Island Getaway // A Bellevue Family Finds Weekend Wonders

By Vicki Wilson

What’s a Weekend?” says Maggie Smith, whom many of you know as the pithy Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey. The landed gentry of the early 20th century may not have known what a weekend was, but by 1981, the hair band Loverboy let us know that everyone was working for it. For Chris Zouboulakis and Eva Manolis, and their children, Socrates (21) and Katerina (17), weekends and holidays at their waterfront home on Bainbridge are indeed something to look forward to. Part of the appeal is how the island feels so close yet so far away from their home in Bellevue. For Chris, an attorney for the Washington State Department of Ecology, and Eva, a design and development team leader at Amazon, the proximity is a must.

“We can act on a whim,” Chris said. “We don’t even have to plan to come; we can just catch the next ferry. Door-to-door, we can be here in an hour.” That kind of ease of access made Bainbridge a better bet than Vashon or the San Juans. But proximity was only part of the equation; finding the perfect house was the other. “We looked at houses here for two years before we found this one,” Eva recalled. And while houses often leave a prospective buyer mentally calculating the changes they’ll make, the couple was so enchanted by what they saw, they even bought a lot of the seller’s furniture and have hardly changed a thing since buying the house in 2011.

“The seller’s style was so close to ours; there’s nothing we could have done better,” Chris said. In fact, when they do think about improvements they often consider the previous owner’s taste and ask themselves, “What would Ann do?” “Traditional Zen” is how designer Suri Yeckel, who worked with now-retired architect Bob Hobble on the house, describes the home’s aesthetic. “It’s a traditional house but pared back to be more calming,” she said. “There’s not a lot of visual clutter, and there’s lots of light.” Built in 2001 by Smallwood Design and Construction, the custom project did make room for conservation, recycling and reuse.

“We salvaged materials from the demolition of the existing home and turned them in to Habitat for Humanity,” Rob Smallwood recalled. “We also managed to save a vine maple. We framed so gingerly around it, we nicknamed it ‘Precious.’ And there’s a giant boulder we moved from place to place until it came to rest on a corner of the driveway.” Even though Bainbridge is their weekend home, the way of life on the island is something the couple could get used to full time. (They won’t consider a permanent move until after their daughter, a junior at the International School in Bellevue, heads off to college; their son is a sophomore at Brown.)

“I can’t wait to live here year-round. It’s beautiful in a different way each season,” Eva said. “We try to be here every weekend; if we don’t come, we’re sad.” Part of what they love is what Chris refers to as “the immediacy between the place of creation and the place of consumption.” From eating local eggs, to drinking Eleven wines and Bainbridge Distillery gin, to shopping for treasured pieces at Lark and Intentional Table, they’re really living local. “People here take pride in what they do, and they want to share it,” Eva said. In addition to their favorite finds, they delight in the spectacular views.

Chris grew up in Greece and shares that heritage with Eva, so a waterfront view of the sunset was way up on the wish list. The view of the Puget Sound, often complemented by a swooping bald eagle, was like a dream come true. In the 21st century, no one has any trouble distinguishing between the workweek and the weekend. For Chris and Eva, Bainbridge is a place that embodies what weekends should be. As Chris said: “It’s like that book ‘The Art of Doing Nothing.’ It’s perfect for here.”