For Laurie Kanyer, living with art is like breathing fresh air. Her mother, artist Lucy Valderhaug, surrounded her children with it, so it’s no wonder that Laurie became an artist herself. Laurie works with ink on paper and creates sculptural beadwork; she also teaches local parenting classes and has authored a book on parenting.
Laurie’s husband, Doug, general manager for Glacier Sales, has become a silent, but very involved partner in this shared love. Together they’ve filled their new home with original pieces that celebrate the artists of Eastern Washington.
Two years ago, and with their growing art collection in mind, Laurie, 53, and Doug, 55, moved from a smaller home near Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital to a 4,100 square-foot, ’70s-era house on Yakima’s west side.
“I love being surrounded by all of that art,” said Doug, who collects sculptures by Yakima’s Timm Wauzynski in particular. “I do love all of the sculpture.”
It took several years of looking to find their perfect new place. The couple, who has three grown children, enjoys visiting Palm Springs and had originally wanted a 1960s “mid-century modern” style. But none of the examples of this architectural style quite fit the Kanyers’ requirements.
“I finally said I need more space, with tall ceilings and a view,” Doug remembered. Laurie wanted a backyard pool and limited yardwork. After an extensive search, they found a custom-built, Frank Fitterer brick residence, featuring all of the couple’s prerequisites: high cathedral ceilings, southern-facing Valley view windows, a large pool and deck — and most important of all — plenty of square footage to accommodate their burgeoning collection.
“I didn’t want to take the ’70s out,” Laurie explained. Instead, they updated the original design elements by painting walls and kitchen cabinets with a contemporary shade of beige. To provide a pop of color to the décor, they asked their painter, Ashley Hunter, to incorporate the color turquoise to unlikely places such as the back wall of bookshelves.
When it came to furniture, Laurie stuck firmly to Elle Décor magazine’s philosophy: “Furnishings don’t have to be expensive, but just have great design.” Laurie has become a master at treasure hunting at unlikely places like Goodwill, estate and yard sales and second-hand furniture stores, where she’s found the “perfect piece” in the midst of what most would deem junk.
The Kanyers’ spacious sunken living room showcases Laurie’s creative design aesthetic. The majority of the furnishings are previously owned, like the antique Chinese armoire she found at the Shopkeeper, or the leopard upholstered chairs bought at an estate sale. She cleverly arranges them with a neutral sofa, two Pier I slipper chairs and two distressed Asian side tables from Attic Clutter. She likes to say her furnishings are “locally acquired with an international feel.” Laurie admits that she loves the room. “I read in there every day with my dog, Sparkle.”
The adjacent dining room features a long dining room table with matching chairs and china cupboard. But it’s the dramatic Bella Luna brown glass chandelier that adds pizazz to this space. Likewise, a surprise of blown glass is incorporated in her English cottage-style kitchen in the form of a colorful Schonbeck Bohemian chandelier above the sink.
Comfortable, plush leather sofas face the indigenous, locally-quarried rock fireplace in the couple’s family room, or what they like to call, the “Kiva,” or gathering place. With the room’s tall, beamed ceiling, built-in bar and easy access to the kitchen, it’s no wonder it’s a favorite place to entertain family and friends.
The private side of the house features a large en-suite master bedroom, three second-floor guest bedrooms, prayer room, “man cave” and a well-appointed art studio waiting for Laurie’s latest creative inspiration. She recently took an intensive nine-day iconography class, and her first rendering sits on her drawing board waiting for completion.
Obviously this large home has plenty of room and wall space for the Kanyers’ extensive art collection.
“I’m a consumer and appreciator,” says Doug. In total, the couple owns well over 200 works created by artists from the Yakima Valley and Eastern Washington. Artwork by Charles Smith, Leo Adams, Dixie Fairbanks, Penn Shelton, Stan Day and many more cover the Kanyers’ walls and most available surfaces. The pieces range from oil paintings and watercolors to prints, sculptures and beaded creations.
“For a number of my friends, this is how they earn their living,” Laurie explained. “We try to buy art to help keep local artists in business.”
The couple’s mission to promote their friends’ creative endeavors is clearly evident throughout their home, but their passion doesn’t stop there. They are also invested — financially and emotionally, through many hours of work — in the Yakima Light Project. The Light Project began several years ago, with the goal of enriching Yakima’s core with artistic uses of light, one of Yakima’s best characteristics. The Light Project also envisions a future downtown art center and museum, featuring Eastern Washington’s talented visual artists.
Whether for public display or their own private joy, visual art remains at the center of life for this truly artistic Yakima couple.