ana to preserve the natural where the wind is,” she vegetation during consaid — to make sure the struction. Where excavahouse is sited appropriatetion was necessary, the ly. And, “keep it simple.” couple has worked hard to The dining area features fabulous views. PHOTO BY Yes, the tenting years are restore native plants such DON NELSON behind Glenn and Diana, as grasses, serviceberry but still loom large in their and arrowleaf balsammemories. “For us, this is weekend, restoring the natural root. “We started reseedstill our little basecamp here,” Diing as soon as it was done,” Diana vegetation.” ana said. H And then there was the rock, said. “We were up here every A deep deck and extensive patio invite outdoor relaxation . PHOTO COURESY OF JOHNSTON ARCHITECTS

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WHAT’S THE RE-USE? There are many factors to consider in using reclaimed building materials BY ASHLE Y LODATO


NE of the best reclaimed building materials stories comes from former Methow residents Tanara and Zach Huff. During the excavation phase of building their home in the Twin Lakes area, Zach was browsing for salvaged odds and ends at Seattle’s Second Use store when in rolled a truck full of high-end, nearly new Loewen windows that had just been salvaged from a remodel in Medina. Second Use offered Zach a deal: take the windows away immediately (saving Second Use from having to unload, inventory and store them), and Zach could have them for a small fraction of their cost. This would mean not only finding a way to transport and store the windows that day, but also designing a house around the window’s dimensions, rather than selecting window sizes to fit the house design. Still, they were Loewen windows going for a song. Despite the daunting logistics, the window package was too good a deal to pass up. Zach rented a U-Haul and moved the windows into a storage unit nearby. When he eventually installed the windows in their home, it became clear that the window package was one of the best impulse buys of Zach’s life. Not only are the windows top-quality, but they also perfectly frame the stunning

views of the Pasayten and the rolling terrain of Big and Little Twin Lakes, bringing the Methow landscape into focus from inside the home. Designing a house around this window package paid off in more ways than one. When you’re contemplating using reclaimed materials such as the Huffs’ windows, there are several factors to consider, the most important being your motive. Are you reusing materials to save money, to cut down on waste, or because you have an aesthetic connection to a particular reclaimed material?

Penny wise, pound foolish?

At first glance, the abundance of reclaimed materials on the market might seem like a golden opportunity to save a lot of money on home construction. From framing to flooring to finish, and from hardware to cabinets to glass, a reclaimed building materials business like Second Use or The Re-Store might appear to be one-stop shopping for the budget-conscious builder. Some building materials, however, may end up costing more in the long run than their off-theshelf counterparts. Hardware is one example. Although the character of old doorknobs is aesthetically appealing, older hardware tends to be looser than newer items, causing more stress, wear, and tear over time and inevitably requires replacing. Old plumbing

The aesthetic of recycled hardware — like these old doorknobs — appeals to many people. PHOTO COURTESY OF RE-STORE IN BELLINGHAM


fixtures, too, cost less up front but may cost more over time in water and energy bills, as they are not as efficient as newer fixtures. Windows are another such example. Unless you’re lucky enough to happen upon a deal such as the Huffs’, what you’re probably going to find in the used window department will be either older windows that no longer meet building codes for energy efficiency, or modern windows that have been weakened by the process of being installed, ripped out and reinstalled. That makes them more prone to failure or heat loss over time, particularly with windows that open. When incorporating old doors into a home design, you’ll need to factor in the time it will take to construct a jamb, as many old doors in salvage supply businesses are not pre-hung. Building a custom jamb for an old door may take so much time that the cost outweighs the benefit. “The tinkering time can eat up your cost savings,” says architect Mary Johnston of Johnston Architects. Still, there are many opportunities to save money by reusing materials. Take flooring, for example. “If you have a source of free or very inexpensive flooring, you can save some money, because the cost of installing and refinishing the old flooring is similar to the cost of installing and finishing new flooring,” Johnston says. One of my neighbors pulled the teak decking off an old aircraft carrier and used it as gorgeous flooring at a modest price.

One source of salvaged building materials is the Second Use store in Seattle. PHOTO COURTESY OF SECOND USE SEATTLE

Similarly, if you locate a source of free or inexpensive kitchen and/or bathroom cabinets, a savings can be realized; same with good-quality exterior siding. In general, if a particular building material is very expensive to buy new, and you have an inexpensive, reclaimed alternative to that material, being penny wise pays off. Most builders, however, agree that using reclaimed materials usually adds cost to a project.

Reuse for the planet

Many home owners are motivated to reuse materials for the purpose of mitigating human impact on the earth. Indeed, both Second Use and The Re-Store note this purpose in their missions — the ecological benefits of reducing waste. If you share this value, you may choose to spend

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time scouring reclaimed materials from warehouses and yards, collecting wood, fixtures and other items to reuse. You recognize that some materials will be more expensive to incorporate than their off-the-shelf counterparts, but you are willing to pay extra for the satisfaction of reducing waste. The most-avid users of reclaimed materials tend to be those who stockpile wood, plumbing, fixtures and hardware over time, eventually incorporating them into what typically turns out to be an architecturally interesting, funky home. Around the Methow Valley there are barns filled with old materials just waiting to be repurposed into cabins, saunas and other outbuildings. Reusing materials is not a

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completely zero-sum game, however, as sourcing these materials typically takes time and travel. A builder might find doors in Spokane, windows in Seattle, beams in Tonasket, sinks and tubs in Portland, and a room full of old schoolhouse light fixtures in Boise. After a couple of 200-mile drives to pick up loads of siding or cabinets, the carbon footprint of the transportation is not insignificant. Still, many friends and neighbors have piles of unused siding or flooring under tarps that they might happily get rid of. I should know — my two bathtub surrounds are tiled with 4-inch white tiles that my neighbor gave me, and I know that at least one other family in the valley tiled its bathroom with pieces I didn’t use. If you’re scrounging (and I mean

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that in the very best sense of the word) materials, it’s best to start local and move outwards as needed. Put ads on the bulletin board and Craigslist, check Methow Recycles’ 2good2toss webpage for reusable stuff, put a note on the Methow Valley Buy/ Sell Facebook page, and simply ask around. Sourcing enough quality supplies for a proper house will take time, but I’d wager that dozens of guest cabins, chicken coops and garden sheds could be constructed from the existing stockpiles of Methow Valley residents. Johnston advises caution when reclaiming materials such as brick — piles of which can be found in great abundance at salvage yards. “If brick has been used in a chimney or furnace, it’s full of chemicals and weakened by the heat,” she says. Your best use of old brick, says Johnston, is in an outdoor path or patio.

The beauty of old age

With the popularity of today’s modern rustic industrial aesthetic, reclaimed materials are all the rage. Reclaimed wood brings a weathered beauty; nicks, holes, and scars convey a sense of history; a patina lends soul and character. Like many others, Andy

McConkey of Stopwater Construction finds old materials juxtaposed with new ones to be visually pleasing. “I like the ‘old and new thing’ architecturally,” he says, “like an old piece of wood next to a fine finish.” Johnston refers to an emotional connection that many of her clients have with specific old materials — wood from a barn door, a leaded glass window, a claw foot bathtub. “The used look needs to be authentic, though,” says Johnston, “not just something you saw in a magazine and want us to recreate. New material looks old as it gets old.” Johnston says that some clients deliberately choose materials that show wear easily, such as soapstone counters. “They don’t care that the soapstone gets marks and oil stains. They’re happy with the used look. They’re the ones doing the wear and tear — it becomes part of their history,” she says. Similarly, the steel that Johnston Architects frequently uses as exterior siding rusts over time, creating an authentic weathered look. And as steel is highly reusable, it makes an ideal material to reclaim. If you’re emotionally attached to a particular reclaimed item, you’ll probably be glad you incorporated it into your house, even at a higher expense. Of incorporating such pieces, Johnston says, “This situation presents a really nice challenge for an architect. It turns into a rewarding collaboration between the client and the architect.” That barn door or stained glass window from the estate sale? “Go for it,” Johnston says.

Wood is good

Old roofing re-used as siding. PHOTO BY ASHLEY LODATO


Johnston points to reclaimed wood as a choice that will often answer to all three motivations: cost, waste reduction and aesthetics. Both aesthetic wood (e.g., cabinets, interior finish) and structural wood (e.g., beams) are excellent for reuse, she says. “[Johnston Architects] recently planed and refinished recycled fir for cabinet drawer fronts,”

she says, “and they turned out beautifully. The fir had aged to a deep orange color and you could still see the old nail holes. It has a lot of character.” Reclaimed structural wood, Johnston says, “is often stronger than modern wood. Sometimes it’s old growth, or it’s just denser from growing more slowly. As the wood ages the molecular structure changes and it becomes stronger. The molecules crystalize, like petrified wood.” Johnston cites examples of reusing lumber from a dismantled boathouse, flooring An old principal's office door can be repurposed . PHOTO BY NICOLE RINGGOLD from an old ballet studio, and reclaimed school gymnasiorder to be reused — and this reum floors in Johnston Architects moval typically comes at signifiprojects. “All the marks in this old cant cost. An old piece of wood wood just give it super character,” requires a lot of “touches,” Mcshe says. Conkey says. “You have to have a McConkey cautions that the client who values it enough to pay process of getting an old piece of for it.” wood into a new building can ofA last method of using reten require a prohibitive amount claimed materials is widely of the tinkering to which Johnston practiced by both professionrefers. “It’s so satisfying to use al builders and amateur do-itthe old stuff,” says McConkey, yourselfers, and it’s as satis“but it’s not very efficient. Somefying as happening upon that one has to take apart the old $20 bill you stashed in a secret building and pull the nails out. It pocket last year. McConkey regets messed around with a lot at minds us of this procedure: “I’ll the source.” have some wood stored under a Beautiful, old weathered beams tarp for years,” he says, “getting and siding from defunct mills all weathered and aged. I forget and warehouses are popular in about it for a while, then one day modern rustic homes, but they I reclaim it and build something must be removed painstakingly in great out of it.” H



