A Musical Couple's House Strikes a Personal Chord
Creating music could be both artistic and exacting — not as decorating a house. When musicians Flip Breskin and Zeke Hoskin obtained their first house together, each had very particular requests. Breskin desired “rooms with light coming from at least two directions.” Both she and Hoskin needed an open area to play with their music and also a yard where they can entertain and garden.
Within the past 14 years, the bunch has tweaked, refined and added their own slight alterations to the 1905 house. They installed two bump-out dividers to showcase Breskin’s set of colored glass, introduced lots of special vintage finds, and changed bulb-heavy gardens to a mixture of plants and trees that offer year-round colour, interest and fragrance to their Bellingham, Washington, neighborhood.
at a Glance
Who lives here: Flip Breskin, cofounder of Puget Sound Guitar Workshop; Zeke Hoskin, a songwriter; and their cat, Vortex
Location: Columbia neighborhood ofBellingham, Washington
Size: 1,250 square feet; two bedrooms, two baths and an office/songwriting studio
Breskin explains the style of the house as an “older folk-Victorian farmhouse.” Surrounded on three sides by mature trees, such as a yellowish Sango-kaku Japanese maple and a backyard mix of edibles, flowers and ornamentals, it is a colorful oasis at the Columbia area. Breskin and Hoskin painted the outside — initially light blue with white trim — a deep red with forest green trim to “brilliant up it,” she states.
Exterior paint: Heritage Red (MoorGlo complete), Benjamin Moore; trimming: Heritage Chrome Green (MoorGlo complete), Benjamin Moore
A tall privacy fence surrounded the front part of the house once the couple moved in. Breskin and Hoskin immediately replaced it with a filigreed metal fencing constructed from pieces of wrought iron salvaged from East Coast buildings. A custom-made rounded metal gate with a Celtic knot design finishes the welcoming new enclosure.
The high ceilings and open floor area give an perfect place for Breskin and Hoskin to play with their folk music and for Breskin to teach guitar lessons. Whimsical bird wall hooks hold the couple’s collection of stringed instruments — everything from a ukelele to a unique 1890s harp guitar (seen directly to the right of this window). A headboard handed down from Breskin’s household provides a digital keyboard higher presence.
The sun-washed living area features tall windows and the first fir flooring. The 1905 fireplace got a facelift with a breeding cast-iron surround made by Fires of Tradition. A framed photograph of Breskin’s grandma hangs over the mantel.
A series bass seems to stand guard. Various classic carpets are draped over mismatched couches, and a few carpets are turned into durable pillow covers. The foyer and front entry are via the French doors at rear.
Custom stained glass windows by Karen Seymour decorate the tops of four of the windows. There is A instrument depicted at the middle of every layout.
The kitchen combines freestanding finds and classic cabinetry with built-ins that are new. The wainscoting is cedar.
The homeowners found the trough sink at the Northwest Tub Company at Centralia, Washington, and paired it with a classic faucet. Breskin’s set of rainbow-colored glass lighting up either side of the kitchen.
Breskin worked with Lyndale Glass and local artisan Terry West to make both bump-out windows showing her glass set. West cut the holes Breskin states, “and we figured out the way to display the glass in such a way that I wouldn’t be continuously dusting it”
Gray mesh roller shades mounted within the outside windows help block the lighting without obscuring the opinion of this glassware or the lawn.
A live-edge wood slab sits on top of a cast-iron pedestal, forming a small table at which one can admire the glass close range while dining.
Roller shades: Walls & Windows
Glass shelves are sandwiched between the outside windows and inside sliding glass doors. Shelves are organized by colour and maintain just a portion of Breskin’s set — the remainder is seen throughout the house. To help encourage the shelves, Breskin filled slender glass vases with colored beads that correspond to the colors on each row. “It worked beautifully,” she states.
This 1938 range was found on eBay. “Many of them do not have a thermostat, which may make cooking onto it very … exciting,” clarifies Breskin. “But we found one with a thermostat, then took it to Bee Jays Appliance at Portland who restores these ovens. He reassured us it is now in good shape and most definitely will not burst!”
This 1915 Hoosier cupboard was just another online find. When closed, the unit looks like a built-in cupboard with a shallow counter (see previous photo). But the counter pulls out to table width, and built in components and flour sifters lurk within the cabinets, together with ample storage for baking supplies and spices. “It’s a baker’s dream, indeed,” states Breskin.
The master bedroom upstairs is furnished with purposeful family pieces, similar to this walnut mattress that Breskin states “initially arrived from the Northwest from ship, and then mule train” The carved wooden side table is the mattress’s original companion piece.
A billowy white canopy frames the mattress, although the few went with their yellowish hand-dyed bedding “since we could have sun on our bed all of the time,” states Breskin.
Bedding: Lou Ellis of Coco Loco, Salt Spring Island
Only steps away from the couple’s bedroom is Hoskin’s office, where he writes tunes beneath a west-facing skylight. This cupboard was handed down through the family and can be used to store recording accessories and equipment.
The windows in this ell were tiny and didn’t take advantage of this sun-soaked orientation. “I have dreamed of larger windows all the years we’ve lived here,” states Breskin.
AFTER: A bump-out window jobs 11/2 feet from the building’s face. “It looked like a Spanish galleon to me,” states Breskin. “I thought it looked just like the side of this Nina or the Pinta or the Santa Maria, thus we chose decorative accents that helped deliver that feeling out” This includes a thick, rocky rain chain, a mariner’s lamp and gaily-painted corbels.
The side yard consists of fragrant plants like mock orange, dark purple lilacs and a snowy Parisian rose called Blanc Double de Coubert.
The side yard path opens up into a lush backyard with areas to lounge, eat and putter. Hoskin and Breskin painted the present garden drop to match the main house and topped it with a blown-glass weather vane.
Old bricks laid in a basket weave pattern run a direct line from the back fence to a large witch hazel tree. “The odor of it when in bloom is amazing,” states Breskin.
The backyard shed is surrounded by Fuji apple trees, blueberries, camellias and an assortment of bulbs.
“Mossheart,” an iron-and-moss elk sculpture by Oliver Strong, watches over the lawn and house from the shady corner. “The moss is alive and growing,” states Breskin. “The squirrels love it so much that it keeps getting ruined. They get in there and dig inside. They ate the first set of antlers, too; my neighbors brought me a new set.”
The kitchen doorway opens onto a concrete patio covered by a mature arbor of wisteria and kiwi vines. “We have dinner parties with out our neighbors here, and it is amazing,” states Breskin.
Hoskin, pictured at left, Breskin, centre, and Breskin’s mom, Maryann Breskin, right, settle in for a few lively music-making. Maryann lives a brief distance off. Hanging to the right of this ukelele is a clock Breskin bought “since it seems exactly like the one in my childhood house.”
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