Home Q&A: Karen and Stanley Harris busy remodeling their home


Who: Karen and Stanley Harris, both 54. They have six children.

Residence: Samish neighborhood, Bellingham.

When did you acquire your residence? Stanley designed our home over the course of a year or so, and completed the building process in 1993.

What's an interesting aspect of your home's history?

One of Stan's favorite eras of architecture is Edwardian, like the 1904 house he grew up in on 21st Street, near Western Washington University. We think an older home must have been on the lot previously; we have uncovered vintage bottles while gardening and the old lilacs and apple trees are still here.

Our kitchen won honorable mention in the national Kitchen and Bath Magazine best kitchens of 1994.

How you have you changed your home?

In 1998 we built the three-car garage and the ballroom above, including a small art studio hidden behind French doors. Stan put his design and construction business on hold to be a stay-at-home dad, so the addition has evolved over time and with accommodating new projects, like oil painting, music and sewing lessons.

At Christmas time, we've had a band playing for up to 100 people at once in the ballroom for the conga line.

The center of the floor is Stan's mariner's compass that points north and contains walnut, ebony, cherry, maple, purple heart and abalone inlay. A new sunroom/hallway connects the ballroom to the house, featuring an "art floor" - a natural stone inlay pattern with radiant heat underneath.

It was so fun to work on, we were sad when it was complete! Collecting granite that looked like different types of leaves and stems made vacations from Washington to California turn into treasure hunts.

What's your favorite place, and why do you enjoy it?

Karen loves the breakfast nook: it's amazing how many people can squeeze into it and chat for hours after dinner. The ballroom, of course, is the best for parties and projects that need lots of room to spread out.

Stan's favorite room is the kitchen, especially the new granite countertops and solid granite sink.

What has been the greatest challenge you've faced with your home?

Keeping up with the remodeling projects! We love our AGA stove from England because it is on and warm all the time; it's one of the few items that won't be changed.

The kitchen will also feature the next "art floor," which is in the design stage. Choosing fixtures that fit the era has been tricky; reproductions are often not as high quality as the originals were, so we're constantly hunting for antiques.

And we both love lighting, so as we find pieces that are better than the ones we put in quickly to finish the house 20 years ago; we keep upgrading. My favorite upgrade has been the Murano glass-grape chandelier in the breakfast nook; it inspired some redecorating and a wine-and-grape theme for the whole living and dining floor of the house.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com.

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