“Methow Hygge: The Cozy Home Methow Valley Style” is the theme of Confluence Gallery and Art Center’s 16th Annual Methow Valley Home Tour on Aug. 5. Hygge (pronounced “hoogah”) is a popular Danish term that describes a quality of coziness, contentment, comfort and connection. The Methow Valley homes featured on the tour were selected to highlight relaxed and intimate atmospheres — artful and practical ways of creating a sanctuary

to enhance quality of life. The tour will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the various home sites around the valley. Tickets are $25 per person, or $20 per person for car pools of four or more. Tickets and tour maps will be available at the gallery in Twisp beginning Aug. 1. Online tickets can be purchased at event/2822587. For more information, call 997-2787 or visit



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THE NEIGHBORLY THING TO DO Mel Cooke and Marcia Ives found a property they loved, and an architect right across the road, for their Methow home BY DON NELSON


HERE was a moment several years ago when Mel Cooke and Marcia Ives realized that living in the Methow Valley was probably their destiny. They were invited to a party at a home in Pine Forest, where they didn’t know many of the attendees but found it easy to strike up conversations. “It was a room full of people we could hang out with,” Marcia said. The couple, who have been together for eight years, were living in the Seattle area at the time, where Mel was a schoolteacher and Marcia owned a home care business. They were plotting a retirement plan, which escalated as they began the decision-making process that eventually led to the move into their new Methow Valley home in July 2015. Mel retired a bit earlier than he had planned — “it was the only way we could make it work,” he said — which meant that the couple’s building plans were speeded up. The home in the Rodeo Trails development north of Sun Mountain Ranch Club is distinct in design and practical in concept, and — at a compact 1,200 square feet — meets the desires Mel and Marcia had in mind when they first started thinking about it many years ago. The couple didn’t have to go far to find an architect. David

Coleman, of Seattle-based David Coleman Architecture, is their across-the-street neighbor. Coleman’s house became the ideagenerating model for Mel and Marcia. The Rodeo Trails property was one of the first Mel and Marcia looked at as they toured the valley searching for the ideal spot. They were looking for something close to town, with easy access to recreational trails in summer and winter. The Rodeo Trails property drew them back. “We kept an eye on it for an entire year so we could observe the solar characteristics during all seasons,” Mel said. “We kept coming back to this spot, in all seasons,” Marcia said. “We could visualize where the house would be, and we liked the orientation.”

Weather aside, Mel said, they were drawn in by “the richness of the culture and the community.” Mel and Marcia purchased the Rodeo Trails site in 2011. They weren’t thinking about building right away — maybe in five years, Mel said — or who they might find as an architect. But they had taken notice of an interesting house across the street from their lot. “We liked the elements of the house,” Mel said. And then they encountered Cole-

Vision quest

Coleman bought his property in Rodeo Trails more than a dozen years ago, and built his home there about eight years ago. After meeting Mel and Marcia and showing them his home, it was several months before he heard from them again. The design process started not long after. “They had ideas about how they wanted the house to be and function,” Coleman said. “At that point, we were less sure where

Ready to move

Mel and Marcia were both familiar with the valley as recreational visitors. The more time they spent here, the more it became evident that the west side was losing its appeal. That conclusion firmed up their commitment to look for property in the Methow Valley. “We realized that winter didn’t mean gray, drizzly rain. Then we realized that July wasn’t gray and drizzly either,” Mel said. “From that point, the traffic and weather in Seattle were horrible.” Marcia echoed that thought. “July was heaven,” she said.

The home’s siting takes advantage of mountain views. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID COLEMAN ARCHITECTS

man on a ski trail. The architect invited them to tour his home. By October 2011, Coleman was on board. “We weren’t sure we could afford it, but we figured he [Coleman] would know the land,” Mel said.

it would be on the site.” Coleman and his clients spent time on the property, considering issues such as privacy, views and access. The house is set back from the road on a knoll, giving it the desired privacy. Mel and Marcia talked a lot

The table is both a work of art and a functional piece of furniture. PHOTO BY DON NELSON


In response, the Ives created a slide show about their lives. Coleman emphasizes what he calls a “vision-question with clients” — probing what they want, and how they want the house to feel. “People are really good at zeroing in on the details,” he said. “They’re less good at talking about the ‘feel.’” So he asks clients about their travels, hobbies, activities and interests to get a sense of “what really resonates with them.” Mel and Marcia laid out A propane stove lends a warm touch on winter days. PHOTO some priorities: BY DON NELSON they wanted to make good use of the light, about what they wanted in a they didn’t want to have to shovel home and came up with a sketch snow for access, they wanted and floor plan. They spent “a lot a carport, and “we didn’t want a of hours” going over their ideas weed whacker,” Mel said — meanwith Coleman, Mel said. ing, a low-maintenance, natural “He [Coleman] gave us a homework assignment to describe who foliage yard. They also wanted a one-story, we were as people,” Marcia said.

“aging-in-place” home. “We were only building this house once,” Mel said, so it had to be able to accommodate them in their later years. Firewise measures were also part of their thinking. Coleman’s first plan “incorporated most of what we wanted,” Mel said. “We liked it immediately,” Marcia agreed.

Steady progress

Construction progress was steady if not rapid. Site preparation began in 2013, groundbreaking was in October 2014, and the house was finished less than a year later. Still to be built are a pottery studio, where Mel and Marcia will work on their art, and outdoor courtyard. Builder Tim Smith was an important collaborator and helped them make choices along the way, Mel and Marcia said. Coleman’s website refers to the home as the “Jackknife House” because the two major elements of the structure — the bedroom wing and the living/dining/kitchen area — are set at an angle to each other, suggesting a jackknife being opened. At the end of a short entryway, the house splits into two distinct areas. On the left, a hallway leads to two bedrooms (one used now as an exercise room) and a bath. The bedroom wing is more private and deliberately separate from the rest of the house. To the right is an open living area with high, beamed ceilings, that extends to a dining area and kitchen. There are view-framing windows surrounding the great

room, and the living area opens to a deck that wraps around the house all the way to the master bedroom. A propane stove lends a lovely glow to the living area on a chilly winter day. There are wooden floors in most of the house.

Toward the mountains

The house has two “framed” views: Garner Mountain, and the Saw tooth range. At the entryway, Coleman said, “the idea is you’re right on the axis with the porch … and the view of the Saw tooth range.” Turning right, your at tention is drawn to a large window in the kitchen area that looks toward Gardner Mountain. “The ceilings are taller, the windows are bigger — you’re in the light,” Coleman said. A steel beam runs across the great room, but at an angle to the room’s orientation. It’s an arresting design feature, but also serves a structural purpose, Coleman said — without it, the roof would need more rafters. Though the house doesn’t have a lot of storage area, Mel and Marcia have adapted and find the house to be a “very usable” space. The works of many local artists including Donna Keyser, Laura Karcher, Sara Ashford, Susan Snover, Steve Ward and David Russell are represented in the decor and furnishings. “We wanted local art and had a clean slate to work with,” Marcia said. Their own pottery also adorns the space. For the exterior, Mel and Marcia

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opted for a combination of rusted metal siding and fiber cement siding (called Hardipanel) that is fire-resistant, with an extruded aluminum channel on the vertical and horizontal joints. Taken together, the home and process had a more-than-satisfactory outcome for everyone. “I love the way it sits on the site … it’s a very interesting building, with a rich, dynamic feeling … it looks great in the winter, and with the studio and courtyard, it will be a really lovely space in the summer,” Coleman said. “They were great clients,” Coleman added. “And they’re great neighbors.” “It turned out to fit our needs and desires,” Mel said. “We’re thrilled with the house.” More than that, they’re thrilled with where destiny led them. “Look where we get to live,” Marcia said. H Collected artworks are on display throughout the house. PHOTO BY DON NELSON

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HE latest research into home ignitions during wildfires has generated some clear guidance for home owners in fire country. In particular, homeowners need to prioritize the structure and 100-foot radius around the home when preparing for wildfire. While thinning trees and removing brush is part of being Firewise,

all too often people start with the landscape and work toward the house, when in reality it’s most important to start with the house and work out into the landscape. New construction is the best time to make Firewise choices, but there are also opportunities to make changes to existing homes to make them more likely to survive. Why should homeowners prioritize the area right around the home? Embers. Research is showing that embers are the No. 1 factor in home ignitions. In fact, in a number of studies of large

wildfires, homes that burned to the ground were surrounded by green vegetation. It was the home that caught fire, not anything around it, and the most likely cause was an ember ignition. Since embers can travel over a mile from the main part of a wildfire, even homes in town can be vulnerable. For a dramatic demonstration of embers igniting a home, visit the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety website at https://disastersafety. org/ibhs/research-center-demowildfire-2011. A home’s ignition risk is determined by its immediate surroundings and the home’s construction materials. This “home ignition zone” can be thought of as concentric circles with the home at the center:

This home has beautiful landscaping. Unfortunately, the volume, type and location of the plants puts the woodsided home at higher risk during a wildfire. Creating a separation between the structure and the landscaping and the use of fire-resistant plants would decrease ignition risk. PHOTO COURTESY OF OKANOGAN CONSERVATION DISTRICT

• Home Zone — the home itself and within 5 feet of the foundation

This combination of wood mulch and flammable vegetation next to a wood deck is cause for concern. PHOTO COURTESY OF OKANOGAN CONSERVATION DISTRICT

Harden your home against wildfires. This includes fences, decks, porches and other attachments. From a fire behavior point of view, if it’s attached to the house it is a part of the house. Non-flammable or low flammability construction materials — especially for roofs, siding and windows — are recommended for new homes or retrofits. Keep any flammables, including

This home has stucco siding and a nonflammable perimeter. Once the owners remove the wood debris from under the eaves, it should be quite fire-resistant. PHOTO COURTESY OF OKANOGAN CONSERVATION DISTRICT

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plantings, debris and mulch, out of the area within 5 feet of your home’s foundation as well as off your roof, eave lines, gutters and deck or porch surfaces. Vents are a particular concern in wildfires. Since vents are designed to allow air flow through a structure, when the air is also full of embers, those embers can enter the building, land on combustible

materials, and begin burning the home from the inside out. Ensure vents and other openings are screened with 1/8-inch metal mesh or otherwise protected from ember penetration during a wildfire.

• 5 to 30 feet

This well-irrigated area around the home includes decks and fences, and provides space

Fire resistant construction resources California has strict building codes for homes in the wildlandurban interface (WUI). The CalFire website includes a searchable database of building materials to help you or your contractor find fire-resistant building materials: wildfireprotectionbuildingconstruction. To go straight to the Building Materials listing: osfm.



