Bainbridge Island home and landscape

Image Courtesy: Redfin

I can hardly believe we are more than halfway into summer! It sure feels like it outside! Summer and travel go hand in hand for me and we often opt to travel to cooler climates. We’ve been lucky to enjoy visits to Alaska twice this year already─once for Memorial Day and more recently for July 4. Despite the unseasonably hot weather in the Pacific Northwest, we timed both occassions perfectly. We arrived in Seattle the day it dropped down to 78 degrees, having been 109 the day before! We spent our time in Seattle on beautiful Bainbridge Island, staying with my husband Jon’s mother. She has a charming house with a lovely garden and deck as well as a nice, temperate basement. It’s a quick ferry trip from downtown Seattle across Puget Sound, which is cool – literally and figuratively – with majestic views of the city and Mt. Rainier, plus refreshing breezes off Elliott Bay.

Travel and design intermingle for me as well. I always notice the land, buildings and décor around me. The Pacific Northwest is a treat when it comes to these surroundings because the region is so different from Houston. Those who live there love the outdoors, which is seen in nearly every aspect of the area’s style. As seen above, this home sold down the street from my mother-in-law recently and is just beautiful with what I consider the quintessential northwest garden. I love the various levels of green and the bright grass against the earthy neutrals that many people use for their exteriors. The big, clumping hedges and Japanese maples charm me every time!

In fact, I liked this house so much, I took several photos of it last year. It was a grayer day as you’ll notice in the next pic and I did not use Adobe® Photoshop® to color correct it, but it’s still lovely and so representative of the area’s design aesthetic.

Gray home on Bainbridge Island, WA for travel-inspired design

Photo by Pamela O’Brien

I always take a few shots of my mother-in-law’s garden and deck too. Even her new puppy Tika (below left) looked quite decorative, while thinking about chewing on a piece of driftwood she found washed up on the beach. Our friend Brent’s dog Summer (below right) really provides a Northwest vibe too. She is enjoying that same piece of driftwood on the deck.

backyard design favorites from travels

On our recent trip, we were excited to have the chance to visit with some of our favorite people – The Petermans. They were taking a family vacation to Seattle that week, so we invited them to spend a fun day together dining waterside, shopping and walking on the beach. Here we are at the marina in downtown Winslow, WA.

Pamela O'Brien, interior designer, and clients

Above, Pamela visits with the Petermans in Seattle

The Petermans are building a lake house, so we took the opportunity to browse a few local shops. We liked the mix of neutrals with accents of black and navy blue in one cute store called Alexander & Nye Home, shown on the right. We decided that might be a jumping off point for the future lake house décor.

Alexander & Nye Home store inspires design

A bonus is that we had an article in the Houston Chronicle that same weekend, featuring the recent renovation we did on the Peterman’s kitchen in Houston.

Houston Chronicle features home renovation by Pamela Hope Designs

I never miss a chance to visit Wish Bainbridge. Even though it was officially closed, the shop opened just for us so we could browse its collection of colorful pillows as well as women’s boutique clothing and accessories. Tina Peterman and I both picked up a few gifts. Here is a shot from a few years back as I went crazy buying these fabulous pillows!

Pamela O'Brien visit the Wish Bainbridge store in Seattle

Next up was north to Alaska, of course. While I don’t usually equate going to Ketchikan with a lot of design, I was excited to have the opportunity to learn more about the local design community on this trip. We have a new contractor working on the off-the-grid cabin that my father-in-law is building in Meyers Chuck, AK. We got a chance to visit with him and see the incredible work he is doing. It looks like it might be finished for next season. Hurray! We discussed construction details, keeping in mind the challenging location and conditions. It was very enlightening. I also was able to visit Woodworks of Ketchikan to learn more about their local cabinetry options and spent some quality time at Interiors by Island Tile, where they showed me some of their newer vinyl products appropriate for unacclimatized spaces.

Here is a close-up photo of my father-in-law’s cabin:

new construction cabin in Meyers Chuck, AK.

Below is a photo of the mechanical plant. In remote areas like Meyers Chuck, you have to generate your own electricity!

mechanical plant in Alaska to generate your own electricity

Next is our boat at the Halvorsen Dock. The Halvorsens don’t mess around when building docks!

boat at Halvorsen Dock in Alaska

In between design discussions and hikes up the hill to the cabin, Jon and I enjoyed some beautiful weather. We hiked around a mountain and then enjoyed a cold dip in the lake. We navigated along a tree-lined trail with beautiful views of downtown Ketchikan and a nice path down to a beach. There, we spent a gorgeous afternoon in the sun with quick, chilly and refreshing skips into the sea.

We spent a good amount of time on the boat, going back and forth to “the Chuck” (Meyers Chuck, AK.) to transport building materials and a few visits to neighboring islands and destinations. Below are some typical beautiful shots that you enjoy during hiking and boating in Alaska.

nature photo from Alaska tree-lined path in Alaska














view of the lake near Ketchikan is sure to inspire good design

Flag Sheet-Pan Nachos from Better Homes & Gardens

We also had fun on the Fourth with a small-town parade, sunny yet cool weather for a cookout and fireworks from the boat! I made this Flag Sheet-Pan Nachos from Better Homes & Gardens to take to the cookout. It was a big hit. Plus, it was so easy and tasty. The recipe starts with making a bruschetta-like sauce that’s delicious with the corn chips and a nice change from the standard salsa.

Lastly, here is a photo of fireworks from the boat. We enjoyed popsicles and Prosecco and watching the fireworks that are set off from a barge in the Tongass Narrows. Such beauty is all around us and serves as pure design inspiration.

July 4th fireworks over the lake in Alaska

This year’s trip was a treat with great friends, food, design and lots of inspiration. Until next time, find your inspiration, or call us and we’ll help you discover it.

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