The Making of a Show Home


Behind the Scenes at the Northwest Idea House: An Interview with the Project Architect and Interior Designer

They serve as places of inspiration for builders, homeowners, architects and designers alike – a tourable, touchable magazine spread to gather ideas and see in full-size accuracy how that roof will look or that kitchen layout will function. It’s also a huge high-profile endeavor with a lot of moving pieces. So what exactly goes into building a showcase house?

We talked to the interior designer and architect behind the Northwest Idea House in Lakewood, Washington, a spacious 4,000-square-foot, two-story home, to get a better understanding of their inspiration and preparation behind the project.

First a little about the Northwest Idea House project:

South Sound Magazine Northwest Idea house - american modern farmhouse

A modern take on the great American farmhouse, the idea house manages to be open and airy and at the same time comfortable and cozy.

The house itself is a modern interpretation of the great American farmhouse. It features a beautiful open concept design that manages to be unrestricted and airy and at the same time comfortable and cozy. It’s full of smart solutions, new products, and the most modern of conveniences.

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But at its core, the Northwest Idea House, is a family home, designed for a local family who will at the end of this project call it home.

“Long before the start of this project, the homeowners had a clear idea of what they envisioned and had dreamed about for the outcome of their custom home,” said Stefanie Brooks, owner of Stefanie Brooks Interior Design in Tacoma, Washington said in an interview with South Sound Magazine, the publication behind the creation of the showcase home.

We reached out to Brooks and project architect Darren Dickerson of Coyote Design to get their perspective on the home.

Now, let’s see how this family home came to be:

Trends and basics

South Sound Magazine Northwest Idea house - american modern farmhouse kitchen

Multiple dishwashers and large kitchen islands continue to top kitchen wish lists.

Q. What are some of the more interesting trends you are seeing in home design? Did you use any of these in your final design?

Brooks: Painted cabinetry, encaustic patterned tiles, black hardware for cabinetry and doors, lighter toned wood flooring are just a few things that seem to be trending. And yes, we used all of these elements in the Northwest Idea House project.

Dickerson: A lot of clients are looking at a more modern aesthetic however, they still want a mudroom (the Idea House has a generous one), a large kitchen island and two dishwashers. Also more clients are planning for the long term with aging in place options including wider doorways, wider hallways and bathrooms that can adapt to future special needs.

When dealing with areas for high moisture make sure you protect your walls with a smart vapor retarder and moisture-resistant drywall.

Q: Speaking of a modern aesthetic, what does the term “Modern Farmhouse” mean to you?

Dickerson: The American Farmhouse is a timeless classic, modern or not. It is a house for a family. It has an appropriately pitched gable roof and proportional windows. It is symmetric without being boring, and offers a certain level of sophistication without being stuffy.

Brooks: The “modern” farmhouse combines the sleek clean lines of contemporary design with the cozy farmhouse aesthetic to create a uniquely fresh take on the country living-inspired style. Modern farmhouse style is known for its simplicity and light and airy look, characterized by natural textures and materials like wood, shiplap, metal and layers of crisp white.

Outdoor living

South Sound Magazine Northwest Idea house - american modern farmhouse fence

A semi-private fence adds definition and privacy to the outdoor space.

Q: What went into recreating this aesthetic both on the home’s exterior and interior?

Dickerson: [In the architectural design] we used the gables as a recurring element front and back. While there is some symmetry it’s not static and there are elements like the front porch to help break some of it up.

Brooks: We then repeated materials and color, to create a cohesive feel throughout the home’s exterior and interior.

Q: Considering it is a relatively small lot for the size of the home, what was the goal for the outdoor spaces?

Dickerson: As the house commands the site there is still ample room for landscaping and outdoor spaces that are generous. The outdoor kitchen will become a focal point lessening the impact of the neighbor’s close proximity.

Brooks: With this backyard you really get a taste of it all – from the outdoor kitchen complete with heaters to the custom concrete fire bowl, the garden boxes, hot tub and much more.

Q: What was your color palette for the home?

Brooks: We used a very monochromatic palette with lots of white, various shades of gray, black and hints of blue.


South Sound Magazine Northwest Idea house - american modern farmhouse entryway

“I love the entry. The open airy ceiling with the staggered pendant lights hanging,” says Brooks.

Q: What is your favorite part of the final home?

Brooks: Of course I want to say the kitchen, however, I love the entry. The open airy ceiling with the staggered pendant lights hanging, the custom metal handrail and the bright white shiplapped walls. It has a good feeling when you enter.

Dickerson: I like how the home commands the site without crowding it or feeling like it was shoehorned in.

Making the look your own

South Sound Magazine Northwest Idea house - american modern farmhouse game room

What would you do to make a home your own?

Q: What do you think homeowners will find most exciting about this house?

Brooks: I think they will LOVE the fresh feel of the simplicity in materials, color and overall floor plan.

Dickerson: I think they will love that it looks and feels sophisticated and casual and comfortable at the same time.

Q: What advice would you give a homeowner of a recently built house staring at all those blank walls?

Brooks: Decide your budget for artwork and discover how important it is to you. Some spend thousands on an individual piece, while others just want filler and inexpensive pieces. Collect art and things from your travels and always incorporate family photos in a designated area.

Dickerson: Don’t be afraid of the impact of color (you can always repaint) or experiment the creative use of shiplap and other wall coverings.

CertainTeed is proud to have several products featured in this year’s Northwest Idea House:

South Sound Magazine Northwest Idea house - american modern farmhouse fence

Breezewood Select Cedar Texture in Arctic Blend

Featured Products:

Want to see more of the Northwest Idea House? Take a tour.

Plus, Insulate from the Outside In.

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