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Many of these products are available online or through special order. Contact your local building supply location or the Okanogan Conservation District for more information. CalFire has identified the following eave venting products which comply with the relevant WUI codes: Lomanco Inc.; Vulcan Technologies ; Vivico FireGuardVent; Brandguard; O’Hagin’s, Inc.

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for fire-suppression equipment in the event of an emergency. Lawns should be well maintained and mowed. Plantings should be limited to carefully spaced, low-flammability species. Consider hardscaping using rocks, gravel or stone instead of mulch. Keep any large amounts of fuel, such as firewood piles, out of this area. If irrigation is not an option, maintain a wide non-flammable perimeter around the home and keep grass and vegetation very low outside of that perimeter.

• 30 — 100 feet

Low-flammability plant materials should be used here. Plants should be low-growing and the irrigation system should extend into this section. Create separation between grasses, shrubs and trees to avoid a “fuel ladder” effect where fire can climb into taller vegetation. Trees should be spaced to prevent crowns from touching. For a list of fireresistant plants, visit https://

Firewood should not be stored like this during fire season. PHOTO COURTESY OF OKANOGAN CONSERVATION DISTRICT

catalog.extension.oregonstate. edu/pnw590.

• 100+ feet

Place low-growing plants and well-spaced trees in this area, remembering to keep the volume of vegetation (fuel) low. There are a number of great resources on the website. Since every home and property is unique, homeowners are encouraged to sign up for a free wildfire risk assessment from the Okanogan Conservation District. Contact Zach Day at (509) 422-0855 or email H


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THE SEASONAL DIVIDE Building activity and parttime residents are vital to the valley’s economy, but yearround affordable housing remains a concern BY MARCY STAMPER


ITH its recreationbased economy and natural beauty, the Methow Valley appeals to people who want a vacation home or retirement retreat. All that building activity contributes to the economic and cultural vitality of the area, but it may also exacerbate a persistent shortage of affordable places to live year-round. While the Methow has about 5,000 units of housing, there are actually nine more residences in the Methow used only seasonally rather than occupied full-time by their owners (2,011 versus 2,002). Of the remaining 1,000 units, fewer than 300 — total — are vacant and available for rent or for sale. That adds up to what’s been called a crisis in affordable housing. “My instinct is that it’s a screaming-hot problem, not an evolving problem,” said Julie Brunner, a consultant who recently completed a detailed assessment of housing in the Methow Valley. To solve the problem, housing needs to be affordable and available and, while the two are related, they’re not necessarily the same, said Brunner. In some parts of the Methow Valley, there is so little housing available that — even if people have the money — they can’t find a place to rent or buy, she said. Brunner and her fellow 22

researchers looked at raw numbers — total housing units, how many people are looking for housing, and employment and income data — and interviewed people about their experiences. In addition to census data, the researchers surveyed local residents and conducted focus groups with businesspeople and social-service providers. Their study spanned an area from Mazama to Pateros to the Loup Loup summit. The researchers also asked what kind of housing people are looking for and what they can pay. One of its aims was to gather ideas for how and where to create affordable housing in the Methow. The housing assessment also provides a key glimpse into the Methow culture and economy. “This valley is a valley of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’…. There are many people who are working really hard and living in shacks and trailers and it’s hard to see,” said a local business owner quoted in the report. “Being in the service industry, it doesn’t bode well for the way our staff relates.” The housing assessment found that many Methow residents struggle to cover their housing costs, which is made harder by a high overall cost of living — in particular, heat, child care and transportation. Slightly more than half of the survey respondents who can’t find an affordable place to

live work full time or cobble together several part-time or seasonal jobs.

A look at the numbers

Using the most recent census data (from 2014), researchers found the total Methow Valley population was 5,751 people in 2,669 households. Of the 4,996 housing units in the Methow Valley, 2,002 are owner-occupied and 2,011 are seasonally occupied. There are 667 occupied by renters. The analysis shows very low vacancy rates. There were 131 vacant rentals or houses for sale and 155 termed “other vacancy.” (The census calls housing units that don’t fit into other categories as “other vacant,” which includes places the owner does not want to rent or sell, housing that is unoccupied because the owner is living in a nursing home, and units being renovated or used for storage.) Housing options in the Methow that qualify as “affordable” — a mortgage or rent that is one-third of household income — are few and far between. Almost 39 percent of people in the Methow Valley pay more than a third of their income for housing, with 20 percent paying more than half their income. And these people are having

an increasingly tough time. As recently as 2000, half of Methow households had a place to live for less than 20 percent of their income. Survey respondents spend an average of $740 per month on rent and utilities, $90 more than what they called “affordable,” according to the study. Since there is such a high proportion of housing units that are empty much of the year, the researchers said some people they interviewed wondered about the potential for encouraging these homeowners to offer long-term rentals. In addition, the study points to an overall impression that online businesses like Airbnb and Vacation Rental by Owner have cut into the number of regular rentals.


Older residents better off

The needs analysis also compared the Methow Valley to Okanogan County and to Washington state. Vacancy rates here are not that different from those in the county or state, but fewer households in the Methow are occupied by their owners — in the Methow, only 40 percent are owner-occupied, versus 50 percent in the county and 57 percent across the state. The Methow has many fewer rentals, which account for just 13 percent of total housing stock. Almost twice as many people in Okanogan County live in a rental, and almost

needs to be

affordable and

available and while the two

are related, they're not

necessarily the same.

Julie Brunner, consultant

seasonal use (Figure 15). Figure 15: 2014 Housing Occupancy, Combined Methow Valley 60.0% 50.0% 40.0%

56.8% 50.2% 40.3%








10.0% 0.0%

3.2% Owner Occupied Renter Occupied

Methow Combined

were living in a tent or vehicle or without plumbing. The housing assessment was commissioned by Methow Valley Long Term Recovery (MVLTR), a group that formed in 2014 after the Carlton Complex Fire. “Housing was an acute issue after the Carlton Complex, but the needs analysis showed that housing is more than an acute event. It has existed for many years,” said Jason Paulsen, president of MVLTR and the executive director of the Methow Conservancy.

2.6% 3.1% 2.9%

3.1% 4.5% 3.4%

For Seasonal, For Rent / For Sale Other Vacant Recreavonal or Occasional Use

Okanogan County

Next steps: creating affordable housing

Washington State

Armed with this data, two dozen people have been meetMost units in the Methow Valley CCD are single-family homes, with the stock of multi-unit ing monthly to plan next steps. In February, they formed a new buildings lagging far behind the county or state (Figure 16). Many residents also rely on mobile households below the poverty with the biggest decrease in the three times as many do across nonprofit housing trust dedicated homes or trailers to meet their housing needs. line. 18-to-44 age group, which fell by Washington. to creating affordable housing The researchers found a strikalmost 7 percent. The population But the biggest contrast comes options for working people in the Figure 16: 2014 Housing units in Structure, Methow CCD ing contrast between the ecoof children fell by 3 percent. in the number of seasonal resiMethow, according to Paulsen. nomic situation for people in WinIn terms of income, the majordences. They make up 40.5 perIt’s too early to know where throp and Twisp. More than twice ity of households in the Methow cent of the housing stock in the the housing would be located, 90.0% 80.3% with 19 peras many Twisp residents are were in the $25,000 to $50,000 Methow, compared but the housing trust is likely to 80.0% unemployed — and those who are focus on Twisp and Winthrop, category — a higher proportion cent in the rest of71.0% the county and employed earn, on average, only than in the county or state. The only 3 percent statewide. said Paulsen. They would prob63.4% 70.0% a little more than half (58 perrest of Okanogan County had Demographics are also differably offer homes for sale (as cent) of what Winthrop residents ent60.0% here. From 2000 to 2014, there more households earning less opposed to rentals), with restricearn, according to the report. than $25,000. has been a big jump in older resitions that keep the price low if 50.0% “Since Twisp has a higher popu- the owner decides to sell. The But even with fewer housedents. There was a 4-percent in40.0% lation, it means that about 400 crease in residents aged 45 to 65, holds in the Methow below the group plans to explore options residents in Twisp are living on and an even bigger increase — 5.5 poverty line, those below-povincluding renovating existing 30.0% 19.3% less than $25,000 per year, while erty households are where percent — in those 65 and older. units and building from scratch, 18.1% 14.8% only 80 residents in Winthrop 20.0% children are likely to live. In the The Methow is also atypical besaid Paulsen. 10.0% 7.0% 5.6% rely on that level of household inMethow, 28.5 percent of children cause seniors here are better off “One of the things I’m super5.1% 3.1% 10.0% 1.5% 0.2% come,” wrote0.2% the0.2% researchers. live in poverty — almost as many than in other areas. In the rest proud of is that we’ve mobilized 0.0% The majority of survey responas in the county as a whole (30 of the county, for example, four such a diverse group of business dents described their housing percent). Those numbers are Mobile Home or times as many seniors live in pov-1-4 units leaders, town leaders, conserva1 unit detached 5 or more units Boat, RV, Van, as high-quality, but one-quarter worrying when compared with erty than in the Methow. tion folks and social-service proaxached Trailer etc. listed problems including poor in- viders” to create affordable housthe rest of the state, where only At the same time, the Methow sulation and overcrowding. Some of children live in Washington State population under 45 dropped, ing, said Paulsen. H Methow CCD 18 percent Okanogan County 2014 housing occupancy in the combined Methow Valley. GR APHIC COURTESY OF JULIE BRUNNER AND ASSOCIATES

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The home is oriented to take advantage of up-valley views. PHOTO COURTESY OF DON MILLER


A MATTER OF TRUST Mark Dexter and Deb Cowley relied on designer/builder Don Miller to visualize their dream home BY DON NELSON


ARK Dexter and Deb Cowley had high expectations for the house that Don Miller would design and build for them on a lot in the Timberline Meadows development — but they also weren’t quite 24

sure what to expect other than a “traditional Methow Valley home.” “A lot of the time, people will come to me with a strong sense of what they want,” said Miller, who owns Shadowline Design & Construction. Not this time. “I started with a clean slate as a designer,” Miller said. That was fine with Mark and

Deb. To be sure, they had some general guidelines. They wanted to be able to accommodate guests and accord them some privacy, but they also wanted to have comfortable, shared spaces such as the living room and dining/kitchen area. They wanted to take advantage of the sweeping up-valley views. Deb knew what she wanted in the kitchen. They weren’t sure about a garage. “He [Miller] gave us a couple of possible designs and we picked one,” Deb said. As the work gained momentum, she said, “We relied on him [Miller] for a lot of the decisions,” especially in areas where the owners didn’t have

specific preferences. “Where we didn’t have fixed opinions, he was able to make suggestions” she said. “It’s safe to say we share an esthetic [with Miller],” Mark said. “We didn’t have any worries about that.” For Miller, the “blank slate” was much more than just another job. “This house culminates 25 years of design and construction in the valley,” Miller said. The result is a two-story, 2,200-square foot home with a detached garage that takes full advantage of the building site’s forested seclusion, gentle slope and spacious views.

