Walla Walla Valley newcomers Carmen and Ed Thomas — at 1416 Whiteley Road, on the south side of Walla Walla — have lived in many parts of the country before arriving here, including the east coast, then Michigan, then they moved to Bellevue.

“We were looking at putting down roots somewhere,” Ed Thomas said. “I wanted to garden and farm. We had been over here once or twice.”

At some point, they had also considered going back to Michigan.

On a rainy February day on the west side, they were online looking for property somewhere else.

“I googled ‘farmhouses in Washington’ and there was one here,” Ed Thomas said.

They came over and looked at it but it wasn’t the right one. They looked at other homes and they weren’t right either. So they started looking at property and thinking about maybe building a house.

“We had a checklist in our minds — we wanted access to schools and activities,” Carmen Thomas saids. “As you get older, you want to garden and farm but you want to be close to a community, to be able to go to the theater and symphony.”

How about some land?

“We came out here, it was a beautiful day,” Carmen Thomas said. “It was so quiet surrounded by the wheat and what a view.”

“The first place we looked at was too remote,” Ed said. “Here, we had a few neighbors and the view was expansive.”

“It just clicked,” Carmen said. “We made the first bid.”

It was rejected and they were kind of surprised at how disappointed they each felt.

After about two weeks of thinking about it, they knew they really loved the place. They bid again and this time it was accepted.

Yikes. Now what?

It was suddenly very real that they were going to build a house which was something very new.

So they the only thing they could do: get started.

They had never built a house, so they approached it with some degree of apprehension but that also meant they were open to ideas and possibilities. But the couple had different ideas of what they each wanted.

“We have somewhat different esthetics,” Ed said.

She liked an old farmhouse look and he liked a more modern design.

Local architect Alex DeMambro was selected and the couple was very pleased with their meetings.

“We had a lot of input on design, it was a nice collaboration,” Ed said. “We have this modern farmhouse design.”

“We talked about what we wanted, what we liked and he got to know us,” Ed said of DeMambro. Part of that was learning how they live day-to day and what would be comfortable for them.

“To get to what we wanted, he came back with a drawing,” Ed said. “The first drawing was about 80% right. It educated us a lot, gave us a great place to start.”

One big thing was to create a guest house offering a completely separate space.

Ed and Carmen love to entertain but realize everyone needs privacy. This adds to the uniqueness of the property and gives guests a place to retreat and rest outside of the main house. They liked the design and got started building the home in 2017. They are pleased with the work by local contractor Ketelsen Construction. The home was finished in 2018.

The home is mostly one level, with one area upstairs. It was originally going to be storage but when they saw the fabulous view from there, it meant changing the designation to a sitting room, perfect for morning coffee.

The home has two bedrooms, two and a half baths and the separate guest house.

The modern white farmhouse suits them well and they’re comfortable and happy.

You can read about Alex DeMambro’s work on the new Revelry Vintners building in the October 2020 issue of Walla Walla Lifestyles.

Karlene Ponti can be reached at karleneponti@wwub.com or 509-526-8324.

Karlene Ponti began as Special Publications Writer in 1999, work includes Lifestyles, The Weekly and Business Monthly. After Wa-Hi, Ponti attended Whitman and is a UW graduate. Later she was ordained a Christian minister at CDM Spiritual Teaching Center.