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18 Mar 2013



The Haunted House: Jennifer Shainin and Randy Walker

Curator: Karin Fong
date: March 12, 2013
Categories: Experience Design
Tags: architecture, interiors
Photo: Jenny Shainin
The house

Is it really fair that a couple has an amazing house AND the bragging rights to say they designed and built it themselves? And, oh yeah, they aren’t architects by training… They’re filmmakers by trade, having produced and directed a feature together (Apart From That), and created video projects for the likes of Starbucks and Microsoft. (They live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest to boot.) 

No it’s not fair, hence the envy. Now I can’t say I’m too surprised at the blend of DIY practicality and whimsy that borders on folly. Jenny Shainin and Randy Walker are one talented duo (see their work at www.foreignamericanpictures.com ) who have a Midas touch with everything they do, if Midas was your crazy uncle who turned everything he tapped into a flea market or salvage yard find. 


Surrounded by more traditional architecture in rural Washington state, Jenny and Randy sought to keep a barn aesthetic, using reclaimed wood and metal plates on the simply shaped structure. Neighbors, however, did not always see how these modern ideas related to the farmhouse classicism. A brief house tour:

Photo: Jenny Shainin
Garbage in, garbage out

Photo: Jenny Shainin
Making a splash with the backsplash

Photo: Jenny Shainin
Bathroom, with wood and Heath tile remnants

Photo: Randy Walker
It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.

The name? Randy explains, “We call it ‘Haunted House,’ because our nervous, 23 year-old cable service provider told us that he was excited to finally see the inside of our house. Every time he drove by, he ‘swore it was haunted.’ We like the idea of a modern haunted house that’s only two years old; why should those derelict Victorian manors have all the fun?”


Randy notes that the Heath tile in the bathroom is all “seconds,” or “flawed rejects” from their mother factory in Sausalito, California. “The weight of the tile caused our station wagon to scrape a little when going over speed bumps.”


Now my favorite feature: the living-room swing. According to local lore, the block and tackle actually originated from a crane owned by an Oklahoma couple who used it to steal a manatee from Sea World and keep it in a Jacuzzi. But fact-checking by yours truly proved this to be an exaggeration. It’s actually a block and tackle Jenny’s father, Pete (whose metalwork graces the house), gave to Randy for his birthday. When the couple received a re-gifted “swinger’s swing” from friends, up it went.


How cool is it to glide across your living room? (There’s that envy again.)

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