As is his practice, Miller spends a lot of time contemplating the characteristics of a building site and where to place the home’s footprint. “This is a special site that is in the trees but has a great vista,” Miller said of the Timberline Meadows lot. To that end, the house is generally oriented to the open area on the north, while snugging up against the trees on the south.

Expanding space

From the small covered porch, a compact, slate-floor entryway immediately presents a range of options. A hall to the right (the slate flooring continues in that direction) leads to the guest rooms and baths, a laundry room, and a rear door that leads to the onecar, detached garage. Straight ahead, two steps drop down to the kitchen/dining area, a small but transformative detail that instantly alters one’s sense of where they are in the house. “The space expands as you enter,” Miller said. Another couple of steps lead to the living room, which features a vaulted ceiling and is centered around a handsome fireplace made not of the oft-seen river rock, but rather Montana ledgestone. The concrete slab in front of the fireplace is colored and textured. “We’re very pleased with how it turned out,” Mark said of the fireplace. In a sense, the shared spaces

on the first floor are part of one open plan. But they are also separated by low walls and subtle changes in elevation to define spaces within that space, Miller said. In the living room, big windows on two sides take advantage of the views. “This site doesn’t have much sun, so it’s critical that we brought in all the light we could,” Miller said. On the south side of the living room, the windows are higher up on the wall to provide a forested view while protecting the occupants’ privacy. It also leaves space for art. Track lighting in the ceiling, and other lighting concealed by wooden sconces high on the walls, offer a variety of options. In the dining/kitchen area, more big windows, and doors to the outside deck, keep the light pouring in. An otherwise unoccupied space in the kitchen became a small coffee bar/desk with an expansive view to start the day. Down the hallway, each of the two guest rooms on the first floor has an exit to a private deck. The back door leads to a covered boardwalk connecting the house and garage. The kitchen and living room areas feature clear tamarack flooring, a Miller favorite that he uses in many of the homes he builds. “It’s our trim material of choice,” he said. The baths have heated slate floors.

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509.422.0855 The master bedroom has a large private deck. PHOTO BY DON NELSON


The stairs and second-story floors are carpeted. The master suite, with its vaulted roof, has a chalet-like feeling and opens to a large private balcony. At the top of the stairs is a small sitting area that is ideal for reading. Deb said it may become a play area for the couple’s grandchild. The exterior is a combination of

rusted metal wainscoting around the base of the house and cedar shakes above, with metal roofs. The house is surrounded by wide eaves that shelter the decks and porches. With the northern orientation, Miller said, “you don’t have to worry about overheating.” The lot shares open space acreage with several other building sites. The house and garage just

Heated floors keep things cozy in the master bath. PHOTO BY DON NELSON

about entirely cover the buildable space on the lot, Miller said.

Natural choices

Mark is a semi-retired owner of a software firm; Deb is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington. The Timberline Meadows home is still a part-time retreat, but could become fulltime some day, they said. Mark and Deb have lived in the Seattle area since 1980. The avid hikers started visiting the Methow about 15 years ago, and gradually lengthened their stays and increased their activities to include Nordic skiing. “Long weekends grew into longer visits,” Mark said. They often stayed in the Timberline Meadows rental cabins, and thought about building a small cabin there. But they changed their thinking to contemplate a larger space. About 2-1/2 years ago, they set the process in motion. They ended up purchasing the Timberline Meadows lot with the help of Windermere Realtor Delene Monetta. “We really liked it. It was familiar to us,” Deb said. They didn’t have an architect in mind, but began to do some research, and came up with a list of people to contact. Mark and Deb viewed Miller’s website and liked what they saw. “We thought there were really wonderful houses,” Deb said. After meeting with Miller, Mark said, “Don was an easy choice.” “We like that he [Miller] really thinks a lot about how it’s going to fit on the site,” Mark added. Because they couldn’t be in

the valley all the time to oversee progress on the house, it was important for Mark and Deb to hire someone they could trust. That Miller designs and builds houses was a plus. “It’s nice to have someone thinking about how it will actually be built,” Mark said. “We were actually thinking of not having a garage. We’re grateful for it now,” Deb said. “Our communication was always excellent,” she said. “He [Miller] cares about making every house wonderful. Working with Don was a dream.” Mark and Deb couldn’t be happier with their Methow retreat. “It’s a very beautiful house, very peaceful and relaxing,” Deb said. “It’s more than we expected.” Miller is equally pleased. Ultimately, he said, the house has to reflect what the owners want — “even though I’m allowed to come to love it.” “If I can create something that reflects the owners, and that I love, the project is a success,” Miller said. H

Back on the field

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Mountain Lions drop home opener to Brewster

MV Community School classes start this week

Methow Valley News





VOL. 114 NO. 18




MV Citizens Council celebrates 40 years of activism Fight against ski resort launched broader agenda By Ann McCreary

For many Methow Valley residents, the battle fought over a downhill ski resort in Mazama is a distant memory, or was over before they moved here.

But lessons learned during that conflict still guide the Methow Valley Citizens Council (MVCC), created four decades ago to lead the fight against the proposed Early Winters ski area. “Forty years is a long time,” said Maggie Coon, who helped found MVCC in 1976, and has been involved in the organization for 15 of its 40 years, including her current position as chairman of the MVCC board of directors. “MVCC has had significant influ-

ence on the way the Methow Valley has grown and developed over the last 40 years. We’ve helped … instill a culture of advocacy, which is very much alive and well in the Methow Valley today,” Coon said. One of those early environmental advocates was Isabelle Spohn, who learned about plans for a destination ski hill at Sandy Butte soon after moving to Mazama in 1978. Spohn became involved in the new grassroots

group fighting the resort, and remained actively involved for 35 years. “It seemed to me that many people [in the valley] hadn’t seen that kind of [development] happen before, and didn’t understand how quickly something like that could happen,” Spohn said. “It had the possibility of having an enormous impact on the valley. It was so out of scale for the valley,” she said. Even before MVCC was officially incorporated in 1976, some local citi-

zens were raising alarms about rumors that Aspen Ski Corp. was making plans for a destination ski resort called Early Winters that could accommodate as many as 10,000 skiers a day — at a time when the entire population of the valley was only about 3,500 year-round residents. Bev and Jeff Zwar had recently moved to McFarland Creek when they

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THESE BIG PIGS WENT TO M ARKET Bear Fight scientist discovers evidence of water on Ceres Vital information transmitted by Dawn mission spacecraft By Ann McCreary

an so




Photo by Marcy Stamper Emily Paul put her pig, Darwin, on a diet to be sure it qualifies for the market auction. A high school junior, Paul said raising pigs for the fair has made a big difference in her college fund. In addition to the pig, she plans to exhibit homemade caramels.

Local 4-H swine raisers look forward to county fair, auction

ra c d n Woo

By Marcy Stamper

Cody Wottlin wrapped his shoelaces in duct tape because his pig Schnizel finds them so irresistible. But nibbling on the shoelaces is just for entertainment, said Wottlin, since Schnizel (formally known as Frederick Esquire III) is hardly lacking for nourishment. In fact, this year several of the pigs being raised by the Methow Valley Cascaders 4-H Club are on diets because they’re already nearing the maximum weight to be auctioned at the Okanogan County Fair. (Pigs need to be between 230 and 290 pounds to qualify for the market auction at the fair.) McKenna Ott is dealing with the opposite problem — she’s raising a pig from a late litter and it may not weigh enough for the auction. “You never know till you show up — as soon as you cross the scales,

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Learning experience

Methow Valley kids expect to bring some 6,000 pounds of pork to the county fair this year — 22 kids have spent the past six months raising pigs. “Kids tell their friends how fun it was, so lots join,” said White. It is not uncommon for kids to sell a

Friday night light

pig at auction for $4 or $5 per pound, and some have scored as much as $7 per pound, earning more than $1,000 to put toward a college fund or a car. The fair guarantees a price of 60 cents per pound, but that doesn’t come close to covering the typical $500 investment in the pig, food and supplies. Emily and Bodie Paul like pigs for their generally equable disposition and the ability to earn money for college. Their older brother raised steers, but steers demand a longer commitment and a bigger investment. They also tend to have less predictable personalities, said Emily, a junior in high school. She remembered one steer that was so gentle that her brother could read a book while lying on its back, but other steers would attack everything in sight, including the fence. 4-H exposes kids to a lot more than raising an animal. “It’s part of life — they learn that even if they feed the animals every day and do everything they’re supposed to do,” sometimes it just doesn’t work out, said See FAIR, FAIR A3

Photo by Don Nelson A brilliant sunset provided a colorful backdrop at Friday’s Liberty Bell football game.

Mary Kiesau/Mountain Kind Photography


A surprise

Finding the water ice on the surface was surprising, Combe said. The water ice was detected using a Visible and InfraRed Mapping Spectrometer (VIR) carried aboard the Dawn spacecraft, which began orbiting Ceres in March 2015. The VIR measures the sunlight scattered on the surface of Ceres in a range of wavelengths from the near ultraviolet to the near infrared. Data obtained through VIR reveals mineral and molecular composition, and in this case revealed the presence of water. The water ice was observed in a 10-kilometer-wide crater named Oxo. See CERES, CERES A3

Photo courtesy of Bear Fight Institute Jean-Philippe Combe of the Bear Fight Institute near Winthrop has identified the presence of water ice on the dwarf planet, Ceres.

