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Designing in the Pacific Northwest – The Basics

  |  Homecare & Lifestyle

The Pacific Northwest’s unique design aesthetic has certainly been getting a lot of attention across the country over the last few years. Our special mix of contemporary forms, rustic textures, reclaimed wood, and geometric shapes come together in a refreshing new way that’s getting a lot of well-deserved praise.

But what exactly makes a Pacific Northwest design?

Well as we see it, there are two general camps, and while each has wonderful sub-genres, for now we’ll stick to the overarching categories: chic and rustic. Anyone looking to incorporate more Pacific Northwest in to their home, whether you consider yourself a designer or not, should read on for some inspiration.

Paint Swatches First stop – color. When picking a color that’s unmistakably Pacific Northwest, you should think in variations of gray and white primarily, with cool, dark accent colors. Any bright or vibrant colors can certainly fit in, but should be kept isolated by a more neutral color. You’re shooting for something that’s minimal and calm. When selecting your color palate, you can lean more towards whites for the chic look, or more towards the greys, blended with reclaimed woods for a more rustic look. Which leads us into our next local design subject quite nicely: exposed wood grain

It’s no surprise that a culture surrounded by Douglas Firs and Ponderosa Pines found such wonderful ways to design with wood, and since it’s such a huge part of Pacific Northwest mentality to be ecologically minded, it’s a good thing there are so many beautiful options when it comes to reclaimed wood. Check out Bring Recycling for a huge list of local reclaimed wood providers.

Exposed wood grain is a beautiful option no matter whether you’re looking for a chic or rustic design – the difference is in how you stain it and the type of wood you select. For a rustic look, choose a richer warm colored wood like a stained Douglas Fir, Walnut, or Teak. The less polished it is, the more rustic your look. For the chic feel, consider lighter colored Ash wood or even bamboo. The bonus with using bamboo is that it resists water stains, so you can know that it’ll last for a long time.

These woods can be used as simple slabs for a table or mounted to a wall for shelving, but one of the more modern trends that we love is to use boards placed horizontally on a wall as cladding. Consider selecting a wood type that can be used both as a flooring and a wall cladding to create surprising surface continuations sure to please the eye. For an example of what we’re talking about, check out this Hasson blog post.

Our last recommendation for creating a truly modern Pacific Northwest interior is about how you light your space. Mid-century modern lighting and geometric wireframe lamps, used with Edison style light-bulbs, are the perfect way to keep your beautifully done Pacific Northwest style shining into the evening.

Of course there are many more styles we could go into, each with their own gamut of design elements (subway tiles, anyone?) and unlimited ways to make the chic and rustic looks your own, but we hope this has been enough to get you started on your serene, local style home!

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About the Author

Melissa Peterson, Director of Agent Services and Technology

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