A Decade of Design

Top taste makers discuss Seattle style—where we’ve come from and where we’re headed.

Story by Alison Lind
Portraits by Hank Drew

For the last 10 years, Seattle Homes & Lifestyles has recorded shifts in design, uncovering styles du jour—whether ephemeral or enduring—with verve and dedication. To continue this tradition and in honor of our 10-year anniversary, we checked in with Seattle tastemakers to hear their thoughts on the past decade of design, and what they anticipate for the future of style.

For more of these designers’ thoughts on design in the last decade, as well as those of interior designer Gregory Carmichael, pick up the October issue of
Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, on newsstands now.

Designer: Robin Chell
Background: Robin has been designing in Seattle since 1996, and in 2001 started Robin Chell Design.
Contact: 3417 NW 68th St. Seattle; (206) 760-0849, robinchelldesign.com

Robin Chell doesn’t much care for embellishments or gimmicks. That’s why she’s happy to see how far design has come since the embellished, gimmick-filled days of the early ’90s. “It has grown up a lot, become more simple,” she says. “And it’s going to change radically with technology; we’ll be forced to become more environmentally aware, to find new uses for existing materials.”

Robin’s vision for the future of design includes a move toward more simplicity: “Growing sophistication [within design] has combined with an awareness of the environment to create a new interest in simplicity,” she says. “We’ve become a lot more confident about simplicity being beautiful and realizing how much simplicity equals serenity.”

“The structure and function of buildings and furniture will be appreciated for themselves,” Chell predicts. “We will move away from the slick and ostentatious to softer, warmer environments of natural and honest materials that harmonize with our evolving lifestyles.”

She foresees a greener future: “Interior design and architecture will continue moving toward smarter and [greener] techniques, such as passive solar, new materials, green roofs and alternatives to lawns.” Chell says homeowners have become more open to the use of unconventional and rediscovered materials such as concrete, composites, recycled materials, and green materials from sustainable resources. “We are becoming more aware of not only sophisticated international design sources, but also our responsibility of using our share of the world’s resources. We are more aware of waste and where it goes.”

Designer: Nancy Burfiend
Background: A member of ASID and IIDA, Nancy started her firm, NB Design Group, in 1988.
Contact: 1932 First Ave., Seattle; (206) 441-7754, nbdesigngroup.net
Interior designer Nancy Burfiend has experienced nearly two decades of Seattle design. “It’s not all about wood here, as many think,” she says. “Most people here want to live in something that’s not so predictably ‘Northwest.’ Thanks to the technology and medical research boom, however, in the last 10 years Seattle has attracted people from all over the world, contributing to a more worldly sense of design.

Her thoughts on the future of design? “Clients are demanding a more sophisticated style than ever before,” she says. “And with the urbanization of downtown, it’s bound to get even better.”

Shop Talk

What’s new in Seattle-area retail

Story by Stacy Williams

Endless Possibilities

When redesigning a room, where is the best place to begin? “A lot of people start with the rug,” explains Monica Koreski. “Many times we help people find companion pieces—they come in with a picture of an existing rug and want a new rug to go with it.”

Koreski is the showroom representative for Endless Knot, a boutique that recently opened inside the Studio G11 (studiog11.com) showroom at the Seattle Design Center.

With more than 100 designs in a wide selection of colors, Endless Knot has rugs to please any style palette. Each is hand-woven, employing a centuries-old weaving technique and using original designs from contemporary artists throughout the country. Feeling creative? If a client wants something unique, Endless Knot’s state-of-the-art design-studio program will create a rug based on color, pattern and size specifications. For a medium-to-large rug, the process takes about three months.

What Koreski sees with her Seattle clients are “elegant and simple designs,” such as designer Susan Eslick’s Parkside Capri rug, which she says is very popular for its use of tone-on-tone color—another design aesthetic that is favored by Seattleites. “I think it is a part of the minimalist lifestyle people have here,” Korseki says.

Branch Out at LIMN

When LIMN (an old English verb meaning to draw or illuminate) first opened in San Francisco 25 years ago, the weekends brought hoards of curious onlookers wanting to wander the 44,000-square-foot colossus of modern design. But a high-end showroom with a bazaar-like atmosphere was not what creator Dan Friedlander wanted for his customers who were serious about a carefully crafted modern aesthetic. So LIMN closed its doors to the public, allowing only design professionals access to its more than 1,200 international furniture manufacturers and an art gallery with its own curator.