“I don’t know if people are making a fuss, although I have seen more people than in a long time,” said Enid Shaw, just over a week shy of her 100th birthday. “It’s a lot of attention — that’s all I can tell you.” Enid Pauline Gobat was born in Pateros on Sept. 16, 1916, and grew up there, literally among horses and buggies. This week, she was visiting with her granddaughter Amber at her home in Carlton, sharing memories about a century of change. Shaw moved to the Methow Valley

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when she was in her early 20s, after studying typing and commercial subjects in Spokane. She married Roy Richard Shaw (known as “Dick”) in 1937. They raised their five children in a rudimentary two-room cottage that had once served as a teacher’s residence at the old Beaver Creek schoolhouse. They used to carry water up from the creek in 10-gallon cream cans. “It was a hill to climb, but not bad,” said Shaw. Dick also hauled water from town when he went to work. When she was growing up, Enid’s See SHAW, A3




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That’s not to imply that Ceres provides any indication of supporting life, Combe said. Of interest, though, is the presence of the water ice on the surface of Ceres, Combe said. Planetary scientists have long suspected that the interior of Ceres is composed of large amounts of water or ice, Combe said. “We knew that from the measurements of density of Ceres there has to be some ice in the bulk of Ceres. It is not dense enough to be made entirely of rocks. The obvious component was ice,” he said.

At 100, Enid Shaw reflects on a Methow Valley life well-lived By Marcy Stamper

Rick Swanson • 509.996.2297

there’s no turning back,” said Erin White, the 4-H swine leader. Every year there are a few pigs that don’t qualify for the weight class. “Kids are devastated, but the parents are a lot more devastated,” said White. “It’s hard to watch the kid put in all that work.” If a pig is over or underweight, the child can still compete in fitting and showing, but will have to sell the animal privately, which rarely brings as much money as the auction at the fair. “It was a cake-walk with these pigs — you could go right up to them from two months,” said Wottlin, an eighth-grader who speculated that the pigs he and his brother raised this year were so calm because they’d been handled from birth. “They’re pretty goodlooking, too,” he said.

A scientist at the Bear Fight Institute near Winthrop has described the first and only confirmed detection of water-rich material at the surface of Ceres, a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Jean-Philippe Combe authored a research article published Friday (Sept. 2) in the journal Science, detailing the discovery of water ice on Ceres. Information leading to Combe’s discovery was transmitted by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which is orbiting Ceres. The detection of water ice on Ceres is inherently intriguing, Combe said in an interview last week. “Anything that involves water is very interesting and exciting. Water is an essential substance in the general evolution of any planet, and also for the creation of life, the type of life that we know anyway,” Combe said. “Water in our solar system is potentially related to creation of life. You have to start with detection of H20 to go further,” he said.

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Enid Shaw


Photo by Marcy Stamper

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The dining area has an intimate feel, even within a larger room. PHOTO BY DON

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The stucco-sided houses range from 650 to 750 square feet. PHOTO BY ANN MCCREARY


SMALL ASPIRATIONS Mike Kutz’s compact homes are practical, comfortable and affordable BY ANN MCCRE ARY


ORE is not necessarily better,” says builder Mike Kutz, who is putting that philosophy 28

into practice in his latest construction project. Kutz is building a community of eight small houses on a one-acre parcel on Horizon Flats near Winthrop. The houses range from 650

square feet to 750 square feet. Five of the houses are for his young adult children and stepchildren, who are all helping build and pay for their homes. The remaining three are rental homes. “I call it Kutzville … because all my kids are here,” Kutz said. “It’s affordable housing for my kids.” The houses are stucco with exteriors in different colors, trimmed with wood. Each home has an open central kitchen and living area, with large windows

and radiant floor heat. Kutz’s approach to holding down square footage and creating a small, efficient home follows a simple formula. “Just eliminate the bedrooms. Turn them into cubbies,” he said. “Make a spot for your bed and climb into your hole.” The sleeping area in each home is a compact space off the main living room, separated by open archways, but no doors. The center of the room is a

Rustic wood is featured throughout all of the Kutz homes. PHOTOS BY ANN MCCREARY

built-in, wooden bed frame that extends from wall to wall. Drawers for clothing and other items are built into the bed frame below a queen-size mattress platform. Forget the walk-in closet; open wooden shelves and a rack to hang clothes are also built into the walls on either side of the bed. The overall feel of the sleeping space, Kutz said, is “kind of like a boat.” Adjoining the sleeping area on one side is a small bathroom with a tub and shower and custom wood cabinetry around the sink. On the other side of the sleeping area is a nook-like room that adjoins the sleeping quarters through an open archway. The space could serve as an office, sitting room, or another small sleeping cubby.

Tiny homes are ‘big’

The 650-square-foot homes are single-level dwellings, while the 750-square-foot houses have a “pop-up” loft area over the kitchen, accessed by a ladder. The loft could serve as an additional sleeping space or more living area. “Tiny homes are a big thing. People are living in 200 square feet,” Kutz said. From a design and construction standpoint, smaller isn’t

necessarily easier, Kutz said. “It’s harder to build small than build big,” he said. “It means getting a feel for space and what works and what doesn’t work … being a creative builder.” That requires answering questions like “how much room do you really need in your kitchen?” Kutz said. He’s worked to make kitchens that are small but functional, divided from the living area by a bar for eating or food preparation. He’s also designed a space, separated by open archways like the sleeping area, that combines a pantry and laundry room. He utilizes custom-made, built-in wooden shelves for space-saving storage, and installed compact stacking washer/dryer units. The homes incorporate rustic wood, tree trunks and branches — a trademark of Kutz’s homes — for rafters, built-in furniture, shelves and cabinets. In one home, Kutz created a unique dining table with a pedestal made of a tree trunk and flat stones inlaid on the tabletop. “I love the raw wood, the rustic, more organic half-rotten kind of wood,” Kutz said. “I buy all the crummy wood that no one wants at the lumberyard. I love building with lodge pole.”

Bermed homes

The eight homes are laid out in a circular pattern, facing a common central area. They are all partially built into the ground, which results in low-profile structures and provides insulation for warmth in winter and cooling in summer. “I’ve been burying houses for a while. The first thing I think about is how the house is going to fit into the ground. How is it going to fit into the environment?” Kutz said.

house,” he said. “This place is well-suited for earth homes. This was a gravel pit up here, so there is plenty of drainage. There’s good sun, not a lot of trees,” Kutz said. He used the earth he removed from the surface to create berms around the homes and mounds in the common area in the center of the small housing development. The berms around the houses and in the central area will be landscaped with rockeries and

"It's harder to build small than build big. It means getting a feel for space and what works and what doesn't work ... being a creative builder." Mike Kutz, builder The one-acre parcel on Horizon Flats is level, so Kutz’s first step was to move earth to create his bermed homes. “I took 3 feet of dir t off the top and built houses, then brought dir t around them. They’re all below grade; you kind of go down into your

vegetation to create privacy, “like a little park,” Kutz said. “I created a landscape that gives everyone their own private little environment. You’re in front of somebody’s house, but there’s a big berm, trees and bushes. You feel like you’ve got your own little spot.” H 29

Exterior siding becomes the interior wall covering in the entryway and throughout the home. PHOTO BY DON NELSON


LOW PROFILE Following the lay of the land opened up design options for Mazama meadow home BY DON NELSON


N the beginning, it was the peaceful Mazama meadow that drew Doug Ross and Claudia Sanders to the Chechaquo Ranch lot that became 30

the site of their Methow Valley getaway. “The great view of the meadow is the main attraction,” Doug said. The three-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot house that Doug and Claudia had built on

the site definitely orients to the meadow, but is attractive in its own right — and bit idiosyncratic. From outside, it’s not at all evident that what seems to a onestory home is actually built on three levels that are adapted to the topography. The separate parts of the house went where the land went, and were then melded together in one seamless space unified by high, beamed ceilings; heated concrete floors; expansive windows and sliding doors on the north

and south sides of the house; two massive stone fireplaces (one inside, one outside); and dark, textured wood siding that continues without interruption from the exterior into the home, where it becomes the predominant wall surface. It’s hard to tell where outdoors ends and indoors begins, which was the intended effect. The main room, which opens up onto the meadow, was meant to have a “pass-through” feel, said architect Tom Lenchek of Prentice

The home is surrounded by trees, but is also on the edge of the meadow. PHOTO COURTESY OF PRENTICE BALANCE WICKLINE ARCHITECTS

Balance Wickline Architects in Seattle. “It’s more of a house to experienced from the inside than the outside,” Lenchek said. Still, you could hardly call the home’s sleek, subtle silhouette nondescript. It edges up to the verge of the meadow, then steps back into the wooded hillside, with the just the slightest suggestion of a shed roof. The dark siding, which will continue to weather over time, blends naturally into the surroundings. A huge tree towers over the home — a Ponderosa pine with a 6-foot diameter — prompting the project name that Lenchek’s firm gave it: Big Pine House. Aspens at the front of the house are bare now, but will leaf out soon. “It’s very low-slung,” Lenchek said of the house. “We didn’t think it needed to shout.”

Building blocks

Claudia and Doug both have longtime familiarity with the Methow Valley as frequent

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visitors and big fans. “Coming off the pass, there is always a feeling of peace as you hit the valley,” Doug said. On winter skiing trips, they often skied the Chechaquo meadow and “always thought it would be a great place to be,” Doug said. When they started looking for property, Doug and Claudia focused on the Mazama area. They found a lot they were interested in, but it sold. About six years ago, another property caught their eye. “Then this [Chechaquo Ranch] lot opened up and we bought it,” Claudia said. “We didn’t make the same mistake twice.” The couple held on to the property for a few years, and when they decided to build they already had a connection with Lenchek. The architect’s wife formerly worked at Davis Wright Tremaine, the big Seattle law firm where Doug is a partner. Lenchek has designed many homes in the Methow Valley, including one at Chechaquo Ranch

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that drew their interest, so Doug and Claudia were familiar with his work. They didn’t talk to any other architects. “He knew what he was doing,” Doug said of Lenchek. Design work began in 2013, construction started in 2014 and the house was finished in the summer of 2015. Doug described builder Tom Bjornsen — who was recommended by Lenchek — as “very responsive, very friendly ... he was here every day and did fantastic work.” Doug and Claudia had some general ideas of what they wanted, including three bedrooms to accommodate guests and ample access to the meadow view. The initial design was a home made up of three contiguous blocks or “pods:” a guest wing and attached garage on one end; the living/dining/kitchen area (the main room) in the middle; and the master suite on the other end. Lenchek said the concept of three blocks drove a lot of other decisions. “We spent a lot of time working

with sketches and computer renditions” as design progressed, Doug said. “He [Lenchek] had good judgment and we were willing to defer.”

