For this year’s Spring Catalog, we travel to the home of Dawn and Eric Weeman, located just outside Hood River, Oregon. If you’ve ever been through the Columbia River Gorge during spring, you may have noticed that it’s one of the most breathtaking times of year for an already stunning locale. The skies are lofty and clear, the river sparkles, and mile after mile, fruit orchards in full bloom stretch out into the foothills of Mt. Hood. It’s easy to feel welcomed by such a naturally generous landscape.
But what brought us to Dawn’s door was her ability to take an already beautiful place and make it even better by elevating hospitality to something of an art form. At Dawn’s house, a “casual” weekend lunch might involve homemade pizza and mocktails. Stopping by after a day of skiing on the mountain, you might find a roaring fire, cocoa, and snacks. Many visits finish with to-go cups of coffee and fresh-cut flowers from her garden packed for the road. Dawn’s care for each of her guests shines through every interaction, big or small. What better way to celebrate the launch of our new Spring collection than among such welcoming company?
So this week, we chatted with Dawn about how her family ended up in Hood River, what she loves most about her home away from home, and what tips she keeps in mind when entertaining a house full of friends and family.
Tell us about your home – when did you find it and how did you know it was the one?
We had been dreaming of living in Hood River for years. Each time we were in the area we picked a new (to us) gravel road to drive down, just to see what was there. Sadly, most of what we saw were homes from the '80s and '90s; nothing with the kind of character we saw in our dreams. However, while passing through on a northwest road trip in 2013, we spotted a gravel road we had not yet explored. And it had a "for sale" sign at the top! Following the signs, we pulled into the driveway where we saw the wrap-around porch and the view. I said, "This is it." My husband questioned, "But, you haven’t seen the inside yet." We saw it the following day and that was it!
Someone will ask us – what is the paint color of your green door?
Sherwin Williams, Evergreen!
What are some of your favorite spots and details of the house?
We live on the porch swing all summer long. During the winter, the fireplace and husband-built window seat hold us cozily captive.
How do you make people feel welcome in your home?
Welcoming people into our home is one of my favorite parts about being an adult. As a child, my grandmother seemed to have a magic touch when visitors stopped by. She never seemed stressed, but she always had a drink or a treat to offer and people were happy and relaxed in her presence. When I first grew up, it seemed stressful to have dinner parties or houseguests, but then I realized that my grandmother had the perfect mix of southern hospitality and a willingness to take shortcuts. Now I stock tater tots in the freezer and batch cocktails in the refrigerator. These easy tricks, combined with flowers and freshly ironed linens in a guestroom, make a guest feel welcome but also maintain a relaxed, homey atmosphere.
We are so fortunate to have friends stopping by all summer and through the winter, especially after skiing at Mt. Hood. I always want these visitors to know that I am happy to see them, and chatting over food and drink is my favorite way to connect with folks. I also love cooking and decorating and enjoy tailoring my home to the seasons. When it's hot, I serve a local rosé (the Columbia Gorge AVA!), Aperol spritzes, or mocktails with fresh fruit and herbs from my garden. Often I'll make pizzas on the grill to ensure that we are outside enjoying the warmer evenings. For the après-ski crowd, I make hot cocoa, espresso drinks, or Manhattans, alongside those those tater tots—nachos have been hits as well.
When I plan in advance for a dinner party, I love to mix easy options with more complicated recipes, and I always enjoy getting the house ready with a good cleaning and fresh dahlias or bowls of lemons. The whole key is that I want our friends (new and old) to know that they are welcome and that we love spending time with them. I want guests to know where the bar is and where the snacks are, and if I find them making themselves a drink, I know they feel at home and I’ve done my job.
What’s your ideal weekend at the house entail?
We usually arrive early to get the house warmed up and the work done (gardening, laundry, snow shoveling, wood chopping, grocery shopping, etc). We have friends visit most weekends, so I’ll make a simple dinner for everyone to enjoy Friday night. In the winter, we usually do a big (but simple) breakfast and then head out for some skiing. Après-ski is at our house and includes drinks, snacks and several additional friends we ran into at the mountain. In the summertime, we would spend the day hitting estate sales, picking fruit, jumping in a swimming hole, or kiteboarding. We love ending a summer day at COR Cellars (an amazing winery in Lyle, WA) or Analemma (a winery in Mosier, OR).
Will you share a favorite memory that you’ve had in this house?
My favorite memories, off the top of my head: The first weekend that we owned the house, Erik carried me over the threshold. We had a bunch of friends helping us move in. We had mattresses delivered that day, but no other furniture. We had a roaring fire, I made a simple dinner and we set up camp chairs in the living room while dreaming of all the good times we’d have in the future with those friends and more. We slept on mattresses on the floor and had a great time.