What San Francisco shoppers can’t have, Seattleites now can. On November 9, Friedlander opened LIMN (limn.com) at 629 Western Ave—and walk-ins are encouraged any time. Designers will have the showroom’s celebrated lines—including Armani Casa, Ceccotti, MDF Italia—and an exclusive LIMN rug collection at their fingertips. The 9,000-square-foot space will also house an art gallery, consistent with the company’s mission: “to be a locus where art and design meet and are discussed.” The showroom will feature small vignettes that mix brands to give it “more of a lifestyle feel,” says Eric Fassett, Seattle store manager.

Wrap it Up

Scrapbooking mavens looking for countless colors of plain paper or dozens of decorative scissors should not look for them at Swee Swee Paperie (sweesweepaperie.com) in West Seattle. Owner Ann Conway takes the work out of DIY by choosing the best paper products for those who crave the exceptional when it comes to their creative needs.
Featuring designers such as Russell + Hazel, Luna Lux, Paper + Cup and Herman Yu, Swee Swee is enticing paper aficionados from all corners of the city.

Do-it-yourselfers can, however, take advantage of the store’s gift-wrapping service, in which clients collaborate with the store’s assistants in choosing among the plethora of wrapping accoutrements and then put it all together for the final presentation.

“The beauty in the wrap should be as enticing as what is inside the package,” Conway explains. “We like to make each item unique by adding that extra detail to make it special for someone to give as well as to receive.”

Expect to see a lot of rich colors and textures in the wrapping, such as velvet and chiffon in the store’s signature hues of brown with various shades of pink and plum.

In addition, Conway offers a corporate gifting service through which she will find and assemble baskets of goodies according to a client’s wishes. Her goal is to “put a contemporary spin on a traditional thank-you,” so don’t anticipate plain fruit and nuts. With this triumvirate of paper, wrapping and gift-giving services, Swee Swee Paperie (4218 SW Alaska, 206-937-7933) is a paper person’s paradise.

All Aflutter

Thoughts of spring set our hearts, well, aflutter, which is why we love these bird-inspired accents for your décor.

Story by Allison Lind and Jacqueline Jensen Ryan

Sweet Sounds

Bird Doorbell by Flopping Fish, $45.

Branching Out

Faux Bois table lamp by Oly Studio, $600 at Maison Luxe, 1123 First Ave.; (206) 405-2828.

A Bird in the Hand

Sparrow vase by Shine, available to the trade through Studio G11, Seattle Design Center, Plaza Suite 366; (206) 973-4473.

Five of the Flock

Tree Crow Image on Canvas by Marshall Miller, $70 through Retrofit Home, 1419 12th Ave.

Fly Away

Cyan Design’s Egret and Sandpiper sculptures, $59–$79 through Simplicity Décor, 126 Park Ln, Kirkland; (425) 803-0386.

Treasure Chest

Bombe Chest from the Hidden Treasure Group by Hammary, $1229 through Designer Furniture Galleries, 5701 6th Ave. S., Suite 238; (206) 764-9222.

March of the Pillow

Leather penguin from Salvor’s Fauna Pillow Collection, $240 through Velocity Art & Design, 2118 2nd Ave., (206) 781-9494.


Bird Cabinet Knob from Anthropologie, $8, 2520 University Village, (206) 985-2101.

Garden Planner

Get your hands dirty at a delightful array of gardening seminars, classes and events.


Garden Planner

June 2-3

Puget Sound gardeners will not want to miss Emery’s Garden’s workshop “Groundcover Weekend,” covering the versatility and durability of ground cover plants. Admission is free. Details: (425) 743-4555.

June 7-10

Learn how to apply permaculture—a system of agriculture that focuses on creating sustainable and natural environments—to the urban garden with Seattle Tilth’s “Creating Garden Harmony: A Permaculture Worshop for the Urban Dweller.” Tickets are $12. Details: (206) 633-0451.

June 9

Introducing more than 150 roses bred to combine the fragrance and forms of Old-World heirloom roses with the wide color range and repeat bloom of modern hybrids, the “English Roses for Northwest Gardens” seminar, presented by Sky Nursery, provides care tips and technical advice on rose selection. Admission is free. Details: (206) 546-4851.

June 10

Be inspired to create a small-space garden that changes with the seasons and delights the eye at Swanson’s Nursery’s garden-design workshop. Admission is free. Details: (206) 782-2543.

