Art has long fueled interior designer Brian Paquette. Post-art school, he pursued photography, formal painting and performance, and installation pieces before turning to interior design after realizing an interest in space. Ten years after opening his namesake Seattle firm, his approach remains distinctly art-forward—although it’s morphed considerably. “I’ve realized that more than substance, comfort and function are paramount,” he says. “Once you’ve solved those, you can start making the home beautiful—but the steps can’t be reversed.”
A look at the blueprints for his clients’ Seattle remodel showed Paquette that architect Kevin Price shared the same function-first philosophy. “The bones were right up my alley,” says Paquette. “I envisioned the entire house immediately.” Originally a split-level, midcentury modern home, the property had been purchased by a couple with three kids, a cat and a giant Bernese Mountain dog. “The remodel had to accommodate a busy, evolving family life, and have a place for everything,” says Price. “It also had to be well-appointed and sophisticated but casual enough to be approachable.”
Price and his colleague, associate interior designer Kaitlin Tripp-Addison, began by adding to the foundation and building footprint by 30 percent; from there, they altered most of the existing floor plan and added a second floor. They carved out an open plan of defined spaces connected by generous openings, shared natural light, thresholds, palette relationships and ceiling treatments. “We intentionally blurred those lines to create a home that reflects how a modern family lives while maintaining a degree of formality—essentially, keeping one foot in tradition,” says Price. There’s a natural flow from one room to the next, and every space has a purpose. “You want to avoid dead ends, rooms off hallways, or spaces only used once a year,” says Tripp-Addison. “Flexibility is key.”
Considering Seattle’s tendency toward gray skies, Paquette and Price prioritized light above all—both natural and artificial. The architecture laid the groundwork: Transom windows project sunlight deeper into the home’s core while interior windows and generous openings allow it to cascade and bounce between spaces. Paquette capitalized on Price’s work with exquisite light fixtures: A cloud chandelier floats over the living room like a bouquet of brilliant balloons; in the dining room, a Lindsey Adelman fixture steals the show. “I always seek the perfect relationship among pieces, materials and space,” says Paquette. “I know it’s right when the end result is both exciting and functional.”
Paquette’s ability to harness this relationship weaves through every room like the thread in an effortless narrative. In the media room, grass-cloth walls emphasize the warmth of deep, indulgent seating. A dining table constructed from reclaimed wide-plank yellow pine reiterates the natural wood floors—it also hosts 12 for dinner. The master bath is a sumptuous escape, appointed with luxe materials and a window-side tub. “We favor a mix of styles to bring a home together organically,” says Paquette. “In every room, you’ll see a collection of traditional, contemporary, midcentury and minimalist finds.”
Paquette commissioned custom pieces from his network of talented artisans to curate this mix, often maintaining his art-forward approach through collaborations. “I’ve spent years building these relationships, to counter the age of ordering everything online,” he says. “I want to include the quality of the human hand as much as possible.” Designed specifically for the client, the master bed’s headboard extends elaborately across the back wall, flawlessly counteracting a low-profile armchair and floor-to-ceiling draperies through precise execution. “That headboard wall was not for the faint of heart,” says Paquette, “but the result is an engulfing luxury that makes you feel like you’re in a cocoon.”
The color cues were easy: Paquette looked outdoors. “Nature always wins,” he says. “When you keep the palette aligned with what’s happening outside, the home feels larger and more appropriate.” Classic neutrals—browns, grays, creams and whites—temper forest greens and saturated shades of navy. In the master bedroom, hushed purples harmonize with textured grays, reminiscent of the cloud-soaked Seattle sky. Painted walls throughout evoke age and a sense of depth while highlighting Price’s architectural details: vaulted ceilings, patterned windows, plank walls. “This home certainly has a foot in the contemporary and casual, but also embraces warmth and tradition,” says Price. “We always strive to design homes that stand the test of time, both visually and practically.”
For Paquette and Price, practicality does not sacrifice creativity. To connect the kitchen to the back patio, Price installed an 8-foot-wide window that slides completely open; on the other side, an outdoor counter provides a perch for guests to sit and engage with kitchen activity. Above, Paquette traded typical recessed lighting for Parisian-inspired sconces. “They provide the necessary lighting for the countertop, but speak to a time past,” he says. “The unlacquered brass will age naturally over time, which is so much more intriguing.” Function first, but beauty quickly thereafter.