Following the terrain

Initially, the house was to be all on one level. But the lot’s configuration forced reconsideration. “We followed the terrain,” Lenchek said. “Where they [the “pods”] landed, that’s where we set them. We kind of let the site dictate the overall design and organization.” As a result, the house is situated on three separate levels but can’t be really said to have more than one story. From the entrance foyer in the guest wing, steps lead down to the main room. On the other side of the great room, steps lead up to the master suite. The stairs are opposite each other, creating a hallway effect along the north side of the house. A towering stone fireplace dominates the west end of the main

A large tree trunk from the owners’ property helps support the house. Photo COURTESY OF PRENTICE BALANCE WICKLINE ARCHITECTS

room, mirrored by a stone wall made of the same material at the kitchen (east) end — which also serves as the chimney for the outdoor fireplace. The fireplaces are both fashioned from individually cut pieces of Montana ledgestone. “We picked it because of its color,” Lenchek said of the

ledgestone. “It anchors both sides of the room.” A walk-in closet was planned for the master suite, but that would have consumed a fair amount of space and possibly made the rest of the room feel claustrophobic. Instead, the bed’s headboard doubles as a chest of drawers,


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The stairway in the foreground leads to the main room; the one in the background leads to the master suite. PHOTO BY DON NELSON

augmented by built-in floor-toceiling drawers and closets on the north wall of the room.

At the opposite end of the house, the somewhat secluded main entrance leads to a small atrium.

To the right are the guest bedrooms. One has a Murphy bed and doubles as an office; the other has two platform beds that can be pushed together to make a bigger bed. They have their own bath. To the left is a gear room and coat closet that leads to the garage. Straight ahead, and then a sharp turn to the right, takes you down the stairs into the main room. On the left as you descend is a cabinet wall that stops short of the ceiling and divides the hallway from the kitchen, with storage on either side. Other storage areas and shelves are tucked discreetly here and there. The kitchen has open shelves and cupboards, and a stone-topped island that doubles as a casual seating area (with more storage underneath). There is also an outdoor gas grill and a hot tub. For now, the Chechaquo Ranch home is a place to spend time away from hectic Seattle. Doug, who also teaches at the University of Washington law school, said he sometimes brings work to the Methow, and finds it more relaxing to get things done here. Claudia is in the health care field, representing the interests of hospitals in the state. If didn’t take long for Big Pine House to become established in their lives. “The first weekend we were here we had company,” Doug said. “We moved in pretty quickly.” “It’s been wonderful,” Claudia said. “It’s quiet, and a beautiful setting.” H


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THE ZEN OF HOME MAINTENANCE Regular year-round vigilance holds off bigger problems BY JOANNA BASTIAN


EING a home owner has many rewards: your own space, a sense of security, a retreat from the noise of the world. As L. Frank Baum wisely said, “there is no place like home,” although he also could have just as sagely said, “take care of your home, and it will take care of you.” Regular maintenance keeps a home in good condition, can preserve the resale value, and saves money in the long run, as smaller maintenance problems can turn into expensive problems if not promptly addressed. Start by filling out a monthly calendar with small tasks for each weekend, to keep your home on a maintenance schedule that is easy to manage.


Spring is a good time to examine the exterior of your home and repair any damage created by ice buildup over winter. Examine and repair any rain gutters bent and damaged by ice accumulation. Inspect the areas around the foundation of the home for any pooling water. Dig a shallow trench to drain the water away from the foundation. Inspect the roof for any leaks or damage in preparation for spring rains. Examine the exterior walls of the house, looking for any chipped paint, or dry cracked logs. A layer of fresh paint, or stain if a log home, will seal the wood and help prevent insect damage. If the home is in a fireprone area, there are specialty 34

fire-resistant paints and stains available. Finally, check all the window screens and replace or repair as needed. You’ll want to open up those windows for a cleansing breeze, while keeping out the bugs. While checking the exterior of the home in spring, keep an eye out for fire hazards. Clear dead plants and shrubs away from the house. Check trees for hazardous conditions, such as leaning too close to powerlines, or any dead tree limbs that could fall and

cause damage — or worse, injure someone. Spring is the traditional time to give a home interior a deep clean, but each of these following tasks should be done monthly. In the kitchen, tackle the cooking range hood filters with a degreaser — you’d be surprised how much grease and oil can build up above the stove. Pull out the refrigerator and vacuum the coils. Doing so will increase the life and performance of your fridge. In the laundry area, vacuum lint and debris out of the dryer vent hose leading to the exterior of the home. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 15,000 fires are sparked every

year by lint and debris that clog the dryer vent, which reduces air flow and blocks exhaust, creating a fire hazard.


During the summer months, check for insect nests that can damage your home and cause an unpleasant experience for the occupants. Look for ants around the foundation of the home and place ant traps in key traffic areas. Inspect under the eaves of the roof and around the porch for wasp nests. An intense spray with a water hose can clear out early beginnings of their papery nests. If bees are found, please do not spray; instead, call a local

SPRING Check drainage • Clean blocked gutters • Check foundation Inspect exterior • Check paint/stain • Check siding damage Fix window screens Clean up landscape Service A/C

WINTER Check for ice dams & icicles Keep walkways clear


Appliances • Clean range hood filters & degrease • Vaccuum fridge • Clean dryer vent

Safety • Check fire extinguishers • Test smoke & CO2 detectors Check & repair caulking

Check indoor water • Look for leaks • Faucet aerators • Showheads Flush hot water heater, check for leaks

Winter prep • Change heater filters • Check for air leaks around doors/windows • Clean & sweep fireplace

Check outdoor water • Check for leaks • Inspect septic system Clean/repair deck & patio Perform bug control

FALL Winter prep • Buy de-icer • Buy snow shovels


beekeeper. They can always be found at the farmers market. If you are not sure how to tell the difference between wasps and bees, just ask a beekeeper. They are more than happy to share their knowledge. Clean and repair the deck and patio area. Start with a good washing, then repair any rotten or loose boards, steps and posts. Finish it off with a fresh coat of fire-resistant paint or stain. Walk the yard and examine the faucets and sprinklers for leaks. It is far more pleasant to repair a water leak outdoors on a warm summer day than any other time of year. If your home has a septic system, it will need a professional inspection every three to five years. The septic inspector will determine if the system needs to be pumped, or repaired. Take time during the summer to inspect all indoor faucets and toilets for leaks. Remove showerheads and faucet aerators to clean and remove any sediment blocking water flow. A long soak in vinegar will usually

do the trick. The hot water heater is something we use every day but rarely think about until it quits working. At the very least, once a year look around the hot water heater for leaks. Consider having a certified technician check the unit once every three to five years. A certified technician will check the pressure release valve and replace it if necessary. A malfunctioning pressure release valve can lead to an explosion. Technicians will also flush and remove sediment from the hot water tank, which will increase the efficiency of the unit.


Once fall rolls around in its languid colorful form, begin thinking of winter preparation around the home. Inspect the air filters in the heater, and replace if dirty. Check for air leaks in windows or doors, and repair them as needed. Prevent chimney fires by sweeping the chimney, or hire a chimney sweep to do a thorough job. Inspect wood



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stoves and replace the seals around the stove doors and pipes if necessary. Take stock of winter supplies: have a bucket of deicer ready to use, and put snow shovels in accessible places.


Winter, with the short daylight hours and frigid outdoor temperatures, is the perfect time to address indoor maintenance projects. Inspect fire extinguisher gauges for adequate pressure, and keep fire extinguishers in places that are easily accessible. Test smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. Replace batteries and vacuum dust from around surface sensors of the detectors. Examine the caulking around sinks and bathtubs, removing damaged caulking and applying fresh caulking where needed. If the caulking is moldy, scrub with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Inspect floors and repair loose boards, tiles, or torn carpeting.

Keep walkways and roofs clear of snow and ice. An injury from a slip and fall on an icy walkway could take months of recovery. On the roof, ice dams could lead to damaging leaks. Check for ice dams along the edges of the roof — large icicles generally form below ice dams. To remove an ice dam, fill nylon stockings with de-icer and lay the filled stocking perpendicular to the ice dam. The de-icer stocking will melt a channel into the ice dam, allowing water to drain from the roof. By following a regular home maintenance schedule, home owners ensure that their home is safe, comfortable and energyefficient. The money saved can be counted in energy costs, and the avoidance of larger repair bills. Home maintenance needn’t be an overwhelming task. Your home insurance provider may have a home maintenance calendar or tips available. By scheduling smaller weekend projects over a calendar year, the chores become manageable. H 509-997-6562

Let us connect you to the Methow Valley! 35

Corwin Fergus and Cynthia Novotny enjoy the home’s living room, while a feline friend relaxes in the loft. PHOTO BY DON NELSON


EXTENDED STAY A small cabin is transformed — but not stripped of its identity — by thoughtful remodeling BY DON NELSON

S 36

OME major remodels and additions may obliterate the form and function of

the original structure. Not so with the rustic but elegant little cabin on Lewisia Road that Corwin Fergus and Cynthia Novotny purchased about four years ago.

Two additions, one on each side of the original cabin, have transformed it into a morespacious house, with a low-tothe-earth profile enhanced by gently vaulting rooflines. You might call it the House of the Three Gables. But right smack in the middle, it’s still easy to identify the distinctive outline of the cabin that Kur t Jacobsen designed and built back in 1980. It remains the physical and spiritual hear t of the house.