June 13

Combine clever planting with space and proportion in “Making the Modern Garden,” presented by the Northwest Horticulture Society. The class provides an overview of the best modern and minimalist gardens and their inspirations. Tickets are $10. Details: (206) 780-8172.

June 16

PlantAmnesty presents a fruit tree-pruning workshop. Sign up for a morning of instruction and an afternoon of live fruit tree-pruning demonstrations in small groups. Tickets are $25-$30. Details: (206) 783-9813.

June 17

At Dig Nursery’s workshop on aquatic beauties, learn about the most indispensable element in the garden: water. Admission is free. Details: (206) 463-5096.

June 19

Learn how to harvest year-round with Washington State University Snohomish County Extension’s kitchen garden class. The workshop provides helpful tips, harvest hints and different varieties of vegetables to plant during the summer for fall, winter and early spring harvests. Tickets are $35. Details: (425) 338-2400.

June 27

Conserve water in the garden with helpful tips on irrigation systems, soil, plants and compost. “Water Saving in the Garden” is presented by the Center for Urban Horticulture. Tickets are $30. Details: (206) 543-8616.

Under the Northwest Sun

0906_garden2With shades of gold and the fragrance of rosemary, a Bellevue garden is infused with the flavor of Tuscany

Written by Debra Prinzing
Photograph by Andrew Drake

After falling in love with Italy’s sun-drenched countryside, a Bellevue couple imported the character of old-world Europe to their walled garden at home, imbuing it with sounds of water, the warmth of stone and a vivid plant palette.

“We’ve traveled to warmer Italian climates, and I love the color there,” says the wife, an avid gardener who worked closely with her design team, including architect Robert Maloney and garden designer Kris Sargent.

The homeowner wanted the best of Mediterranean-style architecture and traditional European courtyard styles, yet she recognized the need to adapt the Tuscan design for a Northwest backdrop of tall firs and cedars, frequently gray skies and wet winters.

“She wanted an authentic Tuscan estate that felt like it had always been there, and yet it needed to blend into an established Northwest neighborhood,” says Distinctive Gardens landscape designer Kris Sargent, now of Heritage Landscapes Northwest.

The ambitious renovation involved completely reconstructing the 1960s suburban home and garden, and gave the empty-nester owners a new, one-story residence that reflects the Tuscany they love. The facade of the new home and garden walls is fabricated in stucco-covered concrete, an Italian-style construction technique. Stained a warm golden shade, the house contrasts beautifully with twice-baked clay roof tiles from France. The walls are finished in a dark cantaloupe pigment.

0906_garden1Architect Bob Maloney and Sargent located the new house closer to the property’s north boundary to allow more space for a south-facing garden. A 10-foot-high perimeter wall extends from the south wall of the house and forms the sunny courtyard. “We moved the wall away from the property line so we could go higher,” Maloney explains. “We also lowered the grade inside the walls by 18 inches—this makes the walls feel taller inside, but doesn’t give them a looming feeling outside.”

Generous in scale, the courtyard is divided by north-south and east-west axes of paths that join perennial-and-herb beds, a raised fountain and the dining pavilion. At the center is a 9-foot circular parterre, designed by Sargent with a tapestry of elfin thyme and blue star creeper. Crushed stone encircles the medallion, and contrasting bands of colored glass accent the design.

Flanking the central path is a pair of 16-foot evergreen magnolias that command attention in a space otherwise home to low-growing edibles, herbs and ornaments. Observed from indoors, the magnolias frame an elevated pool built into the garden’s south wall. Sargent wanted the dripping wall fountain to be beautiful in its simplicity and function alike. “It is reminiscent of something you’d see in a courtyard as the family water source in ancient times,” she explains.

Year-round, the palette explodes with jewel-toned foliage. Gold, ruby and silver-leafed trees, shrubs and perennials ensure color in every season. Sargent planted vibrant trees outside the wall’s perimeter to draw the eye beyond the interior view, adding depth and dimension to the scene. Gold-leafed honey locust (Gleditsia triancanthos ‘Sunburst’) and eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’) weave a curtain of plum and chartreuse foliage against the evergreen backdrop of trees growing in a greenbelt at the garden’s south boundary. “The client said, ‘Give me color and make it bright,’ so we used a lot of dark and light foliage,” Sargent says. “This garden gives her a ‘color binge’ year-round.”

