By Stacee Sledge
Whatcom Magazine, June 2007
Local bed and
breakfasts take different approaches to
all had that travel experience: spotting a decorating
trick that we’re eager to copy back home, whether a
hallway mirror or a kitchen mural. Now you’re invited to
step inside the varied interiors of three Whatcom County
inns to see welcoming touches you might try in your own
and Donna McAllister raised three sons in their home
overlooking Lake Whatcom before converting it into the
Schnauzer Crossing Bed and Breakfast Inn in 1986.
bought this little two-bedroom house in 1972 because of
the trees and property,” says Donna. “We thought it
would be a good starter home.”
couple, now both 65, fell hard for the spacious lot
dotted with enormous trees. So between 1978 and 1991
they worked with local architect Robert Bruce to claim
more indoor space.
expansive living room was part of their first remodel,
with breathtaking floor-to-ceiling windows and a wall of
glass doors that open to let in the pleasing scent of
white fragrant wisteria that winds through the pergola
Bathrooms were the next major project. Ten years after
that, Bruce designed a guest cottage intended for family
just made it to suit ourselves,” says Donna. “We had no
idea then that it would eventually be a bed and
spread over 3,800 square feet, the renovated
contemporary home was well-suited as a high-end
sleepover spot when the McAllister’s decided to change
their empty nest into luxury accommodations.
living room showcases a variety of woods. The soaring
pitched ceiling is cedar; floors are oak. As for the
trim, done in a magnificent clear grain fir, “You
couldn’t even do that anymore,” notes Donna.
many bed and breakfasts tend to have the Laura Ashley
look, but we don’t do that here,” she says. The décor
has a decidedly Asian feel, punctuated by silk kimonos
adorning several walls.
Asian has a timelessness about it,” says Donna. “And we
did it before it became trendy.”
larger of the two guest rooms in the main house, “The
Suite,” has landed Schnauzer Crossing in many travel
books, including Northwest Best Places , The Best Places
to Kiss in the Northwest , and Frommer’s Travel Guides .
the home’s original living room, complete with
brick-surround fireplace and crisp white mantel.
Overlooking the lush garden, the view space is a
favorite of many recurring guests.
hand-crafted furniture mingles with a 1700s French
armoire in the soft peach room, while French doors open
onto an adjoining window-lined retreat wrapped by the
greenery outside. Delicately hand-painted vines and
birds wind around the walls above the glass.
cottage sports a private deck overlooking the lake. It’s
served as temporary home to visiting writers Barbara
Kingsolver and Christina Dodd , and artist John Ebner ,
whose work hangs on the wall there and in the main
former art history major, Donna’s appreciation of
Northwest artists and artisans is evident in the
paintings, drawings, furnishings and accessories in
fine woodworker and furniture designer Steve Hall
created the couple’s distinctive dining room set,
buffet, and desk, while Rocky MacArthur’s chainsaw
sculptures are scattered throughout the yard. A myriad
of Louis Mideke pottery pieces are displayed in the
living room and used in the kitchen.
worked at it over the years and have fine-tuned and
fine-tuned,” says Donna. “It’s been the most rewarding
profession I could have found.”
‘Color is so important’
and Cori Litorja , an art-adoring mother-and-daughter
team, own and operate Everson’s charming Kale House Bed
and Breakfast. Cori, 38, paints striking portraits and
colorful folk-art pieces, while Bonnie, 65, dreams up
equally vibrant quilts. Their creations, accompanied by
other local artists’ works, pepper the inn’s sumptuously
“traditional with a twist” by Bonnie, the nearly
90-year-old house on one acre was the Litorjas’ home for
five years before being transformed into a bed and
breakfast a dozen years ago.
only structural changes required to make the leap from
family digs to public spaces involved the bathrooms. A
door was added to link the downstairs guest room with
what had been the home’s only bathroom, and an upstairs
hallway closet became a shower. A toilet and sink were
added on the second floor where the previous owner has
already installed the necessary plumbing.
the property’s 2,600 square feet conveys the Litorjas’
love making things,” says Bonnie.
need projects,” Cori adds with a laugh.
unusual undertaking was the guest room headboards.
Plywood was covered in batten, then wrapped with
fanciful fabrics and secured to the walls with
hook-and-loop tape. “We have an extensive fabric stash,”
says Cori, “so we don’t have to go out and buy stuff.”