The goal of Corwin, Cynthia, architect Howard Cherrington and builder Bar t Schuler was to create a larger space with seamless transitions between old and new. “I appreciated that they [his clients] wanted it to be all of a piece,” Cherrington said. “We were very conscious of that, to honor what [the Jacobsens, Kurt and Lois] had started with materials and design,” Cynthia said. “It was so special. Why would we do

anything different?” included a wide, broad porch That said, the cabin had only that encourages sitting outside. one bedroom, a loft, small That required a slight change living room and tiny kitchen. in the pitch of the south roof, “The kitchen was too small and Cherrington said, which was we needed another bedroom,” carried around the house. Cynthia said. The home’s evolving profile The first required some addition, on thought as well. the west side “I didn’t want of the cabin, the master was completed suite ridgeline in 2014 and to be higher included a than the house master suite and dwarf the with a full bath main space,” and walk-in Cherrington closet, and a said. larger country“It helps style kitchen balance the with modern whole thing,” conveniences. Cherrington The original said of the kitchen was second “about the size addition. “The you would find high point of A red front door, and red window in a camper,” the loft drops trim, stand out brightly from the dark Cherrington to the garage siding. PHOTO BY DON NELSON said. roof to the main The second cabin roof to addition, completed on the east the master bedroom roof.” end of the house in 2016, includes The second addition is only a big room with a vaulted ceiling recently finished. It features and massive fireplace that will be wood — lots of wood — for the Corwin’s office, walls, ceilings plus a garage. and floors, Always most of it foremost in reclaimed the design materials considerations that have a was the home’s history. Cynthia orientation likes “the to high-bank randomness of frontage on the boards.” the Methow In fact, wood River, only a predominates few steps away throughout to the north. –in the That side of the floors, walls, house features ceilings and a parade furnishings. of windows The exterior that provide is clad with expansive cedar siding views of the stained a A massive fireplace dominates one river from the corner of the second addition. PHOTO dark charcoal master suite to gray, brightly BY DON NELSON Corwin’s office. highlighted by red windowsills and a red front door. The roof is covered with Keeping it balanced composite shingles. There are The original cabin had only a covered decks all around the small porch. The first addition

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house. Although the additional square footage isn’t overwhelming, Corwin and Cynthia put more stock in what he called “cubic feet” of space — created by high ceilings that expand the volume of a small room. It’s relatively less expensive, Corwin noted, to add cubic feet as opposed to square feet. The cabin was moved to its present site in 1997. “He [Kurt Jacobsen] did it right structurally,” Cherrington said. It was necessary to shore up the original foundation, he said, and the second addition corrects some misalignments of the original rafters, but the cabin had what architects and builders call “good bones.” “We learned a lot about the building in the first addition,” Cherrington said. “We all knew what we were dealing with” when the second addition was contemplated. Cherrington said both additions were “driven by their [the clients’]


Frome left: the original cabin; after the first addition; after the second addition. PHOTOS COURTESY OF CYNTHIA NOVOTNY

vision … how they use the space they want to be in.” “The tricky thing with additions is to save the character of the original space with a design I was comfortable with, and that suited them … you need consistency of theme and feel,” Cherrington said. After the first addition, Cynthia said, former owner Lois Jacobsen “thanked him [Cherrington] for maintaining the design integrity.”

The right spot

Corwin first encountered the Methow back in the early 1980s on an extended trip through the West with his then-girlfriend, in a VW van. He was so taken by the area that he bought some

land about as far up the West Buttermilk area as you can go. He still owns the property but never built on it. Instead of settling here, he ended up spending many years in Europe training to be a psychoanalyst. Eventually he returned to the United States and established a practice. He opened an office in Bellingham, and built a house (since sold) in

tiny Skagit County community of Bow in the mid-1990s, where he and Cynthia, now married, lived. Cynthia is retired from two careers: 20 years as an emergency room nurse, followed by 20 years as a lawyer. Corwin is semi-retired but still maintains his practice in Bellingham. About 5-1/2 years ago, they were camping on the West

Buttermilk property but were put off by poor weather conditions. They ended up renting a house next door to the cabin they now own on Lewisia Road. They learned that the small cabin’s owner, Lois Jacobsen, was thinking about selling. Corwin and Cynthia were charmed. They bought it and started moving in about four years ago. The 5.8-acre site also includes some low-bank frontage on the Methow River. Their lot is adjacent to 23 acres of land protected by the Methow Conservancy. “It’s remarkably secluded,” Corwin said.

Connections, collaboration

With expansion in mind, the couple began considering architects. Architect and clients came together by way of a typical Methow one-degree-ofseparation introduction: Corwin is good friends with local artist

Bruce Morrison, who is good friends with Cherrington, whom Cynthia also knew. Cynthia and Corwin sketched out what they wanted and Cherrington took it from there. Having built the Bow house, Corwin was familiar with construction challenges and possibilities. Schuler was the contractor for both remodeling projects, and the teamwork was ideal, the owners say. “We really like them both [Cherrington and Schuler] a lot,” Corwin said. “It was a good collaboration,” Cynthia said. “They [both additions] were pleasant experiences. It was not hard at any point.” “I enjoyed working with them,” Cherrington said of his clients. “They are both good at recognizing the spaces that they want, and what they want to experience and see. I listen to my clients and try to give them what



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they want.” Schuler “is a wonderful craftsman who can go with the flow,” Cherrington added, meaning that Schuler can adjust to changes along the way if necessary. Although Lewisia Road does wander well away from the Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road on its way to the river, Corwin and Cynthia do have neighbors. “We didn’t want to be as isolated as we could have been,” Corwin said — meaning, out in the West Buttermilk area. “Everybody looks out for everybody … it’s a very supportive community,” Cynthia said. Corwin and Cynthia say the two additions now make the expanded cabin complete. “We might buy a few new hammocks, but that’s pretty much it,” Cynthia said. H

"The tricky thing with additions is to save the character of the original space with a design I was comfortable with, and that suited them — you need consistency of theme and feel" Howard Cherrington, Architect

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The Methow Valley’s agricultural heritage is a major part of its appeal. PHOTO BY M ARY KIESAU


THE FARM-FRIENDLY METHOW Supporting local agriculture helps the economy and preserves our rural character BY THE METHOW CONSERVANCY

A 40

SK folks around here what they love about the Methow Valley, and

they’ll often tell you it is the view from their kitchen window on a sunny morning, or the open land they drive by every day on their way to and from home.

More often than not, that view includes working agricultural land: lush hay fields growing tall under rainbows of clean water; cows with their calves in wide, open pastures; colorful plots of immense vegetable gardens; orderly orchards with bees buzzing all around or with tree limbs heavy with fruit; horses, goats, sheep and chickens around the next bend — these are

some of the scenes the make the Methow so special. These lands, worked by our friends and neighbors, have played an important role in the valley’s economy and rural character for many generations, and we hope they will continue to be a big part of what we treasure in the Methow for generations to come. The Methow Conservancy

has worked with willing local landowners since 1996 to permanently protect nearly 1,700 acres of irrigated farmland and another 1,700 acres of open rangeland in the Methow, from Pateros to Mazama. These lands remain privately owned, and many have been lived on by the same family for several generations. Legal protections ensure they can be farmed forever into the future with new families. Still, simply protecting farmland is often not enough to ensure a vibrant, viable future for our farmers and farming landscape. Like so many things in the Methow, it takes a community effort to support what we value. The upcoming growing season is a great time to show your love for the Methow Valley’s open spaces and the wholesome food grown by our farmers, ranchers and orchardists. Here are a few simple ways you can do your part to support agriculture in the Methow:

• Shop the Methow Valley Farmers Market in Twisp each Saturday, or buy directly from a farmer in other ways to enjoy fresh and diverse products throughout the season. See the Methow Conservancy’s new “Methow Grown” website for an up-to-date directory of locally grown products to sip, savor, and give. From cheese to pears to cider to meat to nearly any vegetable you might want — you can get it here in the Methow! Check out www.methowgrown. org. • Look for local produce and goods in area stores, and ask in restaurants when you eat out, “what’s local on the menu?” Enjoy the fresh food local growers work so hard to produce! Show our local merchants you care by selecting locally produced items whenever they are offered, and thank them for the role they play in making these products available for all of us to enjoy! • Be considerate and close any gates you open when hiking or

Protection ensures that agricultural land can continue to be farmed. PHOTO BY MARY KIESAU

biking on public land to help keep cows from straying from leased grazing allotments on public land. • Understand and protect your water rights, if you have them, and consider putting

any available rights you are not using into the Trust Water Rights Program to ensure they are available for use in the future. Get a landowner’s guide to Washington water rights at

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Some land owners may want to consider the Conservancy’s Farmland MatchMaking project. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE METHOW CONSERVANCY waterrights. • Consider making your land available to a farmer and take part in the Conservancy’s new Farmland Match-Making pilot project. Access to affordable farmland in the Methow Valley is a struggle, and like most challenges, our producers tackle this one creatively. Many of our Methow farmers and ranchers don’t aspire to own all of the land they work. Instead, they often own a core farmstead, and then reach out from there to create a patchwork of formal or informal lease arrangements on lands nearby. You may be able to help local farmers and strengthen our valley’s “foodshed” if you have irrigated, farmable land and you’d like to explore the

possibility of making it available to a local farmer. Contact Methow Conservancy Agricultural Coordinator Alyssa Jumars at alyssa@methowconservancy. org or (509) 996-2870 to find out more. • Enjoy a bike ride or drive along the Twisp-Winthrop East County Road and give thanks to the many agricultural landowners who have chosen to partner with the Methow Conservancy to conserve their high-quality irrigated soil so that it is available to support our community into the future. • Join the Methow Conservancy’s Volunteer Farm Corps. Beginning in May, the Conservancy will provide volunteer opportunities each month for the engaged eater who

More than 100 years serving the Methow Valley.

