Redecorating your home can be exciting to start, but can quickly become overwhelming. With so many options for throw pillows, paint colors, and furniture textures, it’s easy to get lost in the abyss of home decor. To lend a helping hand, we bring the experts to you: Four local interior designers who speak to four common design themes. To help prevent blank stares in store aisles, these ladies share their expert opinions on colors, textures, accent pieces, and more. With the tips and tricks you find on the following pages, you’ll be able to create your family’s new happy place in a breeze.

Pacific Northwest


Tanna Edler is the President and CEO of Tanna by Design. She works in the Yakima area and has been featured in the pages of Bellingham Alive many times. You may recognize her work in our March issue, featuring a beautiful kitchen she remodeled for her client. She has won Designer of the Year from the National Interior Society Association several times and was excited to discuss Pacific Northwest design.

“I see a lot of coolness in the gray tones, reflected in the stone you might use or concrete. The coolness of gray can be contrasted with warm tones in wood and natural rust. Shades of brown that emulate nature. Green is the only other color I like to bring into these spaces. It’s all about bringing the outdoors in,” says designer Tanna Edler.

“The fiddle-leaf fig was cool before it was cool. I use that everywhere,” says Edler of what live plants she would use in the space. As for preserved plants? “I would do topiaries, preserved boxwood topiaries.”

Another place to incorporate different textures is in accent pieces. Consider using black iron on the staircase. The material and color give off a rustic feel, while the sleek design looks modern. It also sustains visual integrity, keeping the space open.


“The Pacific Northwest style is sort of doing a mid-century modern thing, with lots of clean lines and wood accents,” says Edler. Look for a sofa or chairs that offer sleek design with a combination of wood and upholstery.

Using multiple fabrics and textures adds layers of design elements. For the Pacific Northwest vibe, Edler suggests combining natural elements, like rattan grass wallpaper, with cozy elements, like a cream- colored cashmere blanket.

Expert Advice: Tanna Edler

“I like this style because it emulates what I like as far as my personal style. I interpret it as organic and natural and try to bring that into homes whether it’s through a product or the feeling of open spaces. Open concept is very Pacific Northwest, with lots of windows. There’s also a bit of an industrial vibe, with raw, unfinished materials and finishes. That’s how I see it,” says Edler.

“Windows are a big thing for me. I’m all about the whole idea of bringing the outdoors in, and the best way to do that is to have that visual,” says Edler. Since we don’t get much natural light throughout most of the year here in Washington, ensuring your lighting and fixtures showcase the outdoors is paramount.

“Glass, I like using a lot of glass in chandeliers. I also like anything that looks organic. Maybe something oversized or made of metal,” says Edler. “I think the perfect fixture for a Pacific Northwest design would be something rough and made of black metal. Something quite modern.”

Contemporary & Industrial


Debra Campbell is an award-winning interior designer with her own firm that serves Whidbey Island, the San Juan Islands, and the greater Seattle area. Speaking to industrial and contemporary designs, Campbell has worked on several projects of this style both on Whidbey Island and in her previous home of California. She currently lives in a contemporary-style home; it’s her favorite.

“Well, what I always say to people and from what I know to be true from living in many contemporary homes myself, is that you really need to soften contemporaries because they can be cold. The materials are typically hard, with steel, glass, wood, and cement. I prefer warmer colors. Especially in the climate here, people like gray. I try to direct people to warmer colors. It counters some of the harshness of the materials, and I think that’s really important,” designer Debra Campbell says. Look for rich, warm shades, such as deep browns and reds. Mustard is also popular in contemporary homes.

“Art is really important as well. Typically, industrial homes have large-scale walls and high ceilings. They’re not boxy like traditional homes. I like large works of art,” Campbell says. The canvas of the art will bring a warmer, cozier feel to the space, while still displaying a more modern aesthetic.

“I like succulents in the home. I like terrariums with different kinds of succulents. I use them outdoors as well. With contemporary landscaping, I like to do grass gardens because it gives movement to the solid structure of the home. I just redid the garden [at
my house] and probably put in 100 different grasses,” Campbell says.

“I really like geometric and tribal patterns for contemporary homes. But I also sometimes, in softening contemporary, will go with more traditional patterns as well. I steer away from leathers and try to go with upholstered goods, such as a soft chenille. Something warm and inviting. I layer the upholstery with rugs. It’s very important to add rugs; it adds an element of softness,” Campbell says.

“I like clean lines,” Campbell says. “Furniture with the waterfall effect doesn’t have any seaming on the skirt, so it has a very clean effect. If the home is near the water, I like wicker as well. There’s some really nice stylized wicker.”

Expert Advice: Debra Campbell

Make sure you have pieces that can change as your personal style changes over time. Think the conversation pits of the ‘70s: not transitional. “If somebody has a traditional home, they can very easily use more traditional style furnishings,” Campbell says. Let your home grow and change the same way you do.

“There’s a phenomenon going on where [my clients] had beautiful furniture or antiques that had been passed down, and I’m telling you, no child wants that stuff. It’s rare that children want the old furniture,” says Campbell. Select pieces for your home that won’t go out of style in 10 years. If you’re hoping to pass it along through the family, make sure it’s something others will actually want. Lean toward simple styles and colors.

