You must know these Five Distinct Design Features from the Pacific Northwest

I am a few days into our annual pilgrimage home to Seattle and we have had so much fun already!

Being back home sure makes me reminisce about my roots.

My design sensibility is definitely influenced by my childhood in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Green trees, rugged mountains, blue lakes and the ocean provide a layered landscape and nature’s best textures and patterns which got me thinking, are there distinct design features that define the Pacific Northwest?

Mid Century Modern

It is no surprise that my love for all things Mid Century Modern stems from my dad’s architecture influence and living in the PNW.

Image Credit: Ralph Anderson House|

When I was young, we would spend the weekends driving far away from the city and into the deep forest in search of the perfect A Frame. My parents loved looking for houses in off the beaten path locations. That was and still is one item on my dad’s design bucket list.

I secretly hope we find one soon because we could design it together. Wouldn’t that just be so special?

As you can see, mid century modern design’s clean lines and use of leather and wood in furniture effortlessly blends into the PNW scene.

Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Design

I am also very proud that the Pacific Northwest has long been a leader in sustainable design. Utilizing local resources and materials not only gives it a signature look but is also environmentally sound.

Image Credit: Aaron Leitz

Not only is it incredibly energy efficient, the home features salvaged Ash woodwork from a site harvested tree, zero VOC finishes, a heat recovery ventilator and more.

Additionally, this beautiful home is built on an in-fill city lot that measures just about 2,000 SF.

This definitely motivates me to add in more and more sustainable features in my designs too!

It’s a good feeling when you’re not only making a beautiful home but maintaining a beautiful environment as well.

Bringing Nature In

It’s no surprise that in Pacific Northwest design the natural elements of wood, metal and stone are prevalent.

Image Credit: Jeremy Bitterman

Nestled in a uninhabited area full of lush greenery and water, it transcends the epitome of PNW design.If this doesn’t encapsulate what I have been writing about so far then I don’t know what does!

Mid century clean lines and furniture, warm wood tones, wide open floor to ceiling views of the ocean and mountains framed by black metal windows.

As if this cabin couldn’t get any better. Take a look at how the wilderness is literally drawn into the master bath.

Can you even imagine waking up to this view every morning?

As much as I love the Desert. A cabin in the woods be nothing to complain about!

Layer in Northwest Patterns and Textures

Due to the prominent Native American history in the PNW, the designs are utilized into rich patterns like the ones you see in Pendleton blankets.

Image Credit: Urban Outfitters

Image Credit: Pendleton USA

A dose of Industrial Vibes

Last but not least, adding in a bit of Industrial aesthetics is a signature look as well.

Image Credit: Contemporist

Here you can easily translate all the hard elements such as concrete floors, brick and black iron metal framing and stairs with the warmth of scandinavian wood and design.

I might add that long before grey was the new neutral, this was a wonderful paint color often used in PNW homes.

Isn’t it interesting how a cool color like gray mixed in with a warm wood element actually cozies up a room?

A very minimalist accent yet not sterile at all!

Well, as I finish up writing this post we are getting ready for some lovely sights at the Pike Place Market!

There are many great lofts there so it seems fitting that I end this post with the latter.

Hope you are having a great holiday week and can’t wait to share more design inspirations on my trip!

Happy day!

Leave a Comment


  1. Sukhi wrote:

    This post is so timely for me. The other day I was thinking about the PNW and how I would classify their style of design. The only thing I could think of was eco-friendly and sustainable but I knew there was so much more. This is it! Thank you!

    Posted 7.16.18 Reply
  2. Oh Susannah! wrote:

    Be still my beating heart! I dream of a home where inside and outside blur together with natural materials to form the perfect sanctuary. Coming from Frank Lloyd Wright’s beloved rolling hills of Wisconsin, I see the influence of his Taliesin and that of Philip Johnson’s Glass House in these photos. My heart yearns for that serenity. Thank you for sharing, Anita.

    Posted 7.12.19 Reply
    • Anita Yokota wrote:

      Thank you Susannah! I love how you shared where you were design influenced. Makes me happy that we get to share these details with each other!

      Posted 7.14.19 Reply