Let There Be Light

Henderson & Daughter find just the right windows for a destination dahlia farm.

During a remodel of an old farmhouse at Swan Island Dahlias in Canby, Nicholas Gitts, owner of the nearly 100-year-old business, had his office moved into an upstairs supply closet. It was supposed to be a temporary move, but according to Gitts’ daughter, Swan Island Dahlias manager Heather Schloe, he ended up loving the space.

“It overlooks the prime view of the fields. His passion is the koi pond, and if he opens his window up there, he can hear the koi pond,” Schloe says. “He’s so in love, so that’s going to be his permanent office.”

And while it’s the view and the pond that sold Gitts on his office space, there’s another element that brought it all together — new windows.

As part of the remodel that renovated the farmhouse and added a larger, more practical space for Swan Island Dahlias’ gift shop and offices, the family needed 26 windows and a new set of patio doors. The goal, according to Schloe, was to create a larger, dedicated space for the gift shop, one that would replace the piecemeal spots that served that purpose before. She says the vision was also for a modern farmhouse, in the style of renowned designer Joanna Gaines — something that was warm and bright, accented in black and white, and that took advantage of the 26-foot ceiling in the entryway.

“One of the most important pieces of the remodel was to make sure that the gift shop had enough light,” Schloe says. “Light was a big emphasis in the entire building.”

To capture that light and everything else that Swan Island Dahlias was hoping for, Schloe turned to longtime connection Thea Cutsforth, a design consultant for door and window specialist Henderson & Daughter. The Vancouver, Wash., company offers both an installation business and a supply-only business, the latter of which Swan Island Dahlias used for its remodel.

“I met with Heather’s contractor, Nick Netter Construction, and her designer to get a feel for what we might have that would fit and what our options might be,” Cutsforth says. “They wanted a cozy, warm feel, something that let in a lot of light. But they also wanted it to be a little more modern, and they wanted it to be black.”

Cutsforth had just the window in mind: Fiberglass windows from Milgard’s Ultra series. She says the fiberglass gives a warmer feeling than aluminum, and painting the windows black added the modern flair Schloe was after. The windows also have a flat black grid between the glass, which lends more of a farmhouse look — ideal for the company known for its destination dahlia farm.

“Thea was amazing at making sure we had the style we were looking for,” Schloe says, adding that the windows blend in naturally with the farmhouse, as if they’ve always been there. “They are gorgeous and everybody in the office absolutely loves them. They just set the entire tone.”

In addition to aesthetics considerations, Cutsforth says she also had practicality and longevity in mind when helping Swan Island Dahlias choose windows.

“One of the keys for me was cost-effectiveness, look and durability,” Cutsforth says. “We wanted something that will be here in 100 years, that will hold up over time so they don’t have to think about them again.”

Schloe says working with Henderson & Daughter went smoothly throughout the project, from invoicing and communication to timing and deliveries.

“We were so impressed,” she says, noting that a second phase of the farmhouse remodel is in the works and will involve Henderson & Daughter.

Much of the work on the first phase of Swan Island Dahlias’ renovated farmhouse took place during the height of the farm’s peak summer season in 2023, when the fields were awash in a bright spectrum of blooming dahlias. As a result, visitors to the farm got to see a hint of what was to come with the farmhouse — but only a hint. They’ll get to enjoy the full finished project this coming summer, especially during the farm’s annual Dahlia Festival, which usually runs from August through September.

“Most people are waiting to come out until then,” Schloe says. “The anticipation is high, and we’re just really excited to share how beautiful our project came out with everyone who comes to Swan Island Dahlias.”