Imaginatively refurbished thrift-store finds mix with
antique pieces. For example, the main sitting room’s
stately French daybed was purchased in Germany, where
the family lived in the 1970s, when Bonnie’s ex-husband,
Cori’s father, was stationed there.
smaller sitting room is Cori’s favorite. Eye-catching in
color, its rich brown tone is a strong contrast to the
home’s crisp white trim.
brown was a real marathon,” says Bonnie. “We had to do
built-in shelves encircle the room’s welcoming window
seat, overlooking a busy birdfeeder. Toile curtain
panels visually separate the spot.
added those recently and it really cozied it up,” says
Cori. “You can sit with a book and kind of hide.”
Bonnie, it’s hard to pinpoint one favorite space. “I
just love the whole thing,” she says. “Really, the part
you’re working on right now becomes your favorite.”
downstairs guest room is painted a brilliant eggshell
blue, while the chartreuse walls of the second
downstairs bedroom, converted into a gift shop, are a
collage of artwork and jewelry. Every fall, the Litorjas
holds a popular art show to peddle their and artist
gleaming white stairway climbs from the kitchen to the
second guest space. One of the rooms is tiny, with a
snug built-in sleeping nook; the other is a cacophony of
colors in its headboards and bed coverings.
people come in and say, ‘It doesn’t feel like an old
house.’ We’re not purists by any means,” says Cori. “So
that gave us the freedom to do what we want.”
is so important to us,” says Bonnie.
living in military housing all those years, we couldn’t
do anything, so we just went wild here,” says Cori.
“This really is a scrapbook of our lives.”
A cliff-side Craftsman
than 30 minutes south of Bellingham, at the end of a
relaxing, meandering lake-view drive, sits South Bay Bed
and Breakfast, perched high above Lake Whatcom. It feels
worlds away from civilization.
and Kate Malmgren purchased the bed and breakfast a year
ago, after an arduous search for just the right project.
Kate, 55, has a background in the hotel industry and
Philip, 51, has experience as a general building
contractor. It makes a handy combination for running and
maintaining the 4,900-square-foot home.
in 1910, the original Craftsman home, was moved a mile
to its current cliff-side spot in 1994, where it was
lovingly restored and expanded. Six rooms are available
to guests, all with inestimable water views.
of the furniture was here when we bought the inn,” says
Kate. “We bought it turnkey, but added all the other
public areas are open and welcoming. A double-sided
fireplace warms both the living and dining rooms,
lending a lodge-like quality complete with original
trim, substantial wood furniture pieces and snuggle-in
Breakfast is served in a stunning view-rich atrium. Two
resident bald eagles often perch in the tall trees
of guest rooms fills the lower level, branching off a
wide hallway. With different rustic-meets-contemporary
themes, each room couples a bed with an overstuffed
double-wide chair, loveseat or chair and ottoman. Dark
wood and walls painted in deep, earthy shades up the
in three of these rooms share an intriguing design
feature: a double-hung window between bathroom and
sleeping quarters, allowing spectacular tub-side views.
Upstairs, “Cassie’s Retreat,” the smaller of two larger
guest rooms, was named for the previous owner’s
10-year-old daughter. Olive-tinged walls complement lush
fabrics on the bed, at the windows, and on the roomy
window seat, laden in plush pillows.
“There’s a touch of
San Francisco here, because we’re from the Bay Area,” says Kate,
describing the cheery room. “This is the only Victorian
thing about the whole place.”
room booked most often is at the opposite end of the
upstairs hall. It’s dubbed “Sky View” for the two
skylights above the bed, which allow for comfortable
cloud- or star-gazing.
cream-colored walls are a neutral backdrop to deep-red
fabrics on the bed, lampshades and windows. His-and-hers
armoires share the romantic space with two seating
upstairs bathrooms have jetted corner tubs overlooking
describes the bed and breakfast as “a little slice of
heaven,” which was clear to them the moment they saw the
place. “We walked in and just said, ‘This is it. We have
to have this place,’” she recalls. “So we ran home to
California and sold our house.”
different as the owners who operate them, these Whatcom
County bed and breakfasts all hold decorating delights
galore. You may want to run home and try some yourself.
Stacee Sledge is a
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