Like a bright sunflower blooming amid a hillside of sagebrush, Laurie and Mariano Morales’ Victorian home can’t help but make you smile.
“I wanted a farmhouse with a porch, and Mariano wanted a Victorian-style house with a turret,” said Laurie, who’s a stay-at-home mom. The couple hired local builder Dennis Kelly to construct their dream house in West Valley in 1997. In spite of differing design ideas, they finally compromised with what today is a 3,400-square-foot Victorian-inspired farmhouse that has both a porch and a turret, with gingerbread detailing.
The creamy yellow exterior with bright white trim is reminiscent of the Gilbert Place historical house on Yakima Avenue, but with all the modern amenities a 21st century family would need.
Laurie, who’s 55, and Mariano, 56, use every bit of the four-bedroom, four-bath home. With two children, Desi and Vienne, the kitchen has become the heart of the home. Decorated with white cupboards, granite countertops and a big angled island for cooking and serving casual meals, Laurie has added clever touches that make the space special.
Every door has been embellished with elaborate molding, and the walls feature chair rail wainscoting. Laurie couples these details with industrial hanging lights over the kitchen island and a marvelous shabby-chic green cupboard filled with her collection of antique pottery, silver and favorite objects. A gorgeous chandelier hangs with multicolored teardrops over her rustic kitchen table. Two years ago the couple visited Murano, Italy, where they spotted the elaborate light fixture. “ ... Mariano, who usually doesn’t like modern, liked it,” Laurie said.
It’s no wonder that Laurie has a variety of heirloom objects and furniture popping up all over her house. “My parents had an antique store in Spokane,” she explained.
The adjacent family room has several vintage pieces of furniture including a 1940s chair Laurie bought for $15 and a couch she has owned since college. With the help of local interior designer Tanna Barnecut, these pieces have been refurbished with color coordinating fabric that pulls the room together. Additionally, the white built-in bookshelves, fireplace and hidden television cupboard, along with many windows, make this a cheery place for the family to gather after a long day.
In contrast to the casual style of the open concept kitchen and family area, the dining room with its brilliant crystal chandelier, antique table and glistening wood floor, harkens back to a more formal time when families dressed up for Sunday supper. “I bought the Sheridan dining room set from a huge antique mall in Snohomish,” Laurie said. “The table has three leaves and can be really big.” Old Asian floral prints found on a trip to Boston complement her collection of flowery vintage plates displayed above French doors. The room’s table runner and chair cushions give it an elegant feel without making it fussy or old-fashioned.
Just off the entry way, a door leads to Mariano’s study, which is an urban cowboy’s hideaway. An impressive pair of longhorn steer horns are mounted above an antique spiral-legged oak desk, and his collection of antique silver spurs, cowboy hats, saddle bags and western art is displayed around the masculine room.
“Mariano has ridden horses from the time he was little,” Laurie explained. The family has several horses that are pastured on the lower portion of the property that encompasses 8 1/2 acres. In fact, the Yakima lawyer has been filmed riding his favorite horse in his law firm’s television ads. Their 12-year-old daughter, Vienne, also loves riding and shows her horse through a 4H club.
The home’s four bedrooms are found up a grand staircase to the second floor, as well as in the basement. But when the weather gets hot the couple’s 18-year-old son, Desi, prefers to camp out on a cozy wicker sofa located just underneath the turret on the home’s wonderful wraparound porch.
Laurie and Mariano have worked hard to make the outside of their home as lovely as the inside. Over the years Laurie has become an avid green thumb and will officially earn the title of Master Gardener in the fall. One of her most impressive projects is the large knot garden by the southwest corner of the house. “I bought a book on knot gardens because I got the idea from visiting Disney World,” she said. Eventually her dad helped her create a large butterfly design with brick and 450 boxwoods that has matured into an amazing formal evergreen garden that they enjoy year-round.
Mariano’s main contribution to the backyard is the rippling rock and flagstone waterfall he built several years ago that provides an impressive focal point for their patio, which is surrounded by lawn. Next year, Laurie plans to take on raising chickens as an outdoor project.
With a busy law practice, volunteer responsibilities, school events and more to fill their hectic lives, it’s no wonder that the Morales family has sought to create a country paradise that serves as a restful escape.