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Like a Vault

An old bank makes for a home that's solid as a vault.

Etta and Kem Hunter weren't shopping for real estate when they took a relaxing drive in through eastern Washington state a few years ago. But after taking only three steps inside Waterville’s old Douglas County Bank, they both knew this would be their new home. Their family thought they'd gone off the deep end when they bought the place on an impulse.

The heavy masonry construction meant they had to stay within the original floor plan. But with a healthy dose of creativity they were able to turn the available space and materials into a comfortable home. Zoning requirements said the building had to be used as a business, so Kem opened up his law office in the space formerly used by the bank manager.

Two-foot-thick walls made rearranging interior spaces almost impossible. The former tellers area is now a living and dining area.

The kitchen is located in the old furnace room. Nifty design details like folding racks and lots of shelves help fit everything in the tight space.

Yes, they kept the old vault. It's now used as a gallery to display works by local artists.

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