Lighting fixtures in an industrial home can go one of two ways: vintage or modern. Old-world style lamps and chandeliers with intricate detailing will complement the simplicity of the rest of the room. Using modern, exposed lighting continues the industrial tone without adding too much design.

Using different finishes and textures enhances and completes the industrial- style look. Many industrial homes have exposed brick walls and metal ductwork. A recent trend incorporates concrete finishing on countertops or coffee tables. A kitchen or dining room table could be made out of warm wood, but have metal exposed legs for a more industrial feel.

Farm House


Jennifer Ryan has owned and operated her own interior design business since 1984. You can see her most recent feature with Bellingham Alive in our March issue, in the pages of the Kitchens and Spaces feature. Ryan says the first thing she asks her clients is, “What’s your favorite color?” and lets the design take off from there. “I love what I do because it always revolves around being creative and artistic,” says Ryan.

“Lots of farmhouse design is pretty neutral in palette. I would opt for lots of grays and whites,” says interior designer Jennifer Ryan. Consider using natural colors, like deep greens, warm creams, and woody browns. You can use other design pieces to add pops of colors.

Opt for oversized, comfy furniture, such as large arm chairs or fluffy sectionals. Farmhouse is more about the softer, cozier side of life, as opposed to the trendy or modern design you might see in more industrial-style homes. For maximum comfort, drape blankets across the back or arms of seating.

“Farmhouse is a lot more texture than color. It’s nice to do dark and light in different textures,” says Ryan. Combine raw wood with finished wood or use galvanized metal design elements. Using patterns such as plaids and polka dots is also traditional for farmhouse-inspired spaces.

Signs made from wood or galvanized metal are all the rage in farmhouse-style homes. Maybe hang one in the kitchen that says “Order Up” or one in a living space that says “Gather ‘Round.” On HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” Joanna Gaines is famous for commissioning her friend Jimmy Don to create personalized signs out of galvanized metal for her clients.

Bushier plants, such as sage bushes and succulents, look good throughout the entire home and provide a complimentary natural green color. “They add a nice softness,” says Ryan. No farmhouse is complete without a garden. If you don’t have access to an outdoor space, consider indoor garden options, such as small potted plants or specialty light bulbs.


Expert Advice: Jennifer Ryan

Shiplap has been all the rage in recent years, most commonly in farmhouse-style designs. Older homes are likely to have shiplap underneath drywall, while newer homes add shiplap as a design element. “Unless it’s a small room, shiplap looks really pretty. You have options of doing white, which is traditional, or people are starting to do it in more of a raw, unfinished style. It’s old wood in gray tones, sometimes there’s burn marks. But the white is the clean, traditional look,” says Ryan.

The farmhouse sink is extremely popular in homes of all design styles. The large basin makes washing dishes easy. While the farmhouse style is more focused on traditional design, using more modern, sleek fixtures on the sink can really work. Ryan also suggests looking at colored granite when considering a farmhouse-style sink. “You aren’t limited to just white or stainless steel,” she says.

Refurbishing old furniture is popular for the rustic look. Refinish a dresser by sanding it down, painting it a new color, and adding new knobs. You can even turn a dresser into almost any other piece of furniture, such as a TV stand, wine rack, or bathroom counter.

Coastal Beach

Pacific Northwest beaches are quite unique compared to other beaches across the globe. Here, we might see more deep greens, rich blues, and whites and grays reminiscent of driftwood. Even the sand is a deeper brown here, not quite as bright and sparkly as it would be somewhere tropical.

Wicker isn’t exclusive to patios; you can also incorporate it in small doses indoors. To add a touch of nature, use a wicker chair to contrast a larger sofa. Tie all your pieces together by using upholstery in the same neutral colors and adding pops of color with throw pillows and blankets.

Washington beaches boast a lot of wood. Whether it’s driftwood, logs, or tall trees, incorporating wood accents in your home will create a beachy vibe. Use lighter shades, like light browns, whites, and grays, to feel more coastal and less forest-y. You can use driftwood for DIY projects like picture frames, jewelry displays, and candle holders.

Think beyond the usual sea glass: Add sparkle with glass lanterns, bottles, and vases. For a more nautical feel, opt for storage baskets made of rope rather than canvas. A rug with thick stripes gives off a beachy vibe while providing a soft surface to rest your feet.

Expert Advice: Brenda Elliott

I like to have little surprises for my clients. Something they already have, but do it in a different, more playful, unexpected manner.” Elliott is all about bringing nature indoors and using living elements and textures to enhance a space. “I always approach an interior space like a blank canvas; you’re always adding layers that enhance the human quality.”

“Determine the space and where you want the attention. You might go to a more neutral- colored sofa with accents.” Using a solid colored couch allows you to change the pillows seasonally to refresh the look. Or, go for a bold-colored sofa as the focal point of the room. “Use furniture that reflects [your] personality,” says Elliott.

If you’re looking for smaller elements to enhance a space, head to a local beach. Look for seashells to add to a set of vases, or collect your own driftwood. Be careful when plucking things from the sand; many organisms may still be alive, and in some areas, it’s illegal to disturb these critters.

While seashells, driftwood, and other beach finds make great accents to a seaside-inspired home, be careful not to overdo it. You could end up with a space that looks more like a beachside gift shop than a living space. “You shouldn’t really notice good design, when it’s done right,” says Elliott.

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"To lend a helping hand, we bring the experts to you."