Design Details


Robert Maloney Architects, (206) 623-8290, ramarchitects.com

General Contractor

Schultz Miller Inc., (206) 281-1234, schultzmiller.com

Landscape Design

Kris Sargent, Heritage Landscapes Northwest, (425) 864-3135, heritagelandscapesnw.com

Winners in Woodinville

Our Gardens We Love contest winners wowed us with Northwest perennials.

Nick and Kathryn Highland took advantage of their multi-level yard by creating two unique relaxation spots unified by flagstone steps and an abundance of vibrant flowers and trees. And the result made them the winners of Seattle Homes & Lifestyles’ first-ever Gardens We Love contest.

The arbor has a soothing fountain and a reflecting mirror, and is accessible by a walkway lined with huckleberry-stone walls. A glass conservatory provides a cool oasis for the homeowners in summer and a haven for delicate plants in winter. Amongst the full-bodied greenery are bright and varied punctuations of color: dahlias, hydrangeas, peonies and foxglove. The Highlands’ landscape has the charm of a cottage garden and the simple elegance of nature.

Take Five

Fresh design ideas and plant trends at the 2007 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

Written by Debra Prinzing
Photograph by Robin Bachtler Cushman

The 19th annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show, themed “The Living Room,” inspired Seattle homeowners to move outdoors with all aspects of their lives. No garden better demonstrated the interior-exterior design connection than Washington State Nursery & Landscape Association’s “Suburban Swank with a Twist,” recipient of Seattle Homes & Lifestyles’ “First in Residential Garden Design Award.”

We singled out designers Colleen Miko and Phyllis Warman for creating a contemporary landscape that blends the best of midcentury modern architecture with an updated palette of plants and materials. The designers, who will wage friendly competition against each other on an upcoming episode of HGTV’s Landscaper’s Challenge, collaborated on a vibrant reinterpretation of a retro patio and garden.

Miko and Warman were drawn to the casual dining patio that dominates so many backyards of 1940s, ’50s and ’60s architecture. “We wanted to combine retro and modern and make it doable for the 21st century,” Warman says.

Circular forms—in round pots, a curved stone sculpture, circles of colored glass, were a highlight, along with citrus plants in shades of lime, orange and yellow. Cool metal finishes served as a counterpoint to the designers’ hot plant scheme, a unifying device in the landscape. “The inclusion of modern materials in the garden follows the logic of midcentury architecture, which took risks and came up with a really innovative style for the time,” Miko explains.

Innovative in design and impeccable in execution, “Suburban Swank with a Twist” takes an ordinary backyard and infuses it with zest. In scale, material and plantings, it has a fresh attitude we love.

Other great ideas to spring from the show:

1. Contemporary design elements enliven outdoor spaces
Make your garden refreshingly modern with circular and rectilinear shapes, industrial materials and an upbeat plant palette that relies on year-round foliage-interest.

2. Global meets local
Experiment with plants from both hemispheres—and infuse your landscape with a global language of plants. The spectrum is dazzling, from cool-needled conifers to cycads and pindo palms.

  1. Garden shelters set the stage
    Structures and shelters lure social endeavors outdoors. Designers are using everything from metal to wood to fashion gazebos, pavilions and arbors. We loved the “Mojito” garden’s five-post pavilion and NW Bloom’s “Holistic Retreat,” with its sanctuary-shelter, outdoor fireplace and oversized furnishings.
  2. Groundcovers carpet the garden “floor”
    Plant the anti-lawn, adding color, texture and bloom to your garden. Color blocks create a carpet of drama and jazz up space where ordinary turf once grew.
  3. Water remains the essential element
    Hydrate your garden with H20. We spotted water in every one of this year’s 23 displays, from the Washington Park Arboretum’s “Front-Porch Friendly” rain chains and WSNLA’s “Suburban Swank” bubbling stone orb to Aw Pottery’s “Caravanserai” table-high reflecting pool.

Founder’s Cup Winner

The pure fantasy of Fancy Fronds Nursery’s “Beast in the Garden: Marginal Madness,” a jungle-inspired tribute to the al fresco habitat, captured the imaginations of four judges who gave it the best-in-show Founder’s Cup award at the 2007 Northwest Flower & Garden Show.

Designed by Judith I. Jones and Vanca Lumsden, the lavish garden tempted judges and showgoers alike with its Oaxaca-themed use of lusty birds-of-paradise, intense-orange flowering clivias and exotic tree ferns.

For the full text of this article, see the April 2007 issue of Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, on newsstands now.

