These 3 Seattle homes boldly express personality and creativity through color
AND NOW, A meditative moment. Visualize yourself outdoors. For this exercise, let’s picture a lush Pacific Northwest forest. Tree after tree after tree, layers of textures and patterns and depth, a cushion of soft moss and curling leaves and optimistic seedlings. So much green — every green, ever green — an effortless togetherness of colors and untamed randomness, all showered in just enough nourishing sunshine to survive and thrive. And inspire.
It is peaceful. It is soothing. It is soul-filling.
It is not discordant in the least. We are relaxing. We are breathing deeply and repeating restful forest affirmations, and there is no place anywhere in this calming meditative moment for judgmental conflicting-color disgust: “OhmyGAWD! I would NEVER pair that fern with that conifer!”
That’s because the forest knows. So do design gurus.
“You look out into nature, and you see many different shades of green, and none of them clash with anything else around it,” says interior designer Amy May of Artala Designs.
Even in dreamy visualization mode, you can see what she means.
It’s time now to open our eyes and realize: Those old tried and tired tropes — about embracing resale beige at the expense of your own expression, about avoiding big displays of bold colors, about colors and patterns that don’t “work” together — are just not natural.
“I’m not a rule follower or a trend follower,” says May. “I feel like rules are limiting. Design is all about creativity — creativity that’s also functional and livable.”
Colors and patterns and textures of all kinds coexist harmoniously in the forest. Wait till you see the imaginative magic that arises when we mindfully welcome them inside.
THERE IS NO HIDING the delightful pink surprise that is the Beacon Hill home of Jim Harris and Carlos Garcia. There are as many shades of pink here as there are greens in our meditative forest — but these colors are found in nature only in an exuberant Barbie-scape, or in one inspiring magnolia.
Architect Ian Butcher of Best Practice Architecture calls this home Pretty in Pink. It is extremely both.
Harris and Garcia’s confetti-spirited Craftsman home is more than 100 years old. For at least the past few decades, Harris says, it had white exterior paint with “dusty rose” trim, plus a dark 1960s-era kitchen and a dangerously dilapidated covered sunroom over the driveway.
Best Practice is big on color (and not a bit interested in constrictive color rules or faddish trends), and Butcher, Harris and Garcia already knew and trusted each other, so Butcher wasn’t worried at all that the couple would ditch the pink as they woke up that tired kitchen and built a family room addition in place of the sunroom.
They like pink. And they value the history of the house, whose neighborhood character had been “the white and pink house on the corner,” Garcia says. But they didn’t want to keep that pink. Or some pink. They wanted more. Bolder. Pinker.
“When Best Practice came back to us for some color, they came back with something that was a little bit brighter,” Harris says. “But Carlos and I said to them, ‘Let’s take this further up a notch,’ a real push for a brighter pink, something that would really pop.”
You maybe can sense this pop from the depths of our soothing forest.
Outside, brightness vibrates on the new addition — the whole new addition — in multitoned pink shingles that took a village to pull off: They’re about 80% primary pink, Butcher says, accented with other pinkish shades chosen by Harris and Garcia. Butcher marked the individual accent shingles on the addition himself, with blue and green masking tape, from the steps of a ladder held by Harris. The general contractor handled the primary paint, and another painter polished off the other colors.
The old dusty hue has bitten the dust, replaced with sparkly pink exterior eaves against crisp new white paint. So much elevated bright pink, says Harris, “It’s like the house is wearing a fascinator.”
And just often enough, back at ground level, nature once again performs her special nature-y color-coordination magic.
“We have this big magnolia tree in the front of the house,” Garcia says. “And at the beginning of spring, it is just an explosion of white and pink. It’s phenomenal. And I love that it’s now like the house is based on that magnolia.”
Pink does not stay outside at the pink and white house. It waltzes right indoors, and right to the shiny refreshed kitchen and new family room, where it meets its dazzling friend teal.
“This is something we call a color dip,” Butcher says: pink on the floors, white in the middle, teal up top. “We think it’s really powerful and interesting and represents Jim and Carlos’ personalities with fun colors.”
Gray flooring and cabinets came up as an option at one point. Not for long.
“I was thinking, eight months out of the year, Seattle is gray,” says Harris. “And I just wanted to walk into a kitchen where I could just feel warmth and joy and brightness, even in the dead of winter. One night, Carlos and I went through all of Marmoleum’s website, and then we narrowed it down to, like, three, and then we narrowed them down to two, and we showed them to Ian, and we all settled on pink. They were excited. They kept asking us: ‘Now, are you sure you want this pink floor?’ ”
And now the neighborhood has embraced Pretty in Pink like Harris and Garcia embrace vivid brilliance.
“People have stopped us, and they’re like, ‘Oh, my God. I love what you did. It just feels so fun, and it’s so happy.’ ”
Which is the whole point of going bold and going home.
“My thing is, don’t be afraid of color, especially in Seattle,” says Harris. “Go with your heart, and do what you do, and work with someone who you really enjoy working with who can help you through what you want.”