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Kitchen of the Week: A Whitewashed Cabin Kitchen on Henry Island

A whitewashed log design with Douglas fir counters in a new kitchen on San Juan Island by Lisa Staton Design set in a 1950s cabin.

Kristina and Mike Gladstein and their two young boys are members of the gang of Seattleites and other Pacific Northwesterners who decamp on weekends for the San Juan Islands. Five years ago, when a waterfront cabin abutting Kristina’s father’s Henry Island house went on the market, she and Mike leapt. Built in the 1950s, the humble structure came with dirt floors, smoke-singed log walls, and a fireplace as the sole heat source. The couple—she’s a textile designer and he’s a builder—envisioned something a bit more beachy than barnyard. And most essential to them was a gathering-spot kitchen that embraced the harbor views.

They initially embarked on an update of the structure themselves, but a year into the process called in interior designer Lisa Staton to help with the space planning and detailing. Working in close collaboration with Staton and local builder Tom Nolan, the Gladsteins winterized the structure, whitewashed the walls, and added wide-plank oak floors. They also started from scratch on the kitchen. “What was there was just a small set of yellow laminate cupboards with no running water or electricity,” says Kristina. Come take a look at the update.

Photography by Belathée, courtesy of Lisa Staton Design.

Set in a 1950s cabin on San Juan Island, WA: A whitewashed design with Douglas fir counters in a new kitchen by Lisa Staton Design.
Above: The cabin retains its open-plan main floor, now flooded with light thanks to new windows in the kitchen that overlook the water.

The walls are painted Benjamin Moore Cloud White, chosen, says Staton, “because it’s a true white, but a little bit on the chalky side, which helps it feel inviting rather than stark. And it doesn’t go yellow or pink.” For more advice, see Remodeling 101: How to Choose the Perfect White Paint and 10 Easy Pieces: Architects’ White Paint Picks.

Douglas fir counters in a whitewashed cabin kitchen, Lisa Staton Design. Cabinets from Canyon Creek. KitchenAid stainless range.
Above: The new kitchen has counters made from local, reclaimed Douglas fir. “We wanted to keep all the finishes as simple and natural as the structure and to use indigenous materials,” says Staton, adding they also considered using repurposed telephone poles available from Windfall Lumber. The cabinets, too, are Washington-made: They’re from Canyon Creek’s Cornerstone line.

Staton notes that they saved money by opting for overlay rather than more costly and refined-looking inset cabinet doors. The range is a KitchenAid.

Whitewashed cabin kitchen open shelves with blackened steel brackets designed to fit into the curve of the logs, Lisa Staton Design.
Above: To preserve an open feel, Staton recommended shelves instead of over-the-counter cabinets. They rest on custom steel brackets that had to be “scribed”—inset—into the curved log walls.

The sink is a 36-inch Shaws Original with a bridge faucet. For more ideas, see 10 Easy Pieces: White Kitchen Farmhouse Sinks.

Whitewashed cabin kitchen open shelves with blackened steel brackets designed to fit into the curve of the logs, Lisa Staton Design.
Above: Tableware is “kept to a palette of white, wood, and glass,” says Staton. The counter, she notes, “will develop a patina and scars with use—but can be easily sanded and re-oiled as needed.” The Bevel Edge Bin Pulls are from Rejuvenation.
Set in a 1950s cabin on San Juan Island, WA: A whitewashed design with Douglas fir counters in a new kitchen by Lisa Staton Design.
Above: The kitchen island was built on site by the contractor: “It has a simple farmhouse form,” says Staton, “and was made to hold big pots and bowls and colanders for easy access, especially with many hands in the summer joining in the prepwork.”

The salvaged lights over the island came from First Pick Antiques in Seattle and the Industrial Swivel Stools, selected because they’re easy to adjust, are from Wisteria. Note the lack of a refrigerator: This was a strategic move by Staton to keep the room unencumbered. The fridge and other food storage is in an adjacent pantry to the left of the stove wall. “The fridge would have taken up too much space and been an eyesore had it remained in the kitchen,” says Kristina. “We have counter space in the pantry, so the setup works just fine.”

Antique farmhouse dining table in a whitewashed cabin kitchen on San Juan Island, Lisa Staton Design.
Above: Picked for its patina, the dining table, from Seattle antiques shop Susan Wheeler Home, has the best views in the cabin. The black pendant light, a discontinued design from Wisteria, “helps ground the dining zone and makes it feel more anchored in the airy room,” says Staton. “We intentionally repeated small elements in black throughout the cabin.”
San Juan Island cabin view or Roche Harbor. Photo by Belathee
Above: Right outside is the opening to Roche Harbor, a gateway for boats traveling between Canada and the US.
Log shed on San Juan Island. Belathee photo.
Above: A picturesque shed next to the cabin holds pots for crab boils and other outsized cooking equipment. Kristina rings the bell for her boys at mealtime.
Totem pole on San Juan Island made by Kwakiutl carver Tom Hunt of Vancouver Island.
Above: A totem pole carved by Kwakiutl artist Tom Hunt beckons from the shoreline.

Here are two more favorite cabin kitchens:

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