Farmhouse Chic Meets the Sea
Published: 09/22/2010  Updated: 06/20/2019
photo by Gary Hayes

The draw of the sea brought Karen and Duane Wilson to Gearhart where they constructed a home and created an atmosphere to enjoy the simple, yet important things in life.

A quietness and comfortable serenity is what Karen Wilson was seeking when she and her husband Duane, founder of DeWils cabinetry, set out to build their home in Gearhart's Pinehurst community. Constructed in 2006, the Wilson home sits atop a gentle slope overlooking the expansive ocean and a sea of deep green dune grasses.

The driveway guides you past one of Karen's favorite things about her home: the flower gardens, and in particular, her lavender beds. Friend and coastal gardening expert CeCe Carow from Garden by Heart tends the Wilson's gardens and has helped them to create vignettes around the yard, like the herb garden outside the kitchen door and the relaxing oceanview seating area at the southern corner of the property. Comfy white-washed Adirondack chairs sit amidst a variety of colorful pots, a tin box-turned-coffee table and five varieties of lavender. Given just the right coaxing from a coastal breeze, an intoxicating mix of crisp sea air and calming lavender enlivens the atmosphere in Karen's corner garden. It's no wonder this is one of her favorite spots.

The home, designed by architect Dietmar Goebel from Newport and constructed by Gearhart builder Paul Caruana, was inspired by traditional East Coast architecture in the Hamptons beach cottage style. Classic cedar shingles, thick cedar shake roof, multi-paned windows and crisp white trims are elements used in this design. The front porch with slate tile floor and deep stone-stepped approach is adorned by a collection of colorful rockers, looking out past sloping landscaped beds to a field frequented by herds of elk and deer.

The foyer, like the rest of the home, is outlined in thick base trim and detailed moldings with distressed Brazilian cherry wood flooring. Duane's hand-crafted furniture pieces, like the bench and credenza in the entry and the dining room table, are highlights throughout the home. An old fence post, split and honed and complete with worm holes from previous inhabitants, became a unique hallway table in the skilled hands of the craftsman.

The home's foyer opens into an expansive great room including the spacious, but somehow cozy living room. Featured here is built-in custom cabinetry, an impressive floor-to-ceiling rock fireplace and a giant wall of west-facing windows that offer an airy and bright ambience to the entire space, not to mention an unbeatable Pacific Ocean view.

The dining area connects the living room to the open and comfortable kitchen featuring, of course, DeWils custom cherry cabinets with seeded glass faces and a walk-in pantry. "One of the best things about this home is that it's so comfortable and livable," says Karen. "I don't want it to feel like a show place but more of a gathering place." And gather they do at the Wilson home. A large center island in the kitchen often becomes a meeting place at get-togethers with friends and family that involve good cooking and great conversation.

Down the hall to the north, two guest suites are connected by a hallway that is filled with large scale paintings and a dramatic barrel ceiling outlined in a thick cornice that functions to house the indirect accent lighting. Each of the two comfortable guest suites are decorated in earthy colors and textures with the help of friend and decorator Denise Fairweather of Fairweather House & Garden in Seaside. "Most of the décor in this house," says Karen, "comes from local shops like Denise's. There are just so many talented, artistic people at the coast and so many great little shops and boutiques to find great treasures." Karen describes her casual yet elegant decorating style as farmhouse chic meets the sea. Topiaries, wreaths and arrangements made from dried flowers and grasses sit alongside gallery art pieces that Karen has discovered in shops like Seaside's Natural Nook and Flowers & Fluff in Clatskanie.

The master suite, also located in this north wing of the house, is designed with porch-like touches. Walls are painted in rich brick reds contrasted with sharp white-trimmed ceilings covered in tongue and groove soffiting and open beams. Another rock and natural stone fireplace is flanked by built-in cabinetry and glass doors open onto a west-facing patio. The master bath features a large claw foot tub and ample walk-in stone shower. A spacious walk-in closet includes a nifty built-in cabinet with fold-down ironing board and a large round window - a beautiful and functional room with a view!

Built to look like an enclosed back porch, the smoking room on the northernmost corner of the home has all the character you would expect from such a space. Cedar shingles on an interior wall help pull off the effect, as well as the large rock fireplace with chunky solid wood mantel. A natural slate floor, lantern pendant lights, a casual area rug and rattan furniture are touches you might very well see on a porch. A bench, custom made for this room by an artist from Fairweather House & Garden, creates a functional focal point in this room, adding a touch of whimsy with shiny dots of complementary colors.

There is an indescribable force that continues to draw Karen and Duane Wilson to this home, along with their traveling companion Barney (a cream-colored cat with a characteristic striped tail). Perhaps it's for the comforts custom-built into the home, or maybe just for that bit of serenity by the sea they were striving to create from the beginning of the project. An inscription carved into tile inside the home reads: "Tide doesn't wait." A permanent reminder, I think, to enjoy what is here and now.
Farmhouse Chic Meets the Sea