Hidden away in south Bellingham down winding back roads, tucked away at the foothills of the Chuckanuts, you’ll find The Hobby Hen House. Steep hillsides surround the house; it’s quiet, secluded and sitting on eight acres of property just waiting for the arrival of crafty women.
The address is secret—only available to the lucky ladies who rent the space. Three close friends thought up this unique retreat idea after getting together for many years, renting out spaces in churches to spend time together and create scrapbooks.
“For the last 13 years this has been our life,” says Johanna Williams, co-owner of the Hen House. “And now we finally have this.”
Williams and Leanne Durfee met years ago at a South Bellingham moms’ group. They became fast friends, with a common interest in scrapbooking. They later adopted a third crafting compadre, Tracie Cyr, who loved the craft and the companionship.
The three of them dreamed up the idea of a unique space where ladies could go to play, eat, and craft together, escaping from everyday realities and to-do lists.
Cyr lived in The Hen House for most of her life. A year ago, she moved in with Durfee, leaving the home empty. The three decided to transform the home into a crafting retreat.
They spent a year renovating the building to house flocks of females and dubbed it the Hen House.
“It’s nice to have a weekend where there’s no kids, no families,” says Williams. “Just to be productive and get things done while in the company of good friends.”
The Hen House is easy to find and close to the freeway, only minutes from Fairhaven. Despite its proximity to town, the property feels peacefully isolated.
The three ladies are close friends—and now business partners. Cyr keeps track of the books and accounting, Williams and Durfee work the business side, managing social media, cleaning and greeting guests during check-in.
They dreamt of a craft retreat concept for many years and feel that scrapbooking is an important piece of their children’s history. “For us, it’s geared toward making memories for our kids,” says Williams. “That’s why we started. We’re documenting their lives from birth until the present.”
The scrapbooks are more than visual documents; they include diary entries with details of the photos they contain. If a layout shows a birthday party, they include who attended, the gifts they brought, and where the party was held.
Williams has three children. “For my scrapbooking, I triplicate each photo.” She creates three identical scrapbooks. “When they leave, they can take their own albums,” Williams uses the albums to remember important events in the children’s past, when they moved, and details for resumes and college applications.
“Both my kids love to look at scrapbooks,” says Durfee, whose sons are 13 and 15. “I made them a birthday book, sports book, family book, and a school book.” Her children look at the books all the time, laughing about how small they were and remembering friends they lost track of or special times during earlier stages of their lives.
“It’s a document of their friendships, too,” says Williams. “They love looking back at their friends 10 years ago.”
For quilters, the idea is similar: “You make something that means something,” says Durfee. For someone who’s “getting married, or is being born; you pass it on [as an heirloom].
“A lot of people are [creating] more modern scrapbooks with photos on their laptops,” says Williams. “Women can bring their laptops here and make them, upload all their photos on any website—Snapfish, Costco, Walgreens—they all make online photo albums.” People are saving time on modern scrapbooks by placing photos in a bound book.
People use the Hen House for a variety of get-togethers and creative weekends, not just scrapbooking. “We’ve had people who do cardmaking,” says Durfee. “They use the Cricut machine and cut out all kinds of crazy, intricate, beautiful cards.
The Workroom can be used for a variety of purposes: birthday parties, painting, drawing or artist studios, crafting events, kids slumber parties, or creating vision boards. A large, comfortable outdoor space has a patio and barbeque, a pickleball court and putt-putt golf for visitors.
If you have half-completed projects sitting in your closet collecting dust, it’s time to pull them out, rent The Hen House, and get to work. “Everyone has loved it,” says Durfee of the groups who have used the space.
“One of us is always here to let in guests when they arrive,” she says. “We like to show them around and hand them the keys.”
The Hen House owners enjoy their guests and love to see the work they do during their stay.
“They call us and want to show us what they worked on when they were here,” says Durfee. “I come and check out what they make. It’s really fun. every group that comes is like family.”
Book today at the Hobby Hen House; call up your nine closest friends, bring your crafting supplies, and enjoy the large craft and quilting tables. All you need to bring is comfy clothes, your craft supplies, a plan for meals and, of course…wine.