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Local collaboration can help preserve farm lands. PHOTO BY MARY KIESAU

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opportunities on the Methow Conservancy website, www. A small amount of community collaboration can go a long way to preserving the viability of small-farm enterprises here in the Methow! H

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EVERYTHING OLD CAN BE NEW AGAIN Renovation and remodeling are effective ways to create a fresh space BY SAR AH SCHROCK


INDING your dream home in the Methow doesn’t always mean a brand-new house. Many buyers opt to purchase from existing stock that runs the gamut of funky mountain getaways built by back-tolanders, to old farmhouses, vacation cabins turned year-round homes, and post-war era mill town bungalows. Buying old typically means you’re in for some refurbishing. In an older home, that can be as simple as new décor, cosmetic renovations or full-blown renovations. Home renovation refers to updating the surfaces of a space as opposed to changing the floor plan. Small changes can have dramatic effects on how a space functions or feels. When it comes to renovations, interior designers can help you create a fresh look through new colors, by selecting appropriate furnishings, re-orienting the furniture, and contemplating different window coverings, storage options or lighting. If you are considering a remodel — which refers to altering the spatial arrangement of interior or exterior spaces, adding new rooms by additions, removing walls, or rearranging major appliances like a sink or stove — utilizing a design/build contractor or architect might be worth the investment. Some design professionals will do a one-time consultation for a nominal fee to give you direction. Spending time with a professional 44

designer who can help you visualize your expectations and draw a solid, detailed plan can save money and time spent with a contractor. Alex Hall, of Hall Construction, recommends asking friends, family and neighbors to provide feedback about your ideas before solidifying your plan. Kitchens and bathrooms tend to be the most-expensive to remodel, but also hold their value for resale.

Take the time, or spend a dime?

The ultimate question when contemplating a remodel or renovation is whether you’ve got the time or the money to do it yourself or hire it out. Because — as we all know — time is money, there are ways to save a dime if you can put some sweat equity into it, but it takes time. Here are some areas to save costs: • Maximize space, don’t add it. Maximizing space through more efficient use of it, as opposed to adding or combining spaces by demolishing walls, saves money. Look for ways to add built-in storage such as bench seating with hidden drawers or bins, corner shelves and cabinets,

lofted beds, collapsible desktops, or shelving nooks and drawers under stairs. These space-saving strategies can minimize the need for furniture pieces and add open square footage to an existing room. • Do it yourself. Even if you hire a contractor for the heavy work like framing, you can negotiate the activities you will perform. Some contractors are very open to this arrangement; others would prefer not to take on the extra mentoring required to work with the homeowner. Make sure you are up-front that you want to perform some of the work to save costs. Demolition, disposal, clean-up, purchasing and pick-up of materials, tiling, painting and staining are areas to which many homeowners can contribute a

interior walls. Take care during removal of trim on windows, doors and moldings, as these can be reused. With some TLC, reusing trim can lead to big savings. • Sourcing materials. For small jobs, ask around to see if any local contractors have excess materials like flooring or tiles you might be able to use for smaller areas. Local bulletin boards, Craig’s List, and social network sites often have people trying to get rid of useable materials. • Energy upgrades. Older houses are typically inadequately insulated and often suffer from poor heating and cooling systems. Investing in efficiency measures can save on energy costs later and improve comfort. The Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD) offers cost-share and loan programs to help upgrade your thermal envelope. Additionally, the PUD offers a free energy audit through its Energy Services Office to help determine where to invest in upgrades. Siting of windows to capture low light in the winter for solar gain, wrapping exterior walls with foam insulation under new siding, insulating crawl spaces and unused attics, and window replacements and coverings are ways to decrease energy costs and save in the long run. • Financing remodels. So long as low interest rates hold,

If you're willing to take on the

headaches, rolling up your

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yourself can bring intrinsic

rewards and self-fulfillment.

And for those of you who can't

put in the sweat equity, the

above tips can help you save

cash if you don't have the time. little know-how. • Repurposing materials. Reuse materials from one place into another. For instance, consider using old wall paneling inside new closets instead of drywall. Outdoor weathered wood siding can be used as accent walls on

refinancing your mortgage and taking a home equity line of credit are good ways to get money out of your house to put back in it. While you will foot the bill for fees and appraisals, if the value of your home has stayed steady or risen, you can come ahead and have money in your pocket to put into the house. • Wait for sales and use online marketing to your advantage. Home furnishing dealers often have online sales around national holiday weekends like Labor Day and President’s Day. Find the item you want, create an online account with the dealer and they will often email you about upcoming sales. No one wants to get email marketing alerts, but once you’re in their system they will do what they can to get you to buy, which can mean good deals. Watch out for shipping costs, however, which can eat up those sale price savings. Fixer-upper jobs are only as good as the tools used. Many of the jobs necessary

for renovations require some know-how and skill, but the right tool makes the job much more effortless. If you don’t want to invest in the tools and have a small job that needs doing, a handyman might be who you need. Charlie Curtis, of Methow Valley Handyman, helps with small construction jobs and repairs. Handymen are skilled craftspeople who are licensed contractors with the state but typically do repairs and small projects like building shelving, refurbishing floors, or trim work. Whichever path you take to update your home, you can save money and time by research, planning, and patience. If you’re willing to take on the headaches, rolling up your sleeves and doing some things yourself can bring intrinsic rewards and selffulfillment. And for those of you who can’t put in the sweat equity, the above tips can help you save cash if you don’t have the time. H


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Expansive views drew the Calderheads to the Rising Eagle Road property. PHOTO COURTESY OF BILL AND PAT CALDERHEAD


RE-IMAGINING THE DREAM The devastating Rising Eagle Road Fire destroyed the Calderheads’ cabin, but not their Methow Valley spirit BY DON NELSON

B When this cabin burned in the Rising Eagle Road Fire of 2014, the Calderheads decided to rebuild. PHOTO COURTESY OF BILL AND PAT CALDERHEAD


ILL and Pat Calderhead were at their home in the Seattle area when they got the call on Aug. 1, 2014 — their vacation cabin overlooking the Methow Valley was in the path of the raging Rising Eagle Road fire. “A [Rising Eagle Road] neighbor called and said it looks the fire is headed for your house,” Bill recalled. “An hour later, he called back and said it was gone.”

“Gone” meant reduced to ashes, with metal elements of the building scattered down the hillside. The heat was so intense that it caused the concrete foundation to begin crumbling. “We got here the next morning and it was still smoldering,” Bill said. The other bad news: Bill’s aunt and uncle lost their house on Wandling Road to the fire, too. “Then the big winds came,” Bill said. A severe windstorm on the

heels of the fire caused more damage around the valley the following day. The beloved cabin had been a frequent family destination since the late 1990s, when designer/ contractor Don Miller of Shadowline Design & Construction built it for the Caldherheads. When the ashes cooled, the Caldherheads turned to Miller again to design a new cabin on the scarred landscape near the top of the Rising Eagle Road neighborhood. Miller said that working with the Calderheads again was a

chance “to celebrate their personal strength … to not be scared away.” “They [Bill and Pat] wanted to have a ‘new dream’ built there,” Miller said. For Bill, the dream started in the early 1980s when he began visiting his uncle and aunt at their Methow Valley Home. After they married in 1992, Bill and Pat — who are both aerospace engineers — began searching for Methow Valley properties. They looked all over the valley before settling on the Rising Eagle Road site. They loved the views,

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The Calderheads on the front porch of their new home. PHOTO COURTESY OF BILL AND PAT CALDERHEAD

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Left: the new cabin begins to emerge from the scorched landscape. Right: the finished product. The toy dump truck, left on a rock years ago by one of the Calderheads’ sons, appears in both photos. PHOTOS COURTESY OF BILL AND PAT CALDERHEAD

and its proximity to town — even if was by way of a steep, winding primitive road.

site on the lot. The original foundation was laid in 1997 and the house completed in 1998. It had 500 square feet on the first floor, 300 square feet upstairs, plus a basement. The Calderheads were not able to successfully drill a well until 2013, but had cistern built to collect and store water

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during the earlier years. The Caldherhead family — Bill, Pat and their two young sons — visited as often as possible. “It was great when the kids were growing up,” Bill said. One of the boys is now at Washington State University, the other at Redmond High School.

After the fire, it wasn’t long before the Calderheads contacted Miller to see if he would be interested in helping them rebuild. “He’s a craftsman, a nice guy, and he does great work,” Bill said of Miller. Insurance covered the losses, which made rebuilding possible and practical.

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Miller and the Calderheads started working on plans for a larger cabin, utilizing as much of the damaged foundation as possible as the starting point — and then expanded beyond it. The Calderheads wanted to keep the new house to about 1,000 square feet, including two bedrooms and two baths, on one level this time. The new cabin is basically an extension of the old one’s footprint, with an expanded area that includes a living/dining area and kitchen, with a north-facing deck wrapping around that side of the house. Miller explains, almost apologetically, that he agreed to design his first-ever shed roof structure because it was appropriate for the cabin. Actually, the cabin has two shed roofs, one over each part of the building, at angles to each other. There is also a small, covered porch at the entrance.

Firewise planning

Firewise considerations were part of the planning, including corrugated metal wainscoting on part of the house. “We were reluctant to use wood siding,” Bill said. Instead, they found a suitable fiber cement siding product that resembles wood cedar siding in color and texture. North Valley Lumber “had a load of the stuff they didn’t want,” Bill said, so Miller took it off their hands. “We didn’t know how it would look,” Bill said. “It turned out perfect.”

The challenge, Miller said, was “How do we make a fireproof exterior that doesn’t look like a concrete bunker? The lumberyard had someone else’s mistake that we loved.” Once again, Miller came up with the best site for the new structure. The home’s north-facing orientation allows it to “capture all the light on the high side” of the hill, and take full advantage of the views “without the concern of overheating in the summer,” Miller said. On hot days, the deck is a shady refuge. Ample windows provide panoramic views in any weather. As work progressed last year, Pat said, “we thought it would be nice to get in by November.” The family has a tradition of coming to the cabin after Thanksgiving with enough leftovers to live on for several days. The cabin was ready in time. “It’s a real rewarding experience working with Don [Miller],” Bill said. As the designer, Miller “knows how it will get built.” “Don is really good about recognizing what’s important to his clients,” Pat said. “My life experience came into play in how to make that effective,” Miller said. “I think we nailed it.” And refurnishing actually turned out to be a fun experience, the Calderheads agreed. “We got a second chance to imagine the place,” Pat said. Rising from the ashes may be a cliché, Miller said, but “that’s really what it was, in all ways.” H

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The living/dining/kitchen area was added to the cabin’s original footprint. PHOTO BY DON NELSON


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2017 Methow Home  

An inside look at Methow Valley homes, the people who own them and the people who build them. If you're considering buying, building or remo...

2017 Methow Home  

An inside look at Methow Valley homes, the people who own them and the people who build them. If you're considering buying, building or remo...