Text By Lauren Eberle
Situated on the south end of Whidbey Island, idyllic Langley, Washington, is known as “The Village by the Sea.” It was here in 1983 that the Cabot family found their single-story, shingle cottage with misfit windows on a barren lot in need of both labor and love. “At that time it had floor-to-ceiling modern bay windows that were completely out of keeping with the rest of the house,” says homeowner Penny Cabot. “We thought that this was a short-term living situation, so we didn’t intend to change much.”
As happens, four years passed, their children grew, and the Cabots desired more space, both indoors and out. Instead of moving to a larger home, they expanded by buying the house next door. “We essentially purchased the house next door for its garden,” Penny says, “and in doing so, we also freed up space to push out the side of our home for the living room.”
Having fallen in love with their neighborhood and the sweeping seaside views, years later when the family again needed more room, they decided to expand once more. Collaborating with Langley architect Ross Chapin, the Cabots then built up, adding a second floor. Penny loved the patina of plaster, and was fortunate to find a skilled artisan that could produce the same smooth finish she desired upstairs. From there, the homeowner hand-painted the plaster to achieve the perfect color.
Throughout the home, Penny’s penchant for worldly décor serves as a scrapbook of family travels, with a colorful collection that includes textiles and art from Morocco, India, Portugal, and Indonesia.
The dining room showcases a collage of family heirlooms, including an assortment of chairs from Penny’s father to a treasured painting her mother-in-law purchased in Honduras. The solid, single-piece oak table belonged to Oliver Cromwell, and has been in Penny’s family since she was a child.
While ready to consider a home that better fits their empty-nester lifestyle, Penny reflects on the 34 years spent in their “temporary” cottage. “This has been a very happy house,” Penny says. “We’ve hosted Christmas parties for 150 friends, and our son was even born in the front room. It’s been work, but it has been the best kind of work—and for that, we are grateful.”