ALL GROWN UP
The kids are gone, and we're making room for ourselves
"That's what we call the 'mud-and-martini room,' " says Katy, talking about the utility hall behind the kitchen of their San Juan Island waterfront lodge. "They kept calling it the mud room when they were building it, but I said that's where we'll make the martinis." It has a hopscotch court cut into the heated concrete floor. "That's the DUI test before anybody drives home," she says, laughing about the spot more likely to be enjoyed by her four little granddaughters.
But young families grow up. The kids move out. Retirement nears. Suddenly, it's just the two of you, and it's time to switch gears for the ever-evolving adventure. We may be talking about retirement, but not a retiring life. It's all about comfort, happiness and lives full of zeal.
Better take a vitamin. This is no downshift.
"It used to be that one size fits all. Now there's all these choices," Lawson says. "I saw a house designed for one woman's weaving."
About 70 million of us have hit the half-century mark, according to the book. And this burgeoning bunch of mature adults wants a home tailored to the new freedom of choice.
But we are such a bunch of rebels. We want more. We're venturing into both urban and rural parts of the country. Some of us move to a favorite vacation spot, while others want to remain near children and friends. We're wired wherever we are. These houses for two may actually be bigger than the ones we raised the kids in. Whether new or remodeled, these homes need to accommodate "passions, hobbies and even new careers well into the 60s, 70s and beyond."
It's all about fantasy and flight of the imagination. Bring on the gourmet kitchens, wine cellars, media rooms, game rooms, hobby rooms, libraries, greenhouses and the heated hopscotch courts. Quality counts.
"It's breaking it down and figuring out what they really want. The job of an architect is really psychoanalyst," says Geoff Prentiss of Prentiss Architects in Seattle, who got inside the heads of the Peeks to find out what was in their hearts.
He says couples really want that all-encompassing great-room space connecting living room, dining room and kitchen. It's the most requested room, according to "The House to Ourselves." Next comes the hobby room. And an office. Overall, make it comfortable. "They're not too much about making an impression when people arrive," he says. "It's about people being there."
The Peeks got all of that in their 4,100-square-foot mixed-breed that is part Craftsman, part Adirondack camp lodge. The rooms are arranged in clusters around a central living room and kitchen. When it's just the two of them, the Peeks close the door to the guest wing and the ribbed-glass pocket doors at the bottom of the entry-hall stairs. What's left is a cozy one-bedroom suite that is about half the size of the whole house.
"I am not an ocean person," Katy says. "I don't like the pounding surf or the salt air. Don, of course, is the opposite. This place is a great compromise. It had the woods for me and the water for Don."
As the Peeks approach their 40th wedding anniversary in June, it is a compromise that fulfills them both.
Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine.
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