Take Two

0506_taketwoReal estate experts offer tips for the growing number of people who are investing in second homes

Written by Michelle Feder
Photograph courtesy Kevin M. Knudson

Buying a second home was once the province of the wealthy, but it’s become less exclusive in the past 20 years. With baby boomers fueling the trend, the number of second homes–both vacation homes and investment properties–has more than doubled, according to research conducted by Windermere Real Estate.

More affordable than ever

“There are so many people right now who can afford it,” says Windermere president Jill Jacobi Wood. She credits the trend in this region to real estate appreciation. As homeowners’ equity in their primary residences increases, many choose to refinance, borrowing against the first home to buy the second. “A lot of people are buying second homes on interest-only loans because, in destination areas, the appreciation is so great as well,” Jacobi Wood notes.

Vacation homes as investments

Some second-home buyers use vacation homes as investments; in a 2006 survey, Windermere found that 27 percent of responding Puget Sound homeowners who own a vacation home rent it out when they’re not using it. About 36 percent were considering a move to their vacation home when they retire.

Second homes

Another new development in vacation-home ownership is the number of people who telecommute from their second homes. People who work from their getaways are looking for good cell-phone reception and Internet access. Technology allows time-crunched people to leave on a Friday morning for a weekend of skiing or golfing?and work.

Seeking R&R

Terry Allen, a Realtor specializing in luxury properties for Coldwell Banker Bain, says his second-home clients are primarily seeking R&R, and he’s seeing a trend toward places that are family friendly, with a small-town feel and plentiful year-round activities. “Lake Chelan is the hot spot for Seattleites,” he says. “It is easy to get to, and property values have doubled in the last two years.”

To read the rest of the article, pick up a copy of the May issue of Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, on newsstands now.

Time to Party

A dark, secluded kitchen got the makeover it needed to get the party started.

By Allison Lind
Photography by Rachel Olsson

0506_timetopartyTHE CHALLENGE:

Mitchell Chapman and Russell Powell love hosting dinner parties, but the kitchen of their early-1900s cottage-style home was no place for guests to congregate. With outdated décor and walls that cut it off from the rest of the house, this kitchen needed to refresh its wardrobe, open up and join the party.



Dick Pope from Creative Kitchen & Bath created a flowing entertaining space by removing the wall that separated kitchen and dining room. In its place, a new counter makes a distinction between cooking and dining spaces but allows the room to be open and inviting. A bar on the dining-room side provides additional seating. Cabinets of zebrawood (an environmentally friendly veneer made from African trees) make a bold design statement. Other finishes, such as the soft-green granite counters and coppery-brown wall paint, warmly complement the wood and echo the colors of a magnolia tree outside the kitchen window.

Design Details

Interior Designer:
Dick Pope, Creative Kitchen & Bath
(425) 672-3313,

Contractors: Creative Kitchen & Bath


New, larger windows start lower on the walls, bringing in more light and offering a better view out.

The polished granite counter tops reflect more light into the room, even in winter.

Linoleum was traded for warm-hued hardwood flooring, used throughout for continuity.

Do you have a Room for Improvement?

Send before-and-after shots, along with SASE, to Room for Improvement, Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, 1221 E. Pike St., Suite 305, Seattle, WA 98122.

Room for Improvement

Written by Emily Wermel
Photograph by Robert Weyrick/Perspective Image

The Challenge:

Recently relocated from Switzerland, the owners of a 1925 Laurelhurst home wanted to rejuvenate and expand their small, dark master bathroom into a European oasis, functional for everyday use. They asked designer Holly Van Biene to transform the cramped, awkward space into a sleek, spacious-feeling, spa-like retreat–without taking away from the master bedroom or adding onto the home.

The Solution:

The homeowners had a passion for European contemporary style, Van Biene says, “They set me free to incorporate today’s most forward design components within a traditional shell.” To open up the space, Van Biene removed a wall between the bathroom and dressing area and moved the vanity to the adjacent wall, allowing the shower to expand outward and upward to the recently raised full-height ceiling. A Dornbracht wall faucet sits at a comfortable height above the honed-limestone counter top and vessel sink. Cherry cabinetry and aqua-colored walls contrast nicely with the dark porcelain and spa-glass tiles that cover the shower wall. Clear glass panels enclose the shower but retain the open feel of the space and allow for plenty of natural light. The “stick” geometry in the tile layout is repeated in the shower system, custom-cherry cabinet faces and sconces.