If you are a fan of Sunset Magazine then you may have heard about the Idea Town in Seabrook, which is located along the Washington State coast. Seabrook is a quaint town in the idyllic sense: the town was planned using a New Urbanism philosophy which encourages walking, provides a mixture of public and private spaces, and uses eco-friendly materials. Cottages and homes are built in a variety of styles, giving the illusion that they were constructed over a long period of time. Homes are located within a short walking distance of nearly all amenities and each home has the old-fashioned porch, encouraging homeowners to wave hello to neighbors and creating a sense of community. Public fire pits (stocked with firewood), plenty of seating and bocce courts are scattered regularly to further encourage mingling and interacting with your neighbors. There is a main street with shops and restaurants and a Town Hall that has just been completed to accommodate weddings.
What I love about the town of Seabrook is that it is designed so that residents and visitors are no more than a 5 minute walk from anything. The indoor pool, basketball court, dog park and playgrounds are easily reached with paved sidewalks – perfect for bikes, strollers and walkers. Sandwiched between the Olympic National Forest and the Pacific Ocean, Seabrook has miles of opportunity for seashell collecting and nature walks. And did I mention the entire town is dog-friendly? If you have a dog in your family then this is the place for you.
Two of Seabrook’s homes were designed by Brian Paquette, of Brian Paquette Interiors in Seattle, WA, in conjunction with Sunset Magazine. The homes, as you can see from these photos, are classically casual and unique in their color palette. Having admired these photos both in person and online I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak to Brian and ask him about his experience designing two beach homes in such a unique location.
How did your work with Sunset Magazine’s Idea Town in Seabrook, Washington come about?
Instagram, randomly enough. One of their editors followed me on their and liked my work and point of view…from there we met, connected and it was just kind of meant to be. I have made so many great connections to artists through it as well.
For those who haven’t had the chance to see these homes in person, explain to us the scope of your work. How many homes, how many bedrooms, any particular peculiarities about these homes?
Two main homes each with a carriage house. The larger and more modern home has three bedrooms as does the smaller but used in very different ways. I tried to link the homes together in a familial sense, as in seeing how a child might grow up and take some, but not all of his parents cues. They are retreats, retreats for quiet time, reflective time and creative time.
Were you given any design directives or did you have free reign over the interiors?
I was given a little bit but mostly just my own notion of what it is to a Sunset family, and what it is to enjoy Seabrook. The rest was just built on my feeling and experiences there along with inspiration from the talented fine artists I commissioned to work with me.
There are two homes you designed. Describe how they differ in influence, style, first impressions…did you have specific type of family in mind?
Creatives, travelers, explorers, educated and open people. Very family based people. People that treasure nature as much as they do the art that is inspired by said nature. I was conjuring what I think Americans need to aspire to based on European standards, less focus on flash and image and more on experience and memories.
There are so many interesting details in these homes: contrasting piping on the upholstery, found objects, unusual art. Where does your inspiration come from?
It comes from every place I have traveled, from all over Europe and Japan to my upbringing on the east coast to the art that I surround myself with, to the long morning walks on the beaches at Seabrook while I was working there, to the people I meet and am inspired by. I try not to snub anything out for fear of not knowing how it could translate into an interior comfort.
I love your color palette! Did the gray skies of the Washington coast affect your color selections?
I wanted to be inspired by the colors of the coast but to also amplify them. You can see this most in the use of green. The gray color in the main living area of the larger house allows the eye to not pause when admiring the coast just out the windows. Sometimes the color of the walls, the sand, sea and sky outside are one shade all together…that is just magic.
What is a good way for homeowners to experiment with bold colors like you have at Seabrook?
See it, be inspired and try it. Don’t go looking for paint colors by looking at rooms. Wait for the color of the inside of a shell, or a corner of a painting or shade of fresh vegetables inspire you.
Do you have any suggestions for homeowners looking to design their own beach-style homes?
Let the outside in. Like the original beach towns of the east coast these homes were not taken so seriously and they were furnished over time. Subtlety can be the key here. I guess what I am saying is that you don’t have to have signs that say beach on them to be at the beach…just be at the beach and let that be enough. Let the sand invade, let the colors fade a bit from summer to summer on their own. Let your experiences and memories spent there dictate what lies within the home.
All images: Brian Paquette Interiors